Wednesday, April 30, 2014

The Mysterious C—or lack thereof

One of the issues which we have tackled over the past few weeks is figuring out the meaning of a strange mark on the second line after “Ricardi de” and before the place-name we are still uncertain about. Here’s a picture of it:

It’s the small “letter” after the “de” at the center of the image. When we were initially examining it, Dr. Gwara believed it was a small “c” which might be attached to the place-name which follows. However, I disagreed because the “c” was so small. Dr. Gwara later decided it was probably not connected to the place-name, which we decided must be something along the lines of “Samford” after getting a very interesting reply from Paul Cavill at the English Place-Name Society.  Paul Cavill also directed us towards a place called “Little Sampford” connected to the Hospital of the Knights Templar, which has an “Asford” nearby.

I attended Dr. Tim Graham’s “Understanding the Medieval Book” seminar, where I presented our findings thus far. When I was explaining the inscription, Dr. Graham commented that he thought the “c” was almost certainly some sort of punctuation mark (which would explain its size).  Such a view would make sense with our current reading “Brother Richard of Samford,” but we will have to investigate the idea further.

In addition to getting Dr. Graham’s view on the mark, I showed the inscription to Dr. Christine Ames, USC’s Medieval Historian. Dr. Ames was immediately confident that the last word was “Samford,” but said she noticed a minim which might be part of an “I” in the gap in the center of the word. She also agreed that it was reasonable to read “(hole)inores” as “Minores,” indicating Franciscan ownership. She had an interesting view of the mysterious “c,” saying that she felt confident it was just a stray mark made in error.

It amazes me that people can interpret a single “letter” in so many ways. We will have to do additional work comparing the mark to those in other texts in order to decide whether it is a small c, a punctuation mark, or a mistake. Once we reach a conclusion on what it is, we will then have to figure out how it impacts the inscription as a hole.

In other news, exams are officially underway! I personally am excited because I will be leaving on the 12th to spend a month in England with my grandfather; perhaps while I am there I can visit some of the places we have read about.

Regarding Little Sampford, I found this link:

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