Reading the past

[ Reference number: MS 3061/1/214. Finding number: [DV 21]167614]

Palaeography, the study and reading of old handwriting, is a much-loved skill amongst those of us who work with archives and we enjoy every chance we get to have a go at it.  It’s rather like a word puzzle – some of the letters are easy to read and some are not – take this spelling of Shipston on Stour in Warwickshire:

Schepyston Apon Stowre

Like most skills it requires practice and sometimes we get called upon to help our users with reading particularly difficult words or phrases in old documents.  Today I helped a researcher decipher a 15th century manuscript which described the inclosure of land around Shipston on Stour (Schepyston Apon Stowr in this document).  This probably only happens once in a while so to keep our hand in we meet for a regular palaeography class which is very informal but lots of fun.  Keep up with our regular class via An Old Hand’s blog and twitter feed @An_Old_Hand.   And if you really fancy getting to grips with it why not try our the National Archives’ online tutorial.

Rachel MacGregor


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