Medieval Writing
Beneventan Minuscule

Script Type : minuscule

Alternative Name : sometimes called a variant of Lombardic minuscule

Date : Late 8th to 13th centuries. This is a later example of the fully developed type.

Location : southern Italy and Dalmatia

Function : Book hand, in this case used on a ceremonial roll.

This segment comes from a late 11th century exultet roll from Italy, formerly in the abbey of Montecassino (British Library, add ms 30337), by permission of the British Library. Images are made available by the British Library under a Creative Commons licence. This roll has been digitised in full by the British Library here.
Pass cursor over letters to see enlarged examples taken from the page illustrated above.

Distinctive letters : The first impression on looking at this script is that it is not made of letters but cross stitching. While it is too formal to be called cursive, letters tend to touch one another and there are some ligatures. There are a number of unfamilar letter forms. It is a difficult one to read until you get your eye in.

The trick letter is t, which has a loop on its back, making it look rather like an a. However, a has the sideways figure of eight form. e extends above the tops of the other small letters while r stretches down below them. The letter s also has a tall form. The letter g has the closed form.

There are no examples of j, v, k, y or z in this sample.

There are several abbreviations.

The roundel at the beginning of the line is a decorative O.

The little red squiggles above the text are neumes, or musical notation, as this is a text to be sung by a deacon in hurch.

Pass the cursor along the lines of text to unscramble them. To look at a segment of the roll in more detail, proceed to the paleography exercises.

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 6/4/2014.