“IN dedicating its pages to history in the broadest sense, SCOTS LORE aims to make itself a place of record for studies in every department of national historical enquiry – political, ecclesiastical, literary, and social. The close inter-relations of Scotland with other countries make it impossible to draw any firm line of demarcation to indicate what the term “Scots Lore” shall and shall not include. Obviously, much matter not directly Scottish may be of the very highest relevancy and value. It will be enough that contributions shall be Scottish in their general scope. Our title is to be interpreted in no narrow pedantic spirit, and certainly shall not impose any vexatious bounds when the interest or adequate treatment of a theme demands latitude.
The central ideal of SCOTS LORE is to assist research, encouraging by example and precept the use of the best methods. Space will be found in its pages for monographs on special subjects in any of the nominate branches of archaeology – glossarial, heraldic, ecclesiological, legal, and the like. Our native literature will constitute a never-failing theme. Points and allusions in mediaeval charters and chronicles will frequently be dealt with. Folk-custom and tradition must needs occupy a prominent place. There will be many contributions – articles, queries, notes, and criticisms – on local history, which, after all, ceases to be local when, as it scarcely ever fails to do, it illustrates the particular working of general principles. That many of the great personages of the past will in our pages appear to fight their battles once again is a prognostication safe enough for the most cautious preface. There is a wealth of themes admitting and calling for fresh examination and modified, if not reversed, conclusions. Some as yet practically untouched offer large attractions to the mediaevalist, and are eminently fitted for that subdivided treatment by co-operation which the organization of a magazine, with a company of earnest workers on its staff, renders natural and easy. Amongst such are the memories of paganism; the comparative moral standard, mediaeval and modern; the classification of linguistic and grammatical facts as distinguished from empiric fancies in place names; mediaeval warfare; the detailed story of our shipping; and the rise of commerce. The list is easily extended to include the distinctive characteristics of our art and architecture; the land and its tenure, and the complex rights of the inhabitants, lord, vassal, and serf; the burghs, their civic and social life, and their share in the nation’s progress; the law, civil, criminal, and ecclesiastical; and the peculiarities of our institutions and constitutional development. Throughout all, the literary and social aspects of the past will offer chief attractions for study and debate. The victory of antiquarian research is the conquest of new truth in old fact. Of such potential spoils of war there is no lack. Is the hope too sanguine that the booty will induce a goodly band of lovers and students of the past top march with us to the attack?
Modes of investigation are manysided. The man of records pores over his manuscripts and chronicles; the man of the museum compares and classifies his fragments of flint; the ethnologist measures and “indexes” his skulls; the man of the spade digs up lake dwellings and Roman Walls and native camps; the architect examines the weathered remnants of mouldings and tracery; the herald busies himself with seals; the folk-lorist with old wives’ tales. They also serve who stand and doubt: the wise sceptic is by no means the least serviceable member of the body antiquarian. Each after his kind will find his welcome here; most of all, he who, dispelling old dubiety, sets some new certainty upon its throne.
The proposition that the essential value of antiquarian study is in the light which it casts upon the present was surely the coinage of some satirical person. On the contrary, the true canon of successful archaeology, as of all other studies, is to approach the subject for itself – to ask from the past the knowledge of the past, not its potential lesson for to-day. With the antiquary the modern moral is an ulterior consideration: too often it is a mere impertinence. The truth itself is enough. The past for the past’s own sake must be the motto of any journal which aspires, like SCOTS LORE, to become at once a forum for historical discussion, a repertory of illustrative unpublished documents, and a register of original observations, facts, and criticisms in all branches of antiquity – for Scotland’s sake.”