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Ogham Stones                                           

 Ancient Writing

The ancient alphabet of Ogham has fascinated and intrigued for many centuries.  .

The picture on the right is of the West Wing Stone Corridor at University College Cork and shows Ogham stones that were rescued from the encroaches of agriculture and development  thoughout the past decades. They form the largest collection of Ogham stones in the country and are the earliest recorded instance of writing in Ireland. Another interesting collection of Ogham Stones can be seen at Mount Melleray monastery near Cappoquin in County Waterford.





Ogham Stones were originally used as territory boundary markers and later used as markers for burial sites.  Many of the stones that survive have been translated to read the name of the person + the name of the father + the name of the tribe.  The collection of Ogham letters was known as 'Beth Luis Nion' after the first three characters in the Ogham alphabet.  Each letter was the name of a tree and a list of those trees is given on this page as well as the ogham characters and their English equivalents.

List of these trees and plants:

Birch, Rowan, Alder, Willow, Ash, Hawthorn, Oak, Holly, Hazel, Apple, Vine, Ivy, Reed, Blackthorn, Elder, Fir,Gorse,Heathre, Poplar, Yew.




The picture on the right is from The Book of Ballymote, a fourteenth century manuscript which is preserved in the Royal Irish Academy in Dublin.  From this page archaeologists have been able to decipher the Ogham alphabet.  Click on image for enlarged version.





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