• November 2, 2015


The Celtic League has urged the Isle of Man government to make a further approach to the United Kingdom about returning ‘The Chronicles of the Kings of Man and the Isles’ to the Island.

The Chronicles are currently held by the British Library and an attempt by the Isle of Man five years ago which was supported by a number of politicians and the local newspaper group proved abortive.

However since that time the Scottish government have negotiated the return of several artefacts to Scotland on ‘long term loan’. The arrangement avoids the sometimes vexed question of ownership of the item.

The Celtic League in its letter to Allan Bell MHK cite the example of the return to Scotland of the ‘Wallace letter’
“31st October 2015
Dear Chief Minister,

The Celtic League wrote to the Manx government some years ago urging that the United Kingdom government be asked to use its influence to enable the restoration to the Isle of Man of ‘The Chronicles of the Kings of Man and the Isles’. The artefact is currently held at the British Library.

You will have access to the correspondence at the time (although I think it may have predated your period as Chief Minister) which I believe was abortive.

One of the problems of course with the issue is that of origin and ‘ownership’ and obviously the British Library will not agree other than it resides with them.

There has however been a development in recent years which may allow for an amicable resolution of the issue.

I understand that the Scottish government (initially via informal contacts through the British-Irish Council) were able to negotiate the ‘long term loan’ of the Wallace letter from the National Archive in London to National Records of Scotland.

For information the `letter’ sometimes referred to as the William Wallace passport was a safe conduct letter written by the King Philip IV of France to grant William Wallace secure passage to visit the Pope to gain support for Scotland’s cause.

It is believed to have been in Wallace’s possession when he was betrayed by the Earl of Menteith and arrested in Robroyston, near Glasgow, in August 1305. The document was taken by English forces after Wallace’s 19-day journey to London, where he was convicted of treason before being hanged, drawn and quartered.

The agreement between the two `National’ archives was hugely significant to the argument for the return of other artefacts held by UK institutions because it diplomatically skirted around the issue of ownership.

I trust you would agree that the Chronicles whilst of huge significance historically to Man is of little relevance in an historic sense to England.

I trust your government will make a new approach to the United Kingdom government and the British Library on the matter and perhaps cite the Wallace letter and recent return of other disputed artefacts to Scotland.

Yours sincerely
J B Moffatt (Mr)
Director of Information”

In a protest over the Chronicles issue the Celtic League has refused to supply a free ‘legal deposit copy’ of the League journal Carn with the British Library for over twenty years.

Legal deposit copies are supplied to the Bodleian Libraries of the University of Oxford, Cambridge University Library, The National Library of Scotland, The Library of Trinity College, Dublin, The National Library of Wales.

Related link Celtic League ‘Celtic Treasures’ web site;

Issued by: The Celtic News



The Celtic League established in 1961 has branches in the six Celtic Countries. It promotes cooperation between the countries and campaigns on a range of political, cultural and environmental matters. It highlights human rights abuse, military activity and socio-economic issues



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