Work Packages

Corpus Building

decorative image of manuscript detail

Development of a structured, reliable, and open access corpus of research data on the script and production of early Irish manuscripts will make it possible to answer key questions around the development of Irish writing. To create this corpus the team will carry out detailed analysis of the script and writing techniques of the manuscripts selected for inclusion in the corpus, investigate and update the historical record, and carry out original research into the materiality of writing and production. The data collected in this study will be collected and published in a digital Irish palaeography research tool, which will enable cross-dimensional research queries across the full range of manuscripts included.

A Cross-Dimensional Study of Variation

A central qualitative problem regarding the evaluation of digital palaeographical data concerns the interpretation of variation. Most commonly, a scribal ‘profile’ is created based on diagnostic [distinctive] features of the script. However, handwriting is prone to change under the influence of age, health, resources, and other factors, such as environment, and audience. The key question that often remains unanswered is: how much variation is normal? This study targets the intersection between relative variation, developments in the scripts, and potential regional differences and clusters, to evaluate how measurements of variation in the script can contribute to our assessment of the differences between scribal hands.

Reichenau Case Study

This case study focuses on a small group of manuscripts (re-)written on the continent as opposed to written in Ireland. As yet unanswered questions regarding the use of Irish-continental script include whether there is any meaningful qualitative difference in the script, and whether it shows evidence of influence from other scripts. For this case study a relatively securely dated group (ca. 825-850) of manuscripts and fragments has been selected, some of which may have come to Reichenau via northern France. The group appears to have been partly palimpsested (erased and overwritten), reworked and glossed by a single scribe or group of scribes operating in Reichenau, Switzerland. The doctoral researcher on the project will investigate the connections between these manuscripts as group, while the PI will be responsible for investigating the question of origin and comparative analysis.