Thursday, 20 November 2008

Tironian notes

I just discovered the fascinating topic of Tironian notes and other ancient alphabets and forms of shorthand.

Tironian notes were invented in Ancient Rome by a freed slave called Tiro, and remained in use into the medieval period. They were a form of shorthand. The Tironian & symbol is still in use in Ireland, according to the Wikipedia article.

I wonder if any archaeological items have been found with Tironian notation on them?


Bo said...

bareporThe Tironian 'and', which looks like a '7' is totally standard in medieval irish texts. I used it contantly in my thesis.

Yewtree said...

Yes I discovered Tironian whilst looking up the origin of the word "ampersand" on Wikipedia.

Thought this would appeal to you (and that you would already know about it).

Er, did you write your thesis in medieval Irish?

Grafiker München said...


they found different archaeological items with notes on it. Some original speeches where written down in notes. They also find original items with notes and there explanation on it. Otherwise it would be much harder to understand what the notes are meaning. You can find more at this german-site (translator): Tironische Noten

Yewtree said...

Interesting article, thanks!

Keith Houston said...

Tiro's system, along with other forms of shorthand, got short shrift in the medieval period. They were seen as too close to esoteric runic symbols and fell out of use as a result.

I wrote a bit about Tironian notes (and the Tironian et, which was the ampersand's main competitor for much of its life!) here:

Yewtree said...

Another interesting article - thank you!