Academic journal article Medium Aevum

A Conspectus of Scribal Hands Writing English, 960-1100

Academic journal article Medium Aevum

A Conspectus of Scribal Hands Writing English, 960-1100

Article excerpt

Donald Scragg, A Conspectus of Scribal Hands Writing English, 960-1100, Publications of the Manchester Centre for Anglo-Saxon Studies (Cambridge: D. S. Brewer, 2012). xxii + 94 pp. ISBN 978-1-84384-286-6. £75.00.

This slim, oblong-format book presents in tabular form a list of distinguishable scribal hands that wrote Old English of any form - be it principal texts in books or documents, or additions thereto - between the reign of King Edgar and that of William Rufus. The information furnished for each of more than 1,000 scribes is: reference number here, stint(s) in manuscript(s), approximate date range, localization, plus summary indication of the content of the text(s) written. Most of the hands are recorded for a stint or stints in a single book or document; however a few (e.g. no. 307, identifiable as Wulfstan-Lupus) appear in more (in this case, eight). Uncertainty over the division of certain hands is clearly signalled by the use of letters in association with a single scribal reference number: thus nos 612, 612a, 612b, and 612c may represent one scribe or as many as four. (The curiously numbered scribes '60.5', '61.5', '314.1', '414.5', and '992.5' were presumably last-minute insertions, so designated to avoid having to renumber all the other entries.)

Undertaken as groundwork for Scragg's projected study of the spelling habits of individual scribes, the result is an invaluable reference tool, supplementing existing catalogues of the manuscripts, charters, and documents in question - albeit one that is difficult to exploit without those same works immediately to hand. …

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