Scrineum 2015

The editorial board of Scrineum ( is pleased to announce that the number 12 (2015) of «Scrineum. Rivista» is online (; the editorial board is also pleased to invite you to submit for the next issue of 2015 original papers concerning the history of documents, handwriting and manuscript books. Papers in Italian, English, German and Spanish are welcome. The submissions must be formatted according to the following rules: and sent to the e-mail address not later than April 15th, 2015.  

Scrineum Rivista is already indexed in DOAJ (Directory of Open Access Journals); since 2008 it features an international Referee Board the structure of which mirrors the various topics and interests of the current editorial policy. It is currently the only e-journal specifically dedicated to document andmanuscript sciences in the Middle Ages. Submitted papers, if accepted, are normally published within a couple of months. The publisher (Firenze University Press) guarantees compliance with Copyright Laws.

You can find further informations on Scrineum at the internet addresses which are indicated above. Please feel free to forward this information to anyone, colleagues and students, who might be interested.

We hope that our project can be of your interest.

Compilation, Composition, and Commonplace Books

2016-01-20 18.40.22The first Centre for Material Texts exhibition is now live in the new exhibition cases on the first floor of the English Faculty at 9 West Road. Graduate students on Ruth Abbott’s MPhil module on 19th century writers’ notebooks have installed an exhibition of original 19th century commonplace books. The exhibition had its first installment in October 2015 at the Wordsworth Museum in Cumbria, and it has now come south and been reimagined for the English Faculty. Come and see these fascinating original manuscripts, and add an entry of your own to our modern commonplace book while you’re there!

Please come to eat cake and celebrate the arrival of our beautiful new display cases on the first-floor landing on Monday, 26 January, from 10.15-11.15 am.

Ralph Crane’s Manuscripts

My PhD research concerns the copyist Ralph Crane, a poet and scribe who is best known for his transcription of several plays for Shakespeare’s 1623 First Folio. Although typically described as a ‘playhouse scrivener’ or ‘copyist to the King’s Men’, Crane is known to have also copied for the Privy Council and Privy Seal Offices, and the Inns of Court. His manuscripts contain the work of the poets Randolph, Davison, and Austin, the naval officer Sir Henry Mainwaring, the playwrights Jonson, Beaumont, Fletcher, Massinger, Middleton and Webster, and the Lord Chancellor Sir Francis Bacon. At other points in his life, Crane was working alone, in the production of presentation manuscripts and verse miscellanies which contain poetry circulated only by him.

Crane's hand
Crane’s hand, National Maritime Museum Caird Library MS LEC/9 fols. 25v-26r.

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Cambridge, University Library, Hh. 1.13: fols 71v-72v

CUL, Hh.1.13, fol. 71v

CUL, MS Hh.1.13, fol. 71v. Copyright Cambridge University Library

Cambridge University Library, MS Hh. 1. 13 (Hh.1.13) is one of over 50 extant copies of the Speculum Christiani, a popular pastoral compilation dating most likely from the first few decades of the fifteenth century. The Speculum almost always consists of eight sections or tabulae, each of which expounds on certain aspects of the Christian faith, in keeping with Pecham’s basic syllabus of religious instruction. The Speculum, however, is often combined with other religious texts of diverse provenance.

Fols 1r-71v of Hh.1.13 contain a unique version of the Speculum (G. Holmstedt (ed.), Speculum Christiani, EETS: OS, 182 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1933, p. cxlii).

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Mapping Medieval Paper in England

CUL, MS Ee.2.15, fol. 20r. Paper stock: crown. Copyright Cambridge University Library

CUL, MS Ee.2.15, fol. 20r. Paper stock: crown. Copyright Cambridge University Library

The ‘Mapping Medieval Paper in England’ Project was funded by a Cambridge Humanities Research Grants Scheme 2014/15 with the aim of preparing a new dataset of Medieval Paper Manuscripts written in England between 1300 to about 1500 to consolidate the data that Dr Da Rold has collected to date.

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The Digital Scriptorium

The Digital Scriptorium provides open digital access to over 8000 medieval and early modern manuscripts housed across over 30 academic libraries in the United States. The website provides user-friendly search tools which allow you to sift through the entire digital corpus according to geographical, historical, and thematic filters, among others. The Scriptorium allows reproduction of images and texts from the collection without prior permission for private study, teaching, and research. Using the images in published or commercial materials requires permission from the participating institution.

Bernardo S. Hinojosa

Digging Deeper

The Stanford online course ‘Digging Deeper’ is an excellent introduction to the more practical side of manuscript studies. The course operates as a series of videos, exercises and short tests along with links to additional, comprehensive reading material. The videos themselves are engaging and instructive, and will equip the watcher with a foundational set of terms for approaching manuscripts. Beyond this set of terms, the course has a particular focus on methods of medieval manuscript production. The course works particularly well by using these videos, which give an important opportunity to experience manuscripts in a visual way. Alongside this is the course’s focus on the digital: it never presumes that you have access to a large special collections library and is very much geared towards finding manuscripts online. It is worth noting that the course was designed to be completed as a diploma over a six week period with a forum discussion taking place after every week. However, this doesn’t detract from the central content and you can complete it at your own pace. One of the most valuable parts of the course is its introduction to palaeography and the transcription practice it allows you. In a very practical way, you are shown good transcription practice and then given the opportunity to demonstrate it online. ‘Digging Deeper’ is a very good place to start for anyone interested in pursuing manuscript studies; it should offer you a good foundation from which you might begin further enquiry.

David Matthews

Transcription Aids

When transcribing I found it very useful to keep a couple of transcription aids open on my web-browser. The two I found most useful are below:

The Index of Scripts on ‘Medieval Writing’

The index itself is vast to the point of daunting if you can’t already identify the script you’re working with. However, with perseverance you should be able to find a page that will help with your deciphering. The website offers a letter-by-letter index of many different scripts up to the 16th Century.

Harvard’s ‘How to Read Medieval Handwriting’

This is a much briefer (and therefore more navigable) introduction and a good place for beginners. It explains some of the essentials of medieval handwriting and a list of common abbreviations which is particularly useful. It’s also worth scrolling to the bottom and investigating the pages on ‘Scripts’ and ‘Textual Instability’ which give engaging short introductions.

David Matthews