Hand: Main Hand, BL Cotton Augustus ii.33

Main Hand
BL Cotton Augustus ii.33
Saec. xi

Stokes, English Vernacular Script, ca 990–ca 1035, Vol. 2 (PhD Thesis, University of Cambridge, 2006)

This hand is quite rotund, perhaps because of the Style-IV Anglo-Caroline in the Latin text. Some remnants of Square minuscule do survive, but whether these are due to the scribe’s own practices or to his exemplar is difficult to say. The hand is regular and quite practised, with a level cue-height and consistent letter-forms. The strokes are fairly rounded but the letters are not particularly rotund or broad. A medium-width pen was used but with a good deal of shading. Ascenders are approximately the same length as minims and have small wedges which can verge on blobs. Descenders are about the same length again and can be tapering. The top of a is straight and can be horizontal but is usually slightly angled; it also varies in length and does not always connect neatly at the left shoulder. The left side of a curves out slightly before turning in, and so the letter varies from the old Square to the newer rotund forms without ever quite achieving either. A rounded form was more often used in æ, although the flat top is also found here. The tongue of æ is long and approximately horizontal, and the hook is rounded; no tall form is found, but the hook can rise slightly above cue-height when in ligature with following g or t. Round c was used, as was bilinear d with a fairly short tapering back. Round e is also found throughout, usually with a fairly vertical back and normally with the same tongue and eye as æ, but the tongue can be long and curved up at the tip when final. The tongue of f is long, straight, and on the base-line. The top of g is flat, the mid-section hangs from the centre or right and descends almost vertically, turns sharply left at the base-line, and then curves around in a wide open loop which extends slightly below the preceding letter and has a horizontal or turned-up tip. The shoulders of h, m, n, and r are quite rounded and the strokes are somewhat swollen; the down-stroke of r often turns in slightly to the left before turning back out in an often thick foot. Tall s is found most often, tapering slightly below the base-line and reaching up but lower than ascender-height with a small hook. Low s was normally used only in the ‑es ending, but low and tall s sare both found in this ending at the ends of lines, and the low form was used once initially (syndon, line 18). The scribe much preferred þ over ð, the latter only appearing twice (norð, line 20; hlið, line 25). The back of ð is long, thick, straight, and angled at about 40–45°, and the through-stroke is hooked down on the right. Straight-limbed dotted y was used throughout, the right branch hooked left, and the tail hooked right. The top of 7 is horizontal but has a slight upward hook on the left, and the descender is straight and more or less vertical. Latin was written in fully-developed but early Style-IV Anglo-Caroline.

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