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Focus on Domesday

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A difficult job Collecting the information Writing it up Which places are included?
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How was it made?

Making a goose feather quill

Making a goose feather quill

Writing it up

Writing was hard work. Before writing, the scribe ruled out each line. Every letter of each word had to be perfectly shaped, to make it easy to read. The scribe who wrote Great Domesday was very careful, but with so much to do, he made quite a few mistakes! However, wherever you see a word crossed out in red, the scribe was highlighting the word. These are not errors! This method of highlighting words is called rubrication.

Sheep-skin parchment

Great Domesday was made from nine hundred sheepskins. These were soaked in a lime solution and scraped to remove the animal hairs. The skins were then stretched over wooden frames and left to dry out to make parchment.

Writing tools

The scribe wrote with a quill usually made from a goose feather. These quills had a tip that was broad and slanted like the blade of chisel.


In the Middle Ages, ink was made from the juices of plants, leaves and roots. The ink used in Domesday Book was made from oak galls. These are little brown growths on oak trees caused by insects or fungus. The ink would have dried to a black colour, but over the years it has turned brown. The scribe also used red ink. This was made from red lead. The red ink was used for headings or to underline names or important pieces of information.