Photo Diary

Hound Tor medieval village.

DSC_0021.JPG, originally uploaded by michael_jecks.

There are few places which are quite so evocative as the medieval villages which were deserted in the fourteenth century. And there are many. Later, it was often because from about 1349 the places were denuded of people after the plague struck. Many vills lost over fifty percent of their folk in the space of a few weeks, and the places both weren’t viable, and held too many appalling memories for the poor devils who’d lived there. Some actually shut themselves off from the rest of the world, intentionally quarantining themselves as soon as plague appeared, so that they might not spread it to other places. The courage of such people is astonishing.

This wasn’t evacuated for that reason though. Hound Tor, high on the hills, was a moderately flourishing little vill, with its own dammed river, and many good sized houses. It was deserted in 1318 or so, almost certainly as a result of the devastation wrought by the Great Famine, which killed off so many people from 1315 to about 1321 that entire vills like this were unviable. The people died of starvation, or they fled to slightly more prosperous places, ekeing any sort of living they could.

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