Apr 052016


This April we are once again blogging along with the A-Z Blogging Challenge. Our team of one-place studiers will be sharing some of the treasures to be found for a one-place study, particularly around the theme of Visualisation, our Shared Endeavour for 2016.

If Visualisation (our current Shared Endeavour) is about building a picture of your One Place Study, then surely the Domesday Book has to be one of the earliest snapshots. The Domesday Book, created in 1086, was a survey of the entire country to find out who had how much land and livestock, what all this was worth, and were there any back taxes owed.  It was written in medieval Latin.

Here is the entry for South Pool (named as Pole), and beneath it is a transcription into modern English:


Transcription (in Modern English)

William holds SOUTH POOL from ludichael.   Algar held it T.R.E., and it paid geld for 2 hides. There is land for 4 ploughs.  In demesne is 1 plough, and 3 slaves; and 6 villans and 7 bordars with 3 ploughs. There are 4 acres of meadow and 10 acres of scrubland.  Formerly, as now, worth 20s.

William holds COMBE [in South Pool] from ludichael.  Alric held it T.R.E., and it paid geld for half a hide.  There is land for 2 ploughs, which are there, with 1 slave, and 6 villans and 4 bordars, and half an acre of meadow and 2 acres of scrubland.  Formerly, as now, worth 10s.

Glossary from the transcription

bordar = even lower than a serf (derived from the French for cottager) .  Only slaves were lower.

demesne = all land held by the king

geld = periodic land tax

hide =  Measurement of land for tax assessment. Approx 120 acres.

T.R.E. = tempora regis Eduardis, or 'in the time of King Edward the Confessor'

villan =  from villanus, a peasant

Visit Domesday Book Online to find out more, and The National Archives to obtain your own (less-expensive!) copy of a page detailing your place.

Image thanks to Professor J.J.N. Palmer and George Slater. This image may only be reused under a Creative Commons BY-SA licence.

Ros Haywood

  2 Responses to “D is for Domesday Book”

  1. Very nice, Ros! If only we had something similar on the younger side of the pond!

  2. I find this fascinating. Something about the language of measurement and value….I just love the way it inspires my imagination.

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