A few posts ago I talked about Erik Kwakkel’s Turning Over a New Leaf, which uses computers to analyze manuscripts. Keeping with the same theme, I’ve recently discovered Peter Stokes’ and Stewart Brookes’ work in progress, DigiPal. Here’s what they have to say about themselves:
At its heart will be hundreds of newly-commissioned photographs of eleventh-century Anglo-Saxon script from the major manuscript collections in the world, with detailed descriptions of the handwriting, the textual content, and the wider manuscript or documentary context.
Prototype showing detail of Cambridge, Corpus Christi College, MS 419, p. 40. Manuscript image reproduced by permission of the Master and Fellows, Corpus Christi College Cambridge
DigiPal will be more than just an online annotated catalogue of manuscript images, however. Taking advantage of recent advancements in digital research, as well as developing new technologies, DigiPal will offer innovative ways of interrogating and interacting with the material.
It is our intention that DigiPal will showcase the benefits of digitally-assisted palaeography, opening up new possibilities for the study of scripts, scribes, and manuscripts.
So it seems that digital palaeography is really going to be taking off over the next few years – nice to see in a field that’s usually so traditional.
For the moment, DigiPal has some really interesting blog posts on describing handwriting.
While we’re on the topic of digital resources, there are actually some really great online resources for palaeography students. The Interactive Album of Mediaeval Palaeography has some good manuscript images with practice exercises. If you’re interested in Anglo-Saxon palaeography, this website (I think it was once part of an Old English course, but the page they link to is dead) has an interactive image of the Junius manuscript that identifies each letter for you if you hover over it with your mouse. It’s been a really useful tool, and it’s also really fun to play with.