The project comprises three principal outcomes: a general framework for online delivery which can apply to any script; a database of content specific to English Vernacular minuscule of the Eleventh century, and publications presenting the results of these applied to palaeographical research.
Web-Based Framework for Palaeography, Manuscript Studies and Diplomatic
The first deliverable is a freely-available generalised framework for the online presentation of palaeographical content which allows scholars to search for, view, and organise detailed characteristics of handwriting in both verbal and visual form. Although applied to English Vernacular minuscule of the Eleventh century (see ‘Database’, below), the design is applicable to any script, and it is already being used to study Hebrew and Greek, as well as decoration. Such close integration of date, place, manuscript context and handwriting makes it an unprecedented resource for the study of medieval writing and is designed to enable new methods in quantitative and digital palaeography which have been discussed in the literature but which have proven very difficult to apply in practice. The resulting framework is the website which you are looking at now.
Database of English Vernacular Script
The Web-based Framework, although valuable, is no use on its own but must have content, and so it has been populated with records for all extant scribal hands writing English Vernacular minuscule and dated to the eleventh century. This amounts to approximately 1600 full or partial manuscripts and documents, containing about 1200 scribal hands and over sixty thousand annotated images of letters. At a minimum, each one of the manuscripts and documents contains basic information about the content and structure; this information has been drawn from existing content. As well as this context, information on many of the scribal hands includes descriptions of the idiographs for each scribal hand presented as ‘hand-allograph-feature’ triples (for example ‘Eadwig Basan habitually wrote Insular g with a closed tail‘). Similarly, images of the letters (graphs) are provided for a large number of scribal hands, as time and image-rights have allowed, and these in turn are being described according to the same system. The images are primarily of vernacular script of the eleventh century, but also include any Latin script which is also in those same images or can be identified with certainty as the work of the same scribes. As well as building a new database of previously unpublished palaeographical material on several hundred scribal hands, the resource also incorporates data from two existing projects, reuseing their material in new ways (specifically eSawyer, and EM1060–1220). The resource thereby provides information about the codicology, content, and scribal hands of the manuscripts and charters, and allows complex searches of both visual and verbal information. For the database as it stands today, see Search and Manuscript Images.
One of the major objectives of the project is not simply to present data in new ways but also to demonstrate how it can be used in practice to derive new understanding of the palaeographical questions. The project team have therefore produced some ‘traditional’ palaeographical publications, including a monograph on eleventh-century script, proceedings of project Colloquia, and other articles. For a full list of publications resulting from this project see Publications.