The village of Wetwang is on the gentle slopes of the East Yorkshire Wolds some 7 miles west of the market town of Driffield.What we see today has evolved from a village planned and built by Archbishop Thomas in the late 11th century. The farms and cottages built along a main street with a lane running behind them on the North and South sides. A church and burial ground in the middle of the village and a pond at each end.
The photograph above shows the classical view of the Black Swan seen from the side of the bottom pond. The new road has been put through so the photograph is after 1928. The building next to the Black Swan, now the Fish and Chip shop, has not yet been converted to house the village Fire Engine. Also clearly visible is the shop on the corner of “Tea Pot Row”
In the Domesday Book Wetwangham, as it was then called, is described as “Waste” presumably a victim of the “Harrying of the North”, the new Kings William’s solution to the opposition and unrest in Northumbria. A desolate land was no good the Archbishop Thomas so he re-founded the village.
Wetwang was inhabited before 1066 but whether or not on exactly the same site is unknown but evidence of human occupation is there. The name Wetwang is a Danish name meaning “Field of Justice”. Graves of Anglo-Saxons have been discovered along the green lanes which lie close to the village. Roman coins and a number of Roman graves have been found nearby. Wetwang is most famous for the Chariot Grave, estimated to be 2500 years old, found in the heart of the village in 2000 and featured on BBC’s Meet the Ancestors. The grave was that of a high ranking woman of the Parisii tribe. This is only one of a number of chariot burials and an Iron Age village unearthed in Wetwang Slack during excavation work on a quarry in 1975. Going back even further there was a Stone Age Barrow and a number of Bronze Age Barrows in Garton Slack but ploughing and quarrying has eroded any sign of them. We are lucky that J.R.Mortimer, a local archaeologist and corn merchant, excavated and meticulously recorded some three hundred such barrows in the 19th century. Even further back in time the green lanes, ancient trackways, are possibly the earliest marks made on our landscape by hunters and semi nomadic families.
Wetwang is a village with a long history.