The LIPSS Transcription Challenge

Sadly LIPSS cannot take place this year, but we will be back. Every day this week we will post a transcription challenge showcasing some of the types of material that our diverse range of courses cover. Test your skills on the page shown and we will post our transcription tomorrow.


Friday's transcription: 

In illo tempore, missus est angelus gabriel a deo in civitatem galilee cui nomen nazareth ad virginem desponsatam viro cui nomen erat ioseph de domo david, et nomen virginis maria. Et ingressus angelus ad eam dixit. Ave gratia plena dominus tecum, benedicta tu in


Previous challenges and our transcriptions:


This is a relatively straight-forward page, from a sixteenth-century manuscript, now British Library, Egerton MS 3132A.  You can find out more about the manuscript here. LIPSS offers a range of introductory courses, including Introduction to Latin Palaeography, Introduction to Palaeography of Early Medieval England, and Introduction to Codicology. The British Library is a short walk from the Institute of English Studies and we regularly make use of their collections in our teaching and research.

Monday’s transcription:

Lorde sende me a chylde the worlde to multyplye

The Duke sayde, yf it be thy wyll

My wyfe soroweth in her partye

I feare that she wyll her selfe spyll

Nothinge to the lorde that ys unpossyble

Nowe heare my prayer for love of thy mother

Sende me a chylde my petycion to fullfyll

For to be myrry I desyre none other.

              And on a tyme the Duke and the Duches walked

In a garden by them selfe alone

Although most of the letter forms are familiar the s can be difficult to distinguish from f. In this passage y is often used where we would expect i and the spelling differs from modern standards. U is written as v at the start of words, a reminder that u is a relatively recent addition to the alphabet. Spill here means to kill. The image beneath the passage underlines the theme of fertility through the large flowers and the couple’s gestures.


LIPSS offers courses on material from a wide range of time periods and cultural contexts. Our courses include Introduction to English Palaeography 1500-1900 and Middle English Palaeography. Today’s transcription challenge is another text in English, dated 1504, from a manuscript now in Oxford, Bodleian Library MS Rawl. C 370, available through the digital Bodleian website

Tuesday's transcription:

This indenture quatripartite made – betwene the moost cristen kyng Henry the Seventh by the grace of god kyng of Englond and of Fraunce and lord of Ireland the twenty daie of Novembr the twenty yere of his moost noble reigne of the oon partie and John Islipp’ abbot of the monastery of seynt Peter of Westm[inster] and the Priour and Convent of the same monastery of the secunde partie. John abbot and convent of the monastery of oure lady of Grace beside

The challenges with this passage include the abbreviations of some words and the very similar forms used to create both u and n. The double ff is used to indicate the capital F for France. The initial T frames the royal coat of arms.



Some LIPSS courses address specific themes, for example the roles of women as patrons, scribes and makers of medieval manuscripts. Today’s transcription challenge comes from a famous example of a manuscript created for and probably by nuns; the Claricia Psalter made c. 1200 and now Baltimore, Walters Art Museum MS W.26 The text is in Latin, and a helpful bilingual version of the medieval Bible can be found at

Wednesday's transcription:

Psalmus David

A. Clamor meus

Domine, exaudi orationem meam; et clamor meus ad te veniat. Non avertas faciem tuam a me; in quacumque die tribulor inclina ad me aurem tuam. In quacumque die invocavero te; velociter exaudi me. Quia defecerunt sicut fumus dies mei; et ossa mea sicut cremium aruerunt. Percussus sum ut fenum & aruit cor meum; quia oblitus sum comedere

Here the decision to split words between lines adds to the challenge. Some standard Latin abbreviations are used and these have been silently expanded in the transcription. The initial D encloses a nun with her hands raised in prayer illustrating the performance of the text.




LIPSS courses provide introductions to many different types of text, including liturgical and devotional material and philosophical and scientific manuscripts. Today’s transcription challenge is a thirteenth-century copy of Robert Grosseteste’s treatise De Sphera which conceives the universe as a series of concentric spheres. The manuscript, which contains a collection of works on astronomy and related topics, is now British Library, Harley MS 4350 More information about Grosseteste’s work can be found at

Thursday's transcription:

Intentio nostra est in hoc tractatu describere figuram machine mundane, et situm et figuras eam constituentium, et motus corporum superiorum, et figuras suorum circulorum. ¶ Quia igitur huius machina sperica est, dicendum est in primis quid sit spera. ¶ Est autem spera transitus semicirculi dyametro eius fixa, donec ad locum suum unde incepit redeat. ¶ Si igitur semicirculis .abc. super vol-

The clarity of the text here is not helped by bleed-through from the following page. The scribe also uses abbreviations and divides words between lines. The initial shows a figure, presumably the author Robert Grosseteste, with an armillary sphere.