DCD Holy Island account 1408-9 dorse
Status of the house of Holy Island set down by dom. John of Newburn Prior of the same place .
The status or inventory was a document regularly used by the monks of Durham as a means of monitoring the conduct of those responsible for departments of the monastery or for cells, to check that moveable goods were not wasted or disposed of illicitly. It was normal for an outgoing office-holder to draw up an inventory; this could then be checked against the one drawn up by his predecessor, and the incoming office-holder could check the new inventory against the moveables that it purported to record. In consequence the inventories produced for each department or cell tended to follow a pattern set by the previous inventories; so, for instance, those for Holy Island and Farne record the books kept there, whereas those for other cells do not mention them. When items recorded in previous inventories were no longer present, an explanation was provided, for instance 'Apud Dunelm- sunt libri deportati per dominum Rogerum de Maynesforth bursarium cum libris domini Roberti Claxton. videlicet. j biblia ...'[view], while it was regular practice to identify recent acquisitions by naming the donor, for instance 'Item j vestimentum integrum. videlicet. j casula.. ij tunice. iij albe. cum j capa eiusdem secte ex dono domini Walteri Episcopi' [view] referring to Bishop Skirlawe (d. 1406). As was natural the inventory was structured by the whereabouts of the items recorded, generally at a cell starting in the church, and then going through the rooms, from the most important to the service-rooms, the stable and then out to the home farm, which in the case of Holy Island was based on the mainland at Fenham. Although they framed them in Latin those responsible for such inventories regarded it as increasingly unnecessary to find Latin terms for every item, using the vernacular instead, thus 'In Camera ... iij basinettes cum ij euentall- [helmets with ventails or visors]. j brestplate. j habirion- antiquum. ij jakkes nullius valoris. ij lancee. iij gunnes. ij secures. ij wymbyll-. ij hakkes. j persur. j plau. ij mattokkes.' [view], with axes the only item in Latin. Most inventories of this kind are found on the dorse of accounts, but some separate examples survive, and during the earlier fourteenth century for the cells an annual inventory was the documentary means of holding the heads of the cells to account, prior to annual accounts being required.
The script of this inventory illustrates well the adoption of features of secretary, in the forms of a (single-compartment as against double in anglicana), g (open, not closed, bowl) and r (short not long), the exaggerated descender of long s, kidney-shaped final s and rolled-over final e, and in a preference for angular, rather than rounded forms, particularly conspicuous in the case of a. As with many early examples of a new script the scribe sometimes "lapsed" into his older habits, here with the form for g, but this appears to have been deliberately used in all vernacular words, many of them being --ing words.