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Practical Runic Literacy in the Late Anglo-Saxon Period: Inscriptions on lead sheet

Hines, John 2019. Practical Runic Literacy in the Late Anglo-Saxon Period: Inscriptions on lead sheet. In: Lenker, Ursula and Kornexl, Lucia eds. Anglo-Saxon Micro-texts, Berlin: De Gruyter,

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Abstract

The corpus of runic inscriptions from Anglo-Saxon England is growing steadily, and the evidence they provide sheds valuable new light on the range and role of literacy in this culture as well as on early forms of the Old English language and its dialects. Few of these inscriptions can be disparaged as mere graffiti, and it is in fact clear that there is a significant patterning in the types of text written in runes in successive phases within the more than six centuries of the Anglo-Saxon Period. Three principal historical stages can now be identified. Pre-Old English and Early Old English phases that cover the fifth century AD to the ninth can be defined on linguistic grounds; concurrently, quite distinctive forms and uses of text are associated with each of these phases. The present paper identifies a ‘Late Anglo-Saxon’ phase, defined in terms of runographic practice and historical and archaeological context rather than linguistic criteria, although interestingly runic inscriptions of Latin text are prominent in this set. The phase is represented particularly by a number of recently found inscriptions on pieces of sheet lead. The examples which now allow to define this group are published here, most of them for the first time. The material has a predominantly ecclesiastical and learned character, and yet it represents a mode of literacy quite distinct from the familiar contemporary manuscript culture.

Item Type: Book Section
Status: In Press
Schools: History, Archaeology and Religion
Subjects: C Auxiliary Sciences of History > CC Archaeology
C Auxiliary Sciences of History > CN Inscriptions. Epigraphy.
P Language and Literature > PD Germanic languages
P Language and Literature > PE English
Publisher: De Gruyter
Last Modified: 16 Jan 2019 16:00
URI: http://orca-mwe.cf.ac.uk/id/eprint/116849

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