Why did some medieval settlements disappear?

In many fields throughout England are mysterious grass-covered hump and bumps. These humps cover the fallen-down remains of buildings and fields abandoned long ago. Why were these places deserted?

One reason was the plague. This terrible catastrophe, which people called called the Black Death, was at its worst in 1348. It affected the whole of Europe, and the population of England dropped by about a third.

Or it might be because the land was reorganised for keeping sheep instead of growing crops. Or because small farms joined together to make larger estates so they didn’t need the old farm buuildings.

For whatever reason, people moved away. Their houses fell down and became overgrown or disappeared altogether, until archaeologists rediscovered them.

  • Students from Kilve Court surveying the remains of a farmstead that was called Hulle in medieval times.

On the Quantocks there are earthworks near Cushuish Farm (Cothelstone) and Westleigh Farm (Broomfield), showing there used to be more houses there. Perry Farm in East Quantoxhead is all that is left of the hamlet of Perry.

Friars Manor in Adscombe used to have a mill, manor house, chapel and several cottages. You can still see the ruins of the chapel, some earthworks and a sunken lane.

  •  Half-hidden by trees, the ruins of Adscombe chapel.
  • This hollow way was the lane that ran through the middle of the hamlet of Adscombe.