A selection of medieval documents

This collection of images was initially created to support a post-graduate class in palaeography and diplomatic, based on Durham Cathedral Muniments, which constitute the most important medieval archive in the British Isles outside the Public Record Office. It aims to provide a conspectus of the various types of document kept by a large monastery supported by extensive estates and with an array of privileges, but inevitably some categories are not present, and it is by deliberate decision that there is barely any Scottish material, although the original archive of Durham's dependency at Coldingham is of outstanding importance. Suggestions for the inclusion of types of document apparently overlooked are most welcome, as are other comments and corrections. (The taught course also includes a diploma of Edward the Confessor, 1145 (London, B.L. Cotton Charter viii.9; Sawyer, no. 1008); writs of Edward the Confessor (Bishop & Chaplais, no. xxiii: Westminster Abbey, xviii and xii); and a general confirmation of Pope Adrian IV, 1156 (Cambridge, Corpus Christi College, MS Parker 627; Holtzmann, II no. 94).)

Two features of Durham's monastic archive deserve mention. First the degree to which material of ephemeral significance was preserved, a conspicuous example being the numerous receipts from the period c.1250 - c.1350. Second the presence of extraneous material as a result of the owners of documents depositing them for safe-keeping and never withdrawing them, a prime example being the Claxton deeds; such deposits included documents for the community of the bishopric, in the same way as copies of Magna carta were placed at Lincoln and Salisbury.

In the selective transcripts attached to some of the images brackets are used as follows: { } enclose additions; < > suppressed letters or words, with *** used when these cannot be deciphered; and [ ] editorial matter.

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