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Digital Humanities meets Medieval Financial Records: The Receipt Rolls of the Irish Excequer

StatusActive
Period13/01/2026/06/20

Description

The aim is to apply Digital Humanities methodologies to the analysis of financial records produced in Ireland in the Middle Ages. We will explore how the data from one particular record, the Receipt Roll for 1301-2 – including place-names, personal names, legal terms, types of payment – can be captured in the most efficient and error-free manner possible and encoded in TEI/XML (tei-c.org). Prototype XQuery (w3.org/TR/xquery) scripts will transform the XML to tabular data which can be analysed with Python (python.org) and the Pandas data analysis library (pandas.pydata.org), which will then be used to create visualisations such as graphs and tables with Matplotlib (matplotlib.org) and Seaborn (seaborn.pydata.org) within Jupyter notebooks (jupyter.org).

Layman's description

English colonial rule in Ireland involved the establishment on the island of replicas of the government departments upon which the Crown relied in England. This project focuses on the exchequer – the financial arm of English power. Among the many types of document produced by the exchequer to record its activities were the Receipt Rolls. A Receipt Roll was completed at the end of each financial year. It recorded on a daily, weekly, and term (i.e. ‘Michaelmas’, ‘Hilary’, ‘Trinity’) basis the moneys received at the exchequer from all over the country. Rolls survive for most years between 1280 and 1440, each containing hundreds of thousands of data points. We will focus on the Receipt Roll for 1301-2, a particularly busy year, and explore how the application to the information it contains of DH methodologies helps deepen our understanding both of that information and of the bureaucratic processes that produced it.

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