Indented composition between the prior and convent of Durham and the proctor and brothers of the hospital of St Giles (at Kepier by Durham): the former quit-claim the corn tithes of Clifton (lost) previously paid to the [monks'] church of St Oswald's Elvet (by Durham), and the brothers will pay to that church in recompense 2s. a year on St Oswald's day and quit-claim to it [the] two sheaves of corn from the [bishop's] demesne of Newton (by Durham) received by them in accordance with Bishop Ranulf's charter; the parties promise in the presence of Bishop Hugh to observe the composition; 1189.
This document follows the pattern of recording agreements between two parties by writing two copies on a single sheet of parchment, at 180o to each other, with the word CIROGRAPHVM (the Greek for "manuscript") [view], or some such, written across the space between the two texts; the parchment was cut in two by means of an irregular cut through the word, and the copy to be retained by one party was sealed by the other. The authenticity of the two copies could be checked subsequently by bringing them together again, but if they failed to match there could have been difficulty in determining which was spurious. It was therefore a great advance when the tripartite indenture became a regular feature of royal record-creation, apparently in 1195 (see Clanchy pp. 48-49); the third copy, or foot of fine, would then be retained in the royal archives, and either of the two parties could check their copy against it, cf. Misc. Ch. 229 and 1.4.Spec.95. In imitation of the king's the Durham Palatinate adminstration took to creating such feet of fines. The document opens, as usual at this date, with the date, although it was perhaps more common for this to be preceded with the words "Memorandum quod", and hence one of the terms for such documents was "Memorandum of agreement". Here the date is apparently 1199, with each element marked off as usual with dots; both Prior Germanus and Bishop Hugh were dead by then, and closer examination reveals that the final "x" of `lxxxx' [view] has been suppressed by expunctuation, by placing a dot immediately below it. Correction by this means, as opposed to removing the "x" by scraping the parchment to remove it, secured the document against the suspicion that it had been covertly tampered with. It is significant that by 1189 considerable emphasis was laid on the hospital foregoing any claim on the basis of its charters, capitalized, or privileges: 'Ita quod nullo umquam tempore aliquam decimam occasione Cartarum suarum uel priuilegiorum exigent infra diuisas ville de Neuton. sed tota decima bladi infra diuisas eiusdem uille. sicut et alie obuentiones sine omni diminutione et retraactatione quieta remanebit in perptuum Ecclesie Sancti Oswaldi de Elueta' [view]. Bishop Ranulf's charter is Durham Episcopal Charters no. 9; the monks at least felt it desirable to obtain Bishop Hugh's confirmation of the agreement, ed. Snape no. oooo. The lost vill of Clifton presumably lay in part at least in the parish of St Oswald's, on the other side of the River Wear from the parish of St Giles, in which Kepier hospital lay.
The expert scribe employs an idiosyncratic version of the abbreviation sign for the final "ur" of passive verbs, formed by placing a common sign of abbreviation across the nine-shaped sign for "us", e.g. 'continetur' [view], while the form of the superscript abbreviation for a+ has the horizontal stroke across the top of the two bowls, as became the norm, rendering it like a double-compartment a rotated 90o anti-clockwise. The scribe regularly extends the final minim of m and n below the line in medial positions, to good calligraphic effect; where space allows signals with a hyphen a word broken between one line and the next [view]; and on occasion writes the e of de at the head of the oblique ascender of the d [view], a habit found in England at this date, cf. 4.9.Spec.30 .
The seal of Kepier hospital is attached by a tag formed from an unfolded strip of parchment; the design exemplifies the way in which some religious houses followed the norm for the seals of bishops (the pope excepted) and other ecclesiastics in being almond-, or vesica-, shaped, cf. Ellis (1986).