Medieval Writing
Rustic Capitals

Script Type : majuscule

Date : Early Roman (1st century AD) in origin, used in various forms until around 12th century.

Location : Roman Empire

Function : Originally a formal book hand, mainly used in the early medieval era for display headings.

Example, from the early 8th century Vespasian Psalter (British Library, Cotton Vespasian A1, f.6), by permission of the British Library. Reproduction of these images is permitted under Creative Commons licence.
This section shows the use of rustic capitals for a full page of text. The example shows only the bottom segment of the page. This section is from the introductory commentary to the psalter which was produced at St Augustine's Abbey, Canterbury. The script of the psalms themselves is uncial. Now that we have a beautiful colour reproduction, you can see the rubric headings, and the writing from the other side of the page does not interfere with the reading of the text on this side.
Pass cursor over letters to see enlarged examples taken from the photograph above.

Distinctive letters : Letters such as M, N, L and A have slight curves to their straight lines. U is rounded. A has no crossbar. M, N and U have curved descending embellishments. The letters K and Y are not commonly found in Latin but here appear in proper nouns indicating exotic peoples.

There are no examples visible of J, V, W or Z.

Pass the cursor slowly over the first few lines to see what is written. For a more detailed examination, proceed to the paleography exercises.

A complete transcript of the Vespasian Psalter is available in Kuhn, S.M. (ed.) 1965 The Vespasian Psalter Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press .

This manuscript is digitised in full on the British Library's website here.

Paleography exercises using Flash

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Script Index
What is Paleography?

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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 16/2/2014.