Domesday Book

The Domesday Book is the oldest government record held in The National Archives. There are In fact two Domesday Books..

Little Domesday and Great Domesday

Together contain a great deal of information about England in the 11th century. In 1086, King William I the Conqueror wanted to find out about all the land in his new kingdom, who owned which property, who else lived there, how much the land was worth and therefore how much tax he could charge.

He sent official government inspectors around England to ask questions in local courts. Fixed questions were asked, such as what the place was called, who owned it, how many men lived there, how many cows were there and so on.

For each property, questions were asked three times to see what changes had happened over time so that the king would know about the lands in Edward the Confessor?s time.

All the results of these questions were handwritten into the Domesday Book by scribes.

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