The survey was conducted upon William's instructions approximately 20 years after the invasion. The Saxon Chronicle records that it took place in 1085, whilst other sources claim 1086. In either event it forms a remarkable written record of the state of the nation so soon after the invasion. The whole exercise was conducted in less than a year and is now held in the Public Record Office. One of the regional versions, from Ely Abbey, tells us what the Commissioners were to ask. These questions appear to form the basis for the whole survey and were:
How many hides?(56) How many ploughs, both those in lordship and the men's? How many villagers, cottagers and slaves, how many free men and Freemen? How much woodland, meadow and pasture? How many mills and fishponds? How much has been added or taken away? What the total was and is? How much each free man or Freeman had or has? All threefold, before 1066, when king William gave it, and now; and if more can be had than at present?
The purpose was to find out who owned what and how much it was worth. It was called the Domesday Book by the landowners because it was the final authoritative register of rightful possession in the land, by analogy its judgement was as final as that of Domesday. Each manor is listed with its owner, with other details and in particular relates values of those manors before, during, and after the invasion. These values provide valuable clues in the search for the invasion landing site, when examined in relation to the areas of Pevensey and Hastings. The invasion itself would have inflicted a heavy burden upon the land surrounding the site during the time the army was in residence. This is endorsed by the fact that fifteen manors in the Hastings and Pevensey Rapes are described by the Commissioners to have been "waste" at the time of the invasion.
Taking into account Poitiers and the Carmen's similar claim to the area immediately around the Norman's camp, it must be concluded that one of these manors is probably directly connected with the site of the camp.
The manors in the areas of Pevensey and Hastings fall into four distinct categories (58a)(Domesday Chapter - page 1). These are: