Hand: Main Hand, BL Cotton Ch. viii.35

Main Hand
BL Cotton Ch. viii.35
Saec. xi

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

Though without clearly datable features, the extreme disorderliness, the angularity of the script, and the remnants of some features from Square minuscule suggest a date late in the tenth or early in the eleventh century. As noted, the aspect is one of great irregularity: letters are poorly formed and extremely irregular, varying in size and angularity, and with uneven base-line and cue-height. The script is quite heavy but with little shading. The letters tend to be somewhat angular and slightly forward-leaning, not unlike those of G.816-1. Ascenders are usually shorter than minims and are barbed, and descenders are often longer and tend to taper slightly. Minims are straight, forward-leaning, and have barbs and small horizontal feet. A roughly-formed flat-topped a is found throughout, with a convex left side and a relatively short top; it can be closer to the rotund or teardrop forms. A similar structure was used for æ, the tongue of which is horizontal and at cue-height, and the hook is rounded and a little wider than it is tall. Very occasional examples can be found of a well-formed rounded but approximately teardrop-shaped a or a-component of æ, very much of the sort written in the first half of the eleventh century. Round c was used throughout, apparently written in a single stroke and so narrower and more upright than would normally be expected. A slightly open round d was used, with a medium-length and slightly concave-down back angled at about 45°, and the tip of the back is sometimes hooked down very slightly, particularly on the first line. Round e is found throughout, the lower curve of which is very short, the tongue is horizontal and just below cue-height, and the hook is round and fairly wide. The hook and tongue of f are both straight, angled up, and hooked down at the tip. The tail of g hangs from the right of the top-stroke and often has an angular, zig-zag shape; the mid-section is always quite straight and angled down at about 45°, but the tail is sometimes a full round curve turned up at the tip, or alternatively a very short squiggle; the letter is usually thus 3-shaped. The scribe managed on one or two occasions to produce a balanced, well-formed g with a round, three-quarter-open tail looking very much like a product of the first half of the eleventh century. The shoulders of h, m, n, and r all branch from below cue-height and are quite angular, and the down-stroke of r tends to be quite short and so the foot is usually above the base-line. The structure of s does not vary, with the hook consistently angled up at about 45° and turned down sharply at the tip. However, the length and position of s varies a great deal: it is sometimes low, sometimes bilinear, but most often the vertical stroke descends a little below the base-line and extends slightly above cue-height, and the hook usually reaches over the following letter. No þ is found, even ðæt being written out in full. The structure of ð is exactly like d, the through-stroke thin, short, quite high up, and usually straight but sometimes hooked down on the right. The scribe seems to have had particular difficulty with x, the letter looking particularly clumsy and ill-formed. The form of x is approximately bilinear, and it seems that the scribe intended the first left-right stroke to be horizontal at each end, the north-east branch to be hooked left, and the south-west branch hooked right. A round, undotted, approximately bilinear form of y is normal, both branches of which are turned down at the tip, but an ill-formed f-shaped y is found once (tydincmæd, line 20) with a very short tail. The top of 7 is short and rising, and the descender is long and angled slightly to the left; in one case (line 23, the last full line of text) the top is very short and well above cue-height. Latin text is not distinguished by script except that the Latin is quite heavily abbreviated; forms include the nasal suspension, ÷, 7, , hooked h for autem, and reversed c for con-.

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