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Extract from the accounts of Mauchline in 1749
Extract from the accounts of Mauchline in 1749 (NRS, CH2/896/3/279)

Numerals, letter shapes and record-keeping

Welcome to week 2!

Last week you were introduced to early modern Scotland and the basics of palaeography. This week you will focus on numerals, letter shapes and the records of the Church of Scotland.

To be sure, many early modern documents are concerned with sums of money.

This is because so many transactions - payments, loans, deeds, fines, poor relief - represented important decisions that needed to be remembered in the future. Well kept accounts were vital if confusion or conflict were to be avoided.

As such, you will frequently come across numerals in your reading.

For the apprentice palaeographer, however, the shapes and forms can be difficult to follow. In the next tutorial, Lionel will provide a clear and accessible guide to numerals and sums of money, thus providing you with a key skill that will assist your reading of early modern documents.

In addition to numerals, Lionel will explore a range of variant letter shapes in four programmes dedicated to tricky individual letters in the secretary hand. This will include your introduction to the thorn and yogh - letters which existed in the early modern alphabet.

The rest of the week is dedicated to a crucial record type from early modern Scotland: the kirk session minute book.

As noted in week 1, the weekly kirk session recorded all aspects of community life. The minute books also contain a range of financial transactions.

Remember: the video tutorials can be watched multiple times so do not be afraid to watch again in order to build your confidence.

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This article is from the free online course:

Early Modern Scottish Palaeography: Reading Scotland's Records

University of Glasgow