Document Transcription Training

Twelve brave souls decided to do some training and have a go at reading and transcribing some very old documents as part of our Dig Appleby project.

Most did not know what to expect but rose to the challenge and all enjoyed the sessions – even though it was not as straightforward as some had imagined and it initially appeared quite daunting; it was definitely a day for head-scratching and for being prepared to interpret some rather bizarre spellings….

Most of the documents were from the 15th – 17th centuries and the range and style of handwriting was quirky to say the least – it became clear that some words jumped out as being easily read while others left everyone baffled.

People were introduced to some basic abbreviations and symbols used by the scribes, odd-looking capital letters, unusual or non-existent punctuation and elaborate curves designed to confuse readers into thinking they were actual words. The example below may give you an idea of what we were up against.



At first there were more gaps and omissions than transcribed words but by the end of each session people were beginning to “get their eye” in and begin to make sense of what they were reading.

Despite going home with a headache at the end several keen participants are doing another training session where they will get seriously to grips with an Indenture from the 1500s!


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