Saturday, August 05, 2006

Domesday Book Online!

This is absolutely fascinating. I'm quite glad that such a valuable resource is now available to anyone!

AP: Survey of 11th-century England goes online---

LONDON - The Middle Ages met the Internet age Friday when the Domesday Book — a survey of England conducted almost 1,000 years ago — went online.

The book, a record of the people and lands ruled by William the Conqueror, is the oldest record held by Britain's National Archives and one of the country's most valuable documents. Now anyone with an Internet connection can — for a fee — download copies of handwritten records that provide a picture of life in the 11th century.

"It is important that people of all ages should be able to read and use this national treasure," said Adrian Ailes, a Domesday expert at the National Archives, which in the past few years has placed millions of historical documents — from World War I records to 1960s public information films — on the Net.
How beautiful is this? I can't wait to peruse everything.

If you don't know about the Domesday Book, the article provides us with background knowledge:

The Domesday Book was compiled on the orders of William I, who became England's king when he defeated the Saxon king, Harold, at the Battle of Hastings in 1066. In 1085, he ordered a survey to determine the taxable value of his kingdom.

Officials fanned out across England to assess who owned the land and what was on it. The result is a detailed record that lists more than 13,000 places. Farmland, woodland, meadows, pastures, mills and fisheries are enumerated; there are estimates of the number of freemen, indentured peasants and slaves on each estate.

Many place names listed in the book are still recognizable, although the places themselves have been transformed. Holborn, now a central business district of London, was Holeburne, home to peasants and a vineyard. Islington — now a busy commercial and residential area of north London — was the rural settlement of Iseldone.

Kensington — now one of London's wealthiest areas — had "meadow for two ploughs, pasture for the livestock ... woodland for 200 pigs and three arpents of vineyard."

"I think people warm to the Domesday Book and its specific contents because it contains 13,418 place names," said Ailes. "Everyone is related in some way to this piece of history. It is very tangible."

The site allows surfers to search by place or a person's name. Summaries of the records are free, but the pages themselves — along with a translation from the original Latin — $6.60 each.
Isn't it simply fascinating? You can find the Domesday Book online here.

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