Zoomorphic Interlace Initial And Display Capitals, In A Collection Of Riddles And Other Works, By St. Tatwin, St. Aldhelm, And Others f.1v
Medium: Ink and pigments on vellum
Collections of riddles were known in Classical Antiquity, but in the Middle Ages were especially popular in Anglo-Saxon England. Some of them have still never been solved. Collections in this manuscripts are attributed to St. Tatwin, archbishop of Canterbury (d. 734), and St. Aldhelm, Abbot of Malmesbury and Bishop of Sherborne (d. 709). Although it was probably written at Canterbury, this manuscript was seen in the library of Glastonbury Abbey in the 16th century, and had probably been there for most of the Middle Ages.
In addition to emphasising the start of a major text with a decorated initial, script of larger size or different style from that of the text was commonly used to write the heading or opening words. 'Display' capitals such as these trace their ancestry back to Roman carved inscriptions in which the letter 'U' was written as a 'V', as a 'V'-shape is easier to carve than a curved 'U'.