Background to the Project

In the late 1980s the Senior Research Fellow for the Project, Joy Jenkyns, set up on Oxford University’s mainframe computer an electronic corpus of some 1000 charter boundary texts. Most of these texts were taken initially from the Toronto Corpus of Old English, via the Oxford Text Archive. Each text was then tagged with a set of data which included county and estate-name, purported date of grant, date of manuscript, names of grantor and recipient, and location of estate by Ordnance Survey coordinates. A relational database was used for editing, ordering, formatting, and tagging texts, and producing statistics. A concordancing program was then incorporated to produce concordances, indexes, wordlists etc. The results from these could in turn be formatted for use by a graphics program to produce distribution maps of place-name elements and other data plotted by the OS coordinate of the estate in whose boundary they occur. Further refinements allowed the material to be plotted by archive, date, manuscript or indeed any criteria contained within the tagging system.

This was clunky, but it worked - in fact, every interrogation of the material using this resource would typically produce enough raw data for a single small research project; however the material was inaccessible to others. Moreover, at this point Oxford University’s Vax machine was replaced by a Unix system, rendering many of the Vax-compliant programs unusable.

Adapting for Unix compliancy a resource which was machine- and program- specific would not solve the problem of accessibility: the material needed to be released into the wider community in a fully platform-independent structure. It also needed to be rigorously revised and re-edited. This period coincided with the beginnings of the Internet and Text Encoding Initiatives, and the material was put into electronic mothballs. The development of the World Wide Web, text-mark-up procedures and web/database interfaces rendered the time right to recover the database, overhaul it, and make it universally accessible.

Accordingly, in 2003 an application was made to the Arts and Humanities Research Council. It was accepted, and the project commenced in October 2004.

Progress Reports

December 2004

Progress report December 2004 [pdf]

October 2005

Progress report October 2005 [pdf]

April 2006

Progress report April 2006 [pdf]

May 2008

Progress report May 2008 [pdf]

June 2008

Progress report June 2008 [pdf]