The Domesday Clipboard

Domesday Clipboard

Archaeologists have unearthed one of the original clipboards that was used to compile the Domesday Book in 1086. This simple but effective item of stationery had already proven decisive in William the Conqueror's victory over King Harold's army at Hastings, enabling him to collect the vital statistical information that was necessary to turn the tide of the conflict. Subsequently William used it to cement his control over his new possessions, it being the main tool employed to assess the taxable assets of his subjects.

It is famously recorded in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle that William's men commanded great respect as they arrived in towns and villages across the kingdom. The clipboard would be held aloft, a symbol of power, and the populus immediately understood the wisdom of obedience and submission. In fact, so great was its effect on the British national character that even today just one person with a clipboard can stand in a busy street and persuade dozens of passers-by to surrender the most intimate details of their lives.

Although we know from illustrations that clipboards were in use in the eleventh century - indeed, they appear on the Bayeux Tapestry - this is the first time an example has been unearthed. Experts agree that it is a discovery of unparalleled importance: the clipboard represented a ground-breaking advance in the field of office equipment, and it remained the most significant development in legislative administration until King John's use of correcting fluid to amend Magna Carta in 1215.

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