Online Tuition in the Palaeography of Scottish Documents

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The handwriting in manuscript documents and volumes written in Scotland between 1500 and 1750 is usually a mixture of formally taught handwriting styles. One such form Italic, is, by and large, fairly easy to read, since its letter forms are very similar to modern letters. However, in the sixteenth century a form of handwriting was developed, which became known as Secretary Hand, and this was an administrative/business 'shorthand' used throughout western Europe. Some Secretary Hand letters are characteristically different from the modern equivalents and must be memorised.

This tutorial introduces the novice palaeographer to commonly occurring Secretary Hand letters.

1. What Secretary Hand looks like

2. Key letters - the Secretary Hand e and s

3. Other commonly-occurring Secretary Hand letters: a, b, c, d, h, r and t

4. Phonetic spelling and Scots words

5. 'Sic braw secretarie hand'

6. Short test in identifying Secretary Hand letters

You can also print all 6 steps of the 1 hour tutorial (Acrobat PDF, 1.10MB, opens in new window).