Searchable Domesday Book online

Gerrard Winstanley office at
Wed Jul 30 00:14:57 BST 2008

Domesday Book goes online

The Domesday Book is now online

The pages of the "nation's finest treasure" - the Domesday Book - can
now be explored on the web.

The original 11th-century document, which is stored at The National
Archives in Kew, west London, has been seen by less than 1 per cent of
the population, research has shown.

Search your town in the online Domesday Book

>From today, anyone with access to the internet can explore the
detailed land and wealth survey, which was commissioned by William the
Conqueror in 1085 to help him work out how much tax to charge his

Visitors to the Domesday website will be able to search place names
and see the index entry made for each village, town or city for free.

Downloading a copy of the original page will cost £3.50.

According to the National Archives, the book was voted the "nation's
finest treasure" last year. But research commissioned to celebrate the
online launch showed nearly 2 per cent think the Domesday Book is a
novel by Dan Brown, and 13 per cent believe it is a chapter in the Bible.

Although 41 per cent were able to name William the I as the person who
commissioned the document, one respondent thought it was Tony Blair,
the Prime Minister.

Adrian Ailes, a Domesday expert at the National Archives, called the
online edition "a fantastic achievement".

He continued: "It is important that people of all ages should be able
to read and use this national treasure."

Work to put the document on the web first started in 1985, when
snapshots of some of the pages were taken.

The iconic document is actually comprised of two volumes, the Great
Domesday and the Little Domesday.

Although most people will now see it in pixel form, the original was
written on 900 sheepskins by scribes using goose-feather quills.

Expert Adrian Ailes said the reason for the book's huge popularity
with the English public was its "local aspect".

He said: "I think people warm to the Domesday Book and its specific
contents because it contains 13,418 place names.

"Everyone is related in some way to this piece of history, it is very

Getting the Domesday Book on to the web was a labour of love for all

Mr Ailes confirmed it has taken 20 years to complete and added: "The
translation alone took six years to compile."

The launch will be accompanied by a series of exhibitions to help
people put the book into context.

The decision to publish the book online reflects the philosophy that
the National Archives' exhibits should be as accessible to the public
as possible, Mr Aiden said.

"This is our number one document, it's iconic, so it is very exciting
to be putting it on the web. "It gives us a wonderful insight into the
state of the country, a snapshot."

Just 20 years before the Domesday Book was written, William the
Conqueror seized power in England by winning the 1066 Battle of Hastings.

Mr Ailes said: "It shows us the effects of the last successful
invasion of our country."

:: The survey was conducted by NEMS Market Research, who interviewed
500 people between May 25 and 30.

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