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TASC spreadsheet datasets are arranged in columns, or 'fields', giving standardised categories of information for each record, or 'row'. Historical circumstances dictate that the precise number of fields, and their names, or 'labels', will vary from country to country. Nevertheless, their general order remains the same, as does the naming of the 'core data' columns, so that cross-boundary datasets can be constructed from national or regional contributions.
The first columns identify the place and type of devotion, sequentially as follows.
Primary political entity, in England and Wales the major Anglo-Saxon (e.g. Wessex) or British/Welsh kingdom because it was to these that the church related, hierarchically and administratively, in the formative centuries of its developed structure.
Diocese, normally the see of the Late Middle Ages (in England and Wales the Pre-Reformation diocese).
Normally it is not felt necessary to include the fields for Country or State, and Archdiocese, but where it is felt necessary to include the latter, normally the metropolitan see of the High Middle Ages is specified (in England and Wales, pre-1100).
Second rank political entity, normally in England and Wales the sub-kingdom contributory to the major Anglo-Saxon or Welsh kingdom. For example, the Diocese of Worcester was set up to serve the kingdom of the people known as the Hwicce, which became a sub-kingdom of Mercia. Similarly, a Diocese of the Middle Angles was set up, probably at Leicester, to serve another sub-kingdom of Mercia.
Third rank political entity, normally in England the shire or county and in Wales the cantref. In the two unusually large English shires of York and Lincoln, the Riding and Part respectively are specified instead.
The number of 'political entity' columns depends on local circumstances. For example, in England and Wales the social framework and relationships of the medieval church require several further rankings.
Fourth rank political entity, in England the Wapentake, Lathe, Small Shire (e.g. Richmondshire in Yorkshire), or Shipsoke, the major medieval division of the shire; in Wales the Commote, the division of the cantref. It has been suggested that the English entities may in certain instances relate to 'early' regiones.
Hundred (medieval administrative sub-division) or other smaller medieval administrative sub-division (such as one of the evidential cadastral circuits in the Domesday Survey). Inclusion of this information helps to identify 'hundredal minsters' and their likely dedications.
Small Hundred or Itinerary (group of villages recorded for official purposes, e.g. in 1280)
There now follows the heart of the TASC dataset, a group of crucial fields.
Parish, the earliest recorded parochial being specified wherever possible.
Location and ID, normally the name of the immediate locality (either the parish centre or some other place within the parish), together with an alphabetical ID (identification tag).
The Location and ID field acts as the record's unique identifier, with the name of the locality followed by an alphabetical tag. Thus a town may have several churches, fairs, and so on, each having its own letter, from 'a' onwards. 'Church a' will have had several internal altars, images, lights, and so on, and these are identified with the letters 'ab', 'ac', 'ad', etc.
Where a subsidiary object of devotion needs to be identified (for example, an image of Saint C within the chapel of St B [in the church of St A]), it bears a three-letter tag (for example, 'aab'). Three letter tags are also necessary in the largest towns and cities, where there were numbers of medieval parishes ('a', 'b', etc), each perhaps having several devotional places (for example, a parish ['a'] with its parish church ['aa'], perhaps a friary ['ab'], and, say, a holy well ['ac']).
The names of places of local or regional importance are displayed in bold type
An asterisk (*) following the ID alphabetical code in the Locality plus ID column (for example, 'Thurnby a*') indicates a change in actual or perceived dedication or a case of alternative cults (as distinct from joint cults or multiple dedication). In the case of Thurnby, the parish church was recorded in the early sixteenth century as 'Holy Innocents', but by the opening years of the eighteenth century its patron saint was Luke.
The Category column or field specifies generically the immediate locale or type of devotion, as follows.
pc, parish church
dc, dependent chapel, or chapel-of-ease
fc, free chapel (that is, outside the parochial jurisdiction)
cem cpl, cemetery chapel
ho cpl, house chapel, i.e. domestic oratory
bridge cpl, bridge chapel
castle cpl, castle chapel
Chapel (NB the upper-case letter), other free standing chapel
chapel (NB the lower-case letter), chapel forming an integral part of a larger building
Combinations of abbreviations
altar, a,n, north aisle altar; altar, a,s, south aisle altar;
cpl, trs n,e, chapel opening to the east from a north transept;
cpl, ch[ancel], s, chapel opening to the south from the chancel.
pn, personal name
The remaining fields identify the cult and set it in its context.
Dedication or Name, the cult (for example, 'Mary', 'Holy Trinity', 'Peter & Paul' [an ampersand indicates a joint cult, as distinct from a multiple dedication, as also in the cases of 'Philip & James', 'Cosmas & Damian', 'Cyriac & Julitta, etc.], 'Michael/All Saints' [a double dedication]); or name of the devotion or devotional object (including the names of recorded or potentially votive features such as wells and stones).
Date, the earliest record of the devotion or object
The following two columns are included in the English datasets because of the crucial significance of eleventh-century landholders (recorded in the fiscal survey known as Domesday Book) in providing or endowing local churches and perhaps influencing the choice of patron saint.
TRE Tenant and TRW Tenant respectively, the Domesday holders of the vill [at a time also when a huge number of English churches appear to have been built or rebuilt in stone, and the medieval parochial system was approaching its completion]
Resuming the critical fields...
PN element 1 and PN element 2 respectively, the etymology of the location, with the generic element first. Thus in the case of the English town of Leicester, first 'ceastre' (an Old English word denoting a Romano-British fortified settlement) and second 'Legra' (the name of a people living in the district).
So often does the patronal cult of a church (or some other of its constituent devotions) relate closely to matters of environment and/or settlement, that it is highly desirable to include etymologies wherever possible.
Natural region, not a crucial field, but sometimes useful in identifying cults with associations with particular landscapes.
Geo-reference 1, either Latitude, or the appropriate national grid reference (in Britain, the Ordnance Survey Grid reference for 'easting').
Geo-reference 2, either Longitude, or the appropriate national grid reference (in Britain, the Ordnance Survey Grid reference for 'northing').
Source, the evidence for the Dedication and Date.
Varia, for notes and other relevant information.
As well as grouping the records of devotion according to their administrative setting, from the wapentake down to parish level, it is useful also to group them topographically, since the settlement history of any country is closely associated with its major divisions, particularly its river systems. Indeed, in England it has been argued by a number of scholars that 'river estates' were a major feature of the Anglo-Saxon socio-economic landscape, with watersheds forming long-lasting boundaries, while in Wales watersheds dominated the external boundaries of large political entities and rivers demarcated major internal divisions.
Notwithstanding the arguments in England over the validity of the 'multiple estate' concept, early medieval landed units extending over the area of several modern parishes are an irrefutable phenomenon, and it is a major assertion of this project that within groups of settlements, hierarchies both of settlement and devotion can be discerned. For these reasons, TASC records are grouped sequentially by drainage units and deaneries as well as by several rankings of political entities.
One of the purposes of publishing these datasets on the Web is to attract academic and lay critique. Please e-Mail your comments to the Director, Graham Jones, firstname.lastname@example.org, for which you are welcome to use the e-Mail form available on his home and the 'atlas.html' pages.
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