Medieval Writing
Gothic Textura

Script Type : minuscule

Alternative Name : Black Letter Gothic

Date : 12th to 15th centuries, and beyond as a typeface. This example is from the 15th century.

Location : Spread from France and the Low Countries across western Europe. This example is from England.

Function : Book hand , also, as here, used for inscriptions.

This inscription is from a brass plate memorial of the mid 15th century in the small parish church of Harpham in East Yorkshire. It lies in the floor of the St Quintin family chapel at the feet of a funerary brass depicting a knight in plate armour.
Pass cursor over letters to see enlarged examples taken from the page illustrated above.

Distinctive letters : The letters have angular Gothic textura forms, but are all well separated in this formal inscription. There are two forms of s. There are no examples of f, k, w, x, y or z. Some elaborate capital letters appear.

There are many abbreviations, some of which involve small interpolated superscript letters. Note the different forms of abbreviation marks used.

The photograph may be slightly unclear in parts, but gives you a bit of an idea of trying to read these things in a darkened church where one is usually accompanied by a distinctive smell which combines old furniture polish, flowers and rising damp, and strange creaking noises from the belfry.

Pass the cursor slowly along the lines of text to unravel it. To examine it in more detail, and take a peek at the whole monument, proceed to the paleography exercises.

Script Index

Paleography exercises using Flash

Requires at least the Flash 5 plugin

If you are looking at this page without frames, there is more information about medieval writing to be found by going to the home page (framed) or the site map (no frames).
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 4/10/2011.