h e V i r t u a l A b b e y : A M e d i e v
a l T o u r
Entrance | Herb Garden
| Scriptorium | Wine
Isadore, the 6th century Bishop of Seville wrote in his Intrumenta
scribe calumus et penna, "the instruments of the scribe
are the reed and quill." Both
instruments were first cured to harden, then cut in a 45-degree
angle to produce a nib which was split slightly lengthwise to
channel the ink down from the shaft and onto the page. Quills
were made from the first five flight feathers (the pinions,
seconds and thirds) of a goose, swan, raven or crow.
Also see Knife.
- the coloring agent in paint. It was usually ground
and mixed by monastic scribes or their apprentices using mineral
or vegetable matter as the preferred media. Starting with a base
of glair - a mixture of egg whites and water (sometimes supplemented
with gum arabic or honey), pigment was extracted in a variety
of methods depending on the color used. Red may have been obtained
from cinnabar, or red lead, minium or sandaraca, prepared by heating
white lead for several days. Indigo and white lead yielded blue,
as did the juice from blue flowers or mulberries. Brown was extracted
from burnt wood, and purple from plant or shell-fish dyes. An
arsenic compound, orpiment, produced yellow.
- any variant of white ash, powdered bone or chalk that
was rubbed on parchment to raise the nap and provide a good 'tooth'
for the quill. Pounce also helped to whiten and degrease the writing
- the guidelines used by scribes to accurately rule
the parchment before setting
down text; accomplished by 'walking' a pair of dividers (compass)
down the page or, later, by a starwheel or parchment
runner. A Lead Point and
set square were then used to line up the resulting prick marks
to ensure the lines were straight and true.
- a book of Psalms used for both private devotion and
in The Divine Office. A
common embellishment was a Miniature
or Historiated Initial
of King David, author of many of the Psalms.
Pages - parchment dyed or painted purple overlaid with
gold, silver or white lettering or as a background to illumination.
Usually seen in the monastic manuscripts of the Carolingian, Anglo-Saxon
periods and later.
- the application of rubrics or red lettering
to distinguish titles and chapter headings. Sometimes considered
a trade specialty, although the rubricator could also be the Scribe.
Most often, rubrics were laid down after the main text was completed.
From the Lt. rubrium or red.
- the horizontal lines that guided the scribes hand.
Spacing was accomplished by Pricking and the use of a set square.
In early scriptoria manuscripts were usually lightly scored
by a Hard Point, later by Lead
Point and sometimes, by the 1200's, in Ink.