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Mapping the Medieval Countryside project receives £528,000 in funding

A new project from King’s College London and the University of Winchester will allow researchers to explore the lands of medieval England as never before has received over half a million pounds in funding.

The three-year project is led by medieval historian Professor Michael Hicks at Winchester, and Paul Spence, Senior Lecturer at Kings’ College London’s Department of Digital Humanities. It will digitise hundreds of years worth of records showing the land held by tenants at the time of their death. The ‘Mapping the Medieval Countryside: The Fifteenth Century Inquisitions Post Mortem’ project has been made possible by a £528,000 grant from the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC).

Inquisitions post mortems (IPMs) are the single most important source for the study of landed society in later medieval England and to a lesser extent of Tudor and Stuart England, with thousands held in the National Archives at Kew. The project will digitise 29 volumes covering periods between 1236 to 1447 and 1485 to 1509 and publish them on British History Online where any researcher, archaeologist or amateur historian can view them for free.

“The original volumes are highly expensive and difficult to manipulate in the way required by modern scholarship,” explained Professor Hicks. “This project will revolutionise how scholars can access this information.”

The most recently published volumes, covering the years 1399 to 1447, will be converted into a fully interactive database which allows users to search and analyse all of the data, which is unusable in its current form. In addition, map-based statistical analysis will allow researchers to trace changes in land usage and provide new insights into the people and places mentioned in the texts.

Paul Spence added, ‘King’s is internationally renowned for its digital humanities research and this project will build on ground-breaking research in digital historical studies, computer-based text modelling and visualisation.

‘The project will allow people to access this key resource in a manner which previously required direct access to the documents themselves and specialist knowledge.’

Following the completion of the project the researchers intend to enhance other volumes to the same standard and fill the gap between published IPMs between 1447 and 1485.

Click here to see more information about the project. For more details contact Anna Mitchell on 0207 848 3092 or at anna.i.mitchell@kcl.ac.uk.

Sources: University of Winchester, King’s College London

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