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Beginning new research into everyday life in a Medieval village

Posted on 1 November 2017

York researchers visit Historic England to sample Wharram Percy

Photo of dental calculus from Wharram Percy (photo: Sarah Delaney)

Last month Sarah Delaney, Dr Michelle Alexander and Dr Anita Radini from the Archaeology Department visited the Historic England archaeological science research establishment at Fort Cumberland, Portsmouth, to sample dental calculus (mineralised dental plaque) from human skeletons from Wharram Percy, a deserted Medieval village located in Yorkshire, famous for the extensive archaeological work carried out there over 60 years.

Individuals from this site will form part of Sarah’s current PhD research (supervised by Michelle and Anita) in which she is studying the tiny particles trapped within dental calculus to investigate diet, occupation and living conditions in Medieval England. This is a new technique and Sarah’s research from previous sites has revealed a variety of debris trapped in Medieval mouths such as cereal plants, wood, wool and charcoal, all related to people’s daily activity. Results from Wharram Percy will be compared to other populations such as the Medieval nunnery of Littlemore Priory in Oxfordshire and St John’s Hospital and Almshouse, Staffordshire to paint a picture of what everyday life was like for different groups in Medieval society.

Photo of Sarah sampling in the store (photo: Michelle Alexander)

For more information on Wharram Percy, visit English Heritage at

Visit Historic England's Archaeological Science pages at

Visit Historic England's website at