Wharram Percy

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Deserted medieval village, looking north from old fish pond
Church of St Martin

Wharram Percy is a deserted medieval village (DMV) site on the western edge of the chalk Wolds in North Yorkshire, England. The site is about one mile south of Wharram-le-Street and is clearly signposted from the B1248 Beverley to Malton road. grid reference SE858646. Until 1974 the village lay within the historic county boundaries of the East Riding of Yorkshire.

Wharram Percy is perhaps the best-known DMV in the whole of England, although there are several others which are in a similarly good state of preservation. The reason for its celebrity is that it was researched each summer by combined teams of archaeologists, historians and even botanists, from circa 1950 to 1990 following its identification in 1948 by Professor Maurice Beresford of the University of Leeds. It is mentioned in the 1086 Domesday Book as Warran or Warron.

Although the site has apparently been settled since pre-historic times, the village seems to have been most active from the tenth to the twelfth centuries. The Black Death of 1348–49 does not seem to have played a significant part in the desertion of Wharram Percy although the large fall in population in the country as a whole at that time must have made relocation to a less remote spot more likely. The villagers of Wharram Percy seem to have suffered instead from changes in prices and wages in the 15th century, which gave pastoral farming (particularly of sheep) an advantage over traditional cereal farming. The village was finally abandoned in the early 16th century when the lord of the manor turned out the last few families and knocked down their homes to make room for extra sheep pasturage.

It is now in the care of English Heritage. Although only the ruined church is easily visible above ground, much more of the village layout can be seen in the surrounding fields. English Heritage has recently installed new panels around the site, as well as an audio tour downloadable, in MP3 format, from the English Heritage website. A guidebook is available from surrounding, manned, English Heritage sites.

A scientific study published in 2004[1] of human skeletal remains from the deserted village sheds light on disease, diet and death in a rural medieval community.

A Tracker Pack for families that covers the site can be hired from Malton Tourist Information Centre.

The Yorkshire Wolds Way National Trail and the Centenary Way, long-distance footpaths passes to the east of the village.

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Coordinates: 54°04′13″N 0°41′25″W / 54.07020°N 0.69036°W / 54.07020; -0.69036