The Scribehall of Morton is the main administrative centre of the Duchy. Housed in the original great hall of Morton Castle it began simply as the Duke’s personal scribe and gradually increased in size as the size and complexity of the Duchy grew. The Scribehall generates most of the official documentation of the Duchy as well as serving as archive and documentation repository for matters of public record. These archives now occupy all of the cellars and most of the upper floors and the task of finding the relevant documentation has, in most cases, become one of frustrating failure for though many attempts have been made to index the archives none has made enough progress to become a truely useful tool which might become the standard.
Purpose / Function
To house the Duchy’s administrative staff and the archives amassed over the millennium for which the Duchy has existed.
Originally built as the Great Hall for Morton Castle, the Scribehall has been modified over the four centuries it has had its current administrative role. These modifications have included extensions to the rear (away from the Duke’s Square), additional floors being added within the original hall, which now has five floors in the space originally occupied by the hall, with two further floors built into the roof space. These alterations have been made with care to minimise the amount of timber used in an attempt to reduce the risks of fire. It is thus also ill provided with heating and the use of naked flames also prohibited. The cellars have also been extended but it was found impossible to increase their depth owing to the water table near the river and the risk of damage to the archived materials needing to be stored in the cellars.
Built in the rather ornate style of high status buildings of it age (it was built in the third century MD) it is almost entirely of stone construction. Though the original roof was timber framed most of this timber has been replaced over the centuries with stonework to reduce the risks of fire. The stone used is predominantly that from the Moran Mountains - not the closest source and not the most easily worked but it is durable and capable of holding fine detail. Of course the close proximity of the river made transport less of a problem than it might have been, but the Great Hall (as it was when built) was something of a statement of the Duke’s position and the pre-eminence of Morton in the wider region, rather than merely within the Duchy.
The need for a new Great Hall was questionable but following the loss of the three tithings across the Moran Mountains at the start of the third century MD the then Duke (Caddock the Second By That Name) believed it necessary to emphasise that the loss of those tithings did not mean that the Duchy was a spent force. Completed in around 5 years, it was the heart of the Ducal establishment for two and a half centuries before changing fashions saw it begin its journey from the social heart of the Duchy to its administrative brain. It was the gradual and steady increase in the volume of documents in its archives that slowly drove the other key departments of state - the treasury and the law courts out of the hall and saw it become officially known as the Scribehall. It should be noted that although the law courts moved, the legal records that they generated continue to be held in and administrated by the Scribehall. A fact that has been a source of tension between the departments over the years.
Some Notable DocumentsGiven that no complete index of the contents of the archives exists this listing is incomplete and only a few of the highlights.
Annals of the Duchy
The official chronicle of the Duchy, the Annals were originally compiled in the first half of the third century, so they were almost certainly written in the building where the originals have remained ever since. Following the completion of the original work it has been extended in “real” time recording notable events.
The Treaty of Durranmouth
Two of the surviving three original copies of this ancient pact are held in the Scribehall. These are the copies originally kept by the Duchy and the Houghlands, which were incorporated into the Duchy in the 6th century MD. The other remaining copy can be found in Durranmouth.