Domesday Book

When the Normans ruled Britain after the Battle of Hastings, William the Conqueror ordered that an Inquest be carried out to assess the loyalty of the Saxons in any future wars with the Danes and to enable the king to estimate the power of his vassal barons. Following this, a second survey of England was carried out in order to assess land tax and other dues, to ascertain the value of the crown lands. The results were compiled into the Book of Winchester, or Domesday Book.

Domesday Book was compiled by seven groups of officers, written up by one man, took seven months to produce and was completed in 1086 (or possibly later). The speed with which the document was compiled may be an indication of the quality of earlier Anglo-Saxon records.

Domesday Book is valuable to historians since it records the existence, names and sizes of the various townships throughout the country.

Because it was primarily concerned with taxation, there is little mention of things such as churches, houses, rivers and so on, in the survey

The land was divided into seven regions, but the area north of the Ribble and the Tees – the counties of Northumberland and Durham – were omitted, and also London, Winchester, and certain other towns.

The original two volumes of Domesday BookGreat Domesday and Little Domesday (covering Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex) - are preserved at the Public Record Office

There are several sections referring to the modern Calderdale area:

In Wachefeld with 9 berewicks Sandala, Sorebi, Werla
feslei. Micleie. Wadesuurde. Gruberonestum. Langefelt. Stanesfelt. There are for geld 60 carucates of land and 3 bovates and ½ bovates. 30 ploughs can plough this land. This manor belonged to King Edward. Now they are in the hands of King William. There are 4 villani and 2 churches and 7 sokemen and 16 bordarii. Together they have 7 ploughs. Pasturable woodland 6 leagues long and 4 leagues broad. The whole 6 leagues long and 4 leagues broad. In the time of King Edward it was worth £60 now £15

There is reference to 9 berewicks but only 8 names are given:

Sandala » Sandal Magna
Sorebi » Sowerby
Werla feslei » Warley
Micleie » Midgley
Wadesuurde » Wadsworth
Gruberonestum » Erringden
Langefelt » Langfield
Stanesfelt » Stansfield
In the original text, the name WerlafesleiWarley – is broken at the end of a line, which led to this being read as two names – Werla and feslei. The name feslei rather then Feslei would seem to be a continuation and has been mistakenly interpreted as Halifax which does not appear in the Domesday Book; presumably, Halifax – or Heptonstall – is the missing berewick.

Since William I did not recognise Harold as King, all references to the time before William's reign are said to be in the time of King Edward.

The section referring to Clifton records that the village held 7 carucates of land – this is more than any other part of Calderdale.

The section referring to Elland runs:

In Elant, Gamel has 3½ carucates for geld where two ploughs may be. Ilbert has it now and it is waste. T.R.E valued 20/-. Pasturable wood ½ league in length and four quarenteens in breadth and 4 acres meadow

The section referring to Hebden and Heptonstall runs:

In Heptone, two brothers have 3 carucates for geld where three ploughs may be. Ilbert and Gamel have it now and it is waste. T.R.E valued 20/-. Pasturable wood 1½ leagues in length and 1 league in breadth

The section referring to Southowram runs:

In Overe, Gamel has 3 carucates for geld where two ploughs may be. Ilbert has it now and it is waste. T.R.E valued 20/-. Pasturable wood 3 quaranteens in length and 3 in breadth

Domesday Book describes much of the land as being entirely or partly waste, possibly a consequence of campaigns against insurrections opposed to William the Conqueror in 1068-1070 which were known as the Harrying of the North

Glossary of some of the terms

Note that

See Population statistics

© Malcolm Bull 2021
Revised 15:04 / 12th May 2021 / 9881

Page Ref: KK_11

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