Prosopography of Anglo-Saxon England

[Image: Witness list of a royal diploma, S 497 (extract); Aelfwine]



PASE Database

The banner which occurs at the top of each page in PASE (except for PASE Domesday) comprises three elements. On the left hand side, the letters of ‘P’ and ‘E’ of PASE have been drawn based on the design of illuminated letters in Cambridge, Trinity College, Cambridge B.11.9 (Amalarius, De ecclesiastici officiis).

The background text on the right-hand side of the banner forms part of the witness-list of a charter of King Edmund, dated 944, recording a grant of land in Kent to a certain Ælfstan minister (London, British Library Stowe Ch. 25 (= S 497)). This represents the foundation of knowledge on which the project depends: a profusion of recorded names, here occurring in a closely dated and localized context, but in need of further analysis.

The image of a person, here superimposed on the charter, symbolizes the challenges that prosopographers face, but at the same time signals how PASE enables users to respond. It derives from the lower margin of Oxford, Bodleian Library, Junius 11 (the ‘Cædmon Manuscript’), p. 2, which contains Old English poems based on the Biblical stories of Genesis, Exodus and Daniel, used perhaps as devotional readings for Lent, and datable to the years around 1000. The man identified as ‘Ælfwine’ looks from his hairstyle and perhaps costume as if he is a layman. It is tempting to assume that he was patron, scribe, illuminator or owner of the book. The PASE database contains data relating to various laymen named Ælfwine who flourished c. 1000: they include Ælfwine 2 and Ælfwine 3, either perhaps identifiable with Ælfwine 32 minister and scriptor, to whom King Æthelred granted land in Oxfordshire in 984, or another Ælfwine (for instance, 26, 27 or 28). The hypothesis of a lay Ælfwine would arguably exclude Ælfwine 46, dean of the New Minster, Winchester, in the 1020s, and abbot of the New Minster (1031−57), known for his prayer-book and his role in the production of the New Minster’s Liber Vitae. Any further suggestions for the identification of Ælfwine in other sources will be gratefully received.

PASE Domesday

The banner which occurs at the top of each page in PASE Domesday comprises two elements. On the left-hand side, ‘PASE Domesday’ is superimposed over an extract from the entry for Mapledurham in Hampshire, taken from Great Domesday Book folio 38 recto (reproduced by permission of the National Archives). This entry records that the estate in question was held by a certain Wulfgifu in 1066 and by King William in 1086; it also asserts that Queen Matilda ‘had it’, presumably until she died in 1083. The PASE Domesday dataset contains nearly fifty entries relating to women named Wulfgifu scattered in twelve different shires, but it remains unclear how many different women these entries relate to, and whether any of them can be identified in documents other than Domesday Book. The entry thus represents the kind of prosopographical problem that PASE Domesday is designed to address. It is also a reminder that, although women are under-represented in the sources for Anglo-Saxon England, they are fully captured throughout PASE.

The right-hand side of the banner draws on a detail from the Bayeux Tapestry (late eleventh century), reproduced by special permission of the City of Bayeux. The image in question shows a group of people witnessing the coronation of King Harold II at Westminster Abbey on 6 January 1066: this group may be taken to symbolize the body of pre-Conquest landholders whose estates are recorded in Domesday Book, and whose identification PASE Domesday is designed to facilitate.