Continuity and Change

Work and wages at Durham Priory and its estates, 1494–1519

a1 Department of History, University of Durham.


This article explores aspects of employment on the Durham Priory estates in the years 1494–1519. From a perspective of prices and wages, this period belongs at the tail end of a Golden Age for labour. Employment opportunities for the priory workforce should, therefore, have been relatively plentiful and remuneratively rewarding. However, as an analysis of the priory's accounts reveals, whilst wage rates remained stable, the waged employment offered was irregular and piecemeal for all but a small, predominantly skilled elite, with the majority of the workforce enjoying little in the way of fixed employment patterns or identifiable career structures.