Medieval Writing
Caroline Minuscule

Script Type : minuscule

Date : 8th to 12th centuries; this example is early 11th century

Location : France, Germany, England, Spain, northern Italy, Scandinavia; this example is from England

Function : Book hand and basis for document hands

This sample of text comes from the early 11th century Harley Psalter (British Library, Harley 603, f.9r), by permission of the British Library. These images have been made available by the British Library through a Creative Commons licence.
This work was produced in Christ Church, Canterbury. The script is a small neat Caroline minuscule.
Pass cursor over letters to see enlarged examples taken from the page illustrated above.

Distinctive letters : Once you manage the tall s and the short t, the rest of this is easy as all the letters are of familiar form.

There are no examples of j, k, w, y or z in this example.

While Caroline minuscule largely dispensed with the multitude of confusing ligatures that made the reading of pre-Carolingian scripts so difficult, it introduced two of its own,

ct and st . These were to prove an enduring idiosyncrasy of the script. See the words custodiui and uestigia above.

The letter, ligature, abbreviation (or whatever you want to call it) æ appears as an e with a fancy diagonal tail. This appears as a colour graphic as there wasn't one in the original black and white photograph of a section of the page. So you now get an extra letter.

Note the insertion of majuscule script in the word IN; a peculiar formality sometimes encountered.

The script is neat, the letters well separated, the words clearly separated and there are no abbreviations. It's hardly paleography at all!

Run the cursor slowly over the lines of text for a quick fix on it. For a more detailed examination, work through the paleography exercises.

This manuscript has been digitised in full on the British Library website here.
Script Index

Paleography Exercises using Flash

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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 31/5/2014.