Original Domesday Book now On-line
- This was posted on SCA-Cooks... I thought it might be of some small interest here.~~Meisterin Katarina Helene
Digital databases for the Domesday Book
"Not even one ox, nor one cow, nor one pig was left out." But what
William the Conqueror didn't have in the Domesday Book was an easy
way of searching its reams of data. It has taken more than 900
years, but at last the internet has provided a solution.
An academic at Hull University has produced the world's first
complete, freely available online version.
Professor John Palmer, whose work on the Domesday Book stretches
back 25 years, has transformed its handwritten parchment pages into
a database with searchable indexes, a detailed commentary and the
ability to organise all its statistics in a tabulated format.
The Domesday Book, the oldest and most famous public record, was
based on the 1086 great survey of England.
There would be nothing like it in England again until the censuses
of the 19th century.
But for nearly 1000 years it has been inaccessible to most people
and difficult to understand. There are costly CD-Rom translations,
and the UK's National Archives provides online searches, but Palmer
has coded and tagged terms so they can be automatically retrieved
His software makes it possible to isolate certain variables and
conduct several searches at once. The results can be displayed as a
map, table or translated text, or as a combination of formats.
The three-year project was funded by a £250,000 ($617, 000) grant
from the Arts and Humanities Research Council.
Palmer, who worked on the project with his son, Matt, said: "My
interest in Domesday began in about 1980 as a teaching project ...
It developed into a research interest for the 900th anniversary in
1986, but computers weren't powerful enough then."
Written in Latin, the Domesday Book lists places, landowners and
tenants, tax assessments, cultivated land, numbers of oxen and
plough teams, property values, legal claims, illegal activity and
social classes such as freemen, villeins, smallholders, cottagers,
slaves, priests and burgesses.
Palmer said: "No English medieval historian can ignore the book
because it's such an important source for social and economic