Niven Sinclair Library Acquires
Copies of Domesday Books

From Roslin O Roslin Summer 2001 (Vol 3 No 24), Rory Sinclair, Editor

Niven Sinclair has added to the growing collection of books at the Sinclair Centre at Noss Head by purchasing extraordinary and unique copies of the Great and Little Domesday books which have recently become available.

After almost 900 years since these books were completed on behalf of William the Conqueror, it was decided to unbind both the Great and Little Domesday Books and, whilst they were un-bound, the opportunity was taken to photograph them using modern colour printing technology. This massive task took eight months of painstaking labour because of the brittle nature of the parchment.

The prime consideration was legibility. Every stroke of the scribes pen had to be as clear (or, indeed, as unclear) as it was on the original page. Special parchment was also produced to replicate the 413 folios of the Great Domesday Book and the 451 folios of the Little Domesday Book.

The greater number of folios in the Little Domesday Book is explained by two facts: first, there is less text on each of the Little Domesday Book folios; second, the Little Domesday text escaped final editing and is, therefore, more detailed.

The finished work has been described as the finest facsimile of an historic document ever printed (UPI) The Great Domesday Book covers 31 Counties of England whilst the Little Domesday Book covers the remaining 3 Counties (Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex) which are of especial interest to Sinclairs as it was in those three counties, and in Kent, where the Sinclairs were principally found after the Conquest.

It is hoped to be able to compare the references to Sinclairs in the Great and Little Domesday books with those mentioned in The St Clairs of the Isles and The Sinclairs of England. This will be an interesting, if time consuming, task as it will be necessary to follow the sons of Walderne, Hamon and Hubert as they assist William in the Normanisation of England.


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