DCD 1.1.Pont.4A

Ed. Durham Episcopal Charters, no. 4a.

Forged diploma of Bishop William of Durham for the monks of Durham.
[1084 !]

The fact that the monastic archive contains a considerable cache of forged documents purporting to date from the late eleventh century was uncovered by the Revd William Greenwell in 1872 (Feodarium pp. xxxi-lxxix). He was principally able to demonstrate this from the lists of witnesses which include the names of those who were either dead or not in the office specified at one and the same time; he also had his suspicions about the hands in which the documents are written. In establishing when the forgeries were made further work has examined the script more closely, see David Bates,'The forged charters of William the Conqueror and Bishop William of St Calais', in Anglo-Norman Durham, ed. David Rollason, et al., (1994), 111-22, while Offler, and others, sought to identify the historical circumstances which might have prompted their manufacture, such as the claim of the Durham monks against St Alban's abbey to Tynemouth priory, which they actively and unsuccessfully pursued in 1172. In general little evidence has been detected that the monks sought to provide themselves in these forgeries with the right to properties or privileges to which they had no claim whatever; had they done so they would have laid themselves wide open to being challenged, with their written evidences hopelessly undermined.
Like several of the forgeries this document is cast in the form of a diploma. The names and crosses below the text are in columns, arranged hierarchically, as on an Anglo-Saxon diploma, but an attempt seems to have been made to make them look autograph, more in the Norman tradition. The seal, attached by a doubled strip of parchment, is an impression of a forged matrix that was used at least five times (Greenwell & Blair no. 3109); the view (id. no. 3108) that there were two forged matrices has been doubted (Durham Episcopal Charters no. 7). The forger saw fit to furnish his handiwork with a tie which passes through the turn-up into the body of the seal.