[Up] [Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next] [Date Index] [Thread Index]

The Kirkwall Scroll

Dear Bob,

I am amazed that you should have seen fit to copy Brian Smith's vitriolic 
attack on
Andrew Sinclair without endeavoring to contact Andrew (or myself) as to its 

When Brian first wrote the article for inclusion in the "Orcadian" he sent 
me a copy
with scarcely concealed schadenfreude but, as you will see from my 
response, his
exaltation was short-lived because his article has neither depth nor 
substance.  I
give my response hereunder and, although it wasn't written with the 
intention of
publication, I trust you will see fit to correct an unwarranted slur on a 
great writer
and historian whose name will be remembered long after the Brain Smith's of 
World have been forgotten.


>Brian Smith
>Shetland Archives
>44 King Harald Street
>Shetland ZE2 9LR

Dear Brian,

Your article has  been received with thanks.

I have sent a copy to Andrew as it is going to be public knowledge anyway
as soon as it appears in "The Orcadian".

We will have to wait and see how he responds to your conclusions because,
whereas you quote your sources, those sources were also operating in the
dark as they, too, were not aware of the provenance of the Scroll other than
it had been brought to Kirkwall by a "Mason-mad" impecunious itinerant who
who gave his trade as a house painter - the usual occupation trotted out by
the unemployed even to this day.

We seem to have gap of over 100 years between Graham's gift of the Scroll
and Flett's acceptance into the Kirkwall Lodge when he was a 'young lad of
20' whose later recollections are now being advanced as proof of the provenance
of the Scroll.

We have two things here:

1.      We have a William Graham who was the son of an Alexander Graham
         of Stromness who returned to Kirkwall from an unknown address in the
         East End of London.   He was penniless.  He was"Mason-mad" 
         Paul Sutherland (another of your sources) and yet had no 
compunction in
         setting up an anti-Burgher meeting house at which he performed 

           In other words, William Graham was a crank and, possibly, quite mad.

2.      This William Graham presents the Kirkwall Lodge with a Scroll which
         Flett (some 100 years later) remembers as a Floor Cloth when he was
         initiated at the age of 20 when he was still wet behind the ears.

In your article you state with some emphasis "There can be no doubt that this
is our scroll"

Brian, if this Scroll had been used as a Floor Cloth for Masonic Ceremonies, it
wouldn't have lasted for one year far less 300 years.

Your conclusion that William Graham painted the Kirkwall Scroll is a 
classic example
of jumping from negative beginnings to positive conclusions.

Being a house painter is one thing.  Being the painter of the Kirkwall 
Scroll, which
every authority agrees and which the carbon dating now confirms is in two 
sections (outer and inner)), is in two different styles from two different 
periods, is
another.  Your conclusion beggars belief.

Just as Columbus never claimed to have discovered America, Graham never claimed
to have painted the Kirkwall Scroll.  Your assumption that he did is 
Later in your article you begin to hedge your bets by paraphrasing "if he 
was the

Quoting from Lane, you further state that Graham hailed from an "Antient 
Lodge" No
128 situated at an 'unknown location' in the East End of London and 'at his own
desire' was admitted as a member of the Kirkwall Lodge.  I have always 
that members had to be invited.  And, if he was "Mason-mad" why did he set 
up his
own clandestine operation 'at no small amusement to the populace' and, yet, you
have no difficulty in crediting this clown as being the author and artist 
of the Kirkwall

Alas, your findings weren't based in the pursuit of the truth about the 
provenance of the
Kirkwall Scroll but on a desire to score points off Andrew Sinclair which 
is not the way
to conduct any research.

Your article would have benefited (and you would have been given greater 
credit) if you
had omitted your snide remarks about Andrew Sinclair which only diminishes 
you rather
than your target.

You disappoint me.  You think Andrew's scholarship is 'bilge' and 
'curiously incomplete'
but advance your own work as being thorough although, when analysed, it 
is  'curiously
flawed' because it flies in the face of the distinct and different origins 
of the outer border
with the inner centre piece of the Kirkwall Scroll.     Your suggestion 
that Graham would
'naturally have sought out an old cloth for his work' is stretching 
plausibility to the limit.
A  colander has fewer holes.

Did he seek out two separate pieces from two different periods and, then, 
paint them
in two different styles?  Did he bring the Scroll from London ?  Or did he 
complete the
Scroll in the one month period between his acceptance into the Kirkwall 
Lodge until
he handed the Floor Cloth to the Lodge?

You question the importance of carbon dating but seem to be quite happy to 
base your
conclusions on the antics of a clown which 'amused the populace'.  Your 
article is destined
to do the same.  I had hoped for a better and fairer and wiser review of 
"The Secret Scroll"

I respect your tenacity but not your methods or your arguments.  It is 
important that we
debate the issues.  You have debased them with your vitriolic attack on 
Andrew Sinclair.
We need to raise our reviews above the kitchen sink.  We need to share our 
findings and
we can only do this in an atmosphere of mutual respect.  We are all on a 
learning curve
but the greatest lesson which we all have to learn is never to allow 
ourselves to become
so entrenched in our views that we are blind to every other 
possibility.  That is my daily

Your friend,



The Lodges in Kirkwall, Thurso and Wick give no credence to Brian Smith's 
article which
stands condemned by its own inaccuracies.  You stand condemned by having 
the article in a Sinclair publication without giving Dr Andrew Sinclair an 
opportunity to
present his arguments.  This he has now done in an excellent film which is 
to be shown
on the History Channel  which I hope you will watch.  On second thoughts, I 
will send you
and Brian Smith a copy for your early edification.  No charge!!