Discovering the People Behind the Records

The Conisbrough Court Rolls provide a fascinating glimpse into medieval life in Yorkshire. They give an insight into the workings of the manor court of Conisbrough which covered much of the modern-day borough of Doncaster.

The rolls were mostly written in Latin until 1733. Within them is a lot of legal jargon that is no longer used. They also contain numerous abbreviations and, in some cases, additional information written in between the lines. Translating them is often a long and complicated task, even though the Latin is very accurate.

The painstaking work of transcribing the documents is worth it as they allow us to uncover how people lived in medieval Doncaster.

Some of the offences reported in the rolls include people selling ale, bread, and meat that didn’t meet trading standards, getting into fights and committing petty theft.

In 2019, Doncaster Archives held workshops of palaeography to engage the public with the court rolls project, and share insight into how the rolls were transcribed. The sessions aimed to help participants develop reading, deciphering, dating, and writing skills in relation to historic documents.