Recording inscriptions (WAS Re: Digest Number 1353)

grblundell GRBlundell at
Thu Apr 13 13:57:05 BST 2006

> Examine the bell carefully visually and by touch, preferably using 
a rule to
> note the height of the letters.
> "Surely a well taken photogtraph is very accurate method."
Dickon again:
> Sometimes a photograph will work, but there are the following 
potential pit
> falls:
> 1. A photo will not give you the height of each letter.
> 2. You could lose some letters round the side of the bell.
> 3. The photograph may not show up punctuation clearly. I have 
known some
> readings that require you to *feel* punctuation in order to 
identify them
> best.

- aren't we running the risk of throwing the baby out with the bath 
water here? If we follow Dickon's route exclusively, then I can see 
real risks of transcription errors, or of dubious readings entering 
the canon. Using Ernie's route uniquely has the problems that Dickon 
suggests, although some are not insoluble (problems over recording 
height can be dealt with by intelligent application of a ruler in 
the photo; surely 4 or more photos around a bell (itself assuming 
unlimited access) will give even coverage of all faces; near 
invisible punctuation is a real problem).  

In practice, don't we want to use a mixture of methods, each playing 
to their own strengths? I'm not a practitioner of the art of 
recording inscriptions, but I would have thought that photographing 
inscriptions was an invaluable part of the mix. If nothing else, it 
can provide a quick and easy aide memoire when writing up recorded 

Does anyone know the approach used by academic archaeologists to 
recording their finds? I'd have thought that they would be likely to 
have good practice that could illuminate issues for us.


Giles Blundell


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