VIDEO: 12th century Boldon Book on display

PEOPLE in South Tyneside will be able to find how much their ancestors paid in rent as an ancient book goes on display.

The 12th century Boldon Book is now available for visitors to view at South Shields Museum & Art Gallery in Ocean Road, South Shields.

SOUTH TYNESIDE TREASURE ...  Geoff Woodward of Tyne and Wear Museums with The Boldon Book.

SOUTH TYNESIDE TREASURE ... Geoff Woodward of Tyne and Wear Museums with The Boldon Book.

The book – which is the earliest surviving manuscript of the survey of the Bishop of Durham’s estates in Durham and Northumberland – was made in 1183 and has been loaned to the borough by the British Museum and The British Library.

Geoff Woodward, manager for North and South Tyneside museums at Tyne & Wear Archives and Museums, said: “The book is part of a much larger document, written in Latin and full of insights into everyday life at the time.

“Being the earliest surviving copy, this manuscript gives us our closest link back to those who obtained and compiled the information and wrote the original document and is, quite simply irreplaceable.

“We hope the book will provide a number of opportunities for the communities of South Tyneside to be inspired to create their own response to the original manuscript.”

The work, which is placed in a glass cabinet, records how some people paid their rent by supplying chickens and eggs and how everyone was given 13 days holiday over Christmas.

The book is one of a number of relics going on display which will form South Tyneside Council’s three-year ‘Treasures Programme’, which celebrates the area’s cultural and religious identity.

Other treasures include a second century Shields Boss, which was found near the mouth of the Tyne in 1866 and will be part of Arbeia Roman Fort’s exhibition ‘The Glory of Rome: Arbeia’s Greatest Treasures.’

Mr Woodward added: “Both the Boldon Book and the Shields Boss are hugely significant pieces of local history and provide a glimpse into what life was like in South Tyneside almost 1,000 years ago.”

For further information about the full range of exhibitions and displays which make up the Treasures programme, visit or

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