St. Mark - Lindisfarne Gospels 710-721 f.93v - BL Cotton MS Nero D IVFurther to the TRC’s blog about the so-called Frisian letter A, we have just received an email from Naomi Tarrant in Scotland, with her comments about it.
In particular, she noted that:
“This A is found on Scottish samplers and has been linked to Frisia because there was a thriving trade between the Netherlands and Scotland. However, when I was researching Scottish samplers for my book I did a little more digging and found that this type of A with the centre bar dipped in the middle and/ or top bar can also be seen in Anglo-Saxon MSS such as the Lindesfarne Gospels, so goes way back as they say. See here.
To see a wide range of Scottish samplers, nearly all of which have this A, have a look here, which is the site of a private collector, who has a wonderful collection of Scottish samplers."
Danish (?) sampler dated 1684. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (57.122.526).Further to Naomi's comments, while looking for information about Danish embroidery, I found a ‘Frisian A' on a picture sampler that depicts the construction of a building (perhaps 'raising a barn'), and more specifically it would appear the two men are adding one of the doors.
The letters SK and HF and ANNO 1684 are embroidered along the lower edge of the embroidery. It is worth noting that the letter S and the number 4 appear to be backwards, and that the A of Anno is the so-called 'Frisian A.' The sampler is believed to be Danish and is now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (57.122.526). Basically it would appear that the ‘Frisian’ A has a much longer history and is more widely used than initially suspected.
Gillian Vogelsang, Sunday, 19th January 2020.