MSS and Scripts

The pages below are intended to provide guidance with identifying early scripts, drawing on the fast-growing resources of online manuscripts.

There are a few scripts which are common through the Middle Ages and we should begin with them.


The script called ‘uncial’ is a form of majuscule that originated in Italy. It is broader than capitals and the bows are more circular. Earlier forms largely sat between two lines, but later variations saw a four-line set, with D, h and L higher, F, G and P lower. Compare these two examples, the first from late sixth-century Rome, the later from mid-eighth-century Burgundy:

Troyes 504

NAL 2334 3r

Half Uncial

In contrast to uncial, half uncial is a minscule script.  Familiar features include the rounded a, an open flat-headed g, a short r, a high r-like s, and a sickle-shaped t. Uncial N is usually kept. An early example – possibly from the circle of Jerome – can be found in the Vulgate text now in St Gall:

St Gall 1395

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