Hand: Main Hand, BL Harley Ch. 83.A.2

Main Hand
BL Harley Ch. 83.A.2
Saec. xi2/4

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

This hand is very similar in pen-width, aspect, and letter-forms to the local Worcester documents S.1394 and particularly , and all three were quite possibly written by the same scribe. The pen is of medium width but a good deal of shading and was held fairly flat. The script has an irregular and unpractised appearance, with a range of letter-forms being used and with strokes often not joining or extending longer than they should (see descriptions of f, g, and t). Letters are rotund and a relatively level cue-height was maintained, particularly given the irregularity of the script. Ascenders are fairly straight, close to or slightly longer than minims, and usually split at the tops. Descenders are shorter, particularly on þ, and are straight or can curve slightly left. Minims have long rounded approach-strokes, are fairly straight and upright, and have very small horizontal feet. Round a was used most often, with a very round lower curve, and a thicker, straighter back angled at about 80°; the lower curve has turned up by the time it meets the back, sometimes virtually to cue-height. Some variation is found, however, resulting sometimes in flat-topped and sometimes in semi-Caroline forms. Caroline a was also used in ligature with preceding t, sometimes e, but never g. A rounded form of æ is found, sometimes bilinear, sometimes with the hook of e above cue-height even without ligature (wigeracæstre [sic], line 1), sometimes with both the a and e components above (particularly before g and t). A form of æ with semi-Caroline a is also found (tærdebicgan, line 7). Round c was used, though often with a fairly vertical back and horizontal hook. The back of d is long and angled at about 45–60°; it can be straight, sometimes curves slightly left, but often curves up at the tip. Round and horned e are both found; the structure of both is the same, the horned form having a small hook at the shoulder. The letter is usually fairly rounded but can have a more vertical back; the tongue is thin and angled up at about 15°, usually extending slightly past the hook; the lower curve reaches up to about mid cue-height. The tongue of f is sometimes long (freondum, line 9) but usually short; it is always thin and usually extends slightly through the down-stroke. The top of g can be thick and flat but often tapers and turns up on the right; the tail often hangs from the middle but can also hang from the extreme right of the top-stroke; when hanging from the middle, the curve can pass through the top-stroke. The mid-section of g is fairly rounded and open, and the tail closed in a round loop. An unusual form of h is found in hid, line 1: the structure is a hybrid between majuscule and minuscule, with a regular ascender, a straight line from cue-height angled down slightly, and then a following minim, the result looking like bilinear h or n but with a long left stroke. The shoulders of h, m, n, and r all vary in angularity but consistently branch from well below cue-height, rise in a thin fairly straight stroke, then turn down. Only tall s was used, usually tapering slightly below the baseline and reaching up to ascender-height with a rounded and often prominent hook. The lower curve of t sometimes extends slightly above the top-stroke, as in both S.1394 and 1399. The conventional distinction between þ and ð was followed. The descender of þ is shorter than that of other letters. The structure of ð is exactly like that of d but tends to curve over to the left more often, although in one case the back is broken and then curves from about 20° through to about 110°; the through-stroke is long, thin, and hooked down on the right. Bilinear x was used as a numeral, the upper left branch hooked down, the lower right branch hooked right, the upper right branch curved up, and the lower left with a flat foot. Straight-limbed dotted y was used, the right stroke hooked left and curving slightly into the long, thin tail. The top of 7 is flat or slightly rising and on or slightly below cue-height; the descender can start from slightly higher and is straight or turned slightly left. Punctuation was limited to a cross at the start of the text, an initial capital, and punctus at mid-height without following capital; numerals are offset by puncti before and after, but there is no final punctuation at the end of the document. A single accent was used (wic, line 9). Abbreviations are þæt, þonne, sancte, dohter, ‑um, and 7. No Latin was used.

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