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The Canterbury Roll Project

20 November 2023


The Canterbury Roll is a 15th-century English genealogical text. It was created in the late 1420s/ early 1430s and subsequently modified on a number of occasions before final revisions were made to it, most probably during the reign of Richard III (1483–1485).

The Roll’s fate between the late-15th century and its acquisition in 1918 by Canterbury College, the University of Canterbury’s predecessor, remains unclear.

The Canterbury Roll Project

The Canterbury Roll Project is a multi-stage initiative led by the UC History Department. The project was initiated in 2012/13 with the launch of a website created by UC Summer Scholar Maree Shirota. This was designed to provide an introduction to the Roll and access to images of the manuscript.

A digital approach with a modular release schedule enables the project team to respond to peer-review over the lifetime of the project with the ultimate objective of creating a better resource.

The project seeks to enable New Zealand students to develop their knowledge of palaeography and medieval Latin, while simultaneously developing skills in digital humanities that can be transferred to the world beyond academia.

Stage 1

Completed in 2017, Stage 1 involves the creation of a Digital Edition of a new transcript and translation of the Roll using TEI (Text Encoding Initiative) conventions. It also involves a significant increase in the quality of the digital images of the Roll available online.

Stage 1 is a collaboration between UC History, the UC Arts Digital Lab, the UC Internship programme, and Collaborative Research Centre 933 of Heidelberg University.

Project Website
Digital Edition

The Digital Edition is the centrepiece of the Canterbury Roll Project website. In addition to a high resolution digital facsimile, new transcription, and new translation, users can access an academic introduction, critical apparatus, and a detailed user guide.

Five other components make up the project site:

The Canterbury Roll Project

Includes a "scrolling" overview of the manuscript and its content, an introduction to – and downloadable version of – an edition of the Roll published in 1919, and an exploration of the challenges and benefits of digitizing a manuscript roll.

The Canterbury Roll

Christchurch, University of Canterbury, MS 1
(formerlyThe "Maude" Roll)

Date: Between c. 1429 – c. 1485
Origin: British Isles

Width: 334mm
Length: 4890mm


The first section of the Canterbury Roll showing Noah & the legendary kings of early Britain.

Visit the University of Canterbury's Rare Books Collection


An introduction to the context in which the Roll was produced and the scribes who created it. This section also looks at the Roll's choice of language and its illumination.


An introduction to three key components that are integral to the early sections of the Roll: the biblical past, the inheritance of Classical antiquity, and Britain's legendary kings.


An exploration of one of the Roll's key themes and a case study of the way in which it presents the English claim to France.

Research & Bibliography

An outline of the Project's future research goals, how you can get involved via UC courses, and a bibliography of the sources used in compiling this site.



Postal address:

University of Canterbury
Private Bag 4800
Christchurch 8140
New Zealand


General Editor
Dr Chris Jones
Phone +64 3 369 4307

Text copyright © 2017 the authors as named. Images copyright the institutions and individuals as credited.

ISBN 978-1-98-850307-3
Credits & Permissions
Phone +64 3 369 4307

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