Digital Palaeography and the Old Swedish Script: The Quill Feature Method as a Tool for Scribal Attribution
2015 (English)In: Arkiv för nordisk filologi, ISSN 0066-7668, Vol. 130, 79-100 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
In this article, the so-called Quill Feature method is tested as a means for scribal attribution in mediaeval manuscripts and placed in a palaeographic context. The Quill Features encompass a range of measurable features such as stroke curvature and variation in the width of strokes that graphs are comprised of, giving consideration to the angle at which they are drawn. The construction of the mediaeval pen, the quill, creates variation in the width of strokes, most importantly due to direction and force of pressure. It has been assumed that individual patterns can be discerned in this variation. The manuscript chosen for investigation is Cod. Ups. C 61, which contains a number of St Birgitta's Revelations and other material connected with this saint. Earlier researchers claimed that three or four scribes produced this manuscript, and this assertion was tested with the Quill Feature method. It transpired that the resultant values, calculated through measuring the investigated features, were very similar for the pages produced by the same scribe, which means that the method identifies important regularities in the scribal hands. Nevertheless, some of the investigated hands showed great similarities and were difficult for the computer to separate. Finally, the strengths and weaknesses of the digital methods of script analysis are discussed. The main advantage of these approaches is that a computer can measure characteristics of the script that cannot be discerned with the naked eye, and with a high degree of exactness. One weakness is that the measurements obtained are given in numbers, and can thus be difficult to apply to the script signs. Furthermore, one single method cannot provide a full description of script characteristics, so a combination of methods, both digital and manual, is desirable.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2015. Vol. 130, 79-100 p.
Quill features, paleography, writer identification
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:hig:diva-19435ScopusID: 2-s2.0-84961205527OAI: oai:DiVA.org:hig-19435DiVA: diva2:816137
ProjectsSökning och informationsutvinning i stora samlingar av historiska handskrivna dokument
FunderSwedish Research Council, 2012-5743