A fully searchable interactive database visualising medieval English trade networks between 1430 and 1540.

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About the project

Ever since the customs system was created in 1272 we have had records of England's foreign trade. While much more extensive, internal trade passed almost unrecorded until the 18th century. Apart from a few accounts for the River Tyne and Cornwall, the only source of information is the brokage books of the city of Southampton. All trade leaving Southampton through the Bargate for its hinterland ("Winchester and Salisbury, Romsey and Newbury, Bristol and London, even Coventry and Dudley") was charged tolls (pontage and brokage) by the city's brokers.

Brokage books are therefore an invaluable source of information on medieval trade. They are not only the best record for the trade of Southampton with its hinterland, for the inland trade of central southern England and of every significant place within it, but they are also the best record for inland trade anywhere in England for this period. For 38 years between 1430 and 1540, brokage was levied on several thousand carts: the names of carter and owner, the destination and the contents of each cart were carefully recorded in the Southampton brokage books.

Launched in 2002, the Overland Trade Project is a collaboration between the University of Winchester and the University of Southampton's GeoData Institute. The project presents data from brokage books from the period 1430 to 1540 in a fully searchable and interactive database, linked to a mapping system originally developed by the GeoData Institute.

Further information

The medieval period is a particular research strength at the University of Winchester. Find out more about our medieval and Renaissance research.

Research team

University of Winchester:

Geodata Institute, University of Southampton:

  • Andy Murdock, GIS Consultant
  • Julia Branson, Database Design & Development