Gothic letters h, s and f

Let us look at three Gothic letters that are easy to mix up.

Before you read this, you might want to have a look at my other articles about Gothic handwriting.

The letters h, s and f in handwritten Gothic can be easy to mix up. The “text-book” version of these letters show distinct differences in how they are drawn, but in the records these letters may appeare fairly similar.

Gothic letter “h”

In my experience the letter h was often written as a Latin letter like we know it. However, we may  come across a Gothic h. In this name; “Christopher”, the first h is Latin while the second is Gothic. (In addition we se a Gothic s).




In this example we see the word “skoleholder” (teacher). Here the letter is h.

Here the name Thord.




Here is the town name Trondhjem




Gothic letter “s”


In the next example we see the farm name “Salthammer”.  This is a name and should start with a capital letter. In this case the letter used is a small s. Here the h in “hammer” is latin.


Most of us have encountered this letter in the patronymicons like “Iversøn”



The name “Lasse”. Sometimes the Gothic is used as a single s, other times it is used as a double s. In this case the Gotic s is used in combination with a Latin s.




The letter “f”

I am not providing any examples of word written with the letter f as the Gothic and the Latin letters looks the same. As we are so used to this letter, I often identify the letter as an f before I start to look closer at the word and realise that it might be a s or a h. We should also note that in older records the letter f sometimes are expressed by the combination ph like we saw in the name Christopher above. This might be more easily recognised by English speakers as this letter combination is not uncommon in English.


Just to trow in a little spanner; here is a word that starts with a letter that looks very much like the letters we looked at above. This is the letter capital letter E starting the word “Enkemand” – Widover



So, if you are struggling to find the meaning of the word you are looking at, you might try the different letters h, s and f when you check your dictionary.

2 thoughts on “Gothic letters h, s and f

  • April 20, 2017 at 6:43 pm

    That is crazy. Could they read that today? Even knowing what to look for, it is extremely difficult to figure out. Also, there is very little difference in the letters.

  • April 20, 2017 at 6:50 pm

    Mange Takk — I always learn something from your posts!


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