The People of Medieval Scotland database: A prosopographical survey

Matthew Hammond
14 May 2013

Abstract

This is a seminar about a prosopographical database, ‘The People of Medieval Scotland, 1093-1314’, which has been in production since 2007, and which has been freely available online since the summer of 2010. Since the relaunch of the database last year, we have had over 40,000 unique visitors from across the globe. Now nearing completion, the database contains records on over 20,000 individuals, drawn from over 8500 medieval, mostly Latin documents. The paper will examine some of the PoMS project’s technical innovations as well as the new directions we hope to take in the coming years.The seminar will take you behind the scenes of the public website to see how this database evolved from the factoid prosopography model created for the ‘Prosopography of Anglo-Saxon England’ (PASE) by John Bradley of the Centre for Computing in the Humanities, now Department of Digital Humanities, at Kings College London. PoMS has developed what might be called a ‘transactional model’ of factoid prosopography, due to the fact that it is comprised almost entirely of transactional documents like charters. Rather than simply recording events, the transactional model is explicitly interested in relations between individuals as recorded in the documents. We will examine the new structures PoMS incorporates to allow end users the ability to research the terms of the transaction, and thus the nature of the interaction between people, as well as multiple transactions happening at different times within the same document. We will look at the work of Michele Pasin, formerly of DDH, in developing new ways for users to both search and visualise these transactions. The seminar will finish with a consideration of the capabilities of the database for studying the social networks, and visualising the relationships between large numbers of people.

 

Matthew Hammond is a Research Associate in the School of Humanities at the University of Glasgow and former Lecturer in Scottish History at the University of Edinburgh. Since 2007, he has been a team member of the AHRC-funded projects that created the ‘People of Medieval Scotland, 1093-1286’ database (www.poms.ac.uk) and is now working on a Leverhulme-funded project to expand the capabilities of that database, especially in the area of Social Network Analysis.

 

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