Doomsday Text Online

August 4th, 2006 by Hugh

One of England’s oldest and most important public records is now available in digital format. The Doomsday Book dates from a census of 1086 by the Norman invader, William the Conqueror. Its gloomy name probably relates to the fact that it was used as a basis for taxation. It listed just about every village, field and pig in the land, as well as the owners, though the big cities such as London were excluded. Many families can trace their names back to the survey, and the book is an important starting point for genealogists.

The Anglo Saxon Chronicle relates how William commissioned the survey:

Then sent he his men over all England into each shire; commissioning them to find out “How many hundreds of hides were in the shire, what land the king himself had, and what stock upon the land; or, what dues he ought to have by the year from the shire.”

You can now search the Doomsday book online at the site of the UK’s National Archives. Unfortunately, there is a charge to see a facsimile of an individual page. This is a model that could prove problematic for Exbiblio, which aims to interlink paper copies with their online versions. Even so, it would seem likely that researchers will be among the earliest adopters of Exbiblio’s technology.

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