The use of the Latin language in medieval Iceland and Norway had long been ignored, due to both a nationalist and traditionalist interest in establishing these countries as literately independent and genuinely remote from continental Europe. However, in the past two decades, the field has slowly been moving forwards, focussing increasingly on the role that Latin played in a variety of contexts. Current research areas include the production and transmission of Latin texts, the liturgical use of Latin, and the phenomena of intertextuality between Latin texts and their Old Norse derivatives (genre studies, motive studies, translated texts, source studies). Today, the impact of Latin scribal culture cannot be seriously doubted, but its investigation is inhibited by the fact that no larger Latin texts or whole manuscripts survive from either Norway or Iceland.
The remaining traces – such as manuscript fragments, parchment slips and references to lost works have naturally drawn attention to their previous existence. An even larger amount of surviving Latin evidence has, however, been passed by unnoticed and deemed unworthy of investigation, because it is functional writing or notes in the margin of Old Norse manuscripts. In print and on-line manuscript catalogues, these marginalia are almost always omitted. The situation for original Latin manuscript sections is only slightly better, since their content is often summarised or indicated incorrectly.
Despite the variety of approaches to editing, both Latin components and marginalia are excluded from most editions. This does not only apply to 19th and early 20th century editions, which are intended for making the text available for reading, but also to modern, critical editions for scholarly use. Even though marginalia would pertain to the latter type of edition, they are usually considered of no relevance for the main text, and therefore omitted. Paradoxically, the most recent developments in digital editing worsen the situation, especially for Latin marginalia: High-resolution digital images have increasingly taken over the function of facsimile transcriptions, which for this reason lose ground in editing practices. The readers see themselves ideally confronted with digital images, diplomatic and normalised transcription and possibly a translation and study of the text. Marginalia are not mentioned in any of these levels, and thus remain invisible and inaccessible even to those interested in studying them.