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Special Collections' & Archives' Subject Support: Paleography

How Special Collections can help you with your research, teaching, learning & assignments.

Manuscript Studies

For the beginner a good overview is Raymond Clemens and Timothy Graham’s Introduction to Manuscript Studies. It includes an introduction to palaeography and scripts.

Michelle Brown's books about paleography are informative and accessible:

Christopher de Hamel's works on illuminated manuscripts are standard texts:


The standard work is still Bernhard Bischoff’s Latin Palaeography: Antiquity and the Middle Ages

An excellent follow-up is Albert Derolez’s The Palaeography of Gothic Manuscript Books: From the Twelfth to the Early Sixteenth Century.

A very readable and clear introduction especially for the novice is Michelle P. Brown’s A Guide to Western Historical Scripts: From Antiquity to 1600 which also includes numerous images, as well as transcription conventions and exercises.

Introductions to Irish script:

For abbreviations used in medieval writing, consult Adriano Cappelli’s comprehensive Lexicon abbreviaturarum : Dizionario di abbreviature latine ed italiane usate nelle carte e codici specialmente del Medio-EvoAn online version of the German translation is available. You won’t need to be able to read German to profit from the abbreviations demystified here!

A list of works about Palaeography available in Special Collections and UCC Library can be found here

A good example of Latin decrees can be found in The Wyse Collection (1386-1471).

Handwriting from 500 centuries depicting age, health, status, and styles can be found in most of the collections in UCC Library's Archives Service.

Subject Guide

All PDF documents are available as Word documents. Please contact should this be required.

Online Resources

View a range of online resources on the Medieval Studies guide:

  • Online manuscript guides and catalogues
  • Collections of digitised manuscripts
  • Individual digitised manuscripts and printed books
  • Tutorials
  • Themed resources