Online Tuition in the Palaeography of Scottish Documents

// Home Letter Finder /contact /site map /help
/ About Us
/ What's New
/ Tutorials
/ Coaching
  / Before You Start
  / Letter Finder
    / a
    / b
    / c
    / d
    / e
    / f
    / g
    / h
    / i, j, m, n, u
      / k
    / l
    / o
    / p
    / q
    / r
    / s, scharfes s
    / t
    / u, v, w
    / x
    / y
    / z
    / thorn
    / yogh
    / sample alphabets
  / Numbers
  / Problem Solver
  / Bibliography
  / Links

Letter k

Once you have memorised the letters in the Secretary Hand alphabet which differ most from their modern counterparts, and learned to cope with the way they are rendered by clerks with shoddy handwriting, there still comes a time when a letter is just unintelligible. If the letter is on its own then there is the possibility that it is an ampersand or some other symbol or abbreviation. If a ghastly looking letter occurs above the line in an otherwise intelligible word, then it is time to look at the usual suspects. The first suspect to feature in your identity parade should be the letter k, which more than any other letter, suffers at the hands of sloppy writers. The image below shows how a fairly standard k might be written between the 16th and 18th centuries.

Figure 1 shows the letter k. In figure 2 it occurs in the word kow (cow), and in figure 3 it occurs twice in the word kirk[is] (kirks).


In figure 4 the combination of the k in king[is], the symbol for the letters -is at the end of the word king[is], and interference from the descending letter p in the word accompte in the line above renders the word king[is] very difficult to read for the novice palaeographer.

So, start by reading that awful looking scrawl as a k and see if it makes sense. If not, try other alternatives, but you’ll be surprised how often the ‘confounded blot’, which stops you mid-sentence, turns out to be a k.