IN THE PAST two decades databases and digital translations of Domesday Book have provided powerful tools for searching the text and analysing its content, but these tools do not yet include what might appear to be the most useful one for scholarly purposes, a searchable Latin text. This paper describes a project to create one, outlining the workforce and facilities employed, the problems involved, the characteristics of the edition, progress to date, and results from a preliminary analysis of this first digital text of the Latin Domesday.
A digital Farley
The first stage in the project was to transcribe the Latin text edited by Abraham Farley. This was part of a larger scheme to produce digital versions of the Ordnance Survey facsimile, the Latin text, the Phillimore translation, databases of names, places and statistics, and notes on the identification of Domesday landowners, with the ultimate objective of linking these elements and mapping the data in them. The Latin text and translation were produced at the University of Hull at the beginning of the 1980s by a team of apprentice typists working on one of the many schemes devised by the Thatcher government to reduce the unemployment it had created. The trainees knew no Latin, worked from poor quality Xeroxes of the Farley edition, had no previous computer training, and had to cope with mainframe software which was extremely user-unfriendly. There were no resources to have their work systematically proof-read. In short, the transcript invites caution. That said, random checks on all parts of the text suggest that the trainees acquitted themselves astonishingly well. Apart from a small number of rogue passages since corrected, the overall error-rate appears to be low, even by professional standards. The research described below tends to confirm this judgement. As an aid to further checking, the text and the Ordnance Survey facsimile are linked on an entry-byentry basis.
Characteristics of the digital Farley
With one exception discussed towards the end of this paper, the main characteristics of the digital Farley are a product of the period when it was created, the computing facilities then available, and the nature of the workforce employed. Given those constraints, instructions for the trainees were kept to a minimum.