DigiPal at Leeds IMC 2012

The DigiPal project will again be well represented at Leeds IMC 2012, in no fewer than four events:

  1. The main focus from the project's point of view is Session 1119, sponsored by APICES, where Peter Stokes will be talking about 'Rule and Variation in English Vernacular Minuscule'. This is scheduled for Wednesday 11 July, from 11:15.
  2. Peter will also discuss the project in Session 1432, a round-table sponsored by the Medieval Academy of America, on 'The Wayfaring Scholar: Charting New Routes for Academic Pursuit in the Age of Globalization'. This is on Wednesday at 19:30.
  3. Stewart Brookes will be speaking in Session 1033 about 'Life, but Not as We Know It: Ælfric's Adaptation of the Book of Kings as Saints' Life', on Wednesday at 9am.
  4. We will also be at an informal social gathering of Digital Medievalist on Wednesday from 8pm onwards, in the Stables Pub at Weetwood Hall.

And, in case that isn't enough, there are the six other sessions on palaeography, all of which are sponsored by APICES.

With all that activity there is no excuse not to see you there but, in case it helps inspire your interest, here is the abstract of the main paper on the project in Session 1119:

The script used for vernacular writing in eleventh-century England has been famously intractable to palaeographical analysis to date. Neil Ker, perhaps the best-regarded expert in the field, asserted that it ‘followed no obvious course of development’ from the 990s until the 1040s at the earliest (1985 reprint, 34), and T. Alan Bishop and Pierre Chaplais consistently noted the difficulty of dating vernacular documents from the 1040s, ’50s and ’60s (1957, passim). This extreme variation is sometimes attributed to the Danish invasions, conquest and rule from the 990s until 1042 and the assumed breakdown in society that came with it, but this view is disproven by the relatively consistent Caroline script that was produced by (presumably) the same scribes when writing Latin texts.

The proposed paper will present some of the first systematic work on the degree of variation in the morphology of this script by drawing together the author’s previous and current studies, particularly his ‘Digital Resource for Palaeography’ (DigiPal) and a monograph in preparation on the early development of English Vernacular minuscule. The degree of variation in the surviving scribal hands will be presented using innovative visualisations through the ‘Digital Resource’, and the resulting evidence will be analysed in comparison with the Latin script of the same period. The results will be discussed in their historical context, along with the implications for scribal practice and brief reference to the resulting difficulties in dating, and in the characterisation and attempted taxonomies of this script and indeed of script more generally.


  1. Bishop, T.A.M. and P. Chaplais. 1957. Facsimiles of English Royal Writs to A. D. 1100, presented to Vivian Hunter Galbraith. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
  2. Ker, N.R. 1985. Books, Collectors and Libraries: Studies in the Medieval Heritage, ed. by A.G. Watson. London: Hambledon.
  3. Stokes, P.A. 2006. English Vernacular Script: ca 990 – ca 1035. Unpubl. PhD dissertation, Univ. Cambridge.
  4. Stokes, P.A., S. Brookes et al. 2011–. Digital Resource and Database for Palaeography, Manuscripts and Diplomatic (‘DigiPal’). King’s College London.


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