• Course Delivery
  • Tuition
  • Duration
    3 Weeks


Palaeography is the study of ancient handwriting and a vital skill in any historians toolkit. It is of particular interest to history students, genealogists, family historians, and those working on local history.

Early modern Scotland produced some of the most detailed and robust records of any European nation. Whilst their survival is not comprehensive, it is estimated that approximately 2 million pages of highly detailed local records survive for the period between 1560 to 1750 in the weekly Kirk session meeting minutes alone. These records represent a wealth of detail pertaining to marriages, births, deaths, legal disputes, witch trials, famines, floods the list goes on.

The level of detail and robust nature of these records is impressive when the population of Scotland peaked at about 1 million people. This is an essential consideration when conducting research on early modern Scotland a period of profound political, religious and social change (the effects of which can still be felt today).

This course is brought to you in collaboration with the national records of Scotland.

Learn the basics of palaeography - including letter shapes, common contractions and the configuration and style of sources - in addition to the practicalities of deciphering handwriting itself, and learn how society and its structures produced invaluable records including church, court and legal documents.


On successful completion of this course, you will be able to:

  • The ability to read and interpret early modern manuscripts
  • An understanding of how historical research is conducted
  • Familiarity with extant records stored in Scottish archives
  • The specialist skills required to transcribe documents
  • Knowledge of politics, religion and society in early modern Scotland
  • Expertise in handling the kirk session records of the Church of Scotland

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