Medieval Writing
November 15, 2012 9:25 AM   Subscribe

Medieval Writing is your one-stop shop for all things medieval paleography.

The site's navigation is a bit confusing and direct linking is impossible without breaking the frame-based navigation bar. That said, here are some pages of particular interest:

The History of Scripts from the Roman Empire to the end of the medieval period, including histories of individual letters.

An Index of Scripts with interactive examples of each script (mouse over the images).

Paleography Exercises if you want to try your hand (pun intended) at deciphering the scripts.
posted by jedicus (9 comments total) 48 users marked this as a favorite
Thanks jedicus, I love looking at ancient writing and the histories of their development.
posted by xarnop at 10:03 AM on November 15, 2012

Then, of course, there's the ultimate tool in the paleographer's kit, a method they really only teach you in the most prestigious and secretive graduate programs: the Tilt and Squint approach. Works equally well for student essays.

(Takes down copy of Cappelli, leafs through with sighs of nostalgia)
posted by amy lecteur at 10:03 AM on November 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

Tilt and Squint approach

I found the reading upside approach works well too. Really.
posted by marxchivist at 10:57 AM on November 15, 2012

This is relevant to my interests! Thank you.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 11:40 AM on November 15, 2012

Great site, thanks! Not sure what you mean about direct linking being impossible, though; if you hover over the link and copy the URL, it's easy as pie: Rustic capitals.
posted by languagehat at 12:39 PM on November 15, 2012

Yes, direct links like that work, but you lose the left-hand navigation bar.
posted by jedicus at 12:49 PM on November 15, 2012

Ridiculously cool. I have been geeking out over the techniques in The Book of Kells for a of couple weeks now, particularly inks. That's why this is the best page of the site. There's a link to a page of purple vellum with gold script. (!!!)

Thanks jedicus!
posted by peacrow at 1:37 PM on November 15, 2012

Fascinating site.
Thanks for posting-
Now I can squander even more time at the computer.

Guilty pleasures.
posted by jan murray at 2:18 PM on November 15, 2012

For a homemade site, maintained as a labour of love, this is a very impressive piece of work and I'm very glad it's there. That said, I think there are better sites out there, if medieval palaeography is your thing. The CNRS Interactive Album of Medieval Palaeography is also a bit clunky to use, but has some colour reproductions which you can click to enlarge, word by word, or double-click to get a transcription. The National Archives guide to Medieval Palaeography is well designed as a tutorial, with a nifty 'typewriter' function to help you learn the letter-forms.

Where all these sites fall short, in my view, is that they take quite a narrow approach to palaeography, concentrating on the letter-forms rather than the broader features of scribal practice, layout, mise-en-page and so forth (what medievalists call diplomatics) which are just as important if you want to understand manuscripts. It's also possible to get much better reproductions of medieval manuscripts, now that libraries have started to put images online with relatively little restriction on re-use (see BL Digitised Manuscripts for example). Palaeography isn't always easy to master, but murky black-and-white images and secondhand scans from photographs make it seem much harder than it really is.
posted by verstegan at 3:22 AM on November 16, 2012 [3 favorites]

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