WHARRAM Percy is going soft! The excavations at this Yorkshire Deserted Medieval Village have long been known as one of the best excavations for those who enjoy the simple life, but three years ago electricity was installed in the former game keeper's cottages that form the excavation headquarters, and now hot showers are being installed! In the 32nd year of excavation, three of the local volunteers have been spending their weekends installing these new showers. Whatever next?
Since our major report in CA 49, the big news on the digging side is that Philip Rahtz the new Professor of Archaeology at York, has joined the excavation team, so that he and John Hurst, the two doyens of medieval excavations, are linked with Professor Maurice Beresford who was the pioneer of the Deserted Medieval Village. Professor Rahtz and the University of York have taken over the north manor area on the northern edge of the village and in typical Rahtz style he is not excavating the manor house itself but its boundaries, and in particular the deep hollow way that ran up along side the southern edge of the manor enclosure. He has laid down an area excavation over the hollow way and
Breakfast at Wharram Percy: John Hurst (centre) "volunteers" to do washing up.
its boundary wall and has found that originally there was not one hollow way but two, the second one underlying the later medieval wall. Both appear originally to have been
Roman and reveal a stratified sequence running through from the Roman to Medieval, though continuity remains uncertain.
An extension of the excavations on the far side from the manor house has revealed the corner of a building, built of well formed masonry of Roman type. Fragments of roof tiles, tessarae and carved stone were found, so Professor Rahtz is now hoping that having set out to excavate a medieval manor house he will end up by excavating a Roman villa.
Philip Rahtz excavates boundaries, not structures. The wall to the left is a the boundary wall of the medieval manor (which is off the picture to the left). In the centre is the medieval hollow way, and underneath both wall and the rutted area, a Roman hollow way will shortly be revealed.
Meanwhile John Hurst is continuing his Saxon hunt, trying to prove "continuity" from the early Roman farming establishment within whose boundary ditches the medieval village lies. The most likely place for Saxon huts seemed to be the low plateau on which the church was established, so the northern graveyard was excavated by Charlotte Harding in order to look for Saxon remains underneath, though none were discovered. The excavation then moved further north into what was thought to be the vicarage garden, between the graveyard and