Anglo-Saxon roll lists every king and Bugga

July 8, 2005

From Abarhilda to Zacharias, every recorded Anglo-Saxon - and every fact recorded about them at the time - gets a mention on a new research database that promises to shed more light on England in the Dark Ages.

The Prosopography of Anglo-Saxon England (Pase) database and its website document every single person mentioned in contemporary records - from slaves to popes, concubines to kings, and prostitutes to priests.

It includes the names of all the Anglo-Saxon kings and queens between 597 and 1042, most of the aristocracy, many bishops, monks, abbesses and nuns.

The database is the product of collaboration between the department of history at King's College London and the department of Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic at Cambridge University. The project received £500,000 from the Arts and Humanities Research Board, now a research council.

The prosopography, a form of information collection and inquiry focusing on individuals, records more than 11,000 people. The website features the details that surround the names, allowing researchers to make links.

The database includes Fug, recorded as being a witness in 716 to the granting of privileges and immunity to the churches and monasteries in Kent by Wihtred 1, the king of Kent in 690-725.

Wigbald, a scribe in Vatican City, gets a mention, as does Smelt, a priest in the early 11th century, and so do Bugga, daughter of Centwine, king of Wessex, and Earwig, recorded as the father of Godwine in the early 11th century.

Wulfbald 3 - the number distinguishing him from two other Wulfbalds - was a bit of a maverick, massacring and seizing land from Beorhtmaer 4, a kinsman. He eventually got his comeuppance when his land was seized by Ethelred 32.

The information comes from all the written sources produced in Anglo-Saxon England including The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle , writers such as Bede, letters, church and cathedral records, wills, charters and writings of monks and clergy.

Project co-director Jinty Nelson, of King's, said that while royal, aristocratic and ecclesiastical personages are disproportionately represented in Pase, the database includes everyone.

"If they're recorded, they're in. If they have no name, they're recorded as 'anonymi' and it's striking that the decision to enter anonymi has thrown up a large number of women."

Simon Keynes, co-director of the project at Cambridge, said: "Pase is not a substitute for reading the sources, but it's a great help. Students can tap into the kind of things people did - and did to each other. This database will transform the study of Anglo-Saxon England."

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