Medieval Writing
Cursive Charter Hand - English

Script Type : minuscule cursive

Script Family : Gothic

Date : early 13th century

Location : England

Function : Document hand or charter hand

This represents the first few lines of a 13th century charter (British Library, Egerton Charter 2180) in which the abbot and convent of St Edmund, at Bury, grant to one Robert de Braybroc the tenant services of two virgates of land. By permission of the British Library.
This example is featured in Brown 1990.
Pass cursor over letters to see enlarged examples taken from the page illustrated above.

Distinctive letters : Around this time document hands in England were somewhat variable and undergoing changes. This example has a spiky angular appearance, but with large loops and sometimes split shafts on the ascenders and descenders of letters like b, l, h, g and others. Despite being a little mannered in appearance, the script is cursive. The letter forms are a bit variable.

The descender of q curls, from our perspective, the wrong way but it is distinguished from g because that letter has a more lavishly curving descender. There are two forms of r, including the minimalist form that sometimes appears after vowels as well as the particularly English form that extends below the baseline, and two forms of s, the short and curly and the tall. In most cases v is the same as u.

The letters j and w only appear as capitals in English names. There are no examples of k or z.

The letter y only appears in English names, and it is dotted. While i is not generally dotted, this does occur when it is doubled, as in the word


There are many abbreviations. A distinctive characteristic, which gives the hint that this is an ecclesiastical document, is the use of the papal knot abbreviation mark, as in


The Tironian et is also employed.

Pass the cursor along the lines to get a taste of it. For more detail, investigate the paleography exercises.

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This site is created and maintained by Dr Dianne Tillotson, freelance researcher and compulsive multimedia and web author. Comments are welcome. Material on this web site is copyright, but some parts more so than others. Please check here for copyright status and usage before you start making free with it. This page last modified 4/3/2012.