English Monastic Archives
The database, created by the English Monastic Archives project, is a guide to documents generated by medieval monasteries. It is now once again available after going off-line for some months because a new host for the site had to be found. UCL Library has now taken on this role. Migrating the data to new software has been a challenging process and the outcome is a provisional database which cannot be searched in all the ways allowed by its predecessors. We hope before long to make it easy to download the whole database to allow users to search flexibly on their own. At present it can only be downloaded in XML form, which is less easy to use. Nonetheless it is best to make it available without further delay. Currently, users have the following options: Full Monastic Archive dataset, Browse by house, Browse by order, Browse by county, Browse by time period, Browse by repository, Browse by genre.
‘Genre’ here means source genre, and the range of source types correlates with the ‘Diplomatic’ of Monastic Documents’ found under the heading ‘Source Genres’ on the opening page of the Database.
Researchers who click on ‘Browse by genre’, ‘Browse by house’, or one of the other options, will be given lists of further options. Thus ‘Browse by house’ will yield ‘Abbotsbury (14), Abingdon (55)’, etc. up to the end of the alphabet. The numbers in brackets after the name refer to the number of documents. When on clicks through under, say, Abbotsbury, one gets click-throughs to these fourteen documents, without further guidance to what they contain, except that there is a century date. (The name that goes with the document is that of the original inputter, thus immortalized for posterity, for so the software would have it.) Users interested in Abbotsbury have to try all the documents, unless they are able to narrow the search by century. Similarly, ‘Browse by genre’ yields a list of documentary categories starting with ‘Building accounts (41), Cartularies (285)’ and so on through the alphabet, with the (most) relevant century by each item. When there are many documents, searching will take time, though only a tiny fraction of the time that would have been required without the database. More sophisticated searching will be possible once the database has been adapted to allow it to be downloaded in user-friendly form.