9th century Romanesque Document

An award document, designed in Romanesque style, for use by myself and others.

I wanted to create a document style which would also suit the Roman era – a culture which did not really create illuminated manuscripta. It needed to be appropriate, practical, and fit well with the other designs for the pre-printed Award of Arms scrolls in Lochac – an excellent design challenge.

Ink and gouache on watercolour paper, wax seals

For this first example, I didn’t know anyone who focused on Roman, so I put out a call and found a volunteer recipient.

Research and Design

The main inspiration for the design is a Canon Table from a 9thc manuscript (Morgan Library MS M.728 fol. 8v). There is a marked similarity of form in the 4th century Calendar of Vicolas (Vatican Codex Barber. XXXI, 39, fol. 13). There is a reason why the later style is called Romanesque!


I loved the cavorting fauns in the Canon Table (there are many other variants), so I copied the whole top section directly. In place of the ‘egg and dart’ design surrounding the top triangle, I used the roped border from the Calendar drawing along the top sections. Along the base of the triangle, I used the classic Romanesque foliated border.

The lettering is in Roman Rustic style, which Drogin (1980) states was used from 1st – 6th centuries and later in some areas. It was used in this 9th century Canon Table, so the hand works well for both Roman and Romanesque. The words at the top say ‘Award of Arms’ in Latin, but the rest of the text is in English.

As always, it always a design challenge to ensure the necessary words can be filled in without disturbing the layout.

I really enjoyed creating this one – and painting the first example. I chose brighter colours, in line with other Romanesque manuscripts.