Digital Humanities research on the Gascon Rolls project

The central aim of Digital Humanities research on the Gascon Rolls project is to explore how digital tools and methodologies transform historical research and to explore the degree to which concepts such as digital scholarship, linked data, social edition or digital ecosystems are influencing the study of historical documents.


The Department of Digital Humanities at King’s College London has collaborated on dozens of collaborative research projects over the years, including a number of historical projects. Our research areas include digital editing, digital publication, geospatial analysis & visualisation, semantic representation and computer-based approaches to prosopography.

The Digital Humanities research on this project has both built on and fed other research projects involving King’s College London such as Fine Rolls of Henry III (, People of Medieval Scotland (, Mapping Medieval Chester (, Early English Laws ( and Mapping the Medieval Countryside (, and has been influenced by many other excellent projects too numerous to mention here.

The first (AHRC-funded) phase of the Gascon Rolls project led to the construction of a sophisticated technical framework  for the project - which, for example, is used to edit the rolls, to manage the information structures which model complex relationships between people, places and other ‘entities’, and to then publish them as an integrated website - while the second (with funding from Bordeaux) and third (Leverhulme-funded) phases have aimed to respond to the following questions:

  • How is the digital age transforming historical scholarship, with particular reference to the late medieval period?

  • How can digital tools facilitate engagement with wider audiences for historical materials?

  • To what extent does does the creation of digital resources encourage cross-fertilisation with other resources in the academic or public domain?

  • How does this affect the wider research process, and the relationship between knowledge creation, information curation and data preservation?

Digital Humanities research on this phase of the project

The main focus of our research will be on:

  • Digital editing - the changing nature of historical editing and the impact of technology in facilitating wider user engagement; the changing perceptions of the edition; the changing nature of the editor role; the impact of collaborative editing frameworks.

  • Geospatial and geotemporal modelling/visualisation - the ability to use statistical, spatial and time-based models for analysing and visualising historical source materials.

  • The future of publication - the changing face of digital publication of historical source materials, taking into account new web-based visualisation techniques and the proliferation of new devices and formats, and in particular the move to mobile and touch screen experiences of technology; the relationship between print and digital publication.

  • Managing complex information structures - semantic relationships between entities (including people, roles and places) contained within a historical corpus; alternative readings; referenceable identification; visualisation of complex relationships.

  • Making connections - connections in historical research, which typically has different historical assumptions, different influences (institutional/national/discipline-based), different origins (digital & analogue) and different technical formats (where it exists digitally).

  • The future of historical research - digital research environments for historical materials; interaction between digital and historical research; digital scholarship & digital ecosystems.

This section of the website will later include more detailed reports on key aspects of the digital humanities research.