Our Churches - Domesday Book
Ours is an ancient landscape. Traversed by The Icnield Way and in part by the Peddars Way, many have passed this way. Bronze Age, Iron Age, Ancient Briton, Roman, Viking, and Anglo Saxon history is all around us.
If you want to learn more of our ancient heritage then do look at the Norfolk Heritage Explorer where you can search the lists of all the finds.
Our Churches date way back. Harpley certainly has signs of a Saxon piscina and Grimston even features Roman bricks in part of its walls. All our Churches sit in sacred sites where possibly even older structures existed before.
What we do know is that our villages are listed in the Domesday Book.
The Domesday Book is the great land survey from 1086, which was commissioned by William the Conqueror to assess the extent of the land and resources he now owned in England at that time - and the amount of the taxes he could raise.
An observer of the survey wrote that "there was no single hide nor a yard of land, nor indeed one ox nor one cow nor one pig which was left out". The sheer scale on which the Domesday survey took place and the irreversible nature of the information collected led people to compare it to the Last Judgement, or 'Doomsday', described in the Bible, when the deeds of Christians written in the Book of Life were to be placed before God for judgement.
The Book provides extensive records of landholders, their tenants, the amount of land they owned, how many people occupied the land (villagers, smallholders, free men, slaves, etc.), the amounts of woodland, meadow, animals, fish and ploughs on the land (if there were any) and other resources, any buildings present (churches, castles, mills, salthouses, etc.), and, of course, the whole purpose of the survey was to value the land and its assets, before the Norman Conquest, after it, and at the time of Domesday.
With the need to defend England from possible invasion threats from Scandinavia, and costly campaigns being fought in northern France, the vast army William needed required substantial funding. The power to raise Danegeld - a uniform tax to pay for the defence of the country - had been inherited from the Anglo-Saxons, and William saw the need for the Domesday Book as a way of assessing the tax he could raise from his subjects.
For us, it gives a fascinating insight to life then and as it is now. Certainly villages have grown - or not. As you can see, Glosthorpe ( now a small housing development in Ashwicken), Mintlyn and Bawsey have all gone. Bawsey Church stands in ruins but only a ground plan and bits of masonary exist for the Churches of Leziate and Mintlyn.
You can see greater details from the Domesday Book by clicking on the links below.
With thanks to the www.opendomesday.org and Professor J.J.N. Palmer and George Slater.
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