`A substantial and important book... Well constructed and clearly argued, it offers a great deal of new information gathered from original sources'. PROFESSOR JANE ROBERTS, KINGS COLLEGE LONDON The 118 presumed original royal Latin diplomas enacted before 1066 do much to illuminate our understanding of the Anglo-Saxons. This book - the first to examine the palaeography of the complete collection - traces every aspect of their development and creates a chronological framework into which undated documents may tentatively be fitted, helping to verify the authenticity or otherwise of doubtful documents.
The core of the book comprises a history of Anglo-Saxon handwriting, followed by a detailed illustrated study of the script forms which appear in the documents. This is preceded by a discussion of the possible authorship of the charters, which addresses the thorny question of whether there was an Anglo-Saxon chancery, then examines in detail the external features and textual elements.
The second half of the book contains a complete analysis of four 'representative' diplomas spanning the period from the seventh to eleventh centuries in the light of the principles established in the earlier chapters; these are then applied to seven 'problem' charters to determine their authenticity. SUSAN D. THOMPSON is a former research fellow of the Manchester Centre for Anglo-Saxon Studies.