Hand: Main Hand, BL Cotton Ch. viii.17
- Main Hand
- BL Cotton Ch. viii.17
- Saec. xi
Stokes, English Vernacular Script, ca 990–ca 1035, Vol. 2 (PhD Thesis, University of Cambridge, 2006)
This script has an untidy appearance, a very uneven cue-height, and a distinctive forward lean. This lean is particularly evident in the Latin portions due to the comparative narrowness and the thicker vertical strokes, whereas the vernacular bounds were written with wider and more spaced letters. The aspect is quite similar to Ælfsige’s hand (G.380-1 and G.500-1), although the script here is rounder and less regular, and the choice of letter-forms is very similar despite being imitative. Vernacular ascenders are slightly longer than minims and have prominent but ill-formed wedges, and descenders taper and turn very slightly left. Minims have prominent wedges or approach-strokes and have small horizontal feet. Teardrop-shaped a was used throughout, the top of which is often pointed and extends somewhat above cue-height. A similar form was used for æ, the tongue of which is horizontal and just below cue-height, and the hook is high, rounded, and slightly open even when not in ligature. The back of c is quite upright, the hook-stroke is initially vertical, rising above cue-height before turning over, and the lower curve produces a small horn just below cue-height. The back of e is similarly formed, and the hook is high and open like æ. The back of d is quite short and begins at about 15° but curves up at the tip. The tongue of f is long, thin, rises slightly, and normally passes slightly left of the down-stroke. The top of g is flat and relatively long, the mid-section is small and hangs from the middle, and the tail swings sharply out to the right then curves back to the left, extending well below the preceding letter, and ends horizontally. The shoulders of h, m, n, and r are quite rounded; that of r tends to turn back in to the left before turning down and right with a long foot looking somewhat like majuscule r with a descender. The left side of o is quite vertical and does not join smoothly with the upper curve. Round, low, long, and Caroline s were all used. Long s is found before t but also elsewhere (seu, hlos, earnes, and the first in presumpserit); it descends slightly below the base-line and reaches up in a very high, very wide arc over the following letter and above ascender-height. A similar but slightly more restrained form, much closer to Caroline, is found in the witness-list even when not followed by t (scā, wulfsige, auxil[ia]riis, the first in sps, and the last in scītas). Round s is also found througout with a small upper hook which rises slightly above cue-height (nisi, suum, dampnamus). Low s is found in any position including sometimes before t. Low s is deeply split as the hook branches at or below the base-line. The scribe preferred ðtoþ, using the former mostly in the abbreviation for þæt but sometimes also in demonstrative pronouns (þæs, þone twice, and also þurh and þær). Despite normally using the usual abbreviation for þæt, he also sometimes written the word out in full but with an initial ð. The back of ð is very long, angled initially between the horizontal and about 15° but then curving up into a tapering tip which is vertical or even turned back to the right and which reaches well over the preceding letter. The through-stroke of ð is very long, often curves up slightly, and has a thick separate finishing-stroke. The north-east branch of x has a prominent downward hook, and the very thin south-west branch extends down almost to the top of the following line and beneath the preceding two letters. Straight-limbed dotted y was used, the right branch of which is hooked left, and the tail turned left at the tip. The top of 7 has a prominent upward hook on the left and rises at up to 30° or so before turning into a vertical but slightly waving down-stroke. Latin is not distinguised by script except in aspect as noted above.