Domesday terminology

Many of the fundamental problems posed by Domesday Book revolve around the meaning of its words and formulae. Most of the major works on Domesday therefore devote considerable space to problems of terminology, including the classic works of J.H. Round, Feudal England (1895); F.W. Maitland, Domesday book and beyond (1897); Reginald Lennard, Rural England, 1086-1135: a study of social and agrarian conditions (1959); and H.C. Darby, Domesday England (1977).

On coins and coinage, Sally P.J. Harvey, 'Royal revenue and Domesday terminology', Economic History Review, second series, vol. 22 (1967), pages 221-28, and Domesday: Book of Judgement (2014), chapter 6, are essential. Many other problems of Domesday terminology have provoked lengthy debates, many unresolved. On the much-debated meaning of the annual values, divergent views are represented by R. Welldon Finn, The Norman Conquest and its effects on the economy, 1066-1086; H.C. Darby, Domesday England (1977); J. McDonald and G.D. Snooks, The Domesday economy: a new approach to Anglo-Norman history (1986); A.R. Bridbury, From Bede to the Reformation (1992); and G.D. Snooks, Nicholas Mayhew, and Christopher Dyer, in A commercialising economy: England, 1086 to c.1300, edited by R.H. Britnell and B.M.S. Campbell (Manchester, 1995).

Different interpretations of the meaning of Domesday 'waste' are set out by D.M. Palliser, 'Domesday Book and the harrying of the north', Northern History, vol. 29 (1993), pages 1-23, and John J.N. Palmer, 'War and Domesday waste', in War and chivalry, edited by Matthew Strickland (1998).

The meaning of Domesday teamlands, or ploughlands, has been debated since Maitland expressed his puzzlement and offered a tentative solution. The more significant later contributions are those by J.S. Moore, 'The Domesday teamland in Leicestershire', English Historical Review, vol. 78 (1963), pages 696-703; J.S. Moore, 'The Domesday teamland: a reconsideration', Transactions of the Royal Historical Society, vol. 14 (1964), pages 109-30; R. Welldon Finn, 'The teamland of the Domesday inquest', English Historical Review, vol. 83 (1968), pages 95-101; Sally P.J. Harvey, 'Taxation and the ploughland in Domesday Book', Domesday Book: a reassessment, edited by Peter H. Sawyer (1985), pages 86-103; Sally P.J. Harvey, 'Taxation and the economy', Domesday studies, edited by J.C. Holt (1987), pages 249-64; and Nicholas J. Higham, 'Settlement, land use and Domesday ploughlands', Landscape History, vol. 12 (1990), pages 33-44; Finally, David Roffe, Domesday: the Inquest and the Book (2000) and Decoding Domesday (2007), has contrived to produce a new interpretation. Despite all this, Maitland remains the most lucid exposition of the problems involved.

On the related problem of the nature of the Domesday ploughteam, there are important contributions by Reginald Lennard, 'The Domesday ploughteam: the south-western evidence', English Historical Review, vol. 60 (1945), pages 217-33; H.P.R. Finberg, 'The Domesday plough team', English Historical Review, vol. 55 (1951), pages 67-71; Reginald Lennard, 'The composition of the Domesday caruca', English Historical Review, vol. 81 (1966), pages 770-75; and John Langdon, Horses, oxen and technological innovation: the use of draught animals in English farming from 1066 to 1500 (Cambridge, 1986).

On hides, the analysis of J.H. Round in Feudal England (1895), is still valuable though his conclusions have been vigorously disputed by J. McDonald and G. D. Snooks, The Domesday economy: a new approach to Anglo-Norman history (1986). R. A. Leaver, 'Five hides in ten counties', Economic History Review, vol. 41 (1988), pages 525-42, has demonstrated, however, that Round was essentially correct in his view that the hide was an artificial and not a measured unit. A useful brief review of hides and measurement is given by T.K. Keefe, Feudal assessments and the political community under Henry III and his sons (1983), pages 22-23 and references. Philip Grierson, English linear measures (1972), give further detail on these and other measures; and F.W. Maitland, Domesday book and beyond (1897), provides his customarily pellucid exposition of the problems involved in understanding early measures.

On Hundreds and shires C.S. Taylor, 'The origin of the Mercian shires', in Gloucestershire studies, edited by H.P.R. Finberg (1957), pages 17-51, is still important; as are Cyril Hart, 'The hidation of Huntingdonshire', Proceedings of the Cambridge Antiquarian Society, vol. 61 (1968), pages 55-66; The hidation of Northamptonshire (1970); and The hidation of Cambridgeshire. Several other valuable items by Hart are reprinted in his book, The Danelaw (1992). Though concerned with an earlier age, The defence of Wessex: the Burghal Hidage and Anglo-Saxon fortification, edited by David Hill and A.R. Rumble (Manchester, 1996), is important for this subject. On the composition of Domesday Hundreds, the many articles by Frank Thorn are essential, as are the works of Olof S. Anderson for the names of the Hundreds (see the alphabetical listing for both of these).

The Domesday vill is discussed in all major works on Domesday, as is the manor. On the latter see James Tait's review of Maitland in English Historical Review, vol. 12 (1897), pages 768-77; J.H. Round, 'The Domesday manor', English Historical Review, vol. 15 (1900), pages 293-302; T.H. Aston, 'The origins of the manor in England' Transactions of the Royal Historical Society, vol. 8 (1958), pages 59-83; John J.N. Palmer, 'The Domesday manor' in J.C. Holt (ed.), Domesday studies (1987), pages 139-54. David Roffe, Domesday: the Inquest and the Book (2000), pages 217-18, and Decoding Domesday (2007), pages 176-82, argues that the manor is 'a measure of service' rather than of assessment for taxation and public obligations.

On circuits, a term that does not appear in Domesday but which is of considerable importance in understanding the record, Carl Stephenson, 'Notes on the composition and interpretation of Domesday Book', Speculum. vol. 22 (1947), pages 1-15, is the most thorough discussion; though Domesday re-bound by HM Stationery Office, and David Roffe, 'Domesday Book and northern society: a reassessment', English Historical Review, vol. 105 (1990), pages 310-36, make useful additions.

Finally, Peter H. Sawyer, From Roman Britain to Anglo-Saxon England (1968), has some trenchant remarks on the inadequacy of various Domesday statistics relating to many of these topics.