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Ogham Stones

Irish and Celtic myths and legends, Irish folklore, Irish fairy tales and More Irish Tales and Legends

Ogham Stones of Ireland

Ogham is the original and native alphabet of Ireland, pronounced ohh-am, and the oldest legeds etll that it was named after Ogma, the fabled healer, poet and scholar of the Tuatha Dé Danann. The first words he wrote in this language were seven letter "b"s, which he sent to Lugh to warn him that his wife would be stolen away to te underworld seven times unless the birch protected her.

This script is written in groups of one to five notches, strokes or diagonal lines, which lent itself well to being marked upon wood or stone, or upon softer material with a charcoal stick. They would be read from the bottom left hand side upwards, leading to stones and manuscripts written in Ogham being called "Ogham trees", growing from the bottom.

Of course that's not the end of the story - far from it. Ogham is very strange among alphabets and written expressions across the world, and can be read top to bototm, side to side, and around pillars, making it one of the only three-dimensional scripts in existence.

Most of the four hundred odd stones which have survived today date from 350 to 500 AD, although Ogham was used in its horizontal version in manuscript until the 16th century, developing many extraordinary variations along the way, including coded secret types which we still struggle to unlock! It may be considerably older but most of the mythological references speak of it being written on wood, on long octagonal rods, or iron, long since decomposed. Deep is the lore of the Ogham, and many books have been written upon the subject.

Ogham stones can be found anywhere ancient Irish stonework exists, whether standing stones, stone rows, stone circles, forts, and early Church sites. The ones we know of could have acted as burial markers, boundary stones or as indicators of land ownership or control by clans. The Brehon laws state that Ogham stones were considered proof of title to land in the courts.

There were twenty characters in the script originally, allowing expression in a very ancient form of Irish, but these were added to over the following millennium or more. It was used to teach the Irish poet class and Bardic schools about poetry well into the Medieval period.

Mysterious Ogham Stones of Ireland

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