The letter forms are based on Roman Half-Uncial, as interpreted in various continental scripts, with some influence from Insular Half-Uncial.
Because the Italian Renaissance adopted a version of this as their standard typeface, most of the forms are familiar to us today.
|a is become a more curvaceous version of the Uncial a. It looks like our typeface version.|
|g has developed a closed bow and a curved tail.|
|r has lost its descender and shortened its loop, like a slightly less tipsy version of Half-Uncial r. (The Lindisfarne Gospels use an elegant version of this r, which can be inadvertently mistaken for an n.) Carolingian Minuscule r is recognisably our typeface version.|
|There is another type of r, the '2-shaped' version which we will see in later scripts being used after bowed letters. It looks like a R without its downstroke. On this page it is used once (section 5, line 2), after o.|
|n is the 'lower-case' version, like the Insular Majuscule and Anglo-Saxon Minuscule n,|
|though there is an Insular Majuscule N in section 6, line 9.|
|The tall version of s is used, like the alternative s in Insular Majuscule .|
A couple of letters are interesting because of their history:
|Y (section 5, line 9) is the smallish, exotic-looking Greek g: here it appears in the Greek word Abyssus, 'deeps'.|
|This (section 2, line 1) is a 'tagged e'. It was used to indicate the 'open e' or [e], which had developed phonetically from the Latin diphthong [ae]. This is the letter which was used for Anglo-Saxon æ. The word celum is from Latin caelum, 'sky, heaven'.|
| The scribe writes out the whole word below (section 4, line 8).
There is further evidence in section 1, line 1 that he is confused about this sound. What is it?|
There is a restrained use of serifs.
|The tall s has the characteristic triangular bump at head-line height.|
|Letters like p begin with a slight triangular serif.|
|Letters with short minims like u, m, and n begin with a sideways stroke of the pen, which adds to the generally cursive look of a script where the letters are not in fact conspicuously joined.|
|Tall letters are clubbed.|
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An even, upright, rounded script. It gives the impression of clarity, and a certain cursive quality.
The script is evenly spaced between the head- and base-line:
Ascenders on d, b , and l, all of which have straight verticals, are as tall again as the body of the text:
Descenders are on the whole not so deep, though p, g, and occasionally q can be the depth of the body of text:
Other letters such as s do not rise as high above the headline; f, and occasionally s descend slightly below:
Verticals are upright and evenly spaced:
The width of the pen strokes is vertical, but the angle of the nib produces thinner lines where the stroke rises up into a curve. This creates an oval effect on bows, and a slanting effect on diagonals:
The aspect ratio of our test letters is:
|o is roughly square||c is roughly 1:.8||m is roughly 1:1.6|
The generally curved look is due to
|notice the angle of the |
cross-stroke on e.
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© MEG TWYCROSS 1998