Quantitative Data Collection: Domesday Book

Quantitative Data Collection: Domesday Book 

1. Introduction

Scan of the Kent pages of DomesdayDomesday Book is the record of a survey ('Inquest') of England in 1066 and 1086, carried out at the orders of William the Conqueror. The importance of this source for English history has resulted in a number of different digital versions; this article focuses on the dataset created by a recent AHRC-funded project (although with considerably older origins) headed by Professor John Palmer at the University of Hull.

The Hull Domesday project makes a notable case study for a number of reasons. Domesday Book is an important, very early example of the medieval and early modern administrative sources that are crucial for doing quantitative history before the advent of official statistics produced by modern government. However, turning this type of source into data that can be re-used effectively presents a major challenge, and careful planning, design and documentation are vital for their management.

Additionally, the project illustrates changing opportunities for sharing and dissemination of complex quantitative data. The dataset has been released as open access data, and this has created new opportunities for re-use in a number of innovative digital projects.