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Collection of Medieval Charters

The core of the DEEDS corpus consists of English Latin charters from the reigns of William I (1066-87) to Edward II (1307-27). Charters of this period were often not dated. A charter is considered dated if there is a recognizable date within the document. The date may be a reference to anno domini [the year of the Lord], a royal, episcopal or pontifical regnal year, a feast day, or an historical event. There may be one, or more than one, of any of the different types of date reference. The reference(s) may be incomplete but the the date can still be determined. Charters that do not have an internal date may have a date assigned by the editor of the charter collection using evidence in the charter, or possibly a secondary source. Assigned dates are often date ranges, as the date(s) are usually based on the known life spans of witnesses or of the charter originator. Undated charters may also be datable to a given year by internal evidence, such as the many published by R.E. Salter for the Oxford Record Society which contain the names of office holders who only held their post for a year at a time.

New charters are being added continuously, including dated and undated Anglo-Saxon, English, and Continental charters from French and German speaking territories. Charters are usually only included if the actual or probable date of the document is between 1066 and 1315. There are some exceptions, notably the Anglo-Saxon charters which are all pre-Conquest.

Each charter has been digitized either by scanning the printed source and then applying OCR (Optical Character Recognition) to generate the text, or transcribed directly from the manuscript, or has been sourced in a previously digitized format. The digitized charter text is stored in a database management system, along with meta-data and annotations.

The number of charters included for each chronological time span varies upon their rate of survival and their occurrence in the many hundreds of printed editions from which they have been extracted. The accuracy of the chronological evidence also varies, from the exact day, month and year to a range of years.