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RCAHMS County Inventory: Wigtownshire

Date 1911

Event ID 1086862

Category Project

Type Project


We, your Majesty's Commissioners, appointed to make an Inventory of the Ancient and Historical Monuments and Constructions connected with or illustrative of the contemporary culture, civilisation, and conditions of life of the people in Scotland from the earliest times to the year 1707, and to specify those which seem most worthy of preservation, humbly present to your Majesty this our fourth Report.

During the summer and autumn of 1911, Mr A. O. Curle, Secretary to the Commission, undertook a survey and examination of the monuments and constructions in Galloway, which embraces the County of Wigtown and the Stewartry of Kirkcudbright, and it is proposed to issue an Inventory thereof in two volumes. The first volume is now completed, and contains an Inventory of the monuments and constructions in the County of Wigtown, giving the situation and characteristics of each monument, with its bibliography, a reference to the Ordnance Survey sheet (6-inch scale) on which the object is noted, and the date on which it was visited. The text is illustrated with numerous photographs and ground plans, and there has been added a map on which the positions of the various monuments and constructions, or groups thereof, are indicated by numbers referable to the Inventory. An appendix to this Report contains a list of those monuments in the said County which, in the opinion of your Commissioners, seem most worthy of preservation. As in former Reports, they have been divided into two classes, viz. :(a) those which appear to be specially in need of protection, and (b) those worthy of preservation but not in imminent risk of demolition or decay. The Inventory has been published by the Stationery Office, and the similar volume for the Stewartry of Kirkcudbright will follow when ready.

As in the other counties previously visited by the Commission, proprietors of estates and their tenants have readily afforded facilities to inspect the monuments situated on their lands, while considerable assistance has been rendered by the parish ministers and schoolmasters, as well as by other residents holding no official position. Your Commissioners are again greatly indebted to the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland for placing at their disposal a number of illustrations of sculptured stones. We desire also to acknowledge the help received from Dr Joseph Anderson, Assistant Secretary of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, whose deep learning on all archaeological matters has been constantly at our service.

Your Commisioners desire again to draw attention to the damage that is being done to prehistoric monuments, and more especially cairns, by the removal of the stones of which they are composed for road metal. Though these acts are deprecated by the proprietors and the county authorities, their occurrence comes annually under the notice of the Commission. The number of cairns in the County of Wigtown now reduced almost to the foundation is very great. A practice also to be deplored is that of utilising sites of monuments, not under cultivation, for the disposal of pebbles and boulders gathered from the fields, thus obliterating the features of the original construction.

From time to time your Commissioners continue to have their attention drawn to the threatened interference with ancient structures, and our advice is sought in regard to contemplated alterations; but though such work does not actually fall within the scope of the Commission, we have felt it desirable in the public interest to render assistance where possible. The survey of the ancient buildings within the City of Edinburgh is being proceeded with, and a number of resident's well versed in classes of objects to be overtaken by the survey have agreed to become members of a committee formed to assist the Commission with their expert knowledge.

As soon as the survey of the Stewartry of Kirkcudbright has been completed, it is intended to proceed with the Inventory for the County of Dumfries.

Your Commissioners note with pleasure an increasing desire on the part of proprietors owning monuments of historical or antiquarian interest to place them under the care of your Majesty's Office of Works, and they feel assured that the appointment of the Commission, and the interest it is stimulating throughout the country, have tended not a little to this desirable end.

In conclusion, your Commissioners desire humbly to bring to your Majesty's notice the nature and quality of the work undertaken and most effectively transacted by Mr A. O. Curle, whereby their own duties have been very materially lightened. Very far from confining himself to the functions usually assigned to the Secretary of a Commission, Mr Curle, ever since his appointment in 1908, has devoted his whole time during more than half of each year to personal inspection of every object contained in the inventories of the counties reported on. Moreover, your Commissioners submit that Mr Curle's special qualifications as a trained archaeologist impart to their reports a degree of scientific accuracy which it would be difficult, if not impossible, to attain through any less trustworthy agency.


EDINBURGH, July 1912.

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