DigiPal Project

Over the next couple of weeks I’m going to be focusing on various digital projects and resources both old and new which incorporate data concerning one or more manuscripts from the Parker Library collection.

Image from CCCC MS 389, f.1v
Image from CCCC MS 389, f.1v

The DigiPal Project is one of the most exciting digital medieval projects around  – and it uses lots of images from our manuscripts. In fact, you can see one on the header of their website.

It’s based at the Department of Digital Humanities in King’s College London and the Project Director is Dr Peter Stokes who has worked extensively on many of the Anglo-Saxon manuscripts in the Parker Library. DigiPal is a palaeographical resource based on digital images of manuscripts or documents but incorporating many types of annotation and detailed description of the hands, texts and manuscripts and (when it’s complete) several different ways of interrogating, organising and displaying the information.

The test case is eleventh-century Anglo-Saxon vernacular script but there are other projects working with DigiPal to apply its tools and methodologies to documents far removed from this in time and place, including cuneiform tablets and Hebrew manuscripts.

The project runs to autumn 2014 but the web resource has just been updated and it’s definitely worth having a look at their progress.

You can run a search to show all the manuscripts from the Parker Library in their database (and there are a lot of them!).

Several folios have been intensively annotated. Here’s f. 29v of CCCC MS 173 (the entry for 993 in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle):

CCC MS 173, f. 29v annotated by DigiPal
CCC MS 173, f. 29v annotated by DigiPal

As the yellow squares indicate, the annotations are applied at the level of individual allographs (particular forms of individual letters or symbols). It’s possible to select an individual highlighted allograph and see its detailed description:

Annotation of individual letter 'f'
Annotation of individual letter ‘f’

Here you can see that three components are identified and described for the insular ‘f’ of ‘forhergedon’ – the descender, the hook and the tongue.

Annotated examples of 'f'
Annotated examples of ‘f’

Selecting ‘Annotations by allograph’ allows you to see all the annotated examples of ‘f’  by that particular hand. Eventually it will be possible to do both visual and verbal searches and compare allographs across the whole corpus or selected portions of it. It will also be possible to plot the frequency of particular letter forms or display them on a timeline.

For more on the current status of the DigiPal Project, follow their blog or take a look at Research Associate Dr Stewart Brookesrecent presentation at the launch of British Library Labs.

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