Exon Domesday Book unlocked for future generations

Exon Domesday Book unlocked for future generations

1st July 2014

An innovative project to bring to public attention one of the most precious manuscripts in Exeter Cathedral Archives has been given the funding to go ahead.

A major research project - hosted by King’s College London and the Friends of Exeter Cathedral and funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council - will mean the 1,000-year-old manuscript can be digitised and used by schools, local historians and academic researchers across the world.

The Exon Domesday is the earliest manuscript of William the Conqueror’s Domesday survey. Written in the South West nearly 1000 years ago, and housed at Exeter for most or all of its lifetime, it is the most complete and extensive record of the data collected by commissioners working across England at the end of the Conqueror’s reign. It records data for Devon,Cornwall, Dorset,Somersetand Wiltshire before the process of editing and simplification which produced Great Domesday Book, the version of Domesday Book known to all and preserved at the National Archives atKew. Exon Domesday provides unique information about the landscape and population of these counties in the generation before and after the Norman conquest of 1066. Researchers also hope that Exon Domesday will contain the key to understanding the Domesday survey itself, one of the most remarkable demonstrations of the effectiveness of royal government in the Middle Ages.

The interdisciplinary team, led by Professor Julia Crick,( King’s College London) Dr Stephen Baxter (UniversityofOxford) and Dr Peter Stokes (King’s College London) and supported by a panel of international experts, will subject the manuscript and its contents to intensive scrutiny in an effort to reconstruct how the survey worked and how its results were recorded. Their project will create a freely available digital resource for the use of schools, local historians, and academic researchers across the world. High resolution photography will produce a digital surrogate of Exon Domesday; an accompanying Latin text and English translation will make the text available for the first time; a database will record the detailed findings of the research and a printed companion will also be published to provide a permanent record of the project. The project, designed in association with the Cathedral Library and Archives will be accompanied by public events at the cathedral, a series of talks in other cathedrals and across the South West.

Canon Librarian Ann Barwood said:

The vision of the Cathedral Library and Archive team is to work with others to make our collections accessible to all. This project has been in the planning since 2011 but at long last with King’s College and The Friends of Exeter Cathedral we can celebrate the granting of the necessary funding to make this valuable document come alive for everyone. What stories will we be able to tell in three years’ time?

The project will begin in October and run for three years.

Exon Domesday is on display in the Cathedral's Library and Archive from 1st - 4th July 2014.

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