Accounts of a medieval Dorset estate

Contributed by Dorset History Centre

Accounts of a medieval Dorset estate

This object shows the sophisticated network of trade, accounting and estate management at the end of the medieval period. The formal Latin account for the profits of the manors of Burcombe, Fifehead Neville and Melbury Osmond is written on parchment by the steward of the estates of the Earls of Arundel in Dorset. It is attached to small paper receipts written in English for rents and services. All of these documents are tied to two small wooden tallies submitted by the shepherds, reeves and bailiffs with their contributions to the final account. While it is often stated that the life of a medieval peasant was "nasty, brutish and short" it is less often observed that medieval peasants contributed to a highly developed market economy. As these tallies show a shepherd might not have been literate, but he could account for five or six hundred sheep as well as the wool, skins and cheese they produced.

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Michaelmas 1485


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