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Domesday Book (1085)

The Domesday Book was commissioned in December 1085 by William the Conqueror to assess the extent of the land and resources owned in England and of the extent of the taxes he could raise. The information collected was recorded by hand in two huge books and provided extensive records of the land, land ownership and land use. Details included: the names of landholders, their tenants, and the amount of land they owned; the number of people occupying the land and their status (e.g. villager, smallholder, free man, slave); the amount of woodland, meadow, animals, fish and farming equipment on the land; and the presence of buildings (churches, castles, mills, salthouses, etc.) Some entries also chronicle disputes over who held land, some mention customary dues that had to be paid to the king, and entries for major towns include records of traders and number of houses.

Held in Special Collections and Archives is the first colour, full facsimile of the Domesday Book, published in 1986 in 6 large volumes, with full text, maps, and introductory materials.  The Library also holds the 1783 published edition of the Domesday Book, edited by Abraham Farley, along with two accompanying volumes, published in 1816 which include the indices and a general introduction by Henry Ellis.