The aim of this paper is to revise and further analyse the functions of the runes ᛞ and ᛗ in the Glosses to the Lindisfarne Gospels. The work presented here is part of a project funded by the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation which addresses various aspects of the morphosyntax and lexis of the gloss.
Manuscript runes are of great value since they constitute an important secondary source for the understanding of the runic system. They supply information for example about the rune-names and their acrophonic use which in most cases is not provided by epigraphical inscriptions. The English runica manuscripta together with the Scandinavian manuscript and epigraphical material are the only source of the rune-names, their meanings and sound value. In Anglo-Saxon times runes could be used to represent the word that supplied their names. The runes ᛞ, ᛗ and ᚦ were systematically employed in manuscripts taking the place of dæg, mann, ethel respectively. In the case of the Glosses to the Lindisfarne Gospels the ᛞ and ᛗ runes are used as abbreviations of their names.
The standard edition of the Glosses to the Lindisfarne Gospels was published in the last quarter of the 19thcentury (1874-1878) by W. W. Skeat. He stated that his aim was to present the reader with a text that reflected as nearly as possible that of the manuscript. However, his editorial practice subjected the language and grammar to extensive editorial interpretation and alteration (Cole, 2013). Recent studies on the glosses (Fernández-Cuesta, forthcoming) demonstrate that various aspects of Skeat’s edition are not faithful to the gloss scribal practice in one way or another and justify the need to return to the original manuscript for the linguistic study of the text and for a new edition of the manuscript. A new collation of Skeat’s edition with the facsimile of Lindisfarne would reveal errors and inaccuracies of the transcription, and loss of material due to the practice of normalising texts with the purpose of making it more accessible to readers.
In the case of the runes, Skeat also subjected the use of runes to editorial interpretation and alteration. For instance, in the manuscript ᛗ is sometimes used as an abbreviation sign for mann, monn. In fol. 215r a19 we can read <ænig ᛗ>. In this case Skeat expands the rune sign to monn (Jn. 2.25). However, in fol. 215r b17 we encounter <se moᛗn> (Latin homo), where Skeat has tried to reproduce the rune in his edition (Jn. 3.4). A further analysis of the functions of the runes in the glosses needs to be done in the context of the studies of Anglo-Saxon runica manuscripta with a collation of the facsimile and the original manuscript.