[From The Runic and other Remains, 1857]


I THINK it right to state that the following work is primarily an endeavour to exhibit in its rude character the ornamentation on the Scandinavian Crosses in the Isle of Man. An artist will no doubt find fault with the roughness and want of finish of the illustrations. They have not been got up to please his eye, but I believe the book will be found not any the less to give a correct idea of things as they are, and this is all at which I aim in its publication. The proper designation of most of these illustrations would be, "Reduced Rubbings of Runic Monuments." The manner in which they have been obtained is this:-I employed an Italian to make me casts in plaster of Paris of the carved crosses which are scattered all over the Isle of Man. This was a labour occupying the greater portion of two years. In obtaining these casts I was aided most liberally by Sir Henry Dryden, Bart., of Canons Ashby, and I have placed them in the Museum which I commenced in King William's College, Castletown. I found it far easier to make out the details of ornamentation from these casts than from the original stones, both from their colour and the facility of turning them about to any light. Halving, therefore, made rubbings partly from the stones and partly from the casts, I filled up carefully the outlines, with the casts before me, and thus had rough drawings the full size of the originals. These were photographed to the size in which they now appear; and upon these photographs the lines were traced by my son Mr. W. R. Cumming in anastatic ink and chalk, and then transferred to the zinc from which they are printed.

With respect to the Runic Inscriptions, these have been copied separately. I found it impossible for them to be drawn without a certain value being given to some very faint and uncertain lines-these therefore I myself traced with the readings which I believe to be the most correct. The doubtful parts, however, I have noticed in the body of this work. The only really satisfactory way of exhibiting them to those who are critical about the Runic readings would have been by means of actual photographs accompanying the work, and this I found, from the estimates of different photographers to whom I submitted some specimens, would have too largely increased the cost of the work to general readers. The moulds from which the casts were made are many of them still in my possession, and a limited number of casts could be furnished to those who are willing to incur the expense of having copies.

I think it well to notice that as the rubbings were made upon the more prominent portions of the casts, the paper being in part pressed into the hollows, the shaded spaces between the knotwork are a trifle larger than they would have been in making drawings directly from the stones. The knotwork, therefore, appears rather more open than the reality, and does not approach quite as near as it should do to the edges of the stones.

My removal from the Island in the midst of this work has also prevented in some measure my giving that finish to it which at one time I hoped to be able to do, and this must account too for the delay which has occurred in my bringing it out. I would observe, in conclusion, that my great object has been to direct the attention of antiquaries to these remarkable remains, under the hope that some one with more leisure and ability than myself may carry on the work of rescuing them from oblivion. I have shown in the body of this book that many inscribed stones once existing on the Island have been either stolen or destroyed; many others are placed in very unfavourable situations, exposed to the dilapidating influence of a very moist climate and the still more destructive influence of mischievous and ignorant persons.

I trust that some zealous antiquarian may be induced also to bestow some labour on the stone circles, of which there are a great number that have never been noticed or described, but which I am sure would well reward an earnest investigator.


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