The Black Death was seen by many who lived through it as a punishment from God on sinful peoples, and it had a solemn effect on European art and culture. This image, from a Flemish illustrated manuscript of 1349, shows plague victims being buried in the city of Tournai, now in Belgium.
New archaeological research has mapped the devastating impact of the Black Death in parts of England. [Read full story about the Black Death's impact]
Digging for clues
The volunteers included local families, students, landowners, and members of community groups, and they dug more than 2,000 test pits in 55 villages in eastern England to assess the impact of the Black Death. In this image, two volunteers excavate a test pit in the garden of their home, in the village of Ashwell, in the county of Hertfordshire.
Pottery and population
The results showed that the surveyed villages suffered an average long-term population drop of 45 percent during the Black Death and in the years that followed.
Before and after
Some villages in the surveyed area showed long-term increases in population, possibly because they were commercial communities that relied on the trade in cloth, rather than agricultural communities that needed a lot of labor to keep going, Lewis said. [Read full story about the Black Death's impact]
Retired archaeologist Gil Burleigh, who organised the digs in Pirton, said the project had become a point of pride for the modern village community. "It became very big indeed. I got the local history society involved, and various residents and landowners, and it really took off," he said.
"The pottery looks very unremarkable, the sort of bits that you wouldn’t notice if you’re just gardening," Lewis said.
Nayland was one of a few villages in Suffolk that showed an increase in population after the Black Death, possibly because it had a thriving market at that time, she said. This image shows a test-pit team at a home in the Suffolk village of Clare. [Read full story about the Black Death's impact]