Visigothic script workshop – Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies

Materials from the workshop on Visigothic script at the Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies.

Today (April 21) was the second session of the workshop I am teaching (mostly having a coffee with manuscripts around…) about Visigothic script at the PIMS. It was not my idea to do it. As things are sometimes, it happens that some time ago I meet a student here at UofT who was interested in exactly the same thing I was working on by then. She wanted to learn Visigothic script (why on earth I do not know). So, aiming to make the experience as productive as possible for all, we made it public. That is how the workshop was “born”.


In the first session we had, last week, I managed to find a way to put all my ideas in order making a class stimulating for both undergraduates, who knew nothing about Visigothic script, and to graduates, who already had their training in Palaeography. We started talking about what is Visigothic scriptwhat kind of manuscripts do we have written in this script (with nice pics), what can we study from the text and from the script or what is palaeography and what to study palaeography means versus to use palaeography, and how palaeographers deal with manuscript sources.

I put myself there trying to explain to them how I learnt, without a teacher, without classes, a lot of years ago. And I enjoyed it, a lot. I have missed teaching more than I thought. I find it so comforting! Having your knowledge tested by other people even in the more basic aspects makes you rethink things you had forgotten, to approach them differently, to learn them again. I must say I am thrilled about the number of people who answer to the open call for the workshop. You may not know it, but in Spain, where I taught for several years, palaeography is a mandatory class to which undergrads do not usually come “happily” with the idea of having an exciting new experience surrounded by crazy alphabets in a crazy interpretation of what for medieval people was Latin. Here they joined. They came to the first session, and even after it, they keep coming. And, of course, why should they not come? Why would anyone not be interested in learning more about Visigothic script? As amazing as it is! No, seriously. If you are reading this, you know what I mean. These last weeks, having too much work to take care of while writing grants, these short tasks make one stronger. Also, my joy, last week I went to the MAA in LA, where I found a manuscript I was looking for for almost a decade. That amazing exemplar that many people told me never existed. I found it, almost 9000 kilometres away from where it was supposed to be. It made me feel alive and loving my work. Anyway, why am I writing this? The last post was too long ago and I was just thinking that maybe someone was wondering what happened to my Visigothic script stuff mind. Here it is.

Going back to the Workshop itself… At first, I did not think about uploading here all the materials I am using due to copyright restrictions, but then I realised that there is a loop I can use! Most of the images are already online and I have the rights to publish almost all the other ones, so… I will be updating this post as working. If you are working/want to work/need to work with Visigothic script manuscripts, they may be useful for you as well, feel free to use them. BUT, you will need to ask me for the password if you want to see/download the PowerPoint presentations… 

If you come across a broken link, please let me know! [update July 2018: all the materials are now online here]

[PowerPoint_1st session] => Introduction (as explained above)

[PowerPoint_2nd session] => Visigothic minuscule script

Some of the manuscripts we used:

  • The “good” example: Beatus of Liébana, Commentary on the Apocalypse (The ‘Silos Apocalypse’). Online -> London, British Library, Add MS 11695 (1091-1109) [transcription]
  • The “bad” example: Lugo, Archivo de la Catedral, 19 [transcription] -> be aware of the Latin, it is not my fault

2014_04_21_Workshop3© Lugo, Archivo de la Catedral, 19.

Graphic characteristics:


[PowerPoint_3rd session] => Visigothic minuscule script + Caroline minuscule

Some of the manuscripts we used: Madrid, Archivo Histórico Nacional, carp. 1325H, nº 19 [transcription]

2014_04_21_Workshop5© Madrid, Archivo Histórico Nacional, carp. 1325H, nº 19.

Graphic characteristics:


[PowerPoint_4th session] => Visigothic cursive script I

Some of the manuscripts we used: Lugo, Archivo de la Catedral, nº 6 [transcription]

2014_04_21_Workshop7© Lugo, Archivo de la Catedral, nº 6.

Graphic characteristics:




[PowerPoint_5th session] => Visigothic cursive script II

This one is a boring pp, it just contains the two charters we used. We spent the session talking about semiotics and transcribing [transcription] !

[PowerPoint_6th session]  => Visigothic cursive script + Caroline minuscule

by A. Castro

[edited 11/07/2018]

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