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Inscription On Fethard Castle Stone.


Inscription On Baginbun Stone.

(Black letters copied from Fethard Castle Stone; the added letters and alterations in others are in outline.)

for the ancient races that colonized this country ?—"W. Falkinek, Hon. Sec, S. Wettmeath.

The Inscribed Stones at Fethard Castle and Baginbun.—The

following analysis of the Baginbun inscription may help to solve an enigma that seems to have baffled the penetration of antiquaries of late yeare.

The prints of the lettering are photographic reductions from fullsize tracings which were carefully made from recent rubbings; therefore the letters, and their positions in relation to one another, may be accepted as correct. On the rubbing from the Fethard Castle stone the first letter (c) on the last line was absent, owing, I was told, to the stone at that spot having perished. The letters as first cut on the Baginbun stone are in black; alterations subsequently made in some of them are left in outline, and the added letters are altogether in outline. Comparing the Baginbun letters in black with those on the other stone, the form of the letters, and the distance between the lines, approximate so closely as to point to the conclusion that this inscription was copied in the first instance from a rubbing of the enlarged one—about double the size of the Carew inscription—previously cut at Fethard Castle.

When his copying was completed and exposed to view, the carver found a slant in his front margin, and a want in the centre at the other side, owing no doubt to his work, as it progressed, being covered up to prevent discovery. To correct these blemishes, he adopted the simple expedient of adding a letter (Z) in front of the first line, and a smaller one (i) before the second, thus squaring the front margin; then, studying the other side, he evidently considered that a similar want on the Castle stone was insufficiently filled by a double hyphen, 60 he used instead another letter (Z). It is evident these letters were brought in for no other purpose than to square the general outline of the panel. Led thus, by accident, and by a feeling for symmetry of outline, to so far alter the appearance of the inscription, it then seems to have occurred to him to change it still farther, and render it as unlike as he could to the other. To accomplish this he proceeded to alter some of the other letters, and to add an inverted r over the first dot, and another letter (i) in the position of the second one, with the result that he produced " the jumble of extraordinary nondescript characters here brought together," in the expectation, I suspect, that they would prove a rare puzzle to future antiquaries.

In the Castle inscription it may be observed that the double hyphen was brought in merely to fill a void; and in the third line, that the second letter was the one first cut, through inadvertently following the E immediately above it on the stone; the c (the letter absent on the rubbing) was cut afterwards in front outside the margin. The few letters then left, being insufficient in themselves to fill the remainder of the line, were spread out by dots placed between them, and the line extended unduly to balance the projection of the c at the other end.

I would place the date of both the cutting and the discovery of the Baginbun inscription between 1876 and 1880. Subsequent to 1876, because the antiquaries, who displayed an interest in the Fethard Castle stone by copying or rubbing from it, or by writing of it, between 1863 and 1876, were altogether silent on the existence of an inscription at Baginbun, which in the circumstances would not, I believe, have occurred had they known of one there; and if Mr. du Noyer, or the Rev. James Graves—the latter an occasional summer visitor at Fethard— did not know of one, I feel quite satisfied there was nothing of the kind to be found there. I place the date prior to 1880, because in that year I first heard of it, and I recollect its being then spoken of as if only recently brought to light.

The manner of its bringing, as pictured by Mr. Orpen for his earlier date—"attention was drawn" to it, and when "cleared of earth and grass, and cleaned," the beholder was "impressed with its resemblance to tho Carew inscription "—is exactly what would happen after it had lain covered up with earth and grass, sufficiently long to remove the newlycut appearance from the lettering, and render it ripe for discovery!

As to "its resemblance to the Carew inscription," I am of opinion that with five added letters, and with the majority of the others quite (Z»»similar to those at Carew, its general appearance would not suggest such a resemblance, unless to one who was very familiar with the Castle lettering, that formed, as I have shown, the actual foundation of the Baginbun inscription. Mr. Orpen remarks that in the minute points in which the Fethard stone differs from the Carew stone, "the difference increases the resemblance of the former to the Baginbun stone." In other words, the letters as first cut on the Baginbun stone, that were not altered, retain their likeness to the letters they were copied from.— W. H. Lynn, Architect.

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[note.The works marked thus (*) are by Members of the Society."]

* The Celtic Trews. By David MacRitchie. (Scottish Historical Review, July, 1904.)

The companions of this paper, while sufficiently interesting and varied, dealing in space from tbe "ballads" of Denmark to "the Scottish ancestors of President Roosevelt," and in time from "the mediaeval stage" to " Scottish industrial undertakings before the Union," do not call for as much mention in an Irish journal as the paper of Mr. Mac Ritchie. "Habit maketh the man," and may well be his "proper study," though why the ancient and decent garments—nay, if the "Breeches Bible" translate correctly, the oldest garments of the human race—should have been declared unfit for polite discourse, is hard to say. Kilt and tunic and trunk hose have all been dealt with; then why not the more ample, if less picturesque, trews and their modern derivatives, even though a proverb denies them to the Highlander?

The trews adorned the Celtic race of "Western Europe when, 2,000 years ago, they appeared before the astonished eyes of the Mediterranean races. "The costume consisted of a blouse with sleeves, confined, in some cases, by a belt, with trousers fitting close at the ankle, and a tartan plaid fastened up at the shoulder with a brooch."1

"Varro and Diodorus vividly describe the tartan, with its various colours, red predominating, in "little squares and lines." Pliny notes that the "French inhabiting beyond the Alps" could counterfeit even the Tyrian purple with floral dyes (Hist. Nat. xxii. 1).

"Transalpinus " meant "a man wearing trousers," and even ordinary schoolboys will remember the Gaul's " braccata" and"togata"—what the Elizabethan writers would render "the wild" and "the civil." History records the "tempest of provocation" raised by a Roman emperor wearing the garb of old Gaul. The Romans sneered at the Druids as "the long-trousered philosophers." The Celtic ladies, in the time of the Emperor Claudius, wore—not metaphorically—the rational dress of their lords.

Leaving the " classical times," the author (passing over such varieties of knickerbocker and trousers as Irish Art—even in the "Book of Kells "—might have supplied) comes at once to the dress of the Highland clans in the last four centuries.

1 Elton's "Origins of English History" (2nd Ed.), London, pp. 110-111.

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