Having never been the greatest at maths when at school (I feel vindicated by my scepticism that GCSE-level algebra has real life applications in adulthood), it came as something of a surprise to discover subsequently that I’m quite partial to devising and undertaking statistical analyses of historical and archaeological data. I cut my teeth on Domesday data, a source which lends itself to comparative analysis as the great historical geographer H C Darby demonstrated time and again to great effect, while researching my study of Puttenham parish and its environs. This also led me to discover the work of Prof. Bruce Campbell, whose meticulous work on medieval agriculture and society does so much more than merely replicate the good work of Darby. I strongly encourage you to take a good look at his Medieval Crop Yields Database website for a taste of his astonishing achievements in turning medieval demesne records into fine-grained statistics. (An honourable mention also should go to Alan Baker, a personal favourite of mine who I was minded to write a profile of a couple of years back – maybe one day…)
Over the past few days I’ve been engaged in bits of non-related research that have each involved considerable amounts of number-crunching with some rather pleasing results, to wit I hit upon the idea of serialising the presentation of the three topics over three nights. Now I’m no Vorderman, so what I will be posting are are fairly simple calculations of the sort anyone can make using things to be found around the house. They will, I hope, go some way to providing quantitative reinforcement/validation of some of the things I have posted on Surrey Medieval in recent months, as well as showing what can be done with the data that is available for free online.
I somewhat doubt SMSW will become an annual event – what other week starts on a Tuesday and lasts a mere three days? – but right now there’s a lot of percentages I need to get off my chest. Stand by for some STATS.