Why I’m not posting

Hi there! Thanks for reading. I‘m not posting lately and thought would be a good idea to briefly explain why.

First of all, I’m exhausted. I haven’t had proper holidays for a couple of years, and, now that my fellowship at King’s College London finished and I’m waiting to start a new one in another university, it’s time for me to take some time off and slow down a bit. I’m going to the gym, adding zen-kinda stuff to my everyday life, and in general spending more time processing than doing. Yay me.

Second, I’ve had work to finish for long, a couple of articles and a book I’ve been writing for some ten years now and I very much look forward to tying up and send to my editor. Instead of writing posts, I’m devoting my time to this. I’m quite proud for one of the articles has received quite a praise from the peer-reviewers, I’m very pleased with that work and I hope to tell you more about it soon.

Third, I’ve been thinking for a while now that I’m don’t really like the site as it is. I’m not sure it’s functional, and, anyway, I’d like to add some things to make it more so. I need some distance to think about it (sure, comments welcome).

Four, new projects. This is the exciting part. As you might know, for the last four years or so I’ve been working on the transition for Visigothic script to Caroline minuscule. I approached the topic from a historical point of view first (that would be the article published in the journal Mediaeval Studies and the PIMS LMS dissertation), then from a palaeographical one (not published but in the LMS dissertation if you happen to be in Toronto). The latter opened for me another topic, polygraphism, that I certainly enjoy and about which I still have much to say. I want to wrap up my ideas and write something to close this door a bit (for now). Polygraphism, at the same time, opened another topic I’m just an amateur on but I immensely enjoy; cognitive palaeography. It found me at the right moment, and I’m eager to continue studying this.

More on new projects. As sometimes happens, my aim of moving from the transition from Visigothic to Caroline to something different solved itself. I’ve always been attracted to the change from Roman scripts to Visigothic, although still considered I was too junior to try to figure that out. Well, I’ve recently been given the opportunity to prove myself wrong by participating in an interdisciplinary conference in Heidelberg in late September. It took me a long time of study to prepare myself for it, but it seems my ideas are well on the right track. So, as soon as I write the piece mentioned above, I’ll start researching on this.

Finally, I should state the obvious; it’s not easy to write posts when the things you want to write about are part of unpublished work and when you’re not focused enough to write about something else in a platform you’re not sure about. Simply, I just need time off. But, I’ll be back as soon as I’ve something worthy to share. In the meantime, you can find me on my other social media profiles for any paleographically related question.



LitteraVisigothica in Lisbon!

#Palaeography #Music #Art


I am delighted to announce that this year, in addition to the London International Palaeography Summer School, I will be teaching Visigothic script at an interdisciplinary workshop in Lisbon!

The workshop is Palaeography of Old Hispanic Manuscripts: Music, Text and Beyond. It is envisioned as a skills training event designed for 20 participants (hurry up and book your place!). The event, which is open to members of the public, involves the active participation of the attendees who will be stimulated to develop critical thinking around what they see and will be encouraged to ask questions and comment. Junior scholars, as well as experienced Medievalists interested in the topic, will be welcome to apply.

It will take place at the CESEM – Centro de Estudos de Sociologia e Estética Musical, in Lisbon (Portugal) on 4 May 2017.

Workshop goals:

  • Build a bridge between Medieval Iberia and modern scholars.
  • Provide the participants with basic training to tackle Old Hispanic musical manuscripts and understand their contents.
  • Encourage attendees to keep studying these manuscripts after the Workshop.
  • Establish an international network of scholars interested in Old Hispanic chant and script.

Besides yours truly, I will conduct the teaching together with three amazing people: Carmen Julia Gutierrez – Reader in Musicology at the Universidad Complutense de Madrid -, Rose Walker – art historian specialised in Medieval Spain -, and Elsa de Luca – music palaeographer and postdoctoral research fellow at the CESEM.

*Funding from ‘Plainsong and Medieval Music Society’ will be used to offer some travel bursaries to enable qualified students to attend.

For more information please contact: elsa (at) campus.ul.pt

And here is the official poster and programme:

LitteraVisigothica at the Medieval Manuscripts seminar series

Hi there. Do you remember all the posts I wrote last year about the Silos Apocalypse (British Library, Add MS 11695)? Particularly these two: ViGOTHIC update: Making a medieval codex (I) and ViGOTHIC update: Making a medieval codex (II). Well, I am presenting the results of my research on this manuscript next week at the Medieval Manuscripts seminar series at Senate House London. Here is the official announcement. The event is FREE and anyone interested in the topic is welcome to join.



Senate House London
Dr Seng T Lee Centre for Manuscript and Book Studies

31 January 2017 • 5.30 PM

Ainoa Correa Castro, PhD LMS
Marie Curie Postdoctoral Research Fellow, King’s College London

The scribes of the Silos Apocalypse (London, British Library, Add. MS. 11695) and the scriptorium of Silos in the late eleventh century

In the late eleventh century Fortunio, abbot of the newly restored Benedictine community of Silos, near Burgos, commissioned the time- and cost-consuming task of replicating for the monastery one of the most significant best-sellers of the peninsular Middle Ages: a Beatus. In doing so, he was continuing a long-lasting Iberian, Mozarabic, tradition originating in the late eighth century.
In this seminar the Silos Apocalypse will be examined with the purpose of unveiling who were the scribes who intervened in its copying, what can be known about their professional connections, what was their cultural context, and how this codex fits within the written production of Silos in the late eleventh and early twelfth centuries.

Hope to see you there!

Littera Visigothica at the London International Palaeography Summer School

You might remember that last year I offered a full-day course on Visigothic script at the London International Palaeography Summer School (more here). Well, this year I have been invited to participate again, and it will be even better for I will teach a full-day course on Medieval Spanish Palaeography! The date, Friday 16th of June 2017. Applications will open in January 2017. All welcome!


Introduction to Medieval Spanish Palaeography (8th-15th centuries)

Dr Ainoa Castro Correa (King’s College London)
Full day – from 10.00 to 17.00
Maximum: 15 students
Venue: Senate House

During the Middle Ages Iberian Peninsular written production was marked by graphic change: from national written systems to European ones, and back to graphic particularism. This process was neither received nor developed in the same way throughout the Iberian soil, consequently highlighting not only the cultural diversity that characterises medieval Spain but also the particular configuration of its kingdoms. In this course, students will gain knowledge about the traditional Iberian script, Visigothic, to then move forward to the specifics of the Spanish Caroline minuscule, and to the Spanish Gothic scripts, both dissimilar to the graphic models practised in Europe.

This course is open to everyone interested in medieval manuscript production with a focus on the Iberian Peninsula’s manuscript material. Its main aim is to familiarise the participants with the graphic particularism experienced in medieval Spain in comparison with Europe. No previous experience is required. However, since the course involves some practical exercises, students with at least a basic training in palaeography will particularly benefit from the course. A basic knowledge of Latin and Spanish would be useful but is not essential.

Bibliography (You can also check the Bibliography page above)

  • J. Alturo Perucho, A. Castro Correa and M. Torras Cortina (eds.), La escritura visigótica en la Península Ibérica. Nuevas aportaciones (Bellaterra, 2012).
    Mª J. Azevedo Santos, Da visigótica à carolina, a escrita em Portugal de 882 a 1172 (Lisbon, 1994).
    M. C. Díaz y Díaz et al., Corpus de códices visigóticos (Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, 1999).
    A. Millares Carlo, Tratado de Paleografía española (Madrid, 1983).
    I. Velázquez Soriano, Documentos de época visigoda escritos en pizarra (Turnhout, 2000)


Hope to see you there!!


Littera Visigothica at the IMC Leeds 2017

Some months ago, I sent a call for papers asking for speakers to participate in at least one session on the concept of ‘Otherness’ in the Iberian Peninsula through the study of graphic, textual and artistic practices as part of the International Medieval Congress organised in Leeds every year. The call was, once again, an extraordinary success with many abstracts received approaching the topic from many different points of view. I am very grateful to all of you who contacted me, as well as to those who help to spread the call. As a consequence of the interest shown, not only one but three very interesting sessions came to be, were proposed to the IMC Leeds Committee, and accepted! Thus, if you are interested in medieval manuscripts from the Iberian Peninsula, in graphic, textual and artistic practices, your place will be Leeds, 2017, 4th of July. We would love to see you there!

La otra opción: explorando el concepto de alteridad en la Península Ibérica durante la Edad Media

Organizador: Ainoa Castro Correa, Department of History, King’s College London

En sintonía con el tema central del Congreso, “Otherness”, estas tres sesiones proponen debate abierto sobre el concepto de alteridad a través del estudio de fuentes manuscritas de la Península Ibérica (siglos IX-XV) haciendo hincapié en las implicaciones culturales de la elección entre lo propio y lo “otro” en cada ámbito y periodo. Se pretende así explorar las opciones gráficas, textuales, artísticas, y, en conjunto, culturales disponibles en la edad media peninsular, en contextos cristianos, musulmanes y judíos, con la finalidad de ahondar en la configuración de una identidad opuesta como forma de definir la propia.

La primera sesión está enfocada al análisis de prácticas gráficas y diplomáticas, englobando desde el estudio de escribas polígrafos y/o políglotas hasta el tratamiento de la documentación por parte de éstos. La segunda se centra en prácticas textuales, en qué libros formaban qué bibliotecas como reflejo de una situación cultural y religiosa concreta, y en el comercio de libros. Mientras que la tercera se centra en prácticas artísticas, en el contraste entre los estilos artísticos de cada comunidad religiosa, y entre los propios y los importados.

Sesión 1: La otra opción: explorando el concepto de alteridad en la Península Ibérica durante la Edad Media I. Prácticas gráficas

  • The ‘Other’ script: Visigothic script(s) and Caroline minuscule – Ainoa Castro Correa (King’s College London)
  • Vat. Lat. 12900 and other writings by Christians – Francisco A. Marcos Marín (University of Texas at San Antonio)
  • An/other chance? Non-diplomatic material in Iberian cartularies (end 11th-mid 13th c.) – Hélène Sirantoine (University of Sydney)

Sesión 2: La otra opción: explorando el concepto de alteridad en la Península Ibérica durante la Edad Media II. Prácticas textuales

  • The other books: negative stereotypes and heighten fear against the scholastic way in Lucas of Tuy’s oeuvre (León, ca. 1220‑1230) – Amélie de las Heras (CNRS Fondation Thiers-Institut de Recherche et d’Histoire des Textes)
  • The ‘Otherworld’: Forms of Otherness in the Siete Partidas of King Alfonso X of Castile – Heidi Krauss (Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia, Madrid)
  • Dexo e niego la mala secta de Mahomat e de los iudíos: a Castilian ordo for the conversion of Muslims and Jews in the 14th century – Mercedes López-Mayán (Universidade de Santiago de Compostela)

Sesión 3: La otra opción: explorando el concepto de alteridad en la Península Ibérica durante la Edad Media III. Prácticas artísticas

  • Trayectoria artística de un scriptorium monástico hispano entre los siglos X y XIII: el ejemplo de San Millán de la Cogolla – Soledad de Silva y Verástegui (Universidad del País Vasco)
  • Christian Approach to Non-Christian Religious Buildings in the Middle Ages: The Reuse of Mosque and Synagogues during the Reconquista – Esther Dorado-Ladera (Independent Scholar)
  • Identity matter(s) in medieval Iberian Jewish manuscripts – Débora Marques de Matos (Institute of Jewish Studies at Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität, Münster)





(More) Visigothic script fragments sold in the US

Around a month ago I published a post on a Visigothic script leaf that was sold at an auction at Bloomsbury just before the summer. There I said “… I will not be surprised if other leaves very much like this one appear in the near future…”. Well, they have. Some weeks ago I received an email from Prof Scott Gwara (whom I recommend to follow, btw) asking about my thoughts on not one, not two, but four! new fragments. We/I immediately set to study them. I copy below part of their descriptive file (see the original here).

NEW! Noted Missal of the Roman Rite, probably Northern Portuguese, in Transitional Minuscule Visigothic Script with Aquitanian Neumes

A rare and distinctive example showing the influence of Caroline Minuscule. A neumed missal showing an expert late-stage development of minuscule Visigothic script, probably from northern Portugal. Six fragments on parchment representing two bifolia, one complete folio (bisected), and one bisected cutting. Northern Portugal, or just possibly Toledo, ca. 1130-1170… Apparently an original seventeen lines of chant with Aquitanian diastematic neumes, now fifteen lines at most.gwarausfragments2Script, Date, and Origin: This Sacramentary doubtless came from a major center of production with notable scribal training, old paleographical and codicological traditions, enduring traditional models, and, despite the obvious Caroline features, a relative impermeability to exogenous influence. It boasts a traditional (first stage) codicological structure preserving the traditions of book manufacture from southern Iberia. The text is presented in a single column and the parchment heavily ruled, dividing the surface into lines of compact interlinear spacing. The layout of the page clearly affects the script. The fragments are written in the same calligraphic hand, with a thick pen and black ink. The scribe obviously aimed for aesthetic appeal, and the elegance of his mis-en-page partly derives from his exceptional graphic consistency, intensive shading, and effort to respect the base line. The ruling and wide nib make the aspect condensed and stately, yet legible, balanced, and handsome.

A stage 3 typological variant of minuscule Visigothic script (transitional Visigothic), the hand of our fragment exhibits perfectly vertical but not over-developed ascenders, short descenders turned slightly backward towards the end, a pen-angle of approximately 45 degrees, a wedge-shaped approach stroke, and 2-shaped serifs. All the graphs are drawn according to the usual graphic model… Certain key features characterize this hand. First, the thickness of the pen combined with the angle results in a substantial contrast between strokes. Second, angular ligatures and nexus (bitings) formed with open e and r distort the heavy horizontal aspect of the model, adding a kind of dynamic verticality. Caroline and even Proto-Gothic influence is clear… Finally, the grammar is better than one generally encounters in Visigothic manuscripts.

Simply judging by the style and execution, the manuscript cannot be from the eastern Iberian Peninsula. One must, therefore, exclude Septimania, Aragon, La Rioja, and Castile as possible production centers. Nor does the script exhibit Mozarabic elements. While Toledo represented an enduring stronghold of Visigothic script (the last codex dates to ca. 1400), Toletan hands typically show Mozarabic influence. However slight, some script comparanda (noted below) make Toledo a remotely possible origin.

The scribe of our manuscript was trained at a time when the Visigothic standard had already mutated into a transitional script. Since this graphic model needed time to evolve, it belonged to a cultural context in which Visigothic script was still employed long after European systems had arrived, but one in which neoteric influences had time to settle. In Leon, the transition from Visigothic to Caroline extended for about half a century, being more or less complete by the 1140s. In western Iberia, this process took far longer. The transitional period in Portugal, for example, extended from the mid-11th century until the 1170s, while in Galicia it lasted from the late 11th century until ca. 1200. Visigothic script evolved gradually in these areas. Yet our script style does not match that of fragmentary examples from Galicia (compare the Missale at the cathedral archive of Santiago de Compostela, fragment I; Corpus no. 286). On balance, northern Portugal in the period 1130-1170 represents a plausible origin (compare the Liber quaestionum at the national library of Lisbon, ms. 38; Corpus no. 99). Even so, a Toletan origin cannot be entirely ruled out (compare the Antiphonarium of Roman Use now in Toledo, Archivo Capitular 10.5; Corpus no. 313).gwarausfragments3Music: Aquitanian notation of the peninsular “early type,” most similar to neumes used originally in southern France. This notation was introduced in the Iberian Peninsula around 1080, but the notation of our fragments cannot be as early as that, nor can it be as late as ca. 1200. A mid-century date is most likely and perfectly justifiable.

Texts: All the texts come from the services for Holy Week. Bisected complete folio: Lesson from Isaiah 53, versicles, and passion reading from Luke 22-23 for Wednesday of Holy Week. Bifolium 1 (internal bifolium), texts for Good Friday, including the “Solemn Collects” (“Prayer of the Faithful”) from the Liturgy of the Cross for Good Friday, with prayers for Jews, schismatics, and heathens; “Adoration of the Holy Cross,” antiphons known as the “Reproaches” (for texts see Liber Usualis 734-42). Bisected strip: versicles for the Good Friday mass. Bifolium 2: for Good Friday, versicles and Passion from Io 18; for Holy Saturday, a lesson from Gn 1.1-2.2, prayer Deus qui mirabiliter creasti, a lesson from Ex 14.

Condition: All pieces from a binding, therefore rubbed, wormed, holed, stained, cut, and damaged as depicted in the photographs.

Provenance: from an old European collection.

Let me just say, I am eager to see what appears next!

* I would like to thank Prof Gwara for sharing the news about these fragments and for letting me take a look at them. I really appreciate it.

My thanks go also to Dr Elsa de Luca, who help me with the description of the musical notation.

Visigothic script leaf at Bloomsbury’s auction

Earlier this year I was surprised by Tim Bolton at an after-lecture reception – exceptional Daniel Wakelin on the “why” behind written practices by the way – with the news that a leaf of a Visigothic script codex was going to auction at Bloomsbury (lot no. 4). You can read more about it here – if you have some money to spare I am sorry to say the opportunity to buy this leaf has passed. I did not write about it then but thought to do it now for I consider important to highlight the fact that, as the Visigothic script charter auctioned by Christies in late 2013, material as significant as this is still around in private hands.

I do not think there is the need of stressing again all the vicissitudes Iberian medieval manuscripts went through particularly in the 17th to 20th centuries – you can read some notes on the topic here. I would prefer for all the surviving manuscripts now in private collections to make it to official archives, although at the same time I am glad that someone, during armed conflicts in which the parchment was eaten and used for bedding, saw the importance of preserving manuscripts, being for cultural or merely for economic reasons.

The thing is that this leaf made its first appearance into society this year, almost a thousand years after it was copied. It is welcomed into a community of scholars who are aware of the fact that many fragments as this are around because we know not only about the written production of monasteries as the one in which the codex to which this leaf belongs was made but about how these medieval treasures were dispersed. With this I mean to say I will not be surprised if other leaves very much like this one appear in the near future.

Its particulars. The leaf (layout: 2 columns of 33 lines, external, lateral and lower borders remaining –72 mm and 73 mm wide respectively –, original dimensions 470 x 370 mm approx.) belongs to a codex compiling lives of saints. It was copied in a beautiful calligraphic minuscule Visigothic script by a fairly skilled scribe, not the best example but closer; there is some cursive influence in a couple of nexus with inverted beta t. The hand who copied this leaf can be dated as to the mid/late 11th century, around 1060-1070 since it does not show any influence from the Carolingian writing system.

On its provenance, in all likelihood it was written in the area nearby Burgos. My first impression was that it belonged to the Benedictine monastery of Silos, for which indeed three Visigothic script codices of this content were listed as part of the 13th-century catalogue of the monastery’s library, but after revising all Silos’ extant manuscripts I no longer concur. Whichever was its origin, I still think of it as from that area, and a clue pointing in that direction is that this leaf is preserved because it served as a binding of a late 16th-century account book of, it seems, a church in Covarrubias that happens to be some 20 km far from Silos.

The leaf sold for £21000, despite that the estimated value was of between £10000 and £15000. I think for the estimated to be a reasonable price all things considered, and I would like to congratulate the person or institution who saw its value. I hope they not only preserve it but open access to it for scholars to investigate.

* I would like to thank Tim Bolton for kindly share with me not only the news but images of this leaf. Likewise, to all the people on Twitter who sent me messages alerting of the auction; the community works because of you.

CFP: LitteraVisigothica en el Congreso Internacional de Leeds 2017?

El año pasado LitteraVisigothica estuvo en el IMC de Leeds con cuatro sesiones excelentes sobre las que podéis leer más aquí y, también, sobre las que espero tener buenas noticias pronto. La experiencia fue tan enriquecedora que me he decidido a intentar repetirla. Con esa intención, abajo os dejo el CFP para el año que viene. Espero que os interese y que os animéis a participar. Por favor difundirlo entre todos aquellos que creáis puedan estar interesados. Gracias!

International Medieval Congress 2017 · University of Leeds, 3-6 Julio 2017

Call for Papers

Fecha límite 25 de septiembre 2016

La otra opción: explorando el concepto del Otro en la Península Ibérica durante la Edad Media

En sintonía con el tema central del Congreso Internacional de Estudios Medievales de la Universidad de Leeds del año próximo, “Otherness”, se abre convocatoria para participar en una o varias sesiones dedicadas a reflexionar sobre el concepto de alteridad y de lo propio a través de fuentes manuscritas de la Península Ibérica de entre los siglos IX y XIV.

Se aceptan comunicaciones en relación a, que no exclusivamente:

  • prácticas gráficas: estudio de escribas polígrafos y/o políglotas, consideración de un sistema gráfico o lingüístico como el predominante mientras otros se practicaban con menor asiduidad en el mismo contexto o en otros – ¿Qué suponía para un escriba dentro de su comunidad el ser capaz de dominar varios sistemas gráficos? ¿Y si éstos combinaban expresiones de diferentes grupos culturales (escribas polígrafos y políglotas)? ¿Cómo recibían escribas entrenados en un sistema gráfico a aquellos que dominaban otros? ¿Se aprecia una diferenciación consciente de estatus social entre uno y otro grupo?
  • prácticas textuales: composición de bibliotecas, tipos de libros, consideración de libros importados dentro de un contexto específico o genérico peninsular como reflejo de otra situación cultural – ¿Qué significado podemos entrever tuvo la incorporación o producción de libros ajenos al contexto propio para una determinada comunidad? ¿Qué cambios se pueden apreciar en la misma gracias a la incorporación de éstos libros? ¿Se especializaron scriptoria en la copia de determinadas piezas paralelas a la corriente predominante? ¿Qué significado tiene dentro de una biblioteca contar con ejemplares “disonantes”?
  • prácticas artísticas: diferencias en estilos de iluminación en fuentes conservadas y su contextualización – ¿Cómo se gestiona un cambio de estilo artístico dentro de la producción manuscrita peninsular? ¿Por qué se produce? ¿Cuáles fueron los centros innovadores y cuáles los más reacios a un estilo que consideraban ajeno? ¿Cómo se reacciona ante el mismo? ¿Qué implicaciones históricas y no solamente culturales refleja?

* En relación a diferentes grupos sociales, referencias a “los otros” en fuentes textuales conservadas, dado el gran alcance que tiene este tema en la Península Ibérica, se aceptarán también comunicaciones pero limitadas a prácticas manuscritas en relación con los tres puntos mencionados (escribas de diferentes grupos sociales, libros clave de estas comunidades, influencia entre prácticas artísticas de uno y otro grupo). Es decir, comunicaciones que puedan englobarse en el campo de historia de la cultura escrita.

Se pretende explorar las opciones gráficas, textuales, artísticas, y, en conjunto, culturales en la edad media peninsular paralelas a las corrientes predominantes en cada contexto y período con la intención de indagar en la formación de una identidad opuesta como forma de definir la propia y en su significado.

Aquellos interesados en participar en esta convocatoria pueden ponerse en contacto via email antes del 25 de septiembre de 2016 incluyendo la siguiente información: título de la comunicación propuesta y un pequeño resumen de la misma (alrededor de 100 palabras), nombre, afiliación y datos de contacto, y un pequeño CV (máximo 1 página). Se aceptan comunicaciones en castellano y en inglés. El tiempo disponible para cada ponente será de 20 min.



Charla en el Archivo Histórico Nacional de Madrid

“Humanidades Digitales, Paleografía Digital. El proyecto ViGOTHIC”

El próximo martes 29 de marzo tendrá lugar en el Salón de Actos del Archivo Histórico Nacional de Madrid (Calle Serrano, 115), a las 10.00 de la mañana, una charla informal en la que debatiremos sobre Humanidades Digitales, Paleografía Digital, y el proyecto de investigación en el que trabajo, ViGOTHIC, sobre el que podéis leer más aquí y aquí.

He pensado esta charla como una oportunidad abierta a todo aquel que quiera participar para poner en común nuestras ideas sobre el campo de la paleografía digital, las opciones actualmente disponibles, sus ventajas e inconvenientes. Será un placer contar con vosotros !


Actualización 31 de marzo

Quería desde aquí dar las gracias a todos los asistentes al evento así como al magnífico equipo del Archivo Histórico Nacional no solo por hacer posible la charla sino por su participación tan activa en la misma! Poca veces se encuentra uno un público tan predispuesto. Sin vosotros, sin todas vuestras ideas en relación al proyecto, no habría sido tan provechoso como sin duda ha sido.

Para todos aquellos que no pudísteis seguir la charla en vivo o a través de mi cuenta de twitter, os dejo a continuación un resumen de la misma.


[click aquí o sobre la imagen]

Y también podéis acceder al PowerPoint completo de la presentación en mi perfil de Academia.edu.



2015 in review: LitteraVisigothica, publications, and conferences

Since 2015 will be soon over, I thought it might be a good moment to look back and summarise the year, how this site has done in the last months, share with you some news related to publications (if you read this blog I guess you will be interested), and remind you of some conferences I attended and some other things involving Visigothic script that are already organised for next term. In fact, now that I am thinking about it, I am going to do this each year, also adding publications on Visigothic script related stuff from other scholars (wouldn’t that be amazing?! – if you work on Visigothic script, and have some news to share, do let me know). So, let’s start from the beginning 🙂


I am going to keep this short. Yes, numbers. The site has been running for two years now, and it seems it is doing great. Since last year, visits have increased a lot, we are close to 27,000 hits, mostly, again, coming from the US. The most visited post has been “What is Visigothic script?”, which I think is quite logical, with more than 1,000 readers. Now, this is quite a crowd of people reading about Visigothic script stuff! I would like to know more about you; why are you reading, your thoughts about the contents, what would you like to find in here… All these sort of things. I have been considering to add interviews to visigothicologists, games to engage students in studying the script to be done in class, more reviews of publications, maybe videos? Ideas??

2015 contents (click on each title as link):


Well, I have not published as much as I tend to this year. I was most of the first part of the year working on my dissertation for the License in Medieval Studies at the Pontifical Institute of Medieval Studies, and now working on the Marie Curie funded project VIGOTHIC. However, there is some news too:

(chapter) A. Castro Correa, “Palaeography, computer-aided palaeography and digital palaeography. Digital tools applied to the study of Visigothic script”, in Analysis of Ancient and Medieval Texts and Manuscripts: Digital Approaches, ed. by T. Andrews and C. Macé. Lectio: Studies in the Transmission of Texts & Ideas, volume 1. Turnhout: Brepols, 2014, pp. 247-272. [read abstract here]

This is a chapter I wrote a couple of years ago when I started to think in “Visigothic script goes Digital”.

(article) A. Castro Correa, “Observaciones acerca de los crismones empleados en la documentación medieval de la diócesis de Lugo (siglos X-XII)”, Scriptorium 69/2 (2015): 3-31. [read abstract here]

This is an article on semiology that might be of interest for those of you who work with charters since it gives a new way of dating them.

(review) A. Castro Correa, “Davies, W. Acts of Giving: Individual, Community, and Church in Tenth Century Christian Spain. Oxford University Press. Oxford, 2007, 244 pp”. Espacio, Tiempo y Forma. III. Historia Medieval 28 (2015): 549-553. [read here]

A review of a fantastic book I urge you all to read, if you have not yet.

And, for all of you who are interested in medieval history of northwestern Iberian Peninsula, and in charters, more news:

I am working – aided by a fantastic team of people – in the second volume of the “Colección diplomática altomedieval de Galicia”, which will include palaeographic and critical editions of all the extant charters from the Cathedral of Lugo written in Visigothic script. I do not know whether we will finish this by next year, though.

An article dealing with Pedro Kendúlfiz’s professional life will appear soon. The full reference: A. Castro Correa, “Pedro Kendúlfiz, notary of the royal chancellery of León: Training, career and graphic characteristics”, in Le scribe d’archives dans l’Occident medieval: formations, carriers, réseaux, ed. by J.-F. Nieus. Turnhout: Brepols. [read abstract here]


This term I participated in the V DigiPal symposium at King’s, the XIXth Colloque International de Paléographie Latine, and the London Graduate Palaeography Group also at King’s. I have not written about the first one, but there will be videos soon, I already wrote about the second one (plus, there will be proceedings of it), and the third was summarised in a post here.

For next term, I have organised four sessions on the change from Visigothic script to Caroline minuscule, and from it to Gothic scripts in the Iberian Peninsula, for the next International Medieval Meeting at Leeds (you can see the programme here). And, within the same congress, I will also be part of a round table discussing digitisation and how we deal with it, and present a paper entitled “VisigothicPal: la escritura visigótica al descubierto”. Would love to meet you there!


Last but not the least, the School of Advanced Study – University of London has given me the opportunity of adding Visigothic script to the exceptional list of courses that will be taught at the London International Palaeography Summer School (more here). The inscription to the course “Introduction to Visigothic scriptopens in early January!

Many thanks for reading, and Happy New Year!



VisigothicPal: how do you call what you see?

It is amazing how time flies by. It has been almost four months since my project, ViGOTHIC, began, since I moved to London and the craziness that is to juggle amongst the many interesting conferences, seminars, exhibitions, workshops, and so to assist to, started. I have enjoyed every single bit. If you happen to be around London for next term, do not miss the chance to attend to an Earlier Middle Ages Seminar, a Medieval Manuscripts Seminar, some of the Centre for Late Antique and Medieval Studies gatherings or the London Palaeography Group Graduate Seminars, as well as the Teaching the Codex interdisciplinary colloquium (@TeachingCodex). That to name but a few of the things going on here that anyone interested in Medieval Manuscripts should look forward to. It makes a dense agenda, indeed. Anyway, as I was saying, the project started, and even in such a short time, the work already carried out has rendered its first results.

Project ViGOTHIC: objective 1 and Visigothic script going digital

For these first months my main objectives were two: first of all, to take a closer look at the software developed by the team of the DigiPal project in order to see how to adapt it to the study of Visigothic script, making the most of its features; next, to start to work directly with the copy of the Apocalypse of St John of Patmos enclosed in the British Library Mss. Additional 11695, with the main aim of to determine how many scribes intervened in its making, distinguishing their main graphic characteristics and differences. Both tasks developed while organising some outreach activities – for example, the four sessions organised for the International Medieval Congress at Leeds in July 2016 -, in addition to some others about which you will hear here in the site in due course.

I must confess that I am sometimes betwixt and between when it comes to digital tools and palaeographical analysis (= digital palaeography). I balance between an enthusiastic “we should do everything digital!” and a less cheerful “we should follow the old fashion, adding ‘digital stuff’ only to speed up the analytical process, if mandatory”. However, or maybe because so, the first task, to work on the “DigiPal meets Visigothic script” theme, has been and is a *FAVOURITE* (#cannotbelieveIamgettingpaidfordoingthis). Has been because we, the DigiPal team and I, met and discussed some initial problems found in this merging Visigothic+DigiPal thing. Is because these problems would need to be taken care of – I am so looking forward to that! The work done in the second objective described above, the identification of scribes, yielded interesting results, but nothing as world-shaking as would possible be to solve the “Visigothic script goes digital” problems. And, you might be wondering, which are these problems?

VisigothicPal: terminology ?¿

The problems found have to do with naming. If you have ever been in a palaeography meeting of some sort you would have noticed that palaeographers always tend to disagree when it comes to putting names to things. I mean, there is usually no consensus about how to describe or define a script, a particular hand, its general aspect, the letters that make the representation of the model the scribe had in mind when writing, its components… It is not only a problem, terminology, when working with a particular script, within a particular school, but rather it applies to all palaeographical studies, scripts, and groups of scholars.

When I started working on Visigothic script many years ago, I thought there must be some sort of universal list, something like a dictionary, accepted by all palaeographers, to help describe the hand of each scribe, how he drew each letter and sign. Then, when comparing hands, I would be able to register that a specific part of a specific letter varied, and describe how and maybe even why. Well, such a thing does not exist. There is no universal name for each of the parts that make each letter (although you will find some suggestions here). That is why palaeographers always argue on the matter of naming what we are seeing in a particular hand or in a script, how we see it was drawn. In my experience, since, so far, I have been part of the Spanish, American, Canadian, and now British academia, each one of us call the elements that form a letter in a different way, and it is not just a problem of language. Within each of these national schools, there are as many with their own terminology. As you can imagine, this is a big problem since we cannot understand each other unless we enclose an image of what we mean by using a term.


Ok, so we have the ductus, now let’s find names to describe every single part of each letter….

The problem with terminology reveals more excruciating when working collaboratively. I will use one set of terms, another scholar in my research group, working on the same source, will use another. And you might suggest ‘there is no problem, just agree in which terms to use’. And, which terms are the correct ones? Yours? Mine? It is not only what we, in our research group, decide to choose but what the other specialist on the field will think. Will they agree or, at least, understand the term chosen? As far as I am concern – and I think everyone should be – as long as the terminology is justified it should not be a problem to use one name or another. Right? Well… Now let’s go further. Considering that what I aim to do is developing a VisigothicPal, aka the Visigothic script version of DigiPal, how do I manage to make the computer understand what I mean when describing a disjointed part of a letter? I not only need to establish the terminology to use, but I need to think that whatever terms I select, they need to be understandable for a computer; they need to be simple, clear, coherent, and need to cover every possible stroke a Visigothic script scribe made. You see, no piece of cake.

Following the project’s schedule, I will come back to the definition of a terminology for Visigothic script and for VisigothicPal next September 2016. As I said, cannot wait!

Suggested Citation: Castro Correa, A. “VisigothicPal: how do you call what you see?″. Littera Visigothica (December 2015), http://litteravisigothica.com/visigothicpal-how-do-you-call-what-you-see (ISSN 2386-6330).


Project VIGOTHIC has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Sklodowska-Curie grant agreement No. 656298. This post reflects only the author’s view and the Agency is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.

Littera Visigothica at the IMC Leeds 2016

Around three months ago, I sent a call for papers asking for speakers to participate in at least one session on the change from Visigothic script to Caroline minuscule in the Iberian Peninsula as part of the International Medieval Congress organised in Leeds every year. Well, the call was an extraordinary success, with many abstracts received approaching the topic from many different points of view. I am very grateful to all of you who contacted me, as well as to those who help to spread the call. As a consequence of the interest shown, not only one but four very interesting sessions came to be, were proposed to the IMC Leeds Committee, and accepted! Thus, if you are interested in medieval manuscripts from the Iberian Peninsula, in Visigothic script, in medieval musical notation in the Iberian Peninsula, in Peninsular Arabic-Latin scribes, in Caroline minuscule, or in Gothic scripts, to name but a few of the key topics that will be discussed in these four sessions, your place will be Leeds, 2016, 6 of July. We would love to see you there!

From Visigothic script to Caroline minuscule, from Caroline minuscule to Gothic scripts. 

The reception and evolution of Caroline minuscule in the Iberian Peninsula.

Sponsor: Network for the Study of Caroline Minuscule

Organiser: Ainoa Castro Correa, Department of History, King’s College London

Abstract: While in 11th-century Europe Caroline minuscule was the main writing system used in manuscript production, in most of the Iberian Peninsula this script was just beginning to be used. The persistence of the traditional peninsular script, Visigothic, led to a long and unequal transitional phase towards the new imported graphic system. At the same time, once the change was accepted, its graphic model arrived lacking its essential nature evolving thus quickly to a variety of proto-Gothic scripts which gave back to the Peninsula its graphic particularity. With works on scribes developing their careers in the periods in between writing systems, these sessions aim to explore the contexts of graphic change and polygraphism lived in the Iberian Peninsula from the 11th to the 14th century.

Session I: Visigothic Tradition Fading

This first session kicks off discussion by looking into how Visigothic script began to fade as main writing system in both manuscript and epigraphic sources. [Moderator/Chair: Ainoa Castro Correa, King’s College London]

  • ‘La escritura toledana, mourisca o visigótica en Portugal en el siglo XI’ – María José Azevedo Santos (Universidade de Coimbra)
  • Los centros escriptorios en el Reino de León: la transición de la visigótica a la carolina a través de la escritura publicitaria’ – María Encarnación Martín López (Universidad de León)
  • The Corsini Beatus: A Transition from the Visigothic Tradition’ – Barbara Shailor (Yale University)

Session II: Resistance to Caroline Minuscule

This second session discusses some of the most significant strongholds of Visigothic script tradition, displaying, through the analysis of manuscript and epigraphic sources, resistance to the graphic change. [Moderator/Chair: Elsa De Luca, University of Bristol]

  • ‘De la escritura visigótica a la carolina: Pasos hacia la nueva producción epigráfica en los centros de La Rioja’ – Irene Pereira García (Universidad de León)
  • Cultura escrita en el monasterio de Santa María de Monfero (A Coruña): Notarios y ‘scriptores’ de los ss. XII y XIII’ – María Teresa Carrasco Lazareno (Universidad Autónoma de Madrid)
  • Abbreviation by superscripted vowel: its arrival and use in documents and books from Castile’ – Francisco J. Molina (Universidad de Valladolid)

Session III: Parallel Changes – Outside the Conflict Visigothic Versus Caroline

At the same time as the collision of the two writing systems, Visigothic and Caroline, took place, other significant changes materialised in manuscript sources. This third session explores coeval changes in musical notation and language as well as in parallel cultural contexts. [Moderator/Chair: Irene Pereira García, Universidad de León]

  • ‘Graphical Changes in Old Hispanic Vertical Notation’ – Elsa De Luca (University of Bristol)
  • The Signatures in the Mozarabic Documents in Twelfth and Thirteenth Century Toledo’ – Yasmine Beale-Rivaya (Texas State University)
  • Modelos escriturarios arcaicos en la cultura manuscrita gallega siglos XIII-XIV’ – Ricardo Pichel Gotérrez (University of Birmingham)

Session IV: The Brief Life of Caroline Minuscule 

Once the Carolingian writing system was finally imposed, its troublesome introduction mirrored in a brief life fading against Gothic scripts. This fourth session closes the topic of graphic change by discussing the last years of Caroline minuscule in the Iberian Peninsula. [Moderator/Chair: Ricardo Pichel Gotérrez, University of Birmingham]

  • ‘De la carolina a la gótica en Cataluña: Contextos, lugares, nombres, problemas’ – J. Antoni Iglesias Fonseca (Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona)
  • El proceso de gotización de la escritura carolina en Cataluña’ – Mireia Comas / Daniel Piñol (Universitat de Barcelona)
  • De escribas y escrituras en los documentos de Oña, 1107-1215′ – Concepción Mendo Carmona (Universidad Complutense de Madrid)



Littera Visigothica at the London International Palaeography Summer School

Exciting news:

I am teaching a full-day course on Visigothic script for the London International Palaeography Summer School!

As you can read in its site, the London International Palaeography Summer School is a series of intensive courses in Palaeography and Manuscript Studies that takes place each Summer in London. The next year, 2016, it will run from the 13 to the 17 of June.

The Summer School is hosted by the Centre for Manuscript and Print Studies with the co-operation of the British Library, the Institute of Historical Research, Senate House Library, the Warburg Institute, University College, King’s College London and the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Courses offered at the London International Palaeography Summer School range from a half to two days duration and are given by experts in their respective fields from a wide range of institutions (you can read about teachers’ affiliations and research interests here). Subject areas include Latin, English, Anglo-Saxon, German and Greek palaeography, history of scripts, illuminated manuscripts, codicology, vernacular editing and liturgical and devotional manuscripts (course overview). For the first time, next year there will be a specific course on Visigothic script too!

Introduction to Visigothic Script

Dr Ainoa Castro Correa (King’s College London)
Full day – from 10.00 to 17.00 – 14 June 2016
Maximum: 15 students
Venue: Senate House Library


Almost all written production in what is now Spain and Portugal from the 8th to the 12th centuries was done in what is called ‘Visigothic script’, which evolved in the Peninsula from the scripts of the Late Roman Empire just as Merovingian, Insular, and Beneventan scripts did in their corresponding geographical areas. In this course, students will gain knowledge about not only the origin of Visigothic script but also about its main typological and geographical variants and its stages of evolution throughout the centuries, these aspects being discussed through digital reproductions of significant manuscript examples.

This course is open to everyone interested in medieval manuscript production, with a focus on the Iberian Peninsula’s manuscript material. Its main aim is to familiarise the participants with a particular model of medieval script, with those letters, signs, and abbreviations that characterise Visigothic script. Therefore, no previous experience is required although students with at least a basic training in palaeography will particularly benefit from the course. There will be some transcription exercises where those students who wish to do so will have the opportunity to practice reading the script.

Some basic references you might find useful – if you want to come prepared:

  • J. Alturo Perucho, A. Castro Correa and M. Torras Cortina (eds.), La escritura visigótica en la Península Ibérica. Nuevas aportaciones (Bellaterra, 2012).
  • Mª J. Azevedo Santos, Da visigótica à carolina, a escrita em Portugal de 882 a 1172 (Lisbon, 1994).
  • M. C. Díaz y Díaz et al., Corpus de códices visigóticos (Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, 1999).
  • A. Millares Carlo, Tratado de Paleografía española (Madrid, 1983).
  • I. Velázquez Soriano, Documentos de época visigoda escritos en pizarra (Turnhout, 2000).

(You can also check the Bibliography page above, and, of course, the contents of this site organised for teaching purposes).

There will be plenty of cool images, the key topics will be openly discussed. No need to be an expert! I would love to see you all there.

The inscription for this course will open in early January. In the meantime, you can check the London International Palaeography Summer School site for more info. Don’t miss it!

Codex of the month (X-XI): Visigothic script manuscripts at the British Library

This month’s ‘Codex of the month‘ is not one codex nor two, but 16; the full collection of Visigothic script manuscripts at the British Library.

As part of my ViGOTHIC research project [more here and here], in the next months I will be working with some of the precious codices kept at the British Library – Additional ms. 30848, 30850, and 30851, besides Additional ms. 11695, the so-called Silos Apocalypse -, and so I thought that it would be nice to take a look at the other codices also copied in Visigothic script here in London.

reference [date] centre content
1 Add. ms. 33610 early 9th c. Liber Iudicum (1 fol.)
2 Add. ms. 30852 9th c. Silos Liber Orationum  (115 fols.)
3 Add. ms. 30854 9th c. Gregorius Magnus, Liber dialogorum (182 fols.)
4 Egerton 1934 early 10th c. Chronicon (2 fol.)
5 Add. ms. 25600 10th c. Cardeña Passionarium Hispanicum (269 fols.)
6 Add. ms. 30846 10th c. Silos Breviarium Toletanum  (173 fols.)
7 Add. ms. 30853 late 10th c. Silos Homiliarium, Poenitentiale ecclesiasticum (324 fols.)
8 Add. ms. 30055 late 10th c. Cardeña Codex Regularum (237 fols.)
9 Add. ms. 30844 early 11th c. Silos / Cardeña Officia Toletana (177 fols.)
10 Add. ms. 30845 11th c. La Rioja / Silos / Cardeña Officia Toletana (161 fols.)
11 Add. ms. 30851 11th c. Silos Psalterium (202 fols.)
12 Add. ms. 30855 11th c. Silos Vitae Patrum (142 fols.)
13 Add. ms. 30847 late 11th c. Silos Breviarium (188 fols.)
14 Add. ms. 30848 late 11th c. Silos Breviarium (279 fols.)
15 Add. ms. 30850 late 11th c. Silos Antiphonarium romanum (241 fols.)
16 Add. ms. 11695 1091 – 1109 Silos Beatus, In Apocalypsin (279 fols.)

The results of my first approach to discover this collection were presented as an informal talk in the London Graduate Paleography Group at King’s College London, and are now available for all of you to read as a guest post in the British Library Medieval Manuscripts blog. Thanks for reading!

Discovering the collection of Visigothic script codices at the British Library

How to introduce something that should not require an introduction? It was in the year 1878 when the, back then, British Museum acquired a collection of 14 manuscripts and incunabula from the Spanish Benedictine monastery of Santo Domingo de Silos. The addition of these codices to the already well-populated treasuries of the Museum completed an extraordinary impressive corpus of medieval manuscripts written in the Iberian Peninsular most original script, Visigothic. In this post we will revise how these codices now at the British Library came to form the collection, highlighting its importance for studying the historical and cultural development of Iberia throughout the Middle Ages.

The Silos Apocalypse | London, British Library, Add. MS 11695

The Silos Apocalypse | London, British Library, Add. MS 11695

In 1840 which is now the gem of the Visigothic script collection of codices of the British Library and one of the most significant medieval manuscripts of the institution, entered the British Museum: Additional ms. 11695, the so-called Silos Apocalypse. The Museum bought it from José Bonaparte, who, while king of Spain from 1808 to 1813, added it to his personal collection. Additional ms. 11695 is one of the 32 codices of its type preserved, widely known as “Beatos”, which were copied from the late 8th to the 14th centuries. The Silos Apocalypse was finished in the scriptorium of Silos (Burgos) in the early 12th century; its text on 18 April 1091, its illumination programme on 30 June 1109, as their copyists inform us. It belongs to one of the most authentic manuscript traditions of the medieval Iberian Peninsula; it transmits a thorough, passionate, and lavishly illuminated commentary on the Apocalypse of St John of Patmos as well as other texts like the treatise De adfinitatibus et gradibus (a chapter from St Isidore’s Etymologies) and the commentary on Daniel by Jerome, that were commonly added to these volumes from the 10th century on. The Silos Apocalypse is an exceptional resource for art historians, but also to palaeographers since it is one of the only 49 codices of the almost 400 preserved written in Visigothic script that can be dated and placed with certainty and thus contextualised. As such, it is the focus of my current project ViGOTHIC about which you can read more here.

London, British Library, Egerton ms. 1934

London, British Library, Egerton ms. 1934

Merely 20 years after, in 1861, another unique piece arrive at the Museum. Within the binding of a mid-18th-century codex donated by the Egerton family, two folios of the Spanish Chronicle of 754. Currently under the shelfmark Egerton ms. 1934, these folios pair with four folios more now kept at Madrid (Real Academia de la Historia, ms. 81), and together constitute the earliest surviving copy of that chronicle since the only other two extant copies date from the 13th and 14th centuries. This Mozarabic Chronicle is supposed to have been compiled by an anonymous Mozarab living in a small city in south-east Iberia as a continuation of the Historia Gothorum by Isidoro de Sevilla. It covers the years from 610 to 754, and although it is focused mostly on Byzantine and Umayyad affairs, it is still an excellent historical source to dig in the first years of post-Visigothic Iberia.

The British Museum continued the acquisition of Spanish manuscripts by adding to its collection, in 1864, the manuscript identified as Additional ms. 25600, which must have been in private hands after the dissolution of monasteries in Spain in 1835. This codex was written in the monastery of San Pedro de Cardeña by the mid-10th century and compiles passions of the most important Hispanic saints venerated by that time.

Another manuscript from the same provenance and copied around the same time arrived soon after at the Museum, being bought from Sotheby’s in 1876: Additional ms. 30055. It contains a collection of rules (Liber regularum; Leander, Isidorus, Fructuosus, Smaragdus) for monastic use, an essential book for the spiritual wellbeing of monks and the functional organisation of the community.

By the time there were, thus, already outstanding exemplars of Visigothic script codices at the British Museum the collection received considerable additions. Indeed, in 1878 the institution acquired an almost complete set of medieval manuscripts written in Visigothic script supposedly in the same monastery, Silos, or its dependencies. In 1835, because of the dissolution of monasteries, the abbot of Silos tried to preserve the cenobium’s rare collection of codices by taking them with him when he took refuge in an abbey dependency of Silos in Madrid. However, when he died, his successors, concerned about reconstructing Silos, saw in the books a source of income. Sixty-nine manuscripts and incunabula were sold to a Madrid bookseller, later on, bought by the Bibliothèque Nationale de France and by the British Museum. The later acquired fourteen, now Additional mss. 30844 to 30857; all of them except for Add. mss. 30849, 30856, and 30857, examples of Visigothic script. Some highlights of this collection:

London, British Library, Add. MS 30845

London, British Library, Add. MS 30845

Add. mss. 30844, 30845 and 30846, containing a collection of monastic officia texts of the Mozarabic Liturgy, and Add. mss. 30847, 30848 and 30849, their equivalent for the Roman Liturgy, are a primary source to study how the transition from the Mozarabic to the Roman rite developed in the mid-late 11th century in the Iberian Peninsula. Although not the only extant exemplars to carry out such study, these are the best-preserved ones.

Add. Ms 30850 is an exceptional Antiphonary for monastic use from the Roman tradition, preserved in its entirety. The notation it contains is Visigothic, even though the repertoire is Gregorian. In the upper and lower margins of some of its leaves, there are numerous annotations in Aquitanian notation which are considered to be among the first examples of this type written in the Peninsula.

Add. ms. 30851, which contains Psalms, hymns and canticles for the Mozarabic liturgy, to which a selection of Liber horarum was added, and that has been described as the best example of Silense script – of the script used in the scriptorium of the monastery of Silos by the late 11th century. The small marks you see all over the text, they are glosses, and this manuscript is representative for the use of neumes as reference signs to these glosses added in the margins. It was, it seems, a common practice in many of the codices from Silos, although the others are lacking the precision of this one. The glosses are mostly synonyms in the Vulgate, but in many other cases, they consist of lexicographical or contextual commentaries. They provide equivalent in Latin, although there are some words in the Romance vernacular too.

Add. ms. 30853 contains a collection of homilies and of penitential canons concerning the penances to be done for various sins. It is dated, by the palaeographic characteristics of the different hands which intervened in its copy, as an example of the second half of the 10th century. It has also been supposed to be copied in Silos. The relevance of this manuscript resides in the glosses, called ‘Glosas Silenses’, which a late 11th-century reader added in vernacular.

Add. ms. 30854, a The Liber Dialogorum by Saint Gregory the Great, a collection of four books relating the life and miracles done by several holy men, mostly monastic, of 6th-century Italy, with the second book entirely devoted to Saint Benedict. This codex is the earliest of the only two extant exemplars of this work in Visigothic script. It has not been determined where or when it was written. No palaeographical study has been done. Bearing in mind the characteristics of the script, in my point of view, it could be attributed to a Castilian, and very prominent, production centre, copied in the early 10th century.

All these codices together, plus a fragment of an early 9th-century Liber Iudicum discovered at the British Museum soon after, now Add. ms. 33610 H, make up the collection of sixteen codices, whole books or fragments, in Visigothic script now at the British Library. Their chronology ranging from the early 9th century to the early 12th. Their topics common for medieval Iberian Peninsula but diverse: about law, a chronicle, and, of course, liturgical books for the daily Office and the celebration of the Mass and spiritual books for the transcendent and cultural training of the readers. They constitute an exceptional resource from which to study medieval written culture, and, from a non-scholarly perspective, beautiful books to look at.


VisigothicPal: project ViGOTHIC

[Continues from ‘VisigothicPal: when Visigothic script meets the DigiPal software‘]

Project ViGOTHIC is a two-year long project funded by the European Commission, Horizon 2020. I applied for and received a Marie Curie Individual Fellowship to develop it. It aims to facilitate and refine the study of Visigothic script and Visigothic script manuscripts, to make the scientific community aware of the needs and possibilities of conducting research based on these sources, and to disseminate the research that has already been carried out in the field or that is currently in progress. In summary, ViGOTHIC intends to open the study of Visigothic script to everyone interested in Manuscript Studies. It is located at King’s College London, where I started working last month, and is being supervised by Prof. Julia Crick with Peter Stokes as co-Investigator. All of this means: I now work at King’s College London [link to my official page 🙂 ], I will be merging Visigothic script and the DigiPal Software, and I will be doing very fancy stuff to help my field of research, Visigothic script, to move forward.

As you might be thinking, one cannot just put all things Visigothic within the database of the DigiPal software in a two-year long project. I needed to define a corpus with which to test DigiPal. I was first tempted to use my hundreds of charters from the north-western Iberian Peninsula, to see if I could make sense of the thousands of cuttings I have, and continue my work on them. However, there was and still is a very big problem with the idea of uploading surrogates of charters, particularly from this corpus since they come from several different archives with their own ethos: copyright restrictions! Although I will eventually get clearance, in the meantime a different corpus was needed. Bearing in mind that I would more than likely have had the same problem with a corpus of charters coming from a different area, I decided to take a look at the codices instead.


Some time ago I was absorbed in the online catalogue of Visigothic script codices – I still am, but aim to do it better. All that knowledge and very few people work with these codices! In that catalogue, besides the problem (joy) of more codices continuing to appear but barely being looked at by anyone, the controversy of the attribution of dates and places of origin for some codices has also been highlighted [more about problems in the field here]. It is very difficult, or rather almost impossible, to establish these data with some certainty if the codex itself does not give any clues. Moreover, since we do not have a thorough catalogue of Visigothic script characteristics by dates and production centres… Hey! I would love to do that, it would be indeed useful. Every single one of the 350ish codices needs some care. Someone to study them thoroughly. And would it not be awesome if at the same time someone could create a database that other people could use? Imagine you have a codex written in Visigothic script and you do not know where and when it was written. You could search by centres and dates within the database and do some comparisons with other dated and placed sources to see how yours fits! Of course, I am not going to do that in the next two years, rather I am going to see if that idea is doable.


The BL Beatus: Additional Ms 11695

From the 350ish list of codices, some 50 provide dates and places of origin through colophons, notes added by readers, and other documents copied on them. Of these 50, 25 are available online [you can take a look at the list here], amongst them the one I chose: the British Library Add. Ms 11695. This codex is not only one of the few that is digitised, but also one of the most significant ones from my point of view, given: (i) its production centre: it was copied in the Benedictine monastery of Silos – vip(lace); (ii) its content: it contains one of the most famous medieval bestsellers of the Iberian Peninsula: the Beatus – lovely Apocalypse; (iii) its date: it was copied in the late 11th – early 12th century, in a period when Visigothic script was heavily transforming itself because of the graphic influence of Caroline minuscule [you can read more on hybridization here]. Moreover, thanks to the Napoleonic visit to Spain, the British Library has a considerable number of codices in Visigothic script from Silos, some of them from the same date as the Beatus, thus allowing comparison among hands throughout the books. [I’m giving a talk next month at the KCL about this; send me an email for more info if interested]

Therefore, project ViGOTHIC, my project while I am here at King’s College working with Julia Crick and the team who developed the DigiPal software in the first place, is going to test digital tools applied to Visigothic script through the analysis of the Beatus. I will: (i) apply and evaluate computer-assisted techniques (DigiPal) to the study of Visigothic script; (ii) determine the viability and benefits of computerised semi-automated analysis; (iii) establish a point of reference for computerised analysis of Visigothic script codices by providing accurate graphic foundations to foster historical research. Also, since I will be analysing the codex, I set some extra objectives: (i) to determine how many scribes intervened in the copy of the codex, their graphic characteristics and differences; (ii) to analyse the evolution of the script by comparing hands and, thus, the period in which each scribe worked; (iii) to study the cultural context that led to the creation of this composite codex (comparison with coeval manuscripts).

By the end of this ViGOTHIC project, if everything goes as planned and the software is as useful as I foresee it is going to be, it will be time to think about the future. Can we also add the other 24 dated, geographically placed, and digitised codices to the database? Can we merge this database with an improved version of the online catalogue? Did I mention ViGOTHIC will probably have a full online counterpart (aka a website) named VisigothicPal?

Suggested Citation: Castro Correa, A. “VisigothicPal: project ViGOTHIC″. Littera Visigothica (October 2015), http://litteravisigothica.com/visigothicpal-project-vigothic (ISSN 2386-6330).


Project VIGOTHIC has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Sklodowska-Curie grant agreement No. 656298. This post reflects only the author’s view and the Agency is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.