Medieval Writing
Insular Minuscule

Script Type : minuscule

Date : This particular example of a late insular minuscule is from the early 12th century.

Location : England

Function :document hand

One entry from a page of manumission of serfs, from the early 12th century, bound in with the Exeter Book of Anglo-Saxon poems (Exeter. Chapter Library, No.3501) (From New Palaeographical Society 1903, Pl. 10)
Pass cursor over letters to see enlarged examples taken from the page illustrated above.

Distinctive letters : This is one example from a page containing four manumissions of serfs written in Old English, originally written on a blank page in a gospel book. Each of the manumissions is written in a different hand, but they are all very similar in style, resembling a protogothic script with the addition of particular forms of letters derived from insular minuscule. It is similar to the charter of Henry I to Christ Church, Canterbury, also given as an example on this website, but with the script perhaps a little less formal and approaching that of a protogothic document hand rather than a book hand, but these are subtle variations. The basic letter forms are similar.

Distinctive letters include the f that looks like a capital and extends below the baseline, open g in the lightning bolt form, r which extends below the baseline and s which does likewise. These last two are easily confused. There is an occasional tall s.

The letter y is dotted, but i is not.

Three letters particular to English writing are present: edh and thorn for th and wen for w. The w comprising two interlocked vs is also present.

There are no examples of j, q, v or z, or at least if the v sound is present it is represented by u.

The Tironian et symbol is used for and.

There is a capitalised N at the end of Amen, a quite common way of indicating the significance of that particular word.

Pass the cursor slowly down and along the lines of script for a transcript. For a little more detail, and to look at the other hands on the page for comparison, proceed to the paleography exercise.


Script Index

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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 22/8/2011.