Ogham sticks

The Celtic Ogham: An Ancient Tree Alphabet that May Disappear Before Showing its Roots

(Read the article on one page)

In secluded fields, on the walls of churches, and beneath construction sites, stones have been found with intricate markings that rise from the lower left up to the center and then down to the lower right. This is the ancient Celtic Tree Alphabet known as Ogham (pronounced owam). Archaeological linguists have managed to translate the symbols, yet no one knows for certain how or why this language came into existence. Efforts are being made to preserve the relics, however, the stones are weathering and crumbling at an alarming rate.

Attempts to Preserve the Unique Inscriptions

There are roughly 400 stones known to contain Ogham markings, 360 of which are in Ireland. The rest have been discovered scattered across Wales, Scotland, and the Isle of Man. The oldest relic is believed to date back to the 4th century AD, but one must assume that earlier examples existed on perishable mediums, such as wood, possibly as far back as the 1st century AD.

Ogham stone located within a 12th century church at Ardmore Co Waterford.

Ogham stone located within a 12th century church at Ardmore Co Waterford. ( mike65ie/CC BY NC SA 2.0 )

For the most part, the messages contain names of people and places, perhaps to demarcate boundaries and property. These old, weathered rocks are covered with lines and slashes, cut directly into the stone. Before the realization that Ogham was a distinct language, many believed the cuts to be merely decorative.

One of the major problems facing archaeologists in their attempts to preserve Ogham stones is the unique physical style of the inscriptions. "Most inscriptions on stone are in the face of the stone," said Nora White, an archaeological linguist studying Ogham. "But with Ogham, it wraps around the angled edge of the stone."

Ogham stone, Aghadoe church, County Kerry.

Ogham stone, Aghadoe church, County Kerry. ( Jeremy Keith/CC BY 2.0 )

This unique reading experience is part of the allure of the Ogham writings, however, it makes it very difficult to capture the inscriptions for posterity - an ordinary photograph or drawing cannot capture an entire passage. Fortunately, recent technological advances have allowed researchers like White to create three-dimensional scans of the stone pillars. 3-D models of the known stones are quickly being captured and preserved as part of the ‘Ogham in 3-D Project,’ an initiative sponsored by the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies’ School of Celtic Studies.

Celtic Respect for Trees

The ancient Celts worshiped trees as spirits or as objects inhabited by spirits. Much of the Celtic mysticism revolves around the magical properties of different trees. For example, the birch tree is often considered the primary tree. A feminine power, the Druids believed that the magical properties of the birch included protection of children, creativity, and purification. Another important tree was the mighty oak. A masculine power, the magical prosperities of oak were linked to security, strength, and loyalty.

‘The Druid Grove.’

‘The Druid Grove.’ ( Public Domain )

The Celtic respect for trees affected many aspects of their lives and is considered to be fundamental to the Ogham script. The markings center along a long vertical reference line, the ‘stem,’ which is then crossed by characters comprised of lines or slashes known as ‘twigs’. The first letter in this alphabet represents the ‘B’ sound and is made with a single straight line perpendicular to the stem on the right side. The name of this character is Beighe or birch tree and would look like this: I

Legends Behind the Language 

Of the 20 characters that make up the Ogham alphabet, five are made up of straight-line twigs on the right side of the stem. In addition to Beighe, there is Luis (II), Fern (III), Sail (IIII), and Nin (IIIII). These characters represent, respectively, the letters L, W, S, and N; the names of the characters translate to herb, alder, willow, and letters.

Although researchers have been able to decode Ogham, there is still a great deal of debate over the reason behind its invention, especially because the Latin script, and to a lesser extent Greek script, were in common usage at this point in time.

Legend has it that the language was first arranged as a result of the fall of the Tower of Babel. The great Fenius Farsa, King of the Scythians (Scythia is the classical Greek name for the Central Asian dominions) heard the fate of Nimrod’s people and came at once. In the King’s retinue were 72 scholars who hoped to study and make sense of the confused languages.

Comments

OK For the Horse Creek Petroglyph, I have looked at lines that are reasonably long and also limited the study to those lines largely in line wth the camera…

In total I looked at 98 lines

The 5.1 degree alignment dominates with 22 lines aligning to this value – this is similar to that seen in Australia and European geometric artwork

The next most common is the 9.3 degree alignment with 12 lines aligning to this value

Then the next most common line is a 1 degree alignment at 11 times.

The 9.3/18.6 lunar cycle is represented 18 times

The 13.66/27.32 sidereal month pair appears 10 times

The pattern matches perfectly the statistics seen in Australian geometrics with over 70% of the lines aligning to the standard series….

 

Dr. Derek Cunningham
Author: The Map that Talked

Thank you Sir. While you were on that I was trying to track down any other recently suspected sites for possible "Celtic" Symbolism. It is funny how all the indigenous have stories about those that were here before them. I highly suspect Circumpolar Winds and Currents as the possible origin of all those that came before on every Continent.

Travelling round the northern latitudes does make for a much shorter trip…..and it makes sense because most of the early trips would have been coastal until they had worked out the general shape of Earth.

The thing I notcied about current theory, which argues every single time we see a common link anywhere in the world, is archaeologists have only one tool in their bag. They always argue that it must be just a coincience. How do you work with a theory like that?

….also no need for the sir stuff. I’m from Scotland and where I live we’re down to earth.

 

Dr. Derek Cunningham
Author: The Map that Talked

It all is directly related to the perspective I shared my friend. Even the Migratory patterns of the Species predating any of our Imaginations...

This Map is where the World Started many times back and forth over many millennia just like the migration of those species.... Man did the same...

http://www.grida.no/graphicslib/detail/demography-of-indigenous-peoples-...

Still on my way to Midnight Science my Friend. Had to go get my DNA sampled first... I am a Quarter NA and wanted to see if I have the MA-1 genome haplotype X .

We need to ditch the Mercator Projection ASAP in this debate of Human Origins...

My Lineage is from Scotland...Clan Craig. They settled in Texas so the Sir thing is a Southern habit of respect Derek. I have to run and take care of some business but will try to get back to explore this some more today. To clarify...I should have titled the last reply as "Pre-Ogham" then?

What I am finding is a connection in Symbolism around that Latitude and really believe the original source to be Scandinavia. One could literally jump on a chunk of Ice, naturally drift Easterly, and easily connect with the shores of every continent but Australia and return to where you started without it melting even in the Summer. I think the Polar Cap was the center of the known world and expansion...Some possibly very very ancient... all spread South from there. "The Ones that were here before".

Pages

Register to become part of our active community, get updates, receive a monthly newsletter, and enjoy the benefits and rewards of our member point system OR just post your comment below as a Guest.

Top New Stories

Ancient Egyptian relief. Design by Anand Balaji.
At first glance it appears as though Pharaoh Akhenaten is someone whom one would describe as a textbook monotheist, but are we missing the plot? Apart from Amun (and later, Osiris) the king doesn’t seem to have come down heavily on other deities in the pantheon. Though not banned outright, their worship was not encouraged either—or perhaps there was an uneasy accommodation.

Myths & Legends

The Smelliest Women of Ancient Greece: Jason and the Argonauts Get Fragrant
We all know Aphrodite, Greek goddess of love and beauty, made sure that she was worshipped by punishing those who ignored her altars. One brief appearance of this wrath in the tale of Jason and the Argonauts turned into a particularly fragrant episode.

Ancient Places

Inside one of the tunnels under Valetta, Malta.
Hordes of tourists visit the Mediterranean island of Malta each year to enjoy the above ground attractions the country has to offer such as breath-taking sandy beaches, historical buildings, and traditional cuisine. Yet, there is also a subterranean world hidden beneath the island’s surface. These are the rumored secret tunnels of Malta.

Our Mission

At Ancient Origins, we believe that one of the most important fields of knowledge we can pursue as human beings is our beginnings. And while some people may seem content with the story as it stands, our view is that there exists countless mysteries, scientific anomalies and surprising artifacts that have yet to be discovered and explained.

The goal of Ancient Origins is to highlight recent archaeological discoveries, peer-reviewed academic research and evidence, as well as offering alternative viewpoints and explanations of science, archaeology, mythology, religion and history around the globe.

We’re the only Pop Archaeology site combining scientific research with out-of-the-box perspectives.

By bringing together top experts and authors, this archaeology website explores lost civilizations, examines sacred writings, tours ancient places, investigates ancient discoveries and questions mysterious happenings. Our open community is dedicated to digging into the origins of our species on planet earth, and question wherever the discoveries might take us. We seek to retell the story of our beginnings. 

Ancient Image Galleries

View from the Castle Gate (Burgtor). (Public Domain)
Door surrounded by roots of Tetrameles nudiflora in the Khmer temple of Ta Phrom, Angkor temple complex, located today in Cambodia. (CC BY-SA 3.0)
Cable car in the Xihai (West Sea) Grand Canyon (CC BY-SA 4.0)
Next article