[from Proc IoMNH&ASoc vol2 #3 1924]


G. W. WOOD. February, 1920.

Sir Henry Dryden left a note stating that 'in 1853 Miss Wilkes, of the Isle of Man, possessed the original sketches from which the prints of the Runic Stones were done in the Transactions of Royal Society, Edinburgh, done for the Duke of Atholl.' So runs a paragraph to Mr. P. M. C. Kermode's book on ` Manx Crosses.' At the foot of the page (9) he asks, ` But were these published ? ' and adds, ' They do not appear in the T.R.S.E. about that time.'

The above note must, I think, refer to a series of drawings which illustrated and accompanied a paper read by Dr. H. R. Oswald, of Douglas (author of ' Vestigia ' of the Manx Society's publications) to the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland in 1823 on the ' Runic and other Ancient Crosses found in the Isle of Man.' The paper was published in the "Transactions of the Society for that year (vol. ii, pt. ii), and 3 plates containing 17 figures are included in the volume. showing reduced facsimiles of the drawings beautifully engraved by W. H. Lizars, of Edinburgh. ''The Transactions are recorded by Harrison in ` Bibliotheca Monensis ' (p. 126), and in the same volume, under MSS. (p. 274) he states that Dr. Oswald's paper was 'in the Library of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, Edinburgh.'

Sir H. Dryden appears to have misquoted the Royal Society, Edinburgh, for the Society of Antiquaries, and his statement that the drawings were done for the Duke of Atholl would imply a date earlier than 1826 when the Duke ceased to be Governor of the Island. The idea that they were for him is, however, consistent with the view now put forward, viz.. that the drawings held by Miss Wilkes were those of Dr. Oswald of 1823.

It is also, I think, a wrong conclusion on Harrison's part that the MSS. and drawings were ever in the Edinburgh Library. They were probably given by the author to Miss Wilkes, who was known to have a taste for collecting. After her death they appear to have gone to Thorp Hall, the residence of another bibliophile, and from there to a book-seller, from whom I acquired them. A few are unfortunately missing. The drawings were made by Miss Oswald, daughter of the author, to accompany her father's paper, and not for the Duke of Atholl. They are artistically executed in sepia, each on a separate sheet, and are drawn to scale, usually 2-in. to the foot. The Runic inscriptions are carefully delineated, and are in close agreement with those in 'Manx Crosses.'

It is unfortunate that, owing to date and the wrong name of the Society in Sir H. Dryden's note, they should have evaded Mr. Kermode, or they would have taken first place of mention in his great work as being the earliest drawings of Manx Runic Crosses extant.

Failing this it seems fitting that they should be enrolled in the archives of the Manx Antiquarian and Natural History Society.


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