Skip to 0 minutes and 7 seconds SCOTT SPURLOCK: Paleography is the study of old handwriting, which is of particular interest to students of history, genealogists, family historians, and those who are working on local history. Early modern Scotland produced some of the most detailed and robust records of any European nation. While their survival is not comprehensive, it’s estimated that approximately 2 million pages of highly-detailed local records survive for the period 1560 to 1750, in the weekly Kirk Session meeting minutes alone. These records represent a wealth of detail pertaining to marriages, births, deaths, legal disputes, witch trials, famines, floods, and the list goes on.
Skip to 0 minutes and 50 seconds This level of detail and the robust nature of these records is pretty impressive when we consider that the population of Scotland during this period peaked out at about 1 million people. I’m Doctor Scott Spurlock. And in this course, my colleagues Doctor Lionel Glassey, Dr. Neil McIntyre, and myself will introduce to you the basics of paleography including letter shapes, common contractions, and the configuration and style of sources.
Skip to 1 minute and 16 seconds NEIL MCINTYRE: In addition to the practicalities of deciphering the handwriting itself, this course will also provide an overview of early modern Scottish history in order to describe the society and its structures that produced these invaluable records including church, court, and legal documents. Lionel has five decades of experience teaching paleography and has unlocked the secrets of older handwriting for undergraduate and post-graduate students and members of the general public. He is regularly called upon by scholars and archives to provide advice on particularly difficult documents. I am an early modern historian, and I have completed my doctorate on the early covenanters I’ve designed the Scottish history overview within the course.
Skip to 1 minute and 59 seconds Scott teaches Scottish church history in the theology and religious studies department here at the University of Glasgow. He has been teaching Scottish history for two decades, and like the rest of the team, with historical Scottish documents on a daily basis.
Skip to 2 minutes and 15 seconds SCOTT SPURLOCK: This course is brought to you in collaboration with the national records of Scotland. And we’re grateful for their generosity in allowing us to use materials for the teaching of this programme. We hope you’ll enjoy the course as much as we’ve enjoyed developing it.