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This is a necessarily very selective list of resources to explore, focusing particularly on sites useful for developing practical palaeographical skills and for investigating digital medieval manuscripts.


Julian Brown, ‘What is Palaeography?’

Reflections on the nature of the discipline by the late Professor of Palaeography at the University of London.

An Index of Scripts

Visual examples of a large range of scripts – with alphabets to aid transcription.

Old English in its Material Context

An electronic introduction to Old English, including the Old English alphabet.

Online Tutorials


An interactive course offered through the University of Melbourne's Evellum project (cost USD750).

InScribe: Palaeography learning materials

From the School of Advanced Study, University of London. The first module is free; the second on Script costs £25. Future modules are promised on Diplomatic, Codicology and Illumination.

Interactive Album of Palaeography

A free set of transcription exercises covering a variety of scripts developed by Marjorie Burghart (University of Lyon 2) et al. (In French and English.)

English Handwriting, 1500-1700

A free course from the University of Cambridge focusing specifically on later medieval and early modern scripts.

Palaeography: Reading old handwriting 1500-1800

A free tutorial from The National Archives (UK), focusing on later scripts. Accompanied by a Beginners’ Latin tutorial.

Decoding Abbreviations

Cappelli, Dizionario di Abbreviature latine ed italiane

A scanned version of the 1912 edition of Cappelli’s reference work.

Abbreviationes Online

Dr Olaf Pluta’s web-based tool, available by subscription (30-day free trial available). Many libraries subscribe, allowing visiting readers to access it while consulting manuscripts.


Vocabulaire Codicologique

A glossary of terms used primarily in the physical description of manuscripts by Denis Muzerelle; with equivalent terms given in Italian, Spanish and English. (See also Glossary for illuminated manuscripts.)


Briquet’s Les Filigranes

An online version of the standard early 20th-century printed reference work for identifying and locating watermarks. (In French and German.) Part of a broader resource from the Austrian Academy of Sciences, Wasserzeichen des Mittelalters.


Art of Making a Book

A 3.5 minute video that demonstrates the processes of printing and binding a handpress book.

British Library Database of Bookbindings

Images and descriptions of a selection of medieval and modern bindings from around the world.

Folger Shakespeare Library Bindings Image Collection

Notable bindings from the 15th to 20th century from the Folger’s collection. More details on the collection, how to search and bibliography on bindings are available.

Princeton’s Hand Bookbindings

This online version of an exhibition displays over 200 medieval and modern bindings.

Finding Digital Manuscripts

Catalog of Digitized Medieval Manuscripts

This UCLA database provides links to thousands of manuscripts worldwide digitised in their entirety. (Ceased updating in 2013.)

Medieval Manuscripts on the Web

Professor Siân Echard of the University of British Columbia maintains an annotated list of digital manuscript collections worldwide.

Digitized Medieval Manuscripts

An interactive map of repositories of digitized manuscripts by Giulio Menna and Marjolein de Vos.

Manuscripts Online

An aggregator offering access to numerous historical and literary resources relating to Britain 1000-1500, including catalogues, online dictionaries, digital projects and texts. Some of the resources included are subscription-only.

Manuscripta Mediaevum

Section of the larger Mediaevum portal dedicated to resources for the study of manuscripts and early printing. (In German.)

Digitized Manuscript Collections

A small selection


The Virtual Manuscript Library of Switzerland, on its way to digitizing all medieval manuscripts held in Swiss libraries. (In German, English, French and Italian.)

Manuscripta Mediaevalia

German national portal for manuscript catalogues and digitized manuscripts. (In German and English.)

Bibliothèque virtuelle des manuscrits médiévaux (BVMM)

National portal for images of fully and partially digitized manuscripts from municipal libraries across France (excluding the Bibliothèque nationale). (In French.)


The digital portal for the Bibliothèque nationale de France, including many fully and partially digitized medieval manuscripts. (In French; introduction in English too.) 

Vatican Library Manuscripts

Link to all digitized Vatican Library manuscripts. (In Italian and English.)

Biblioteca Digital Hispánica

The digital portal for the Biblioteca nacional de España, including many fully digitized medieval manuscripts. (Partially in French and English as well as Spanish languages.)

British Library Digitised Manuscripts

Includes numerous fully digitized medieval manuscripts.

Digital Scriptorium

A database of medieval and Renaissance manuscript images from over 40 US collections (generally only selected images from each MS).

Cambridge Digital Library

Includes several of the manuscripts in Cambridge University Library used in this course.

Parker Library On the Web

The fully digitized manuscript collection of the Parker Library, Corpus Christi College, Cambridge. (Search only available to subscribing institutions.)

Trinity College, Cambridge Early Manuscripts

Digitized manuscripts from the Wren Library in Trinity College, Cambridge.

Illuminated Manuscripts

British Library Catalogue of Illuminated Manuscripts

Descriptions and images of manuscripts from the BL collection.


Collection of images of illuminations from French municipal libraries. Try visites virtuelles for highlights. (In French.)

Glossary for illuminated manuscripts

An illustrated glossary of terms used in the description of manuscripts, particularly illuminated ones. Part of the British Library’s Catalogue of Illuminated MSS, based on the work of Michelle Brown. (See also Vocabulaire Codicologique.)

Medieval Illuminated Manuscripts

From the collection of the National Library of the Netherlands and the Museum Meermanno. (In Dutch and English.)

Virtual Libraries

Bibliotheca Laureshamensis digital

A project based at Heidelberg University Library digitally reconstructing the library of the German Carolingian monastery of Lorsch. (In German, English, Italian and French.)

Codices Electronici Sangallenses (CESG)

Part of the e-codices project, a digital reconstruction of the medieval library of the Swiss monastery of St Gall (Sankt Gallen).

Roman de la Rose Digital Library

Descriptions and digital images of numerous manuscripts of a single text, the allegorical French poem Roman de la Rose. Joint project of the Sheridan Library, Johns Hopkins University and the Bibliothèque nationale de France.

Manuscript Research Projects


Focused on the palaeography of manuscripts of 11th-century England but developing digital techniques applicable to the analysis of handwriting more broadly, based at the Department of Digital Humanities, King’s College London.

Production and Use of English Manuscripts, 1060 to 1220

Previous research project of Professor Treharne and Dr Da Rold.

Schoenberg Database of Manuscripts

Hosted by the Schoenberg Institute for Manuscript Studies at the University of Pennsylvania, it takes data from catalogues and auction records to track the current and previous owners of manuscripts (provenance).