James Skene: Research Blog (2) 19th October 2012

19th October 2012

Central Library:

James Skene

Research Blog (Day 2):

Continued assessment of material in the Central Library:

  • James Skene’s architectural interest in Edinburgh
  • Skene’s Reekiana proposal to Scott.

My second day’s research centred on, two handwritten volumes entitled Domestic and Ecclesiastical Architecture of Scotland and Skene’s 1823 Reekiana proposal to Sir Walter Scott contained within the Lithograph folder.

The Architectural Journals:

Skene, as both antiquarian as draftsman, takes a broad, contextualized view of the evolution of Scottish domestic architecture in his two architectural journals.    His original conception was to use his architectural notes as the meagre accessories to a collection of desultory drawings made in various parts of the country (Vol 1, p 1).  The preliminary notes – which explain the background  to the undertaking – indicate that Skene wrote the journals in France during 1827-1828.  Skene claims that he owes the suggestion to a friend ( p 2).  The name “Sir Walter Scott is interlineated in pencil.  Occasionally the text suggests a later hand.  At the end of the second Volume, there is a pencilled insertion signed by Hugo Ramsgate, James Skene’s great grandson, dated 14th November 1963.  This refers to a chapter index at the end of the volume to which Ramsgate has made additions.

Skene generally inserts additional material on the left hand page of the journal.  The narrative is on the right.  His approach to architecture is framed within the broader context of Scottish history.  In his earlier analyses he makes reference to Tacitus.   The references to Edinburgh in Volume 2 (see below) are of particular interest:


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