Studies in the language, palaeography and codicology of MS Edinburgh, National Library of Scotland, Advocates' 19.2.2
This thesis is an investigation into scribal method in the Older Scots period. It centres upon the practice of a single scribe, John Ramsay, and his work in a single manuscript, MS Edinburgh, National Library of Scotland, Adv. 19. 2. 2 compiled between 1488 and 1489. This manuscript contains the oldest extant copy of Bruce by the late fourteenth-century poet John Barbour and a copy of the fifteenth-century poem Wallace attributed to Blin’ Hary. In the first Chapter, the reasons for the choice of this manuscript are given and its historical context is outlined. This is done through a brief description of the manuscript, an account of the lives of the authors of the texts and an outline history of the Older Scots Language. In chapter two, an alternative context for the manuscript is suggested through a discussion of prototype theories of categorisation and how they articulate with current theories of linguistic investigation. In particular, the notions of inclusiveness, fuzziness, and focus and fixity are highlighted as being of particular importance in the study of language which is the subject of the chapter which follows. Chapter 3 is a commentary on the language of the manuscript, working from data presented in the appendices. This enables the various current methods of manuscript investigation to be studied for what they reveal of scribal practice. In particular, the concepts of variation and constraint are highlighted. Chapter 4 is an examination of the handwriting in the manuscript. Again working from data presented in the appendices, Ramsay’s range of letter forms and the contexts in which he uses them are investigated. Variation and constraint are again important concepts and the value of the study of handwriting as an aid to the identification of the work of a scribe is assessed. In Chapter 5 the codicology of the manuscript is considered. The watermarks in the paper are described and, as far as possible identified. A collation of the quires of the texts, based on the pattern of watermarks and chain-line indentations, is suggested. Ramsay’s methods of correction and abbreviation are then examined for what they reveal of his scribal practice.