The Community of Brize Norton


      You are here > Home >  History > The Domesday Book       Site Map

The Rotate Images code used on this page is from




Duke William of Normandy was not named William the Conqueror for nothing. English land, on his arrival at Hastings in 1066, was held by English Earls, Knights and noblemen. England was a mixture of races by then, Vikings, Saxons and the Britons. On becoming King, William set about removing most of the landowners and putting himself, French and Norman cohorts and friendly English collaborators in their place. It was some years before peace came, after many battles from exiled English lords and the Danes. In 1085 he sent his men over all England, into each shire, to investigate his subjects and their property. Details were entered into The Kings Book later to be named The Domesday Book; the old English word for assessment was. At that time most people worked on the land and life was hard. Main crops were grain with very few herds of animals and much of the country covered by forest, marsh and fenland. Most people lived in villages in the centre of arable land. Some men were free and owned land but paid their Lord a nominal rent and helped to bring in the harvest. Plough land was in strips within communal land; the landless serfs were forbidden to leave the village and worked for the Lord. The thegn was a nobleman, villan a village peasant, a bordar a cottager -lower status than a village, and a slave was the lowest of the low, who had no privileges. A hide was the amount of land supporting a household, a virgate was a quarter of a hide and a plough was the arable capacity of an estate with 8 ox teams needed to work it. A demesne was a manor in the lord's personal possession. Bear all this in mind when we consider the area that we now live in and how it was when the Domesday Book was written


LAND OF ROGER d'IVRY Fulk holds of Roger 14 hides and 1'/2 virgates of land in (Brize) Norton. There is land of 12 ploughs. Now he has in demesne 5 hides of the villan's land and there are 5 ploughs with 1 knight of his. There are 8 slaves and 13 villans with 17 bordars and 24 acres of meadow. There is a grove 1 furlong long and half a furlong broad. It was worth 9, now 13. 14 thegns held this land.

Theodric the goldsmith holds of the king 1 hide in (Brize) Norton. There is land for 1 plough. He has this plough in demesne. It was worth 10 shillings, now 20 shillings.

Land belonging to the Fief of Earl William (A fief held land in return for military service) Roger holds Estrope Astrop). There is land for 2 ploughs. He has these there with 4 slaves and 1 and 4 bordars. There is pasture 3 furlongs in length and 2 furlongs in breadth. It was worth 20 shillings; now 30 shillings.


Roger d'Ivry holds 3 hides in (Black) Bortune and Pain holds of him. There is land for 8 ploughs. Now in demesne are 2 ploughs with 1 slave; and 10 villans with 6 bordars have 10 ploughs. There are 50 acres of meadow and 8 acres of pasture. It was and is worth 4.

Ansketil holds 2 hides in (Black) Bortune. There is land for 2 ploughs. There are 2 ploughs and 2 slaves. There is a mill rendering 3 shillings and 6 acres of meadow and as many pasture. It was worth 20 shillings; now 40 shillings.

ERNULF de HESDIN holds of the king 5 hides in (Black) Bortune and holds of him. There is land for 6 ploughs. Now in demesne are 3 ploughs and 2 slaves; and 9 villans with 3 bordars have 3 ploughs. There is a mill rendering 4 shillings and 20 acres of meadow and pasture 4 furlongs long and as many broad. It was and is worth 4. Thorgot held it freely.

By the end of William's reign (1087) the villager had lost all his privileges and was securely tied to the Lord who sub-let the land to ruthless landlords.









Phil Holmes  Updated on Tuesday 10 April 2011