About the Project
Domesday Book (DB) is one of England's most important historical documents: arguably the nation's single most significant record. In 1086 William I's commissioners set out to record the taxable assets of the newly acquired kingdom, settlement by settlement and county by county. Without the account of the survey preserved in DB we would know almost nothing of the social fabric of rural England in the eleventh century, of its landscape and resources and their monetary value; we could not map secular and ecclesiastical lordship, and neither could we estimate the scale of resources available to the ruling elite. DB in itself it constitutes remarkable testimony to the reach of central government. However DB is a much truncated version of other records generated by the Domesday survey of 1086 which served as its source. Only one collection of such records is extant: Exon Domesday (EDB), which survives in its original form, and contains vital evidence relating to the way the survey was conducted and recorded. The aim of this project is to publish the contents of EDB for the first time and to unlock the evidence which the book contains for the conduct of the survey at both local and central level.
In 2011 the manuscript's 1816 binding was removed, permitting photography and detailed technical examination. A successful bid to the AHRC funded the creation of a series of freely available electronic resources for the use of the scholarly community and the general public. The project commissioned Dr Julia Craig-McFeely of ISIS Innovation Ltd to take high-resolution images of the entire manuscript, which she did in October 2014. The team obtained an electronic Latin text by double-rekeying of scans of Henry Ellis’s edition of 1816, a task undertaken by AEL Data in May 2015, creating a highly imperfect base text which was extended and checked against the digital images by Frank Thorn. The text, translation, and visualisations provided on this website will help researchers explore the codicology, construction and production of the manuscript. A detailed examination of the composition of the book is also provided here, and a reconstruction of its creation and history will be published in printed form as a permanent record of the project.