THE SCRIBES OF THE RED BOOK OF HERGEST WHEN we consider the relatively small number of medieval Welsh MSS left to us, certain questions present themselves. First, is it unlikely that the small number should include several examples of the work of a single scribe? And second, how does one decide, in comparing two MSS, that the scribes are related, or apprenticed one to the other, or one and the same? Careful reproduction of the style of writing, and the ruling up of parchment has shown that a Red Book column was written, at the outside, in thirty minutes. From this we can calculate that the 1,442 columns could have been written in six months by one scribe, if he were working a four hour day. It is possible that the three Red Book scribes were writing simultaneously, and as some columns are incomplete the estimate of six months gives a wide margin. It is, then, not at all surprising to find a number of MSS by the same hand. A professional scribe could easily have produced two large books per year, and the output of books over an entire working life might well be more than fifty. If we compare the scripts of the two later scribes of the Red Book with fourteenth and fifteenth century English vernacular MSS I think it is safe to assume that we have not lost the entire production of a scribe who was better than either of these. The probable shortage of good professional scribes in Wales would be another factor contributing to the high number of certain identifiable hands. Ambitious productions such as the Red Book (Jesus 111) are by accomplished profes- sional scribes. There do not seem to have been many of these. The Red Book scribes, the scribes of Llyfr yr Ancr (Jesus 119), Llyfr Taliesin (Peniarth 2), hands 2 and 3 of Peniarth 20, and Wynnstay 36 these are trained and practised scribes, but in their wake wrote many unskilled writers, imitating the styles of their exemplars with little success, such as the scribe of Mostyn 184, or of Peniarth 259. Having established that it is probable that more than one example of a professional scribe's work should survive, even though many have perished through fire and neglect, here follows (diagram 1) a system of analysis to enable one to confirm the identity of a hand. I have accepted photographic overlap of characteristic letters as proof that two MSS are by the same scribe. To recognise the individual style of a scribe it is helpful to bear in mind the high incidence of complex letter forms in Welsh, that is two or more complicated letters occuring together gw, g6, g6y, 6r6 etc. If the scribe is a professional these combinations of strokes always reveal the individual. Diagram 2 shows the gwyr combination of the three Red Book scribes. Diagram 3 shows the characteristic letters of these three scribes. This is a simplified diagram; it does not show all forms of the letters, but is intended to make clear certain points of difference. Not all of these occur regularly, but they are nevertheless useful in distinguishing the hands.