The page as monument: epigraphical transposition in the runica manuscripta tradition of early Medieval England
Keywords:runes, Runic script, runica manuscripta, Early Medieval England, Anglo-Saxon, epigraphy
Most surviving runic inscriptions from early medieval England were produced in an ecclesiastical context, and the influence of manuscript writing practices on the runic tradition can clearly be discerned. The manuscript record of runes or runica manuscripta that flourished particularly in the context of Anglo-Saxon missionary activity to the Continent has, however, usually been regarded as a late antiquarian development, largely detached from the epigraphical tradition. In this paper, I argue that not only did manuscript practice clearly influence epigraphy, but also that several uses of runes in manuscripts can be considered as extensions of the epigraphical tradition. Some runica manuscripta also seem to evoke pointedly the monumental tradition, including associations with permanence, public display, and memorialisation. Through the case studies of decorative uses of runes, scribal signatures, and textual interventions in runes, I argue that there is a relatively consistent association between the runic script and monumental epigraphy that can be transposed onto the manuscript page for particular effects, which rely on received knowledge of the epigraphical tradition long after the use of runes in monumental contexts had ended.
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