Scribal identity and scribal roles in early medieval Iberia: a case study of Santo Domingo de Silos, Biblioteca del Monasterio MS 6

Emma C Hornby*, Marcus Jones, Emily Wride

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


This article builds on a close palaeographical, liturgical and musicological reading of a single Old Hispanic manuscript (Santo Domingo de Silos, Biblioteca del Monasterio MS 6) to draw conclusions about scriptorium size, working practices and scribal mobility in early medieval Iberia. We identify eight music scribes who worked in four distinct layers of scribal engagement with the manuscript. These scribes used three different notational styles, and draw on elements of both the León and Rioja melodic dialects. In this manuscript, León notation is used to notate Rioja dialect; Rioja notation can be used to notate León dialect. The notational styles and melodic dialects tell us that different groups of scribes had distinct cultural identities and were likely working across two or three institutions, and at different times. Some scribes specialised in particular solo genres, as we explore, suggesting strongly that some music scribes were also trained as solo singers.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)181-231
Number of pages51
JournalEarly Music History
Publication statusPublished - 20 Oct 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This article was equally co-researched and co-authored. We are grateful to the University of Bristol Faculty of Arts for research student internships that enabled us to complete this collaborative work and to the South, West and Wales Doctoral Training Partnership for funding Jones and Wride’s PhD research. We also wish to offer our heartfelt thanks to the University of Bristol BA and MA music students who participated in a 12-week unit on Silos 6 that we taught in collaboration with our software engineer, Paul Rouse, in Autumn 2020. The students indexed the chants of the entire manuscript ( ), created a font from digital images of the manuscript, and made machine-readable transcriptions of the chants ( ). Our preliminary scribal identifications and explorations of the manuscript’s melodic dialects were undertaken in dialogue with these students. The transcriptions greatly facilitated our palaeographical working, making it easy for us to find patterns in the use of particular notational shapes across the manuscript.

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s), 2023. Published by Cambridge University Press.


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