In the medieval countryside, people lived in a variety of settlement types.
These ranged from individual farms and hamlets of a few households to much larger villages. There were also temporary or seasonal abodes in outlying places associated with activities like summer grazing of the uplands.
Villages were the most distinctive aspect of medieval life. The archaeological earthworks that remain help us experience the spaces in which medieval people farmed and made their homes in the English landscape, telling us much about their everyday lives.
Most of these villages were deserted or shrank in the 14th and 15th centuries, often because of a shift from arable farming to sheep rearing, which needed a smaller labour force.
Here we look at seven abandoned medieval villages.
1. Little Oxendon, Northamptonshire
Little Oxendon displays the classic layout of a medieval village. The long groove running left to right formed the main route through the settlement. The large rectangles on either side are called crofts, representing gardens used for growing vegetables. Within these are smaller rectangular earthworks called tofts, which were walled plots with a house and perhaps a barn standing within. The large rectangle in the centre may have been the manor house or chapel.
2. East Matfen, Tyne and Wear
Surrounding the deserted village of East Matfen are the undulating lines of medieval ploughing, known as ridge and furrow.
3. Clipston, Northamptonshire
Although Clipston is still occupied, many abandoned features surround the current village. This image shows crofts, tofts and extensive medieval ploughing.
4. Wharram Percy, North Yorkshire
The most famous and one of the best preserved British deserted medieval villages, Wharram Percy is a nationally important scheduled ancient monument.
5. Kirby, Northamptonshire
Crofts, tofts and a buried fish pond are all that remains of the lost medieval settlement of Kirby.
6. Gainsthorpe, Lincolnshire
The complex of grassy humps and bumps at Gainsthorpe clearly show domestic buildings, trackways, dovecotes and a fishpond. Legend has it that the village was demolished because it was a den of thieves, but the real reason for its abandonment remains uncertain.
7. Hound Tor, Devon
Four 13th-century stone farmsteads are the only remains of this isolated Dartmoor hamlet, on land first farmed in the Bronze Age.