A Corpus of Middle English Local Documents (MELD)

MELD is a text corpus consisting of local documents: administrative texts and letters that can be related to specific locations. Unlike literary texts, they represent the writing and lives of real people, and are usually precisely dated. MELD is intended as a resource for linguists and historians alike, and for anyone interested in the everyday life of people in late medieval England.

Late medieval administrative documents

The texts have been identified during four years of archive visits all over England, visiting all the county record offices as well as several libraries, castles and cathedral archives.  They have then been transcribed, usually from photographs taken by ourselves. In the corpus, the texts are produced in four different versions meant for different uses:

  • the Base version (the 'raw' transcriptions)
  • the Readable version (a traditional edition meant for reading)
  • the Diplomatic version (an edition that presents manuscript letter shapes and other signs iconically)
  • the Concordancer version (searchable text files designed for use with a concordancer).

Version 2017.1 of the corpus (containing 2,017 texts in all) is made available in instalments from May 2017. The first instalment, the East Midlands part, contains 571 texts and was released 31 May 2017.

The corpus files are published as downloadable .zip archives. In addition, the Readable version is provided as a .pdf file, which may be read on screen or printed.

The corpus is accompanied by an Introduction and a Manual. It also comes with a readable (and printable) catalogue, as well as a spreadsheet containing systematically collected metadata. The complete version 2017.1 will also contain maps.

The compilation work of MELD 2017.1 is completed, but the preparation of texts for publication is still ongoing. In the meantime, we are very grateful for feedback, including both suggestions and corrections.