An important prerequisite for using the Cluster is to understand the four constituent projects and the data which they can and cannot provide. By analysing these projects, comparing the information they contain, and seeing how each can complement the others, one can then identify the value which the Cluster can add for research into Anglo-Saxon charters. This close comparison and analysis is discussed here; for a briefer and broader overview of the four projects see the Cluster Portal.

Scope of Projects

The four projects all have different scopes. Although there is substantial overlap, they do not cover the same information, and indeed two of the four do not contain the full corpus of Anglo-Saxon charters.

  • eSawyer and PASE contain all charters included in Peter Sawyer's Annotated List, and therefore cover the full corpus of charters issued before 1066 as recognised by scholars today. However, a small number of recently discovered charters are in eSawyer but not yet in PASE. The corpus contains a little under 2000 charters.
  • ASChart contains only those charters issued before A.D. 900. It therefore contains about 470 charters, or one quarter of the surviving corpus.
  • LangScape contains only those charters with surviving boundary clauses; however, it incorporates some charters issued after 1066. It contains a little over 1000 charters, or about half the surviving corpus.

Project Texts

The four constituent projects in the Cluster, ASChart, eSawyer, LangScape and PASE potentially contain four different versions of the same text. This must be understood if any meaningful integration is to be achieved.


Perhaps surprisingly, there is no single edition of all Anglo-Saxon charters, and many of them have not been edited for over a century. The best near-complete edition to date has been Birch, Cartularium Saxonicum (3 vols, 1885-99), but this does not contain all charters. The gaps are filled by Kemble, Codex Diplomaticus Aevi Saxonici (6 vols, 1839-1848); writs have been edited by Harmer, Anglo-Saxon Writs (1952) and wills by Whitelock, Anglo-Saxon Wills (1930).

Since the start of the 1970s (or thereabouts), the British Academy Charters Committee has been charged with reediting the entire corpus of Anglo-Saxon charters. This has been proceeding by archive. Progress was extremely slow until the mid-1990s, since when 14 volumes have appeared, most by Susan Kelly (see the British Academy website)

In the meantime, Sean Miller created which combined two earlier resources, the so-called Regesta Regum Anglorum and a first iteration of Electronic Sawyer. To summarise, the Regesta Regum contained texts of Anglo-Saxon charters, and Electronic Sawyer contained metadata. The Regesta Regum contained texts from a variety of different sources. In most cases they come from Birch's edition, but this was not clearly documented. They probably came from the new British Academy texts wherever possible, but only a few volumes were available at that time.

More recently, some money was raised to take some of the British Academy volumes and convert them to electronic format in order to be incorporated into eSawyer; some were also translated. This was done by David Pelteret, and the resulting files published on the Kemble website of Anglo-Saxon charters; the texts have also been incorporated into the Electronic Sawyer.

Types of Texts

Because of the different purposes of the four projects, and the different availability of editions when the projects began, the four projects use slightly different texts for the charters, and indeed different types of texts:

  • PASE draws on a variety of sources, depending on what the best edition was at the time: these are usually the British Academy volumes, or the editions by Birch, or Kemble.
  • eSawyer contains all the new British Academy editions which have been completed, including some still unpublished, and otherwise the best available editions. It also contains texts from the Regesta Regum to supplement those which have not yet been published in the British Academy editions.
  • ASChart contains editions from the Regesta Regum.
  • LangScape contains transcripts from manuscripts done by the project team with minimal editing.

The difference between transcripts (or semi-diplomatic editions) in LangScape and full editions in the other projects is significant and should not be under-estimated. It has several consequences:

  1. Even the 'Edited' semi-diplomatic versions of the LangScape texts are very close to the manuscripts and may be too 'raw' for most users of the Cluster.
  2. The LangScape texts are transcripts of individual manuscripts, whereas the other texts are critical editions which may collate different manuscripts. In practice these critical editions may also be based on a single manuscript, but this may or may not be the same as that used for LangScape.
  3. Whereas a critical edition will normally give only one text for each charter, a semi-diplomatic edition may have as many texts as there are manuscripts. In practice, this means that a given charter will probably have one edited text in eSawyer or ASChart but could have eight, ten or more semi-diplomatic texts in LangScape.
  4. Even though eSawyer, ASChart and PASE all contain critical editions, these editions were produced at different times, according to different principles, and for different purposes.

This leads to an important question which is part of a much larger problem of integration: how can we meaningfully combine different texts which are edited according to very different methodologies and for different purposes?

Project Data

The texts are only one aspect of the Cluster: although they are central to three of the four constituent projects (all except PASE), all four can provide additional information and capacity for searching. This other information is discussed here, including how the data in each project could enhance the other three.


Metadata. eSawyer is the authority for the latest information about the charter as physical object, so its archive, present location (repository, shelfmark, etc.), date, bibliographical notes, and so on. For many scholars the bibliography with commentary is the most useful part of eSawyer as it allows one to quickly get a feel for a charter's authenticity. For example, scholars interested in a particular form in LangScape need to quickly judge which hits come from original charters and to eliminate later copies and forgeries. At the moment all of this information is duplicated across the four projects, but it would be ideal in future if the other projects could draw this information dynamically from eSawyer, and for eSawyer to receive updates and corrections as they come from the British Academy committee. This therefore has two aspects: both searching for charters, and displaying information for the user.

  • LangScape's Locate Bounds facility allows searching and browsing on data copied directly from eSawyer. This could usefully be extended: any searching/browsing that is useful for eSawyer would probably also be useful for LangScape. The exception to this is hidage and language of bounds which are searchable in LangScape but are not marked up sufficiently finely in eSawyer to allow searching.
  • ASChart allows browsing by ruler and archive, both of which are also available in eSawyer. More refined searching through eSawyer's metadata would be valuable here. Any searching or browsing that is useful for eSawyer would most likely be useful also for ASChart. In general, ASChart lacks a lot of detail in markup and therefore searching which one would normally expect for a website like this, but much of that material can be provided through eSawyer.
  • PASE: The use of eSawyer for searching PASE is less obvious, but one could conceivably use this as a way of narrowing down searches for people with common names who appear in charters.

Texts. ASChart may seem to be the logical place for the latest texts, since the texts there are marked up with more structural detail than in any other project, but the ASChart texts are in fact very old and poor. In contrast, the latest British Academy texts are in eSawyer, which suggests that this project should be the authoritative source for the charter texts.


Diplomatic Indexes. In principle, ASChart allows one to filter results by diplomatic indices (proem, invocation, etc.), allowing queries such as 'Give me all the issuers/beneficiaries of charters with this particular invocation'. This information is already in ASChart but with insufficient granularity to allow fully automatic searching; instead the user has to manually check and note each occurrence of the given formula.

Texts. As discussed above, ASChart may seem the logical place for the authoritative texts, but the project was a pilot to test diplomatic markup and publication as a principle. As a result, the project was never designed to provide scholarly texts, and indeed the texts used are now sometimes outdated and of varying use. We hope that the markup developed during this project will be applied to the new texts being produced by the British Academy, and indeed a possible future development of the Cluster could be for all the projects to allow the user to easily view the full text for the charter(s) under consideration.


Searching. Since PASE is a database rather than a text-based project, its biggest strength is sophisticated searching, particularly searching on people who are involved in charters such as the issuer, the grantor, the beneficiary, and the witnesses. Indeed, PASE already allows much of this, particularly given its various entry-points: one can already search by many fields which are potentially relevant to the Cluster:

  • Location or property (estate name, archive)
  • Institution (as grantor, or recipient)
  • Source (e.g. 'Sawyer Charters')
  • Events (e.g. 'charter witnessing', 'charter confirmation', 'property exchange', 'property transaction', 'gift and grant')
  • Possession (e.g. 'land', 'land in Domesday Book', 'privileges', 'salt-work', 'vill', 'weir', 'wharf'...)

This potentially brings many benefits, since one can use this data to refine searches made on other projects. For example, rather than using LangScape to plot on a map all the estates with bounds, one could combine LangScape and PASE to plot all estates with bounds, in order of size, which were granted to List the hidages of all estates granted to Bishop Oswald by King Edward. It is worth noting once again that there is a problem here, however, since LangScape only includes those charters with bounds, which is by no means the whole corpus, so such a plot could be quite misleading.


Metadata. The obvious starting-point for searches by charter metadata is eSawyer, but LangScape's 'Search for Bounds' page provides some additional search facility which relate to the estate being granted, namely hidage, language of bounds. The other projects, particularly eSawyer and ASChart, would benefit from additional facilities to search or browse according to bounds language, hidage and so on. PASE already includes some of this information but it is not as refined or detailed, since this was not a principal concern of the researchers. Once again this information should ideally be drawn from eSawyer if possible, but otherwise from LangScape.

Texts. These are the authoritative texts for boundary clauses and their translation. LangScape also allows much more sophisticated viewing of the Old English than any of the other projects. The value of this for PASE is rather less obvious, but people interested in grant events or possession factoids may want to see the bounds being granted. However, it seems more likely they would want the full text from ASChart or eSawyer. ASChart and eSawyer could both usefully bring in LangScape's texts and visualisation, embedding the LangScape bounds into the larger body.

It is worth noting that ASChart and LangScape do not always agree on the definition of a boundary clause. This means that in a few cases an automated insertion of LangScape text into ASChart will fail:

  • Some text may be repeated or omitted
  • A charter may be defined as having bounds in ASChart but not in LS: therefore the bounds will be missing or cause an error in the automated insertion
  • A charter may be defined as having bounds in LS but not in ASChart: this should not cause problems, except that material in LangScape will be passed over.

Similarly, the abstract in eSawyer, which includes a brief description of the bounds, may not agree with the content of LangScape. In general the LangScape and eSawyer teams worked closely together and communicated revisions to each other, but the data could still be inconsistent while revisions in one project are still pending in the other.