Old English fonts: 12 of the best

Old English fonts evoke a sense of history, mysticism or majesty; they can also infuse your designs with an atmosphere of authority, permanence and tradition. And they're surprisingly flexible, sitting as happily on the covers of grime and death metal albums as they do on museum brochures and church hymn sheets. 

Other common uses for Old English fonts include newspaper mastheads, legal publications and qualification certificates. Plus, of course, they can also used ironically on such things as flyer designs and hipster beer labels. 

Find the best free fonts for all your design projects.

What is an Old English font?

Despite the name, there's nothing specifically English about Old English fonts. In fact, what is for various complicated reasons known ‘Old English’ script was used not just in England but also in France, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands between the 12th and 17th centuries. This is why you'll also often hear Old English fonts referred to as Gothic fonts or Blackletter fonts.

Old English fonts are characterised by heavy and dramatic strokes, which means that they're good for demanding instant attention from the reader, although you may be sacrificing an element of readability in the process. Read on, as we reveal our favourite Old English fonts today, along with why we like them, how much they cost and where you can download them.

Also read: Our favourite font pairings, and our best handwriting fonts.

01. Helmswald Post

Old English fonts: Helmswald Post

Helmswald Post is a medieval script with a modern twist (Image credit: Sharkshock)

Helmswald Post is one of those rare Old English fonts that combine a medieval script with a modern, streamlined feel. Crafted with a lovely mix of wispy terminals, flamboyant capitals, and good use of negative space to create contrast, it’s both beautiful and supremely versatile. This Old English font even includes Cyrillic characters and best of all, it’s free to download for personal use.

02. Halja

Old English fonts: Halja

Halja instantly summons a medieval atmosphere while remaining very legible (Image credit: Typogama)

Old English fonts need to strike a careful balance between ornateness and legibility, and to our eyes Halja nails this perfectly. A modular Old English font with sharp edges and a bold presence, its heavy stroke contrast and fine detail make this font best suited for use in display settings or logos.

03. Lordish

Old English fonts: Lordish

The sweeping curves of Lordish makes it feel elegant and super-stylish (Image credit: Envato)

There’s a lovely sweep to Lordish, one of the most elegant Old English fonts we’ve seen in a long while. Including uppercase, lowercase and punctuation marks, as well as international characters, this would be a particularly good choice as either a display font or a tattoo font.

04. The Mariam Story

Old English fonts: The Mariam Story

The Mariam Story brings a sense of formality to the Old English font style (Image credit: RVQ)

If you’re searching for an Old English font with a degree of formality and geometric regularity, then check out The Mariam Story from RVQ Type Foundry. This elegant creation takes the style essentials of medieval script and gives it a modern and elegant tweak that would be a great choice, for example, in a children’s fairytale book.

05. Riotic

Old English fonts: Riotic

Riotic puts a modern, minimalist spin on the Old English font style (Image credit: RVQ)

Another great Old English font from RVQ Type Foundry, Riotic represents a striking simplification of the style, leading to a design that’s both totally new and reassuringly familiar. This typeface includes a full set of capital and lowercase letters, as well as multilingual support, currency, numerals and punctuation. 

06. Monotype Old English Text

Old English fonts: Monotype Old English Text

A modern typeface based on a classic type design

One of the oldest and best Old English fonts, Old English Text has a real pedigree. Created by Monotype in 1990, it's based on Caslon Black: a typeface originally cast by William Caslon in 18th century England that combined the design attributes of both the medieval and Victorian eras.

07. Mariage

Old English fonts: Mariage

Mariage evokes the medieval era with its elaborate stylings

Designed by Morris Fuller Benton (1872-1947) of the American Type Founders in 1901, Mariage is a heavily classicised Old English font. It is based on the elaborate letterforms of medieval times, but cleaned up and made more legible for a Victorian audience.

08. Amador

Old English fonts: Amador

Amador is a modern Open Type font with deep historical roots

One of the most attention grabbing Old English fonts we've seen, Amador was originally designed in 2004 by Jim Parkinson as a Type 1 font. It was then re-released in 2012 as simple Open Type. This Old English font is inspired by the Arts and Crafts movement and the works of Frederic Goudy and Rudolf Koch. 

09. Cloister Black

Old English fonts: Cloister Black

Cloister Black has its roots in the 18th century

Here's another of those classics that no list of Old English fonts could be without. Created by Bitstream – one of the first-ever independent digital type foundries (it was acquired by Montotype in 2012) – Cloister Black is based on the typeface originally designed by Joseph Warren Phinney and Morris Fuller Benton in 1904, which itself was based on 18th century sources.

10. LTC Goudy Text

Old English fonts: LTC Goudy Text

Biblical characters informed the creation of this Old English font

Looking for the typographic feel of an vintage religious text? This most majestic of Old English fonts was designed by Frederic Goudy of the Lanston Type Company and is based on the typeface used on Gutenberg’s original 42-line Bible. More recently, the Lombardic Caps were designed as an accompaniment and are offered paired with the lower case as an alternate option.

11. Notre Dame

Old English fonts: Notre Dame

Notre Dame was inspired by liturgical text styles

Another one of our favourite religious-themed Old English fonts, Notre Dame was created in 1993 by Karlgeorg Hoefer, who was inspired by the structure of forms once used mainly for liturgical purposes. Digital techniques were used to incorporate ornaments and borders that bring a feel of late Gothic to the design.

12. New Old English

Old English Fonts: New Old English

This hybrid font features thicker hairline strokes than on standard Old English type, and circular instead of rhombic punctuation (Image credit: K-Type)

Another modern take on Old English fonts, New Old English was inspired by two Victorian coins: the gothic crown and gothic florin, which featured a gothic script lowercase with quite modern-looking, short ascenders and descenders fitting snugly around the queen’s head or heraldic motif.

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Tom May

Tom May is an award-winning journalist and editor specialising in design, photography and technology. Author of the Amazon #1 bestseller Great TED Talks: Creativity, published by Pavilion Books, Tom was previously editor of Professional Photography magazine, associate editor at Creative Bloq, and deputy editor at net magazine. Today, he is a regular contributor to Creative Bloq and its sister sites Digital Camera World, T3.com and Tech Radar. He also writes for Creative Boom and works on content marketing projects.