Medieval Writing
Caroline Minuscule

Script Type : minuscule

Date : 8th to 12th centuries

Location : France, Germany, England, Spain, northern Italy, Scandinavia

Function : Book hand and basis for document hands

This sample of text comes from the Ramsay Psalter (British Library, Harley 2904, f.181), by permission of the British Library.
It dates from the late 10th century and is an example of an English Caroline minuscule of bold rounded form, characteristic of a liturgical text..
Pass cursor over letters to see enlarged examples taken from the page illustrated above.

Distinctive letters : This is a very easy script to read as the letter forms are mostly very familiar to us from modern typefaces, and it helps that this is a particularly bold, rounded example with letters well separated. The only slightly unfamiliar letter is s, which has a high form. The letter t is low, without a tall ascender and a wide cross at the top. There are two forms of r, the second a simplified form which sometimes appears after vowels, particularly o. A characteristically English feature is the slight wedge shape to the ascenders in letters such as l, d and b. This is a feature carried over from insular minuscule. As in usual in medieval scripts, i is not dotted, and u and v are identical. There are no examples in this sample of h, j, or x or the rare letters k, y or z.

The first letters of the line are in uncial script, as shown by the diagnostic rounded M.

There are a number of abbreviations in the example.

Pass the cursor slowly along the lines of text and follow the words in the box below. For more detail proceed to the paleography exercises.

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This site is created and maintained by Dr Dianne Tillotson, freelance researcher and compulsive multimedia and web author. Comments are welcome. Material on this web site is copyright, but some parts more so than others. Please check here for copyright status and usage before you start making free with it. This page last modified 25/4/2005.