Palaeography: A Bibliography of Books and Electronic Sources
This bibliography has been provided by Abdullah Alger at the University of Manchester. Please see our UK and Worldwide Contacts page for details regarding his research and for his contact information. . Posted 5th August 2005

The scope of this bibliography is to provide students with basic books and journal articles fundamental for the study of palaeography (Latin and the vernacular). I have indicated what I believe are some of the most important references with a (*). Although it is not an exhaustive list, I have tried to separate the material into specific areas so that students may find it useful when preparing for research in a particular period. Some references may overlap in various areas (e.g. some references to Anglo-Saxon manuscripts can be placed in various categories). My specialty is manuscripts in the Anglo-Saxon period, so do not be disturbed by my over emphasis on this period. However, I have included a number of references which are important for studying scripts after 1066 labelled Later Scripts. This bibliography is an ongoing project so new information is welcomed.
Additionally, I have provided a list of electronic resources which are of use to scholars and students alike. For a comprehensive database with most of these sources refer to Humble.
General Resources
Maria Luisa Agati, Il libro manoscritto Introduzione alla codicologia (2003)
J.J.G. Alexander, Insular manuscripts, Sixth to Ninth Century (London, 1978)
Rutherford Aris, Explicatio formarum litterarum (1990). Excellent resource for training the eye to distinguish between various scripts.
*Bernard Bishoff (translated by Dábhí Ó Cróinín and David Ganz), Latin palaeography: Antiquity and the Middle Ages (Cambridge University Press, 1990). The best resource for Latin palaeography.
*T. Julian Brown, A palaeographer’s view: the selected writings of Julian Brown. Janet Bately, Michelle P. Brown and Jane Roberts (eds.) (Harvey Miller Publishers, 1993). An excellent collection of Julian Brown’s publications on all sorts of issues.
Michelle P. Brown, The British Library guide to writing and scripts (British Library, 1998)
Michelle P. Brown and Patricia Lovett, The historical source book for scribes (British Library, 1999). An analysis of scripts to c. 1500 by a palaeographer and professional scribe.
G.S. Ivy, “The bibliography of the manuscript book,” In The English library before 1700, eds. Francis Wormald and C.E. Wright (Athlone Press, 1958), pp. 32-65.
*Neil R. Ker, Medieval libraries of Great Britain: a list of surviving books (London, The Royal Historical Society, 2nd ed., 1964).
See also, Andrew G. Watson, Supplement to the second edition (London, The Royal Historical Society, 1987) which includes addenda and corrigenda.
Patricia Lovett, The British Library companion to calligraphy, illumination and heraldry (British Library, 2000)
*Elias A. Lowe, Codices Latini Antiquiores, 11 vols. and suppl. (Oxford, 1934-72)
Elias A. Lowe, English Uncia l (Oxford, 1960). For an updated review of the use of the uncial in Britain see Michelle P. Brown, ‘The writing of early Insular books: uncial’. In The Cambridge History of the Book in Britain, ed. Richard Gameson, vol. 1 (forthcoming).
A. Mastruzzo, ‘Ductus, corsività, storia della scrittura. Alcune considerazioni’, Scrittura e civiltà 19 (1995), pp. 14-24.
M. Mostert, New approaches to medieval communication (Utrecht Studies in Medieval Literacy, I, 1999). Good bibliography.
G. Noordzij, The stroke of the pen: fundamental aspects to western writing (1982)
Ezio Ornato, La face caché du livre médiévale: L’histoire du livre vue par Ezio Ornato, ses amis et ses collégues (1997)
*Malcolm B. Parkes, Pause and effect: an introduction to the history of punctuation in the West (Scolar Press, 1992)
*Malcolm B. Parkes, Scribes, scripts and readers: studies in the communication, presentation and dissemination of medieval texts. (The Hambledon Press, 1991)
James M. Powell, Medieval studies: an introduction (Syracuse, 2nd ed., 1992)
Pamela R. Robinson, ed.,
Catalogue of dated and datable manuscripts c.737-1600 in Cambridge libraries (2 vols, Woodbridge, 1988)
*Alexander R. Rumble, “Palaeography. Part 1, general terms”. In The local historian’s encyclopedia, ed. J. Richardson (2nd ed., Historical Publications, Barnet, .1986), pp. 100-103.
Barbara A. Shailor, The medieval book: illustrated from the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
David M. Smith, Medieval Latin Documents (Borthwick Institute of Historical Research, University of York, 1979)
Frank Soetermeer, Utrumque ius in peciis (1997)
Edward Maunde Thompson, Introduction to Greek and Latin palaeography
L.N. Valentine, Ornament in medieval manuscripts (1965)
Andrew Watson, ed., N.R. Ker: Books, collectors and libraries: studies in the medieval heritage (Hambledon, 1991)
Andrew Watson, ed., Catalogue of dated and datable manuscripts c.700-1600 in the Department of Manuscripts, the British Library (2 vols, London, 1979)
Andrew Watson, ed., Catalogue of dated and datable manuscripts c.435-1600 in Oxford libraries (2 vols, Oxford, 1984)
Other Useful References
Nicholas Bell, Music in medieval manuscripts (British Library, 2001)
*Leonard Boyle, Medieval Latin Palaeography: a bibliographical introduction (Toronto, 1984).
One of the first places to look if you are interested in a particular area of research. Also an online bibliography developed in memory of Boyle.
*Adriano Cappelli, Dizionario di Abbreviature latine ed italiane (Ulrico Hoepli, Milan, 6th ed., 1985 – or later edition). This is the main reference for abbreviations, suspensions and contractions. There is also an online palaeographical dictionary.
Donald Jackson, The story of writing (London, The Parker Pen Company, 1981)
Hilary Marshall, Palaeography for family and local historians (Chichester, Phillimore, 2004)
C.T. Martin, The Record Interpreter (London, 2nd ed., 1912, republished by Kohler and Coombes, 1976)
Illuminated Manuscripts
Anglo-Saxon illumination in Oxford libraries, Bodleian Library Picture-Book, Special Series 1 (1970)
J.J.G. Alexander, Insular manuscripts, 6th to the 9th Century (Survey of illuminated manuscripts in the British Isles, vol.1., London, 1978)
Michelle P. Brown, Understanding illuminated manuscripts: a guide to technical terms (British Library, 1994). Explains each script with manuscript plates.
M. Budny, Insular, Anglo-Saxon and Early Anglo-Norman manuscript art at Corpus Christi College Cambridge: an illustrated catalogue (2 vols., Kalamazoo, 1997)
*Christopher de Hamel, A history of illuminated manuscripts (London, Phaidon, 2nd ed., 1994). The best introduction so far on illuminated manuscripts.
Christopher de Hamel, Scribes and illuminators (British Museum, 1992)
T.H. Ohlgren, Insular and Anglo-Saxon illuminated manuscripts: an iconographic catalogue, c. A.D. 625 to 1100 (New York and London, 1986)
E. Temple, Anglo-Saxon manuscripts, 900-1066 (Survey of manuscripts illuminated in the British Isles, vol.2, London, 1976)
Francis Wormald, “Decorated initials in English manuscripts from A.D. 900-1100”, Archaeologia 91 (1945), pp. 107-135.
Francis Wormald, English drawings of the 10th and 11th Centuries (1952)
*T.A.M. Bishop, English Caroline miniscule (Oxford, 1991)
Michelle P. Brown, Anglo-Saxon manuscripts (London, 1991)
Michelle P. Brown, The Lindisfarne Gospels: society, spirituality and the scribe (London, 2003)
Michelle P. Brown, The Book of Cerne: prayer, patronage and power in the ninth-century (London, 1996)
Michelle P. Brown, "House Style in the Scriptorium, Scribal Reality, and Scholarly Myth." In Anglo-Saxon styles. Edited by Catherine E. Karkov and George Hardin Brown (Albany, 2003), pp. 131 -150.
Patrick W. Conner, Anglo-Saxon Exeter: a tenth century cultural history (Woodbridge, 1993).
An in-depth palaeographical and historical analysis of the Exeter Book and other manuscripts.
Criticisms by Richard G. Gameson, “The Origin of the Exeter Book of Old English Poetry”, Anglo-Saxon England 25 (1996), pp. 135-185.
For another opinion on the origin see Robert M. Butler, "Glastonbury and the Early History of the Exeter Book." In Old English literature in its manuscript context. Edited by Joyce Tally Lionarons (Morgantown, 2004), pp. 173-215.
*David N. Dumville, "English Square Miniscule Script: The Background and Earliest Phases." Anglo-Saxon England 16 (1987): 147-79.
Also see continuation "English Square Miniscule Script: The Mid-Century Phases." Anglo-Saxon England 23 (1994): 133-64.
David N. Dumville. Liturgy and the ecclesiastical history of late Anglo-Saxon England: four studies (Woodbridge, 1992)
David N. Dumville. Wessex and England from Alfred to Edgar (Woodbridge, 1992)
David N. Dumville, English Caroline script and monastic history (Woodbridge, 1993)
*David N. Dumville, "English Libraries before 1066: use and abuse of the manuscript evidence." In Anglo-Saxon manuscripts: basic readings. Edited by Mary P. Richards (London, 1994), pp. 169-219.
David N. Dumville, A Palaeographers review: the Insular system of scripts in the Early Middle Ages (Suita, 1999)
Richard G. Gameson, “Manuscript Art at Christ Church, Canterbury, in the Generation after St. Dunstan.” In St Dunstan: his life, times and cult. Edited by Nigel Ramsay and Margaret Sparks (Woodbridge, 1992), pp. 187-220.
Richard G. Gameson, “Book Production and Decoration at Worcester in the Tenth and Eleventh Centuries.” In St. Oswald of Worcester: life and influence, edited by Nicholas Brooks and C. Cubitt (Leicester, 1996), pp. 194-243.
Richard G. Gameson, The scribe speaks? Colophons in early English manuscripts (Cambridge, 2002)
*Helmut Gneuss, “A Preliminary List of Manuscripts Written or Owned in England up to 1100," Anglo-Saxon England 9 (1981), pp. 1-60. Also published in book form Handlist of Anglo-Saxon manuscripts: a list of manuscripts and manuscript fragments written or owned in England up to 1100 (Tempe, 2001)
Timothy Graham, ed. The recovery of Old English: Anglo-Saxon studies in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries (Kalamazoo, 2000)
*Neil R. Ker, Catalogue of manuscripts containing Anglo-Saxon (Oxford, 1957, re-issued with supplement 1990). This is where you start when you want to do research on any Anglo-Saxon manuscript.
Corrections and additions in Anglo-Saxon England 5 (1976), pp. 121-131; and by B. Blockley in Notes and Queries 29 (1982), pp. 1-3.
*Michael Lapidge. "Surviving Booklists from Anglo-Saxon England." In Anglo-Saxon manuscripts: basic readings. Edited by Mary P. Richards (London, 1994), pp. 87-167.
Joyce Tally Lionarons. Old English literature in its manuscript context (Morgantown, West Virginia University Press, 2004
Rosamund McKitterick, Anglo-Saxon missionaries in Germany: personal connections and local influences, Brixworth Lecture 8 (Leicester, 1991)
Bernard J. Muir, facs. A digital facsimile of Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS. Junius 11 (Oxford, 2004). CD facsimile. The plates, without commentary, are available on the Oxford, Bodleian Library website.
Malcolm B. Parkes, ‘The scriptorium of Wearmouth-Jarrow’, Jarrow lecture (Jarrow, 1982). Also reprinted in his Scribes, scripts and readers, pp. 93-120.
P.R. Robinson, "Self-Contained Units in Composite Manuscripts of the Anglo-Saxon Period." In Anglo-Saxon manuscripts: basic readings. Edited by Mary P. Richards (London, 1994), pp. 25-35.
*Alexander R. Rumble, “Using Anglo-Saxon Manuscripts.” In Anglo-Saxon manuscripts: basic readings. Edited by Mary P. Richards (London, 1994), pp. 3-24.
Mary Swan and Elaine Treharne, eds, Rewriting Old English in the Twelfth Century (Cambridge, 2000)
Later scripts
T.A.M. Bishop, Scriptores Regis (Oxford, 1961)
P. Chaplais, English royal documents, King John – Henry VI (Oxford, 1971)
*Albert Delorez, The palaeography of Gothic manuscript books: from the Twelfth to the early Sixteenth Century (Cambridge University Press, 2003).
This is the best book available on the Gothic scripts. The plates provide an excellent review of the development of the Gothic book script.
*L.C. Hector, The handwriting of English documents (Edward Arnold, 2nd ed., 1966, reprinted by Kohler and Coombes, 1979). The best introduction to the handwriting of documents in England.
Hilda Grieve, Examples of English handwriting 1150-1750 (Essex Record Office, 1954)
*C. Hilary Jenkinson, The later court hands in England from the 15th to the 17th Century (2 parts, Cambridge University Press, 1927)
*Charles Johnson and C. Hilary Jenkinson, English court hand A.D. 1066 to 1500 (2 Parts, Oxford University Press, 1915)
*Neil R. Ker, English manuscripts in the century after the Norman Conquest (Oxford, 1960)
*Malcolm B. Parkes, English cursive book hands 1250-1500 (Oxford University Press, 1969; revised edn. Scolar Press, 1979)
J. Wardrop, The script of humanism: some aspects of humanistic script 1460-1560 (Oxford University Press, 1963)
G.E. Dawson and L. Kennedy-Skipton, Elizabethan handwriting 1500-1650 (1966)
Alexander R. Rumble, “The palaeography of the Domesday manuscripts,” In Domesday Book: a reassessment, ed. P.H. Sawyer (Edward Arnold, 1985), pp.28-49
C.E. Wright, English vernacular hands from the Twelfth to the Fifteenth centuries (Oxford, 1960)
Manuscript Electronic Links
Anglo-Saxon Charters.
Bibliotheca Neerlandica Manuscripta.
Catalogue of Illuminated Manuscript Facsimiles at the Michigan State University Libraries.
Catalogue of Irish Manuscripts at Oxford.
CEEC – Codices Electronici Ecclesiae Coloniensis.
CORSAIR – Pierpont Morgan Library Online Catalogue.
digCIM – British Library Digital Catalogue of Illuminated Manuscripts.
Digital Scriptorium.
Hill Monastic Manuscript Library.
Index of Medieval Medical Images.
Late Medieval Illustrated Manuscripts from the Bibliotheca Palatina.
Liber Floridus.
Manuscripta Medievalia.
CERL Manuscripts Project.
Medieval Diplomatic and the ‘Ars Dictandi’.
Medieval Illuminated Manuscripts.
MOLCAT – British Library Manuscripts Catalogue.
Valenciennes 120 “microfilms en ligne’.
Researching Manuscripts
*Probably the best site for research (German).
Also this one.
Labyrinth: Internet Resources for Medieval Studies.
Internet Medieval Sourcebook. Medieval Studies on the Internet.
Netserf: the Internet Connection for Medieval Resources.
ORB: Online Reference Book for Medieval Studies.
Digital Manuscript Facsimiles
Aberdeen Bestiary.
Bodleian Library Western Manuscripts to c.1500.
Burnet Psalter.
Early Manuscripts at Oxford University.
Elektra: e-manuscripts.
Irish Script on Screen.
Moyen Age en Lumiere.
Planctus for William Longsword.
St Albans Psalter.
Literature Searching and Bibliographies
Bibliography and Methods in Medieval Studies.
Byzantine Manuscript Indices .
Electronic Palaeography (in memory of Leonard Boyle).
Online Bibliography of Secondary Literature on Manuscripts, Modern Papers and Rare Printed Books.
Tutorials and Other Reference Tools
Cours d’Initiation a la Palaeographie Medievale et Moderne.
Ductus Online Course in Palaeography.
English Handwriting 1500-1700.
Interpreting Ancient Manuscripts .
Introduction to Anglo-Saxon Manuscripts .
Medieval Manuscript Manual Humble.
Medieval Palaeography Humble.
School of Advanced Studies, University of London – Centre for Manuscript and Print Studies.

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