Document dating back to 1216 found at Brock
The Brock Press
June 9, 2009
While cleaning out a filing cabinet in Brock’s Special Collections, staff on the 10th floor of the Schmon Tower made a discovery that many historians dream about.
What they found was a document that was initially thought to be from the 15th century. However, after further investigation, experts now believe that the parchment dates back to the year 1216, making it one of the oldest documents in Ontario.
According to those involved in studying the document, it records a grant of land by Robert de Clopton to his son, William. It is handwritten in Latin on parchment or vellum, and is about 11 by 25 centimeters in size.
One of the most important and most difficult tasks for those studying the ‘Clopton Charter’ was determining its age. As no date appears in the text, experts examined the style of handwriting, language and references to people named to pinpoint the time period of the document.
After cross referencing names found in the text with the database of the National Archives in the United Kingdom, it was determined that the Clopton Charter belongs to a series of charters issued between 1216-1272.
David Sharron, head of Special Collections and Archives at Brock, spoke about the significance of the Clopton Charter, and the kind of opportunities it opens for Brock staff and students.
“The document gives faculty and students a chance to study an actual medieval document, something that they could only previously do by visiting other universities [overseas],” he said.
Those involved in the investigation also stated that examining and handling a document like this one provides a direct connection to the distant past. They also noted that the Clopton Charter would open many exciting venues for the Brock community.
“This is a truly unique find for the Special Collections and Archives department,” said Sharron. “The Clopton Charter is so far from our normal collection scope, it was a remarkable surprise.”
Sharron stated that the parchment came to the Library’s Special Collections and Archives in 1976, and that it had been stored in a secure room on the 13th floor of the Schmon Tower. He noted however that its journey before that was unclear.
“How it came to Brock prior to 1976 is still a mystery to us. We have been looking into this for a couple months now, and are following a few new leads.”
Originally Printed: The Brock Press
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- June 9, 2009 / 2:13 am