Palaeography Group

The Orkney Archive hosts a Palaeography Group for anyone interested in reading and transcribing Scottish Secretary Hand. The Archive holds many untranscribed documents from the 16th and 17th centuries in this script. The aim of the group is to decipher these documents and share their contents with a modern audience. 

The group meets once every 2 weeks on Mondays from 5.45pm - 6.45pm. They meet in person in the Archive Searchroom, but also online via Zoom. For each meeting, the Archivist picks a document to transcribe. The group then works through the document word by word, letter by letter, deciphering the script and discovering the meanings of the words. 

The members all come to the group with different levels of skill and learn from each other along the way. So far the group has transcribed over 100 documents from the Archive. Click here to see a selection of documents we have transcribed since we began in 2019. 

If you are interested in joining the group or just want to know more, please contact our Archivist, Lucy Gibbon. Our phone number is 01856 873166, our email is 

If you are new to Secretary Hand we recommend the Scottish Handwriting website for tips and tutorials. For Scots Language help, please try the Dictionary of the Scots Language website. 

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