Archive for the ‘Domesday Book’ Category

Opening Up the Domesday Book

Thursday, December 22nd, 2011

Opening Up the Domesday Book by Sam Leon.

From the post:

Domesday Book might be one of the most famous government datasets ever created. Which makes it all the stranger that it’s not freely available online – at the National Archives, you have to pay £2 per page to download copies of the text.

Domesday is pretty much unique. It records the ownership of almost every acre of land in England in 1066 and 1086 – a feat not repeated in modern times. It records almost every household. It records the industrial resources of an entire nation, from castles to mills to oxen.

As an event, held in the traumatic aftermath of the Norman conquest, the Domesday inquest scarred itself deeply into the mindset of the nation – and one historian wrote that on his deathbed, William the Conqueror regretted the violence required to complete it. As a historical dataset, it is invaluable and fascinating.

In my spare time, I’ve been working on making Domesday Book available online at Open Domesday. In this, I’ve been greatly aided by the distinguished Domesday scholar Professor John Palmer, and his geocoded dataset of settlements and people in Domesday, created with AHRC funding in the 1990s.

I guess it really is all a matter of perspective. I have never thought of the Domesday Book as a “government dataset….” 😉

Certainly would make an interesting basis for a chronological topic map tracing the ownership and fate of “…almost every acre of land in England….”