An extract from the Anglo Saxon Chronicle © The Bodleian Library, University of Oxford,
MS Laud Misc. 636, fol. 62v.
"[King William] sent his men over all England into every shire and had them find out how many 100 hides there were in the shire, or what land and cattle the King himself had in the country or what dues he ought to have in the 12 months from the shire. He also recorded how much land his archbishops had and his bishops and his abbots and his earls how much each man who was a landholder in England had in land or livestock and how much money it was worth".
To collect so much information and in such minute detail could not have been an easy job. The work was made harder because very few people in England at this time could read or write. The people in England spoke Saxon-English. The lords and the men who were sent out to collect the information spoke Norman-French or Latin. Someone reliable had to be found who could understand and translate what the English were saying.
What is more, the English people were not exactly pleased about this survey in the first place. Nobody had asked them such searching questions before. They did not want to pay more taxes either. Not surprisingly, the temptation to tell lies was very strong. The men who collected the information had to check that it was accurate.