Hand: tau, Exeter 3500

Exeter 3500

EXON Project

This hand may be recognised by round and closed descender of g; forked ascenders; tall and wide ct and st ligatures; final element in sequence of minims in numerals reaching well below baseline and turning to the left; absence of ampersand; Gallows mark made of two strokes and (one or two) smaller lines closing the angle.

1. Letterforms

a.- Uncial form in which the back does not normally reach above the bowl, giving it a round look (pointed at times).

d.- In round d, bowl is slightly below headline, whereas ascender is rather long, rising at 45º and turns up at the very top. Straight d shows also a rather long ascender that is forked at the top with an approach stroke on the left.

e.- Back is often broken (though it may be occasionally round). Short projecting tongue.

g.- Neck starts on the right of the head and descender is round and closed (it may occasionally have a lozenge shape, esp. when closed by a sloping stroke).

h.- Left leg is unfooted and ends on the baseline whereas the right limb may reach slightly below the baseline and tucks in slightly. Ascender has an approach stroke from the left that may also give it a forked appearance.

p.- Approach stroke left of the bowl and descender which is about as long as minims (2mm) and turns left at the end.

s.- Head may be rather wide though it is normally shorter than most ascenders. It does reach below the baseline, at times even turning left.

t.- Curved shaft often cuts across the headstroke even if only slightly.

x.- Normally, equal-limbed form, though occasionally (eg. when at beginning of a sequence of numerals) left leg may be extended and reach below the baseline.

æ.- Not found.

2. Treatment of minims, ascenders & descenders

Minims .- Just about 2mm high and showing both a short approach stroke at top and a finishing flick to the right at the bottom, as a type of foot. If two minims are found at the end of a word, the second is extended below the baseline and turned to the left (8r34 filij, 36 moritonij).

Ascenders.- They are often forked with an approach stroke from the left. When the gap between the approach stroke and the top of the ascender is not visible, a triangular wedge is formed. When found on the top line of the page, they may be extended (eg. 9r1)

Descenders.- Overall, they tend to be either straight or turn to the left. They are often between 1 and 2mm, although in the case of abbreviated forms with p, they are often slightly longer in order to create more space to form the required graphs. Not unusual to find ‘descenders’ this long in s and capital I.

3. Form of capitals

A. Rustic forms in use. The former (Auilfus 9r5) shows an approach stroke at the top and both limbs joined by a wavy stroke at the baseline.

E. Uncial form (Ernulfus 8r35, Edwardus 36) and rustic one (Ernulfus 14r27).

G. With straight back to baseline (as in C and E).

I. Longer than any other ascender, but also showing a triangular wedge at the top. It normally stands on the baseline, but may occasionally reach below it (Inde 9r3).

T. Footed vertical stroke and wavy headstroke.

W. Two superimposed Vs. Left arm rises at 45º and then turns up at the top. Left arm starts in an approach stroke and reaches below the baseline.

4. Forms of punctuation

Punctus simplex seems to be only form of punctuation in use for most part.

5. Form of paraph (gallows mark)

Vertical stroke turning left at the bottom. Horizontal line also turns up at right end. Angle closed by one or two cross-bars. Main strokes normally for a 90º angle. On one occasion corner is rounded (9r1).

6. Forms of abbreviation

Ampersand.- Not used.

et nota.- 7-shaped form reaching below the baseline. Cup-shaped horizontal bar not reaching above the headline. Hairline descender which may (very occasionally) show a finishing flick to the right.

Overline.- Starts horizontal and turns upwards in a hairline (same form used for suspensions on straight-backed d). Also, lightning bolt; 7-shaped; attenuated s-shaped; cup-shaped.


-us.- .


q- forms.-

e cauda.- attenuated s-shaped cedilla as macron (q-cauda not found).

pr- forms.- .

other forms.-


7. Forms of suspension

8. Ligatures


-ct- ligature: Rather wide and higher than most ascenders (Collectores 9r6).

-rt- ligature:

-st- ligature: Rather wide and higher than most ascenders (Bristricus 8r39). In ligature s still reaching below the baseline, albeit only slightly.

-or-: .

9. Method and form of annotation (signes de renvoi?)

Interlinear addition (14r23-4).

10. Method of correction and correction mark

Erasure and written over (8r31). Words crossed over (9r3).

11. Treatment of numerals

Between dots. In a sequence of minims, the last one is normally extended below the baseline and turns left. Similarly, when an x opens the numeral in question, its left leg may be extended as well. v not u.

12. Proportions and measurements


- Pricking.-

- Ruling.-

13. Other idiosyncrasies (preferred spellings, usages, …)

Odd spellings for: Rotbertus (8r5), Stafort (9r3) – correction, same hand?

What does he write?

Geld Accounts (Wi) – 8r30-41; 9r1-6; 14r20-8

Previously unidentified stints (Flight)

Geld Accounts (Wi) – 2r1-8

Geld Accounts (Wi) – 3r8-35

Geld Accounts (Wi) – 3v1-3

St Peter of Cerne (Do) – 37v3-18; 38r1-7

Roger Arundel (Do) – 51r17-51v6

Other relevant information

Tau seems to use two different cross-strokes to form suspensions with d. With straight-backed d (and with b), the same form of overline is used, whereas with round d a sloping line with an endstroke. See 9r1 for examples of both.


Allographs List

d, Caroline

d, Caroline. tau

d.m. tau

d.m. tau

d.m. tau

d.m. tau

d.m. tau

d.m. tau

d.m. tau

d.m. tau

d.m. tau

d.m. tau

d.m. tau

d.m. tau

d.m. tau

d.m. tau

d.m. tau

d.m. tau