Saturday, 8 June 2013

The Ogham Stones of Scotland




The Ogham stones of Scotland are more typologically diverse and linguistically intriguing than those of any other region. There are about 34 confirmed Ogham inscriptions on pillar stones, symbol stones, cross slabs, and natural rock faces, as well as five Ogham inscriptions that have been found on portable artefacts :


Location of Ogham Inscriptions in Scotland

Red tags mark the sites of certain Ogham stone inscriptions (a dot indicates that the stone is in situ)
Yellow tags mark the sites of dubious or unconfirmed Ogham stone inscriptions
Green tags mark sites where an Ogham-inscribed portable artefact was found
Blue tags mark museums or other sites where Ogham stones are held


The distribution of Ogham inscriptions across Scotland reflects the political geography of the region during the 5th through 10th centuries, when most of Scotland north of the Forth-Clyde line, including the Outer Hebrides, the Orkney Islands and the Shetland Islands, were under the control of various Pictish kingdoms, whereas the southwest part of Scotland north of the Forth-Clyde line, including many of the Inner Hebridean islands, and part of northern Ireland were under the control of the Gaelic kingdom of Dalriada :


Linguistic Map of Britain & Ireland in the mid-5th century AD

Map by Asarlaí, CC BY-SA 3.0

Green = Mainly Goidelic areas
Blue = Mainly Pictish areas
Red = Mainly Brythonic areas



Ogham Stones in the Gaelic Area

All of Scotland north of the Forth-Clyde line was originally inhabited by Picts, but during the post-Roman period, from the late 5th century onwards, the southwest corner of Pictland was colonized by Gaelic-speaking settlers ("Scots") from Ireland, and by the middle of the 6th century the Gaelic kingdom of Dalriada covered part of northern Ireland and the islands and coastal areas of the southwest corner of Scotland north of the Forth-Clyde line.


Irish Settlements in Western Britain

Source : Lloyd Laing, The Archaeology of Late Celtic Britain and Ireland, c. 400–1200 AD (Methuen, 1975) Fig. 1


There only three Ogham stones in the parts of Scotland corresponding to the Gaelic kingdom of Dalriada, all on or very near the coastline. Two of these are classic Ogham pillar stones with a Goidelic language Ogham inscription engraved along one of the natural edges of the stone, such as are found in Ireland : one on the island of Gigha (GIGHA/1) which has a typical "X, son of Y" formula; and one on the mainland at Poltaloch (POLCH/1) which has a single personal name. These two stones may reflect the first wave of colonization of Scotland by Gaelic speakers from Ireland during the 5th and 6th centuries.

The only other Ogham stone to have been found in the region is a fragmentary block from Lochgoilhead (LOHED/1), which has a number of unusual features not found on classic Ogham pillar stones: the stone has the remains of both an Ogham inscription and a Latin inscription (only one of two such stones in Scotland); and the Ogham inscription is engraved on an artificial stemline on the surface of the stone rather than along the edge of the stone. As the name represented by the Ogham inscription has been interpreted as being Goidelic, and there are no Pictish-style decoration on the stone, it is probably also a product of Gaelic settlers in the region, although the Latin inscription suggests a later date than the two Ogham pillar stone, perhaps the 7th or 8th century.

In addition to these three Ogham-inscribed stones, a number of Ogham inscriptions have been identified on natural rock surfaces. One, only 4 km from the Ogham stone at Poltaloch, is on a rock outcrop at the top of the hill fort at Dunadd (DUNAD/1), which has been identified as the seat of the kingdom of Dalriada. The inscription is incomplete, but part of a Gaelic name has been identified. Three other Ogham inscriptions are to be found on the walls of the Blackwaterfoot Cave on the Isle of Arran (BLFOO/1, BLFOO/2, BLFOO/3). These rock inscriptions are highly unusual, and are the only examples in Great Britain besides an unconfirmed Ogham inscription in a cave in Fife (WEMYS/1).



Ogham Stones in the Pictish Area

The majority of Scottish Ogham stones are located in areas which were under the control of Pictish kingdoms, along the eastern coast of Scotland north of the River Forth, and in the Orkney and Shetland islands. All of the stones along the east coast of Scotland are in low-lying areas on or near the coastline, with the largest concentration of stones in mainland Scotland in the area inland from Aberdeen. There are no known Ogham stones from the highlands or the Outer Hebrides, although a number of portable artefacts with Ogham inscriptions have been found in the Outer Hebrides, the Orkney islands, and the Shetland islands (marked with green tags on my map), suggesting that Ogham was more widely used than the distribution of monumental Ogham stones would suggest. These and other Ogham-inscribed portable artefacts will be discussed in a future blog post.

There are a couple of Ogham stones in the east of Scotland which are pillar-shaped and have an inscription running up one of the natural edges of the stone (AUQUH/1 and NEWT/1), but these differ from the pillar stones of Dalriada in that the inscriptions on them seem to represent Pictish personal names rather than Gaelic personal names.

The majority of Ogham inscriptions from the Pictish areas of Scotland are very different to those found in Ireland and elsewhere in Britain. Firstly, the inscriptions mostly occur on Pictish symbol stones or cross slabs where the Ogham inscription is just part of a larger design that includes Pictish symbols and images and/or intricately interlaced cross designs. Secondly, the Ogham inscription is usually engraved on an artificial stemline on the surface of the stone, either on the main surface of the stone (e.g. FRMSN/1 and BRATT/1) or running up one or both of the narrow sides of the stone (e.g. DYCE/1 and FORDN/1). In some cases the inscription does not have an artificial stemline when it runs along the sculptured edge of a monument (e.g. GOLPI/1).

The most intriguing feature of the Ogham inscriptions from the east of Scotland and the Orkney and Shetland islands is their language, which has been subject to much discussion, as well as some fanciful suggestions which I shall not repeat here. The identification of the language of these inscriptions has been hindered by the peculiar orthography employed, with frequent doubling or even trippling of letters, but the general view is that the language of these stones is mainly Pictish, and that Pictish is related to the Brythonic languages spoken in Southern Britain. Unfortunately, Pictish is so poorly attested that it is difficult to be certain what the Ogham inscriptions mean, although by analogy with Ogham stones from elsewhere it is thought that the inscriptions largely represent personal names. Although the names on these inscriptions mostly seem to be Brythonic, i.e. Pictish, several of the inscriptions include the Goidelic element MEQQ" (BREAY/1, STNIN/1) or MAQQ (ALTYR/1, DYCE/1, FRMSN/1, LARON/1) which presumably corresponds to the Primitive Irish word maqi "son of" commonly found on Ogham pillar stone from Ireland and Wales. MEQQ or MAQQ in these inscriptions may be a Gaelic loanword in Pictish, or it may indicate that at least some of these inscriptions were written in a Gaelic language, and that only the personal names were Pictish. I tend to favour the latter hypothesis as it seems unlikely that the Picts would need to borrow such a common word as "son" from their Gaelic-speaking neighbours (it has been argued unconvincingly that Pictish had no word for "son of a father" as it was a strictly matrilinear society, but in that case why would they need to use such a word in monumental inscriptions?).

There have also been some attempts to read Old Norse names and words in some of the inscriptions, particularly those from the Orkney and Shetland Islands, which were subject to Scandinavian colonization during the late 8th and early 9th centuries. The most convincing example occurs on a decorated cross slab from Bressay in Shetland (BREAY/1) which has the inscription "CRROSCC NAHHTVVDDADDS DATTRR ANN[--] | BENISES MEQQ DDROANN[--]" (The cross of Nahhtvddadds, daughter of Ann[...], and Benises, son of Droann). Katherine Forsyth regards the language of this inscription as mixed Norse-Gaelic, with the red-coloured names and words being Old Norse, and the green-coloured names and words being Goidelic. In particular, she identifies the word DATTR as Old Norse dóttir "daughter"; but although the Goidelic word inigena "daughter" only occurs a single time in the entire Ogham corpus (EGLWC/1) it seems somewhat unnecessary to have to borrow the Old Norse word for daughter when writing Ogham.



Epigraphy

The Ogham inscriptions of the Pictish region of Scotland (eastern coast, Orkney, and Shetland) can be divided into three types according to their epigraphic features (using the typology devoloped by Katherine Forsyth) :

  • Type I : Inscription carved along the natural edge or arris of a pillar stone, with no artificial stemline, and dots for vowel letters (AUQUH/1, NEWT/1)
  • Type IIa : Inscription carved on an artificial stemline on the face of a stone, with lines for vowel letters (ACKGL/1, ALTYR/1, BIRSY/1, BRATT/1, BREAY/1, CBURG/2, FORDN/1, FRMSN/1, GOLPI/1, LARON/1, POOL/1, SCNIE/1, STNIN/1)
  • Type IIb : Inscription carved on an artificial stemline on the face of a stone, with lines for vowel letters, and the distal tips of the lines of letters bound together (ABNTY/1, BIRSY/3, BROD/1, BURIN/1, CBURG/1, DYCE/1, INCHY/1, LTING/1, WNESS/1)
  • Type IIa/b : Inscription carved on an artificial stemline on the face of a stone, with lines for vowel letters, and the distal tips of the lines of some letters bound together (INCHY/1)

Ogham stones in Ireland, Wales and southwest Britain are almost all Type I inscriptions, made along the edge of the stone, but in the Pictish area of Scotland only two Type I inscriptions are known. Instead, throughout eastern Scotland, the Orkney Isles and the Shetland Isles it is Type II inscriptions, made on an artificial stemline on the surface of the stone, that predominate. Outside Scotland such Type II inscriptions are exceedingly rare :


It is thought that Type IIa inscriptions are later in date than Type I inscriptions, and Type IIb inscriptions later still, and therefore that the Pictish inscriptions of Scotland are later in date than most of the Ogham stones of Ireland and elsewhere in Britain. Many of the Scottish Type II inscriptions exhibit interesting epigraphic features, and some make use of supplementary letters (forfeda) and unusual letterforms, which may reflect influence from the Ogham manuscript tradition, and further indicates that most of the Pictish Ogham inscriptions were made at a later date to the classic Ogham stones from elsewhere. The precise dating of Ogham inscriptions is uncertain, but the following approximate chronology has been suggested :

  • Type I : 4th through 6th centuries
  • Type IIa : 7th through 8th centuries
  • Type IIb : 8th through 10th centuries

It is very hard to accurately date Ogham stones as they are normally surface features with no archaeological context, and in many cases have been moved from their original site. A very few Ogham stones have been found in association with an inhumation burial (INCHY/1, POLCH/1), and the associated burial could have provided valuable dating evidence for the dating of the Ogham inscription if systematic archaeological investigation had been carried out at the time of discovery. In recent years, two slate stones engraved with a stemline Ogham inscription have been unearthed outside of Scotland, and these could be invaluable in anchoring the date of Type II inscriptions on archaeological grounds.

In September 2006 a slate stone with a Type IIb inscription was found on the Isle of Man during an archaeological dig for the British archaeology TV programme Time Team (SANTN/2). This stone was found in association with a burial that was radiocarbon dated to AD 540–650, but as Katherine Forsyth dated the inscription to the 10th or 11th century (potentially 8th to 12th century) on epigraphic and linguistic grounds, the Time Team archaeologists discounted any association between the stone and the grave by which it was found. This was a serious error in my opinion, as the linguistic evidence was based on a misreading of the inscription, and there is not enough evidence to date an Ogham inscription on epigraphic grounds. In fact, it is precisely because the dating evidence for epigraphic features of Ogham inscription is uncertain that we need to look to archaeology for support, and throwing out archaeological dating evidence because it does not fit the preconceived dates is just wrong. The Isle of Man is far away from the Pictish areas of Scotland, and the inscription on this stone do not exhibit any of the distinctive epigraphic features of Pictish Ogham inscriptions such as angled consonants and supplementary letters, so there is no need to assume that the Isle of Man inscription dates to the same late period as many of the Pictish Ogham inscriptions.

In November 2009 a slate fragment with a Type IIa inscription was found in a ploughed field on the Penwith peninsula in Cornwall (PAUL/1), but despite being immediately reported to the Portable Antiquities Scheme and having been verified as an Ogham inscription by Professor Charles Thomas and Dr Katherine Forsyth (who has described the stone as a "really significant find"), no attempt has been made to investigate its archaeological context or find any other fragments of the inscription (the piece found had a freshly broken edge across the inscription), and it is not even included in the PAS database. Despite the shameful neglect of this important stone by archaeologists, it is an extremely important piece of evidence that stemline inscriptions were not restricted to Scotland.

From the Isle of Man and Penwith Ogham inscriptions it is possible to hypothesise that stemline Ogham inscriptions and bind Oghams developed outside of Scotland during the 6th and 7th centuries, but they are poorly represented as they were not used on monumental pillar stones, and that stemline Ogham inscriptions were introduced into the Pictish area during the 7th or 8th centuries, where they developed a number of peculiar epigraphic features not seen on Ogham inscriptions from elsewhere.


BRATT/1

Drawing by John Borland, © RCAHMS

Type IIa inscription with no unusual epigraphic features or unusual letters


BURIN/1

J. R. Allen and J. Anderson, The Early Christian Monuments of Scotland (Edinburgh, 1903) fig. 20

Type IIb inscription with various unusual epigraphic features and unusual letters : angled H- and B-series letters, letters with increasing line length, hammerhead A, X-shaped K or E, crosshatched double R


Angled Consonants

In some inscriptions the H-series and B-series of letters are made up of lines that are at an acute angle with respect to the stemline (as opposed to a right angle, as is the case with Type I inscriptions). This is more commonly a feature of Type IIb inscriptions (e.g. BURIN/1), but may also be found in some Type IIa inscriptions (e.g. BREAY/1). In the case of Type IIa inscriptions, in some cases only some letters are angled, or angling only appears to be applied to the H-series letters or the B-series letters. The direction of the angling indicates the reading direction of the inscription, with the lines trailing back towards the start of the inscription. This feature is not found in any of the Type II inscriptions from outside of the Pictish area of Scotland or in the manuscript tradition, and so it may be a local innovation. It is likely that inscriptions that exhibit this feature are later in date than inscriptions without consonant angling.


LTING/1

Drawing by Ian G. Scott, © RCAHMS

Type IIb inscription with angled consonants, angled vowels, double dot word separator marks, hammerhead A, S-shaped A, X-shaped K or E


Angled Vowels

In some inscriptions the vowel letters are chevron-shaped rather than straight lines crossing the stemline perpendicularly. The direction of the angling indicates the reading direction of the inscription, with the lines trailing back towards the start of the inscription. This is more commonly a feature of Type IIb inscriptions (e.g. DYCE/1, LTING/1), but is rarely found on Type IIa inscriptions (e.g. a bone plaque found at Bornais in South Uist). In the Type IIb inscriptions BIRSY/3 and CBURG/1 the strokes of the vowel letters are chevron-shaped but are not bound at the tips as the other letters are. In many inscriptions angled vowel letters occur together with straight vowel letters (e.g. BREAY/1 and LTING/1), and it is not clear whether the angling is merely stylistic or whether there is a phonetic difference between angled and straight vowels.

  • BREAY/1 (Type IIb) : angled A (contrasting with straight A)
  • DYCE/1 (Type IIb) : angled O (contrasting with straight O)
  • CBURG/1 (Type IIb) : angled U or E or I (contrasting with straight E or I)
  • LTING/1 (Type IIb) : angled E (contrasting with straight E)
  • BIRSY/3 (Type IIb) : angled I
  • Bornais (Type IIa) : angled I (contrasting with straight E)

Bornais Bone Plaque

Type IIa inscription with straight vowel (E) and angled vowel (I)


Increasing Line Length

In some inscriptions the length of the lines making up the H-series and B-series of letters increases (or less commonly decreases) in the direction of reading (e.g. ABNTY/1, BIRSY/3).


BIRSY/3

Photograph © RCAHMS

Type IIb inscription with consonant letters with increasing line length (Q) and angled vowel (I)


Double Dot Word Separator Mark

In two inscriptions found in the Shetland Islands (BREAY/1 and LTING/1), a double dot mark is used as a word separator mark. Word separator marks are not found on any other Ogham stone inscriptions from Scotland or elsewhere. The double-dot mark is identical to the Runic double-dot word separator mark (᛬) used in Old Norse Runic inscriptions such as the mixed Ogham and Runic inscriptions on the Isle of Man (e.g. MAUGH/2), and the use of the double dot mark in the Shetland inscriptions is a reflection of Scandinavian colonization of the islands during the late 8th and early 9th centuries.


Hammerhead A

This is a relatively common variant form of the letter A, written as a single stroke crossing and perpendicular to the stemline, with a short horizontal line at the end of the bottom end (i.e. on the same side as the strokes of the B-series of letters). This letter is found in both Type IIa inscriptions (e.g. LARON/1) and Type IIb inscriptions (e.g. DYCE/1, LTING/1). It is uncertain whether this letter represents a special phonetic value or whether it is a stylistic variant intended to make the letter more distinctive


DYCE/1

Drawing by John Borland, © RCAHMS

Type IIb inscription with hammerhead A (three examples), S-shaped A, and rabbit-eared double D (upside down at the right end of the inscription)


S-shaped A

This is a rare variant of the letter A, written as a single curved ʃ-shaped stroke crossing the stemline. This letter is found in both Type IIa inscriptions (e.g. LARON/1) and Type IIb inscriptions (e.g. DYCE/1, LTING/1). In the Auraicept na n-Éces similar ʃ-shaped strokes are used for the M-series of letters, but from context it is clear that the ʃ-shaped stroke in these inscriptions must be a vowel, and as in two out of three cases (LARON/1 and DYCE/1) the letter occurs between M and QQ, it would seem to be used to represent the a of maqq "son". However, it is uncertain whether this letter represents a special phonetic value or whether it is simply a stylistic variant intended to make the letter more distinctive.


Auraicept na n-Éces

Book of Ballymote folio 169v : M-series letters written with S-shaped strokes


Rabbit-eared D

This is a very rare variant of the letter D, written with the two strokes curving away in opposite directions like a pair of rabbit ears. The letter is only attested in the Type IIa inscription BREAY/1 where a pair of rabbit-eared Ds are used contrastively with a pair of ordinary Ds.


BREAY/1 (right side)

Drawing by John Borland, © RCAHMS

Type IIa inscription with double dot word separator marks, rabbit-eared D (pair of) and angled vowel (A)


In the Type IIb inscription DYCE/1 a pair of Ds is written with each letter curving away from the other letter so that both letters together look like a single pair of rabbit ears (this contrasts with a pair of parallel Ds elsewhere in the same inscription). As the two strokes of a single letter D could not curve away from each other when written as bind Oghams, it is quite likely that the rabbit-eared double D of DYCE/1 is the bind Ogham equivalent of the pair of rabbit-eared Ds of BREAY/1.

It has been conjectured by Forsyth and others that the rabbit-eared D (or pair of such letters) represents a voiced dental fricative [ð], in contrast with the [d] of the standard letter D (or pair of such letters).


Crosshatched Double R

Two inscriptions, one in Orkney (BURIN/1) and one in Shetland (BREAY/1), have an unusual letter made up of five diagonal strokes in one direction overlaid by five diagonal strokes in the other direction. This crosshatched letterform does occur in the Auraicept na n-Éces, but only as part of a stylistic variant of the Ogham alphabet created by writing each letter with double overlaid strokes. The crosshatched letter that occurs in inscriptions is thought to represent a double R, but whether it has a different phonetic value than an ordinary sequential double R is not known.


Auraicept na n-Éces

Book of Ballymote folio 170r : "Interwoven thread Ogham"


Diagonal I

In BREAY/1 there occurs a unique letter made of five backwards slanting diagonal slopes (i.e. slanting in the opposite direction to an Ogham letter R). From its context it is thought to represent a letter I.


BREAY/1 (left side)

Drawing by John Borland, © RCAHMS

Type IIa inscription with double dot word separator marks, diagonal I, crosshatched double R, and diamond O


Diamond O

A diamond-shaped letter O occurs in two Scottish Ogham inscriptions (FRMSN/1 and BREAY/1), and in only a single inscription outside Scotland (KLGRO/1). This is the same as the supplementary letter Ór ᚖ that is found in the manuscript tradition to represent the diphthong oi (see detail from Book of Ballymote folio 169v shown above). It is not certain what phonetic difference compared with the ordinary letter O this letter represents.


X-shaped Letter K or E

An X-shaped letter is quite common in Scottish Ogham inscriptions. This is the same as the supplementary letter Éabhadh ᚕ that is found in the manuscript tradition to represent the diphthong ea (see detail from Book of Ballymote folio 169v shown above). However, in the inscriptional tradition it is used to represent either the consonant K or the vowel E. As a consonant it is almost exclusively used in the deictic particle koi ᚕᚑᚔ (which corresponds semantically to the Latin phrase hic iacit "here lies"), which is found nine times in Irish Ogham inscriptions (BUKIL/1, COLIN/4, LEGAN/1, BALBO/1, DNARD/1, BAHAN/2, MONAT/3, BLTAG/2, BLTAG/9). It may rarely be found as a consonant in other words, as in COOLM/1 (County Kerry, Ireland), where it is used to spell the clan name TOICAKI ᚈᚑᚔᚉᚐᚕᚔ, which contrasts with COOLM/2 and COOLM/4 where the same name is spelled TOICACI ᚈᚑᚔᚉᚐᚉᚔ.

In a number of other Irish Ogham inscriptions (COOGH/1, COOLH/1, CLCAH/1, COOLM/5, KLGRO/1, KMKDR/3, LETWE/1, PRKLA/1, TINAH/2) the X-shaped letter is taken to correspond the vowel E (because, for example, it occurs between two consonants where K would not be expected), although the exact phonetic difference between the ordinary letter E and the X-shaped letter E is unknown. These inscriptions have linguistic features that are indicative of a relatively late date, such as the use of the formulaic word ANM "name" in six of them, which suggests that the vocalic use of the X-shaped letter is a later development in the history of the Ogham script, and that inscriptions with a vocalic X (E) postdate this with a consonantal X (K).

In the Scottish Ogham inscriptions the X-shaped letter is found on BURIN/1, DYCE/1, FRMSN/1, GOLPI/1, LTING/1, MAINS/1, NEWT/1, as well as on the Bornais Bone Plaque. In four of these inscriptions (GOLPI/1, FRMSN/1, LTING/1, MAINS/1), from context it is clear that the letter acts as a vowel. In the case of DYCE/1 the X-shaped letter occurs before a letter O, so could be an E or a K, but as DYCE/1 is epigraphically similar to LTING/1 it is more likely to be intended as an E. In the case of the NETW/1 inscription, which has features indicative of an earlier date than the other Pictish Ogham inscriptions (the inscription is carved along the edge of a stone pilar, with no artificial stemline), the X-shaped letter occurs between two vowel letters, and so is unlikely to be a vowel as well, but has been interpreted as either a K in Goidelic koi "here" or a P in Pictish ipo = ipe "nephew" (the letter P ᚘ is written as an X below the stemline in Ogham inscriptions).

BURIN/1 is the most problematic inscription, as it has two occurences of the letter: one shaped like an X, which has been interpretted as a K or P because it occurs immediately in front of an ordinary letter E; and one shaped like > <, which has been interpretted as an E in the word CERROCCS "cross" (as a borrowing from Latin crux), although the 'E' is unexpected here, and on other inscriptions the word is spelt "CRROSCC" (BREAY/1) or "CROSQC". As BURIN/1 has features indicative of a late date (artificial stemline, bind letters, hammerhead A, crosshatched double R), it seems likely that the X-shaped letter would act as a vowel rather than a consonant, and as the two X-shaped letters in this inscription are written differently, I think that the X-shaped letter is intended to be the letter P, and the > <-shaped letter is intended to be the letter É. A disjoined X-shaped letter (either shaped like ") (" or "> <") representing É is also found on the Irish inscription CLCAH/1 and on the Scottish inscription LTING/1, so it may be that the original X-shaped letter É evolved into a disjoined > < shape in order to distinguish it from the letter P which in later inscriptions came to be written as an X on the stemline rather than below the stemline.


X-shaped Letter P

The supplementary letter Ifín ᚘ that is found in the manuscript tradition to represent the diphthong io (see detail from Book of Ballymote folio 169v shown above) earlier represented the letter P (not used in Old Irish), and is found in a few Ogham inscriptions as an X-shaped letter written below the stemline to represent P in Latin and Pictish words (COOLE/1 and WHFLD/2 in Ireland; CRCKH/1 and KENFG/1 in Wales; PAUL/1 in Cornwall).

There are two Scottish inscriptions that may use the X-shaped letter P, NEWT/1 and BURIN/1, but, as discussed above, in both cases it is not certain whether the letter in question represents a P or a K/É.


Semicircular Letter

The LTING/1 inscription includes an unidentified letter written as a semicircle below the stemline. There is a small semicircle line faintly engraved inside the semicircle, but Forsyth suggests this may be an "initial guide-stroke lightly incised" rather than part of the letter. As the letter occurs between two consonants it has been taken to represent a vowel, but it is not clear what vowel it should represent. It is possible that it is the epigraphic equivalent of the supplementary letter Uilleann ᚗ that is found in the manuscript tradition to represent the diphthong ui (see detail from Book of Ballymote folio 169v shown above).


Letter H

The letter uath ᚆ, which corresponds to H in the manuscript tradition, is not normally found in Ogham inscriptions outside Scotland, as it appears not to have been needed for writing Primitive Irish (or even Latin, as indicated by the SDOGW/1 inscription in Wales, where the Latin name HOGTIVIS is written in the Ogham script as OGTEN[AS]). However, this letter is very common in Scottish inscriptions from the Pictish area, occuring in 12 or 13 words in eight or nine inscriptions, usually written singly at the start or end of a word, and doubled as HH ᚆᚆ in the middle of words :

  • ACKGL/1 : NEHTETRI
  • BREAY/1 : NAHHTVVDDADDS
  • CBURG/2 : EHTECONMOR[S]
  • DYCE/1 : EOTTASSARRH
  • FRMSN/1 : TALLUORRH and NEHHTF
  • GOLPI/1 : ALLHHALLORRÉDD
  • INCHY/1 : INEHHETES
  • LARON/1 : NAH[H]T[O] (Padel 1972) or NET[U] (Forsyth 1996)
  • LTING/1 : ÉTT[?]CUHÉTTS AHÉHHTTANNN HCCVVEVV NEHHTON[N]

The letter most frequently occurs before the letter T, particularly in words that appear to be forms of the common Pictish name Nechtan. It is likely that the letter H in Pictish inscriptions represents a voiceless palatal fricative [ç] or a voiceless velar fricative [x].


Summary of Unusual Ogham Letters

The following table summarises the various unusual Ogham letters found in Pictish Ogham inscriptions, and how they are represented in Unicode on this page. Some of them may be candidates for encoding in Unicode or for defining as Unicode Standardized Variants.


Unusual Ogham Letters
Glyph
Image
Ogham
Text
Description Notes
Hammerhead A Treated as a glyph variant of U+1690, and displayed on this page using the BabelStone Ogham Pictish Bold font*.
S-Shaped A Treated as a glyph variant of U+1690, and displayed on this page using the BabelStone Ogham Special font*.
Angled A Treated as glyph variants of U+1690 through U+1694, and displayed on this page using the BabelStone Ogham Pictish Italic font*.
Angled O
Angled U
Angled E
Angled I
Diagonal I Treated as a glyph variant of U+1694, and displayed on this page using the BabelStone Ogham Special font*.
Rabbit-eared D Treated as a glyph variant of U+1687, and displayed on this page using the BabelStone Ogham Special font*.
Disjoined X Treated as a glyph variant of U+1695, and displayed on this page using the BabelStone Ogham Special font*.
Semicircular U Treated as a glyph variant of U+1697, and displayed on this page using the BabelStone Ogham Special font*.
X-shaped P Treated as a glyph variant of U+1698, and displayed on this page using the BabelStone Ogham Pictish font*.
ᚏ‍ᚏ Crosshatched Double R Treated as a ligature of U+168F and U+168F, and displayed on this page using the BabelStone Ogham Pictish font*.
Double Dot Punctuation Treated as the Runic multiple punctuation mark (U+16EC), which has the script property of 'common', and displayed on this page using the BabelStone Ogham Pictish font*.

* The 12 BabelStone Ogham fonts provide a variety of different styles of Ogham lettering (stemline and stemless, bound and unbound, straight strokes and angled strokes), and web font (WOFF) versions should be automatically downloaded and applied to this page. If you want to install these fonts on your local system they may be downloaded for free here. NB The Crosshatched Double R ligature may not display correctly on some browsers, and even on those browsers that do support it, it may only be displayed correctly if the BabelStone Ogham Pictish font is installed on your computer (i.e. not using the automatically downloaded web font).



[The Ogham stones of Scotland are grouped according to the 32 council areas into which Scotland has been divided since 1996, ordered geographically from southwest to northeast.]


Dumfries and Galloway (Dùn Phrìs is Gall-Ghaidhealaibh)

question mark Lochnaw Stone (LONAW/1)

SiteLochnaw, Leswalt, Wigtownshire, Dumfries and Galloway
NGRNW 9900 6200
Current LocationDumfries Museum (DUMFM:0201.71)
HistorySaid to have been found during ploughing at Lochnaw in the 1960s or 1970s. At some later date it was donated to the Observatory Museum in Dumfries.
DescriptionIrregular pillar stone with an Ogham inscription on an artificial stemline running up one side.
Dimensions0.54 × 0.39 × 0.41 m.
Date
NotesForsyth is unable to make any sense of the supposed Ogham inscription, and it may be a forgery, especially as no other Ogham inscriptions have been found in Scotland south of the Forth-Clyde line.
References CISP LONAW/1
RCAHMS Canmore 60396

Photograph © Dumfries & Galloway Council



North Ayrshire (Siorrachd Inbhir Àir a Tuath)

check mark Blackwaterfoot Cave Inscription I (BLFOO/1)

SiteKing's Cave, Blackwaterfoot, Kilmory. Arran, North Ayrshire
NGRNR 8800 3000
Current LocationIn situ, on the left-hand wall of the cave, about 9 m from the entrance.
HistoryOgham inscription first recognised in about 1968.
DescriptionInscription engraved on a vertically oriented fissure on the cave wall.
Dimensions
Date500–799 (Forsyth)
NotesThe inscription is probably incomplete at both ends, and the surviving letters MEQ probably correspond to Old Irish MAQI "son of".
References CISP BLFOO/1
RCAHMS Canmore 39229

Canmore SC 408046


Ogham Inscription
Ogham Textᚋᚓᚊ  (bottom-to-top)
Transcription[--]MEQ[--]
Reading[--] MEQ[I] [--]
Translation... son of ...


check mark Blackwaterfoot Cave Inscription II (BLFOO/2)

SiteKing's Cave, Blackwaterfoot, Kilmory. Arran, North Ayrshire
NGRNR 8800 3000
Current LocationIn situ, on the left-hand wall of the cave, about 11 m from the entrance.
HistoryOgham inscription first recognised in 1992.
DescriptionInscription engraved on a vertically oriented artificial stemline on the cave wall.
Dimensions30 cm
Date500–799 (Forsyth)
NotesForsyth reads the inscription as a Brythonic personal name, Vuedla.
References CISP BLFOO/2
RCAHMS Canmore 39229

Canmore SC 408047


Ogham Inscription
Ogham Text ᚃᚒᚓᚇᚂᚐ  (bottom-to-top)
Transcription[F]UEDLA
ReadingVUEDLA
TranslationVuedla


question mark Blackwaterfoot Cave Inscription III (BLFOO/3)

SiteKing's Cave, Blackwaterfoot, Kilmory. Arran, North Ayrshire
NGRNR 8800 3000
Current LocationIn situ, on the left-hand wall of the cave, left of BLFOO/1.
HistoryOgham inscription first recognised in 2001.
DescriptionInscription engraved on a vertically oriented fissure on the cave wall.
Dimensions
Date
NotesThe inscription comprises a few Ogham letter strokes across a natural fissure, but no definite reading can be made out.
References CISP BLFOO/3

Argyll and Bute (Earra-Ghaidheal agus Bòd)

check mark Dunadd Rock Inscription (DUNAD/1)

SiteDunadd, Kilmichael Glassary, Argyll and Bute
NGRNR 8365 9356
Current LocationIn situ.
HistoryOgham inscription recognised in 1953. In 1978 the carved part of the rock ledge was covered by a protective fibreglass facsimile of the rock surface.
DescriptionNatural rock outcrop forming a ledge near the summit of the Dunadd Hill Fort on which are various carvings, including several footprints and a boar. Two Ogham inscriptions are carved next to two parallel fissures on the north side of the rock ledge.
Dimensions
Date700–833 (Forsyth)
NotesDunadd was an Iron Age hillfort, and later the seat of the Gaelic kingdom of Dalriada. The Ogham inscription has no natural or artificial stemline and is badly weathered, so cannot be easily read. Jackson regards the language of the inscription as Pictish, whereas Forsyth regards it as Gaelic, and recognises the Gaelic name "Finn".
References CISP DUNAD/1
RCAHMS Canmore 212008

Canmore SC 450685


Ogham Inscription
Ogham Text
TranscriptionHCSD[-]T[--]V[-]NH[-]TLV | L[ -[--]VQRRHMDNHQI (Jackson)
[AE]S[D^O][I^Q][--]V[N]A[D^O][--][T^C][-] | VI[NN]M[A]NA[CH] (Forsyth)
Reading
Translation


check mark Gigha Stone (GIGHA/1)

SiteCnoc na Carraigh, Gigha and Cara, Isle of Gigha, Argyll and Bute
NGRNR 6426 4817
Current LocationIn situ, 90 m northwest of Kilchattan church.
HistoryKnown since the 17th century; knocked down and top section lost in 1845; knocked down again in about 1864, and re-erected at current location, close to its original site. The Ogham inscription was first recognised in 1899.
DescriptionFour-sided pillar stone with an Ogham inscription running up one edge.
Dimensions1.70 × 0.25 × 0.31 m.
Date400–599 (Forsyth)
600 (Jackson)
NotesThis is a classic Ogham stone, with the typical "X, son of Y" inscription engraved down the stone's edge in classic style Ogham letters (no stemline, dot vowels). However, the inscription is weathered, as well as being damaged in four places, which makes it very hard to read.
References CISP GIGHA/1
Macalister 1945 #506

Photograph by Steve Partridge, 1 June 2006, CC BY-SA 2.0

Canmore SC 413608


Ogham Inscription
Ogham Text ᚃᚔᚊᚒᚂᚐᚋᚐᚊᚔᚉᚌᚔᚅᚔ  (left edge, bottom-to-top)
TranscriptionFI[C!][ULA]MAQ[U!][T!]O[M]GI[L!][I]
ReadingVICULA MAQ CUGINI (Macalister)
VIQULA MAQI COMGINI (Forsyth)
TranslationViqula, son of Comginus


check mark Inchmarnock Stone (INCMK/1)

SiteInchmarnock, Argyll and Bute
NGRNS 0240 5962
Current Location
HistoryFound in the metal-working area near the ruins of the 12th-century church, during excavations in 2000–2004.
DescriptionSmall, irregular-shaped slate slab with two lines Latin text on one side, and a cross design and a line of Ogham text on the other side.
Dimensionscirca 0.07 × 0.03 m.
Date750 (Lowe)
NotesThe Latin inscription, adeptus sanctum praemium ("having reached the holy reward"), is a line of verse from a hymn recorded in the Antiphonary of Bangor. The Ogham inscription is the first ten letters of the Ogham alphabet. This is not a memorial stone, but was probably used for writing practice by novices at the monastic school.
References Past Horizons (23 September 2011)
Lowe, C. E. (ed.). Inchmarnock: an Early Historic Island Monastery and its archaeological landscape. Edinburgh: Society of Antiquaries of Scotland 2008.

The 'adeptus stone' side A (Latin inscription), © Headland Archaeology Ltd

The 'adeptus stone' side B (Ogham inscription and cross design), © Headland Archaeology Ltd


Latin Inscription
Transcription
Readingadeptus sanctum praemium
TranslationHaving reached the holy reward

Ogham Inscription
Ogham Textᚁᚂᚃᚄᚅᚆᚇᚈᚉᚊ
TranscriptionBLFSNHDTCQ
ReadingBLFSN HDTCQ
Translationb, l, f, s, n; h, d, t, c, q; ...
NotesThe first ten letters of the Ogham alphabet, carved on an artificial stemline.


check mark Lochgoilhead Stone (LOHED/1)

SiteLochgoilhead, Lochgoilhead and Kilmorich, Argyll and Bute
NGRNN 1985 0146
Current LocationInside Lochgoilhead And Kilmorich parish church.
HistoryDiscovered inside the parish church in 1990; previous history unknown.
DescriptionRectangular sandstone block with a Latin inscription in two lines parallel to the edge on one side, and a Latin inscription in one line and an Ogham inscription on an artificial stemline, both running parallel to the edge, on the other side.
Dimensions0.42 × 0.16 × 0.11 m.
Date600–799 (Forsyth)
NotesThe Latin inscription on one side consists of the remnants of the first 13 letters of the alphabet. The Latin inscription on the other side is illegible. The Ogham inscription cannot be read with confidence, but Forsyth suggests it may represent the Irish personal name Mod-Magli or Mu-Dali.
References CISP LOHED/1
RCAHMS Canmore 318854

Canmore SC 414895


Latin Inscription
Transcription[-] B [-] D E F | H [I] K L M N
ReadingA B C D E F G H I K L M N
Translation

Ogham Inscription
Ogham Text ᚆᚋᚒᚇᚐᚂᚔ
Transcription[H?]MUD[?]ALI[?]
Reading
Translation


check mark Poltaloch Stone (POLCH/1)

SiteBrough an Drummin (Kill y Kiaran), Poltaloch, Kilmartin, Argyll and Bute
NGRNR 8200 9710
Current Location National Museum of Scotland [HPO 470].
HistoryDiscovered in 1931 near to four long-cist burials that had been excavated in 1928; it is assumed to have broken off one of the cist stones during excavation.
DescriptionFragment of a sandstone pillar stone, with an Ogham inscription along one edge.
Dimensions2.54 × 0.82 × 0.57 m.
Date
Notes
References CISP POLCH/1
RCAHMS Canmore 39479
Macalister 1945 #507

Canmore SC 414896


Ogham Inscription
Ogham Text ᚉᚏᚑᚅᚐᚅ (bottom-to-top)
TranscriptionCRON[AN]
ReadingCRONAN
TranslationCronan


Fife (Fìobha)

check mark Scoonie Stone (SCNIE/1)

SiteScoonie, Fife
NGRNO 3840 0167
Current Location National Museum of Scotland [IB 110].
HistoryFound in the old churchyard at Scoonie in the early or mid 19th century; moved to the church at Leven. Donated to the National Museum of Antiquities of Scotland in 1866.
DescriptionSandstone cross slab, with a very worn cross on the front and a Pictish-style elephant and hunting scene on the back. An Ogham inscription on an artificial stemline in engraved on the back, parallel to the right edge. The stemline of the Ogham inscription is interrupted by the feet and head of one of the stags (leaving a gap before the final letter), indicating that the Ogham was engraved after the hunting scene was engraved. The top and bottom of the stone are missing.
Dimensions1.06 × 0.7 × 0.1 m.
Date
NotesThe Ogham inscription represents a Brythonic personal name.
References CISP SCNIE/1
RCAHMS Canmore 31328

J. R. Allen and J. Anderson, The Early Christian Monuments of Scotland (Edinburgh, 1903) fig. 360


Ogham Inscription
Ogham Text ᚓᚇᚇᚐᚏᚏᚅᚑᚅ ᚅ  (bottom-to-top)
TranscriptionEDDARRNONN
ReadingEDDARRNONN
TranslationEddarrnonn


question mark Wemyss Cave Inscription (WEMYS/1)

SiteJonathan's Cave, Wemyss Caves, East Wemyss, Fife
NGRNT 3391 9699
Current LocationIn situ, carved into the upper ledges at the back of the cave.
History
DescriptionHorizontal Ogham inscription on the wall of a cave.
Dimensions
Date
NotesThis inscription does not seem to have been examined by experts yet, and as the inscription is not clear on the available photographs it is not possible to confirm whether this is a genuine Ogham inscription or not.
References RCAHMS Canmore 53979



Perth and Kinross (Peairt agus Ceann Rois)

check mark Abernethy Stone I (ABNTY/1)

SiteAbernethy, Perth and Kinross
NGRNO 1900 1641
Current LocationNational Museum of Scotland [IB 98]
HistoryDiscoverd in 1890 in the old churchyard. Donated to the National Museum of Antiquities of Scotland in 1892.
DescriptionFragment of a sandstone slab, with two horse legs above a raised band within which an Ogham inscription on an artificial stemline is engraved.
Dimensions0.36 × 0.23 × 0.07 m.
Date
NotesOgham inscription is written with bind oghams.
References CISP ABNTY/1
RCAHMS Canmore 27926

J. R. Allen and J. Anderson, The Early Christian Monuments of Scotland (Edinburgh, 1903) fig. 323


Ogham Inscription
Ogham Textᚋᚔ
Transcription[--]QMI[--]
Reading[--]QMI[--]
Translation


cross mark Abernethy Stone II (ABNTY/2)

SiteAbernethy, Perth and Kinross
NGRNO 1900 1640
Current LocationUnknown.
HistoryDiscoverd 29 January 1895 in the old churchyard, north of the foundation wall of the Church, about 1.4 m below the surface amongst the foundations of the old church, by the sexton when digging a grave. The discovery was witnessed by Mr. Marr, who was the discoverer of ABNTY/1 in 1890.
DescriptionSlab with Pictish symbols (including a crown and a bird) and an Ogham inscription engraved on an artificial stemline on the surface.
Dimensions0.48 × 0.33 × 0.10 m.
Date
Notes

The discovery of the stone was reported in The Scotsman (30 January 1895) by the Rev. Dugald Butler, and the stone sent to the Museum of Antiquities in Edinburgh for examination. The Earl of Southesk wrote an article discussing the find in April 1895.[1] He points out the following suspicious features: the Ogham stemline is straight as a rule; the Ogham letters are mostly vowels, and make no sense; the Ogham letters include semicircular forms not found in other Ogham inscriptions; the symbols do not resemble the designs on other Pictish symbol stones; some of the lines are only lightly scratched on the surface of the stone, and are white as if newly made; and there is moss growing on the edge of the stone. He suggests that the stone is most likely to be a modern forgery, but he does not discount the possibility that it was a medieval production, influenced by manuscript Ogham, that was found and discarded when the old church was demolished in 1801.

[1] Earl of Southesk, "An ogam inscription at Abernethy, 1895"; Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland vol. 29 (1895) pp. 244–251.

References RCAHMS Canmore 27998

Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland vol. 29 (1895) p. 249



cross mark Dupplin Cross (DUPLN/1)

SiteDupplin, Forteviot, Perth and Kinross
NGRNO 0505 1897
Current LocationTower of St. Serf's Church, Dunning, Perth and Kinross (NO 0190 1449)
HistoryThe cross was first recorded in 1769. The cross originally stood 750 m southwest of Dupplin Castle, but in 1998 it was moved to the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh, and in 2002 it was moved to St. Serf's Church in Dunning.
DescriptionSandstone cross, intricately decorated throughout, with a Latin inscription on the top of the shaft on the west face.
Dimensions2.62 × 0.94 × 0.33 m.
Date789‑820 (Forsyth)
Notes

Forsyth has suggested that there are Ogham inscriptions on the rectangular base into which the cross is inserted, but she has not provided any readings for them.[1] Lane and Campbell note that Forsyth's "identification is more doubtful now that the cross is in a museum setting and the base is fully visible".[2]

[1] Katherine Forsyth, "The Inscriptions on the Duplin Cross"; in C. Bourke (ed.), From the Isles of the North: Medieval Art in Ireland and Britain (Belfast, 1995) pages 237–244.

[2] Alan Lane and Ewan Campbell, Dunadd: An early Dalriadic capital (Oxford, 2000) page 267.

References CISP DUPLN/1
RCAHMS Canmore 26594

Photograph by Patricia Steel, 24 April 2007, CC BY-SA 2.0


Latin Inscription
TranscriptionCUST[A^E]NTIN | FILIUSFIRCU | S[-]U[--] | [--] | [--] | [--]AM | [--][CD]EFG
ReadingCUSTANTIN FILIUS FIRCUS [-]U[--]AM[...][CD]EFG
TranslationCaustantín, son of Fergus


check mark Inchyra Stone (INCHY/1)

SiteInchyra House, St. Madoes, Perth and Kinross
NGRNO 1094 2120
Current LocationPerth Museum and Art Gallery (PMAG 5/1945)
HistoryFound in 1945 whilst ploughing 100 m south of Inchyra House, in the Carse of Gowrie. Donated to Perth Museum in 1945.
DescriptionRectangular sandstone slab with Pictish symbols carved on both faces. There are four Ogham inscriptions on one face and one end.
Dimensions1.6 × 0.31 × 0.43 m.
Date
NotesThe stone slab was found covering a grave. There is one main Ogham inscription (A), clearly engraved on an artificial stemline that starts half way along one of the long sides and bends around the short end. Additionally, there are two lightly scratched Ogham inscriptions on either long side (B and C), which are harder to read, and one short Ogham inscription (D) of a few letters with no stemline on the wide end of the "rough" side. None of the inscriptions have been interpreted, and it has been suggested that the two lightly scratched inscriptions may be trial inscriptions or even graffiti. The start of the main inscription, "INEHHETES", is reminiscent of "NEHTETRI" of ACKGL/1, "NEHHTV" of FRMSN/1, and "NEHHTON[N]" of LTING/1, and may represent a Pictish name.
References CISP INCHY/1
RCAHMS Canmore 28250

Canmore SC 397216

Drawing © RCAHMS


Ogham Inscription A
Ogham Text ᚔᚓᚆᚆᚓᚈᚓᚔᚓᚈᚈᚅᚅᚓ  (left side, bottom-to-top, running round the top side)
TranscriptionINEHHETES[C]IE[T!][T!]INNE
ReadingINEHHETES[C]IE[T][T]INNE
Translation

Ogham Inscription B
Ogham Text (left edge, top-to-bottom)
Transcription[E!]TTL[I!]ETR[E!]N[?]I[DD]OR[SV]
ReadingETTLIETRENOIDDORS
Translation

Ogham Inscription C
Ogham Text (right edge, top-to-bottom)
Transcription[--][U!]HT[U][O!][A!]GED[--]
Reading
Translation

Ogham Inscription D
Ogham Text ᚄᚓᚈᚒ  (bottom of back face, reading down)
Transcription[S!]ET[U][--]
ReadingSET[U][--]
Translation


Aberdeenshire (Siorrachd Obar Dheathain)

check mark Auquhollie Stone (AUQUH/1)

SiteNether Auquhollie Farm, Fetteresso, Aberdeenshire
NGRNO 8232 9079
Current LocationIn situ, by the side of a path 380 m. northwest of Nether Auquhollie farmhouse..
HistoryPurportedly part of a stone circle near a croft called "Langstanes" that was cleared circa 1865 (but no sign of the stone circle remains). The Ogham inscription was first recognised in 1886.
DescriptionPillar stone with a rectangular Pictish symbol on the northeast side, and an Ogham inscription along the southeast edge.
Dimensions0.43 × 0.66 × 0.7 m.
Date400–700 (Forsyth)
NotesThe Ogham inscription probably represents two personal names. The stone was subject to high resolution scanning by Archaeoptics in 2005 (?).
References CISP AUQUH/1
RCAHMS Canmore 37143

Canmore SC 676525

Photograph by James Ritchie, June 1917

Canmore SC 1110649

Drawing by John Borland, © RCAHMS


Ogham Inscription
Ogham Text ᚃᚒᚒᚅᚑᚅᚔᚓᚈᚓᚇᚑᚃᚑᚔ  (bottom-to-top)
TranscriptionFUUNON[IE]TEDOFO[N^R]I
ReadingVUUNONI ETEDOVONI
Translation


check mark Brandsbutt Stone (BRATT/1)

SiteBrandsbutt, Inverurie, Aberdeenshire
NGRNJ 7599 2240
Current LocationIn Situ.
HistoryFirst recognised as an engraved stone in 1891; at some time it was broken up for use in a field dyke, but was later put back together.
DescriptionPictish symbol stone with an Ogham inscription on an artificial stemline running parallel to the left edge of the stone.
Dimensions1.07 × 1.27 × 0.91 m.
Date
Notes
References CISP BRATT/1
RCAHMS Canmore 18894

Photograph by Otter, 2 May 2008, CC BY-SA 3.0

Canmore SC 1080173

Drawing by John Borland, © RCAHMS


Ogham Inscription
Ogham Textᚔᚏᚐᚈᚐᚇᚇᚑᚐᚏᚓᚅᚄ 
TranscriptionIRATADDOARENS[--]
Reading
Translation


check mark St. Fergus Stone (DYCE/1)

SiteChapel of St. Fergus, Dyce, Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire
NGRNJ 8752 1541
Current LocationWest end of the chapel.
HistoryOriginally built into the wall of the churchyard; then moved to the inside of the church, where it was set into the wall. The Ogham inscription on the side of the stone was only identified after it had been removed from the wall for conservation some time between 1996 and 2004.
DescriptionCross slab with Pictish symbols on the front and an Ogham inscription on an artificial stemline, running up the right side of the stone, then bending round and running down to the left.
Dimensions1.40 × 0.60 m.
Date833–866.
NotesOgham inscription is written with bind oghams, and comprises probably two personal names followed by maqq "son of" and the Gaelic name Rodad.
References RCAHMS Canmore 19466

Photograph by Otter, 20 May 2011, CC BY-SA 3.0

Canmore SC 1080221

Drawing by John Borland, © RCAHMS


Ogham Inscription
Ogham Text  ᚕᚑᚈᚈᚄᚐᚏᚏᚓᚈᚑᚇᚇᚓᚇᚇᚑᚈᚄᚊᚊᚏᚑᚑᚑᚇᚇᚐᚇᚇ  (bottom-to-top then top-to-bottom)
TranscriptionXOTT{A}SS{A}RRHETODDEDDOTSM{A}QQROOODD{A}{DD}
ReadingÉOTTASSARRH ETODDEDDOTS MAQQ ROOODDADD
Translation


check mark Fordoun Stone (FORDN/1)

SiteSt. Palladius's Chapel, Auchenblae, Fordoun, Aberdeenshire
NGRNO 7261 7841
Current LocationIn the vestibule of Fordoun parish church.
HistoryFound at the base of the pulpit when rebuilding the church in 1788; moved to the adjacent Chapel of St. Palladius; moved to the vestibule of the church in 1966.
DescriptionSandstone cross slab engraved with horsemen and dogs on the front face, a Latin inscription on the top left of the front face, and Ogham inscriptions on artificial stemlines running up both sides.
Dimensions1.58 × 0.88 × 0.75 m.
Date700–799 (Jackson)
NotesRhys and Macalister both noted an Ogham inscription on the left side of the slab, but other authors (Allen & Anderson, Okasha, Forsyth) were unable to see any Ogham inscription on the stone. However, high resolution scanning of the stone by Archaeoptics in 2005 (?) seems to have confirmed the presence of Ogham inscriptions on both sides of the stone.
References CISP FORDN/1
RCAHMS Canmore 36458

Canmore SC 1081380

Drawing by John Borland, © RCAHMS


Latin Inscription
Transcription[--] | PIDARNOIN
Reading[--] PIDARNOIN
Translation

Ogham Inscription
Ogham Text
Transcription
Reading
Translation


check mark Formaston Stone (FRMSN/1)

SiteSt. Adamnan's Church, Formaston, Aboyne, Aberdeenshire
NGRNJ 5412 0014
Current LocationVictory Hall, Aboyne.
HistoryFound under the doorstep of the old church at Formaston some time prior to 1874; moved to Aboyne Castle by 1883; moved to Carnegie Library in Inverurie in 1974; moved to Victory Hall, Aboyne in 2002.
DescriptionLower right fragment of a granite cross slab. Two Ogham stemlines are engraved parallel to the right edge, both reading bottom-to-top.
Dimensions1.12 × 0.44 × 0.12 m.
Date775–1000 (Forsyth)
Notes

Forsyth dates the cross slab to around the late 8th or early 9th century, but the Ogham inscription was probably engraved onto the slab at a later date. The language of the inscription is Old Irish, but the two personal names, Nehht and Talorg, are Pictish. The inscription refers to the village of Kineff, which lies about 40 km southwest of Aboyne. The word robbac that precedes Kineff has been taken[1] as a form of the Old Irish word robaith (literally 'quench', 'drown', 'submerge'[2]) that occurs in the Book of Deer as legal term of uncertain meaning relating to grants of land over a period of time (cf. robith, "a period of usucaption, apparently covering the lifetime (or possession) of ten owners" in the Dictionary of the Irish Language). On this basis, Forsyth suggests that the inscription may record the transfer of land at Kineff to the church at Formaston. Forsyth suggests that the final 'c' in the word "robbac" may have been a misreading of an insular letter t (ꞇ) in a manuscript model for the inscription text, but as Ogham 'c' (ᚉ) is just one stroke more than 't' (ᚈ) it could more likely have been a simple carving error.

[1] William F. Skene, Celtic Scotland: A History of Ancient Alban (Edinburgh, 1876) vol.1 p.211.

[2] Kenneth H. Jackson, The Gaelic Notes in the Book of Deer (Cambridge University Press, 1972) p.120.

References CISP FRMSN/1
RCAHMS Canmore 17507

Canmore SC 676521

Photograph by James Ritchie of the stone at Aboyne Castle, July 1902

Canmore SC 1092658

Drawing by John Borland, © RCAHMS


Ogham Inscription
Ogham Text ᚋᚐᚊᚊᚖᚈᚐᚂᚂᚒᚑᚏᚏ ᚆ (left stemline, bottom-to-top)
 ᚅᚆᚆᚈᚃᚏᚁᚁᚉᚉᚕᚅᚅᚓᚃᚃ (right stemline, bottom-to-top)
TranscriptionMAQQÓTALLUORRH | NXHHTFROBBACCXNNEFF
ReadingMAQQO TALLUORRH | NÉHHTF ROBB{A}T CÉNNEFF
TranslationNehht son of Talorg, 'quenched' Kineff


check mark Logie Elphinstone Stone (LPHIN/1)

SiteLogie Elphinstone, Chapel of Garioch, Aberdeenshire
NGRNJ 7034 2588
Current LocationIn the garden of Logie Elphinstone House.
HistoryOriginally located on the Moor of Carden, to the west of Logie Elphinstone House; built into a plantation wall when the moor was planted in 1821; moved to the garden of Logie Elphinstone House by 1843.
DescriptionPictish symbol stone with a "wheel Ogham" engraved one a single circular stem near the apex.
Dimensions1.37 × 0.76 × 0.45 m.
Date
NotesThe circular Ogham inscription does not make any obvious sense, and is probably a cypher. Forsyth reads the inscription as "Q V T Q U", but the start point and direction of the inscription are uncertain, so other readings are possible.
References CISP LPHIN/1
RCAHMS Canmore 18855

Canmore SC 1080265

Drawing by John Borland, © RCAHMS


Ogham Inscription
Ogham Text ᚊᚃᚈᚊᚒ  (circular stemline, reading clockwise from the top)
TranscriptionQFTQU
ReadingQ. V. T. Q. U.
Translation


check mark Mains of Afforsk Stone (MAINS/1)

SiteMains of Afforsk, Oyne, Aberdeenshire
NGRNJ 6956 2085
Current LocationIn situ.
HistoryStone identified in 1994, lying near a cairn in a clearing in a Forestry Commission plantation.
DescriptionGranite boulder with a simple cross engraved on its upper surface, and Ogham inscriptions along the north and south edges.
Dimensions1.50 × 0.95 × 0.80 m.
Date
Notes
References CISP MAINS/1
RCAHMS Canmore 80727

Canmore SC 699546

Rubbing by John Borland, © RCAHMS


Ogham Inscription
Ogham Text ᚅᚕᚉᚈᚑᚅ  (south edge)
 ᚏ ᚕ  (north edge)
Transcription[--]NXCTON[--] | [--]RX[--]
ReadingNÉCTON[I] | [--]RÉ[--]
TranslationOf Necton [...]


check mark Newton Stone (NEWT/1)

SiteNewton House, Culsalmond, Aberdeenshire
NGRNJ 6623 2972
Current LocationEast side of Newton House.
HistoryFound in 1804 in a plantation near Shevock toll-bar, on the slope of a hill above Shevock Burn, ¾ mile south of Newton House; moved to the grounds of Newton House by 1856.
DescriptionGranite pillar stone with an undeciphered alphabetic inscription in debased Roman cursive or miniscule script, comprising 46 letters in six rows, towards the top of the front face. There is an Ogham inscription running down the left edge of the stone, and an additional, shorter Ogham inscription on an artificial stemline running parallel and to the right of the main Ogham inscription.
Dimensions2.09 × 0.70 × 0.40 m.
Date
Notes

The main inscription on the Newton Stone has been variously identified as Phoenician or Brahmi or some unknown script, but modern scholarly opinion is that it is written in debased Roman cursive or miniscule letters. No convincing reading of the main inscription has yet been made. William Bannerman reads: "ETTE | CUNANMAIN | MAOLOUOEG | UN+ROFIIS·I | H-INSSI | LOAOARUIN" Draw near to the soul of Moluag from whom came knowledge (of the faith). He was of the Island of Lorn. ( "The Newton Stone, a critical examination and translation of its main inscription"; in Proceedings of the Society (1907) pages 56–63). F. C. Diack reads: "ETTE | EVAGAINNIAS | CIGONOVOCANI | URAELISI | MAQQI | NOVIOGRUTA" (The Newton Stone and other Pictish Inscriptions (Paisley, 1922)).

The Ogham inscription is unintelligible, but may comprise two personal names followed by either Old Irish koi ᚕᚑᚔ "here" (corresponding to Latin hic iacit) or Pictish ipe ᚔᚘᚓ "nephew" (depending upon the interpretation of the X-shaped Ogham letter), followed by a third personal name.

References CISP NEWT/1
RCAHMS Canmore 18084

J. R. Allen and J. Anderson, The Early Christian Monuments of Scotland (Edinburgh, 1903) fig. 215


Ogham Inscription
Ogham Text ᚔᚇᚇᚐᚏᚅᚅᚅᚃᚑᚏᚏᚓᚅᚅᚔᚈᚉ  (left edge, top-to-bottom)
 ᚏᚑᚄᚏᚏ  (artificial stemline, top-to-bottom)
TranscriptionIDDAR[R]NNNFORRENNI[K^P]O[T^C] [C^E] | [R]OSR[R]
ReadingIDDAR[R]NNN VORRENNI KO<I> [T][C][R]OSR[R] (Forsyth)
IDDAR[R]NNN VORRENN IPO [T][C][R]OSR[R] (Forsyth)
Translation


Moray (Moireibh)

check mark Altyre Stone (ALTYR/1)

SiteRoseisle, Moray
NGRNJ 1374 6633
Current LocationBy the drive from Altyre House to Forres (NJ 0391 5537).
HistoryOriginally located somewhere in the Laich of Moray, reportedly st College Field at the village of Roseisle; moved to its current position in the grounds of Altyre House in about 1820. The Ogham inscription was not recognised until the early 20th century.
DescriptionA sandstone cross slab with an Ogham inscription running up the left edge of the front face.
Dimensions3.3 × 0.86 × 0.18 m.
Date
NotesThe Ogham inscription is severly weathered and covered in lichen.
References CISP ALTYR/1
RCAHMS Canmore 15812

Canmore DP 099198

Photograph by Steve Wallace, © RCAHMS


Ogham Inscription
Ogham Text ᚐᚋᚋᚐᚊᚊᚃᚄᚋᚐᚆᚆᚏᚐᚄᚇᚇᚄ 
Transcription[--]AMMAQQ[Q!]A[L!]M[F][S]MAHHR[A!]R[A!][S]S[U]DDS
Reading[--]AM MAQQ [Q]A[L]M[VS] MAHHR[A]R[A][S]S[U]DDS
Translation


check mark Brodie Stone (BROD/1)

Local NameRodney's Stone
SiteBrodie Castle, Dyke and Moy, Moray
NGRNH 9900 5840
Current LocationAt the side of the drive of Brodie Castle (NH 98425 57665).
HistoryDiscovered in 1781 in the graveyard of the old church when digging the foundations for a new church. The stone was erected in Dyke village in 1782, and named "Rodney's Stone" in comemmoration of Admiral Rodney's victory at the Battle of the Saintes. The stone was moved to the grounds of Brodie Castle, 1 km to the southwest, during the 1820s or 1830s. The stone was subject to 3D laser scanning by Deri Jones & Associates in 2010.
DescriptionSandstone cross slab with an interlaced cross on the front face, and Pictish symbols, including a pair of sea monsters and an "elephant", on the back face. A badly weathered Ogham inscription runs along three of the four edges (front right edge, rear left edge, and rear right edge).
Dimensions1.87 × 1.9 × 0.95 m.
Date
NotesThe Ogham inscription is only legible in parts, and its overall meaning is unclear. The Brythonic personal name Eddarrnonn has been identified.
References CISP BROD/1
RCAHMS Canmore 15529

Photograph by Otter, 30 April 2008, CC BY-SA 3.0

Photograph by Otter, 30 April 2008, CC BY-SA 3.0


Ogham Inscription
Ogham Text
Transcription[--][F]ON[O!][L!^D!]ECCO[I!^B!][--] | R[G^O]I[N^R][AG^MG^NG][C][H![--][Q]O[D^T]T{O}ST[O]S[--] | EDDARRNONN[--][T][T]I[--]RR[--][E!][--][E!][--]
Reading
Translation


Highland (A' Ghàidhealtachd)

check mark Ackergill Stone (ACKGL/1)

SiteAckergill, Wick, Caithness, Highland
NGRND 3483 5499
Current Location National Museum of Scotland [IB 168].
HistoryFound in 1896 on the golf course at the south side of Keiss Bay. Donated to the National Museum of Antiquities of Scotland in 1897.
Description Slate slab with two Pictish symbols (a spiral-filled rectangle and part of a salmon), and an Ogham inscription engraved on an artificial stemline at an oblique angle to the rectangle symbol. The slab was broken into several pieces when found, and was later cemented together, but part the slab is missing, resulting in the loss of most of the salmon symbol and perhaps some of the Ogham inscription.
Dimensions1.2 × 0.6 × 0.08 m.
Date
NotesThe Ogham inscription probably represents an otherwise unattested personal name.
References CISP ACKGL/1
RCAHMS Canmore 319880

J. R. Allen and J. Anderson, The Early Christian Monuments of Scotland (Edinburgh, 1903) p. 28


Ogham Inscription
Ogham Text ᚅᚓᚆᚈᚏᚔ  (bottom-to-top)
TranscriptionNEHTETRI
ReadingNEHTETRI
TranslationNehtetri


check mark Golspie Stone (GOLPI/1)

SiteGolspie, Sutherland, Highland
NGRNC 8370 0020
Current LocationDunrobin Castle Museum (Acc. No. 15/15A)
HistoryOriginally sited in the churchyard of the parish church at Golspie (earliest reference 1630); moved to Dunrobin Castle Museum in 1868.
DescriptionSandstone cross slab with a cross with interlaced decoration on the front face, and various Pictish symbols and images on the back face. An Ogham inscription runs up the right edge and along the top edge of the back face.
Dimensions1.83 × 0.82 × 0.17 m.
Date
NotesThe inscription is Old Irish, with the words ail "rock" (extended meaning "monument") and nia "nephew" (here possibly part of a personal name, either "MacNia" or "NiaFercar").
References CISP GOLPI/1
RCAHMS Canmore 6564

Canmore SC 341750

John Stuart, The Sculptured Stones of Scotland vol. 1 (1856) plate 34


Ogham Inscription
Ogham Text ᚐᚂᚂᚆᚆᚐᚇᚇᚑᚏᚏᚕᚇᚇᚋᚊᚊᚅᚔᚐᚃᚃᚐᚏᚏᚉᚓᚏᚏ  (right edge, bottom-to-top)
TranscriptionALLHHALLORRXDDM[A]QQN[I^IA^UU]FF[H^A][RR^NI][C^E][-][RR^QQ]
ReadingALL HHALLORRÉDD M[A]QQ N[IA] FF[A][RR][C][E][RR]
TranslationThe monument of Alored, son of the nephew of Fercar


check mark Latheron Stone (LARON/1)

SiteLatheron, Caithness, Highland
NGRND 1981 3315
Current Location National Museum of Scotland [IB 183].
HistoryDiscovered in 1903, built into the inside wall of a barn, ¼ mile south of Latheron Post Office. Donated to the National Museum of Antiquities of Scotland in 1905.
DescriptionPart of a sandstone cross slab, with images of an osprey, fish and two horsemen beneath the cross, and an Ogham inscription on an artificial stemline running parallel to the left edge. The slab is broken at the bottom, and the entire upper part of the slab is missing.
Dimensions0.915 × 0.43 × 0.10 m.
Date700–850 (Forsyth)
Notes
References CISP LARON/1
RCAHMS Canmore 8144

Canmore SC 948806

Photograph by Francis Tress Barry


Ogham Inscription
Ogham Text ᚇᚒᚅᚑᚇᚅᚅᚈᚋᚊᚊᚅᚓᚈᚒ 
TranscriptionDU[N]NODNNATMAQQNET[U][--]
ReadingDU[N]NODNN{A}T M{A}QQ NET[U][--]
TranslationDunnodnnat, son of Netu[..]


Orkney Islands (Arcaibh)

check mark Birsay Stone I (BIRSY/1)

SiteBrough of Birsay, Mainland, Orkney
NGRHY 2399 2850
Current LocationLost (last seen in 1971).
HistoryFound in 1920, as part of an 11th-century structure known as Thorfinn's Palace. Kept at the Department of the Environment in Edinburgh until it was lost some time between 1971 and 1996.
DescriptionSquarish slab, broken in two and cemented together, with an Ogham inscription along one edge.
Dimensions0.62 × 0.3 × 0.11 m.
Date500–1199 (Forsyth)
NotesThe inscription probably represents a single personal name.
References CISP BIRSY/1

Ogham Inscription
Ogham Text ᚋᚑᚅᚅᚑᚏᚏᚏᚏ 
Transcription[M]ONNORR{A}[N]RR
Reading[M]ONNORRA[N]RR
TranslationMonnorranrr


check mark Birsay Stone II (BIRSY/2)

SiteBrough of Birsay, Mainland, Orkney
NGRHY 2399 2850
Current LocationLost (last seen in 1971).
HistoryFound on the beach some time prior to 1945; first discussed in print in 1962. Kept at the Department of the Environment in Edinburgh until it was lost some time between 1971 and 1996.
DescriptionIrregular-shaped slab with an Ogham inscription on its surface.
Dimensions0.37 × 0.24 × 0.05 m.
Date
NotesThe stone is weathered and water-worn, and only a fragment of a longer inscription survives.
References CISP BIRSY/2

Ogham Inscription
Ogham Text ᚋᚐᚊᚔ ᚋ 
Transcription[--][B^A^M][A]QI:[T]A[B^A^M][--]
Reading[--][M][A]QI [T]A[M][--]
TranslationTam[...], son of ...


check mark Birsay Stone III (BIRSY/3)

SiteBrough of Birsay, Mainland, Orkney
NGRHY 2399 2850
Current LocationDepartment of Archaeology, University of Glasgow (?)
HistoryDiscovered in 1980 during archaeological excavations, where it had been used as a paving stone.
DescriptionIrregular slab of Stromness flagstone, with an Ogham inscription engraved on an artificial stemline along one side.
Dimensions0.31 × 0.35 × 0.06 m.
Date&lt; 600 (Forsyth)
Notes
References CISP BIRSY/3
RCAHMS Canmore 310502

Canmore DP 097418

Photograph © RCAHMS


Ogham Inscription
Ogham Text ᚋᚐᚊᚊ
Transcription[--][MA]QQ[I][--]
Reading[--] [MA]QQ[I] [--]
Translation..., son of ...


check mark Burrian Stone (BURIN/1)

SiteBroch of Burrian, North Ronaldsay, Orkney
NGRHY 7627 5138
Current LocationNational Museum of Scotland [GB 1]
HistoryDiscoverd in 1870 during archaeological excavations. Donated to the National Museum of Antiquities of Scotland in 1871.
DescriptionSlate slab with a Celtic cross and part of a fish engraved on one face. An Ogham inscription on an artificial stemline is engraved to the side of the cross.
Dimensions0.7 × 0.39 × 0.05 m.
Date
Notes

Ogham inscription is written with bind oghams, and includes some unusual Ogham letterforms, in particular the hashed double-R letter in the word "CERROCCS" that is not yet encoded in Unicode.

The inscription has an X-shaped letter in two places. The first instance is written as an X-shape () and is normally read as a consonant 'K' (Allen & Anderson read it as a 'P'), whereas the second instance is written as a disjoined X () and has been universally read as a vowel 'E'. The reading of the same letter as both a vowel and a consonant troubles me. According to Forsyth and others the last word reads "CERROCCS", meaning cross (as a borrowing from Latin crux), but the 'E' is unexpected, and on other Ogham inscriptions the word is spelt "CRROSCC" (BREAY/1) and"CROSQC". This makes me suspect that the X-shaped letter (ᚕ) here represents 'K' rather 'E', and the word should be read "KRROCCS", with the 'C' going with the previous word ("KEVVC" ?).

References CISP BURIN/1
RCAHMS Canmore 259534

J. R. Allen and J. Anderson, The Early Christian Monuments of Scotland (Edinburgh, 1903) fig. 20


Ogham Inscription
Ogham Text ᚔ  ᚔᚏᚅᚅᚒ ᚏᚏᚐᚉᚈᚕᚓᚃᚃᚉᚏ‍ᚏᚑᚉᚉᚄ 
TranscriptionI[T!^O!][E^B]IR[A]RANN[U][-]RRACTXEFFCX{RR}OCCS
ReadingI[--]IRRANN U[-]RRACT KEVV CÉRROCCS
TranslationI[...]irrann made this (?) cross (Forsyth)


check mark Pool Stone (POOL/1)

SitePool, Sanday, Orkney
NGRHY 6194 3785
Current LocationOrkney Museum, Kirkwall, Mainland, Orkney
HistoryDiscovered in 1984 during archaeological excavations, where it had been used as an upright building slab.
DescriptionBroken slab with an Ogham inscription engraved on an artificial stemline across the surface of the stone.
Dimensions0.85 × 0.5 × 0.6 m.
Date
Notes
References CISP POOL/1
RCAHMS Canmore 3422

Ogham Inscription
Ogham Text ᚄᚏᚑᚈᚐᚈᚏ
Transcription[--][S]ROTATR[--]
Reading[--][S]ROTATR[--]
Translation


Shetland Islands (Sealtainn)

check mark Bressay Stone (BREAY/1)

SiteCullingsburgh, Bressay, Shetland
NGRHU 5210 4230
Current LocationNational Museum of Scotland [IB 109]
HistoryFound in 1852 or earlier when digging waste land near the old churchyard of St. Mary at Culbinsgarth. The stone was moved to the churchyard at Bressay; then taken to Newcastle; returned to Shetland; and finally donated to the National Museum of Antiquities of Scotland in 1864.
DescriptionSchist cross slab decorated with Norse-style figures and animals on both sides, and with Ogham inscriptions on artificial stemlines running up both sides.
Dimensions1.15 × 0.4 × 0.05 m.
Date
NotesThis inscription is notable for having a number of unusual Ogham letters and letterforms, as discussed at the top of this page. Forsyth identifies the words "CRROSCC" (cf. BURIN/1 "CERROCCS") as Goidelic "cross" (from Latin crux), "MEQQ" as Goidelic maq "son", and DATTR as Old Norse dóttir "daughter". She also suggests that the persoal names Nahhtvddadds and Benises are Norse, and the name Droann is Goidelic, indicating that the inscription reflects a mixed Gaelic and Norse environment. The use of the double-dot punctuation mark found on Norse Runic inscriptions is also indicative of Norse influence. My opinion is that the first part of "NAHHTVVDDADDS" is equivalent to "NEHHTV" in FRMSN/1
References CISP BREAY/1
RCAHMS Canmore 1279

Canmore SC 346140

John Stuart, The Sculptured Stones of Scotland vol. 1 (1856) plate 94

Canmore SC 346139

John Stuart, The Sculptured Stones of Scotland vol. 1 (1856) plate 95


Ogham Inscription
Ogham Text᚛ᚉᚏᚏᚑᚉᚉ᛬ᚆᚆᚈᚃᚃᚇᚇᚇᚇᚄ᛬ᚇᚈᚈᚏᚏ᛬ᚐᚅᚅ (right side, bottom-to-top)
 ᚁᚅᚅ᛬ᚋᚓᚊᚊᚇᚇᚏ‍ᚏᚖᚐᚅᚅ (left side, bottom-to-top)
TranscriptionCRROSCC : NAHHTFFDDA{D}{D}S : DATTRR : {A}NN[--] | BENN{I}SES : MEQQDD{RR}ÓANN[--]
ReadingCRROSCC NAHHTVVDDADDS DATTRR ANN[--] BENISES MEQQ DDROANN[--]
TranslationThe cross of Nahhtvddadds, daughter of Ann[...], and Benises, son of Droann[...]


check mark Cunningsburgh Stone I (CBURG/1)

SiteChapel Mail, Cunningsburgh, Mainland, Shetland
NGRHU 4324 2791
Current LocationNational Museum of Scotland [IB 114]
HistoryFound in 1875 in the chapel graveyard.
DescriptionIrregular-shaped sandstone slab, a fragment of a larger monument, with part of a design in a square border on one side and a short fragment of an Ogham inscription on an artificial stemline on the other side.
Dimensions0.24 × 0.2 × 0.45 m.
Date
NotesOgham inscription is written with bind oghams. Forsyth's reading indicates a letter (H or D) between the I and the R that is not shown in Allen & Anderson's drawing shown below, and she also states that the two angular strokes are bound at the tips and the bind line extends beyond the second angled stroke.
References CISP CBURG/1
RCAHMS Canmore 938

J. R. Allen and J. Anderson, The Early Christian Monuments of Scotland (Edinburgh, 1903) fig. 11


Ogham Inscription
Ogham Text
Transcription[--]I[H^D]R[U!][--]
Reading
Translation


check mark Cunningsburgh Stone II (CBURG/2)

SiteChapel Mail, Cunningsburgh, Mainland, Shetland
NGRHU 4324 2791
Current LocationNational Museum of Scotland [IB 115]
HistoryFound in 1874 or 1875 in the chapel graveyard; donated to the National Museum of Antiquities of Scotland in 1883.
DescriptionIrregular-shaped sandstone slab, a fragment of a larger monument, with two fragments of an Ogham inscription, one along an edge of the stone and one on artificial stemline parallel to the edge.
Dimensions0.3 × 0.19 × 0.65 m.
Date
NotesForsyth suggests that the second line, "EHTECONMOR[S]", may represent Pictish ette-conmor-s "this is as great as" (cf. "ETTECUHETTS" ette-cuhett-s "this is far as" of LTING/1), where ette means "this is", conmor means "big", and s is an affixed demonstrative. On the other hand, "EHTE" is reminiscent of the supposed Pictish personal names "NEHTETRI" of ACKGL/1, "NEHHTV" of FRMSN/1, "NAHHTVVDDADDS" of BREAY/1, and "NEHHTON[N]" of LTING/1.
References CISP CBURG/2

J. R. Allen and J. Anderson, The Early Christian Monuments of Scotland (Edinburgh, 1903) fig. 10


Ogham Inscription
Ogham Text ᚇᚇᚇᚏ (top edge, left-to-right)
 ᚓᚆᚈᚑᚅᚋᚑᚏ  (bottom line, left-to-right)
Transcription[--]D[E]F[O]DDR[E][--] | [--]EHTECONMOR[--]
Reading
Translation


check mark Cunningsburgh Stone III (CBURG/3)

SiteChapel Mail, Cunningsburgh, Mainland, Shetland
NGRHU 4324 2791
Current LocationNational Museum of Scotland [IB 182]
HistoryFound in 1903 when digging a grave in the chapel graveyard.
DescriptionSandstone slab, a fragment of a larger monument, with three fragments of an Ogham inscription on artificial stemlines on one side.
Dimensions0.44 × 0.26 × 0.5 m.
Date
NotesForsyth suggests that the three surviving sections of Ogham inscription formed a single spiral-shaped inscription.
References CISP CBURG/3

Ogham Inscription
Ogham Text
Transcription+TTEC[O^G][--] | [--]A[V^BL]:DATT[V][B!][--] | [--][A!]VVR[--]
ReadingETTEC[O^G] [--][A!]VVR[--]A[V^BL]: DATT[V][B!][--]
Translation


check mark Lunnasting Stone (LTING/1)

SiteLunnasting, Mainland, Shetland
NGRHU 4600 6500
Current LocationNational Museum of Scotland [IB 113]
HistoryFound by Rev. J. C. Roger (who witnessed the discovery of STNIN/1 just one month earlier) in 1876, buried about 2 m beneath a peat bog; donated to the National Museum of Antiquities of Scotland in 1876.
DescriptionSandstone slab with an Ogham inscription engraved on an artificial stemline on one surface, and a cross mark in one corner.
Dimensions1.12 × 0.33 × 0.04 m.
Date700–900 (Forsyth)
NotesOgham inscription is written with bind oghams, and has several unusual letterforms, and double-dot punctuation marks. The personal names Ahehhttannn and Nehhtonn (cf. the common Pictish name Nechtan) have been identified in the inscription.
References CISP LTING/1
RCAHMS Canmore 1190

Canmore SC 1134197

Drawing by Ian G. Scott, © RCAHMS


Ogham Inscription
Ogham Textᚈᚈᚈᚈᚄ᛬ᚐᚆᚆᚈᚈᚅᚅᚅᚆᚉᚉᚃᚃᚓᚃᚃᚆᚆᚈᚅᚅ
TranscriptionXTT{Ú}CUHXTTS : AHXHHTTANNN : HCCFFEFF : NEHHTON[S!]
ReadingÉTTÚCUHÉTTS AHÉHHTTANNN HCCVVEVV NEHHTON[N]
Translation


check mark St. Ninian's Isle Stone I (STNIN/1)

SiteSt. Ninian's Isle, Mainland, Shetland
NGRHU 3680 2080
Current LocationNational Museum of Scotland [IB 112]
HistoryFound by Shetland antiquarian Gilbert Goudie in the sands at St. Ninian's Isle in 1876; donated to the National Museum of Antiquities of Scotland in 1877.
DescriptionSandstone slab with an Ogham inscription on an artifical stemline along one of the sides.
Dimensions0.76 × 0.26 × 0.45 m.
Date&lt; 700 (Forsyth)
Notes
References CISP STNIN/1

J. R. Allen and J. Anderson, The Early Christian Monuments of Scotland (Edinburgh, 1903) fig. 13


Ogham Inscription
Ogham Text ᚁᚓᚄᚋᚓᚊᚊᚅᚐᚅᚐᚋᚋᚑᚃᚃᚓᚎ 
Transcription[--][B!]ESMEQQNANAMMOFFEZ
Reading[--][B]ES MEQQ NANAMMOVVEZ
Translation[...]bes, son of Nannamovvest


question mark St. Ninian's Isle Stone II (STNIN/2)

SiteSt. Ninian's Isle, Mainland, Shetland
NGRHU 3680 2080
Current LocationLost (last seen in 1878).
HistoryFound by Gilbert Goudie in the sands at St. Ninian's Isle in 1876, in the same location that he found STNIN/1.
Description
Dimensions
Date
Notes
References CISP STNIN/2


question mark St. Ninian's Isle Stone III (STNIN/3)

SiteSt. Ninian's Isle, Mainland, Shetland
NGRHU 3680 2080
Current LocationLost (last seen in 1878).
HistoryFound by Gilbert Goudie in the sands at St. Ninian's Isle in 1876, in the same location that he found STNIN/1.
Description
Dimensions
Date
Notes
References CISP STNIN/3


check mark Whiteness Stone (WNESS/1)

SiteSt. Ola's, Whiteness, Mainland, Shetland
NGRHU 3866 4442
Current LocationNational Museum of Scotland [IB 256]
HistoryFound in the churchyard of St. Ola's at Whiteness (date and circumstances unknown); donated to the National Museum of Antiquities of Scotland in 1946 or 1947.
DescriptionSandstone slab, a fragment of a larger monument, with an interlaced knot design and an Ogham inscription on an artificial stemline on one side.
Dimensions0.18 × 0.22 × 0.07 m.
Date900–999 (Forsyth)
NotesOgham inscription is written with bind oghams. Another fragment of the same stone, with more of the interlaced knot design (but no Ogham inscription), is held at the Shetland Museum (ARC 8057).
References CISP WNESS/1
RCAHMS Canmore 712

Canmore SC 1134145

Drawing of the NMS and Shetland Museum fragments by Ian G. Scott, 2 July 2008, © RCAHMS


Ogham Inscription
Ogham Textᚅᚇ
Transcription[--][F!]NDAR
Reading[--][N]NDAR
Translation


References

  • CISP : Celtic Inscribed Stones Project. Department of History and the Institute of Archaeology, University College London.
  • Macalister 1945 : R. A. S. Macalister, Corpus Inscriptionum Insularum Celticarum Vol. I. Dublin: Stationery Office, 1945.


Key

The following conventions are used in the transcription of Latin, Runic and Ogham inscriptions :

  • [X] = letter X assumed but it is unclear or uncertain
  • [X^Y] = letter is uncertain but may be either X or Y
  • [X!] = Ogham letter is incomplete, and may be X or any letter from the same series as X with more strokes than X (e.g. [T!] is equivalent to [T^C^Q], and [A!] is equivalemt to [A^O^U^E^I])
  • [-] = single missing or obliterated letter
  • [--] = unknown number of missing or obliterated letters
  • {X} = unusual glyph form of letter X (description on mouseover)
  • {XY} = ligatured form of letters X and Y
  • (X) = letter X in the inscription is extraneous and should be omitted in the reading
  • <X> = letter X is missing in the insciption and should be added in the reading

Transcription of Ogham Letters
Letter Name Transcription Notes
BeithB
LuisL
FearnFRead as F or V.
SailS
NionN
UathH
DairDVariants include 'Rabbit-eared D'.
TinneT
CollC
CeirtQ
MuinM
GortG
nGéadalWRead as Ng or Gw.
StraifZRead as Z or St.
RuisRDouble R is occasionally written as a crosshatched ligature.
AilmAVariants include 'Hammerhead A' and 'S-shaped A'.
OnnO
ÚrU
EadhadhE
IodhadhI
EabhadhXRead as É or K.
ÓrÓ
UilleannÚ
IfinPWritten as a single cross under the stemline in epigraphic texts.
EamhanchollNot found in epigraphic texts.


Ogham Fonts

This page makes use of the set of 12 BabelStone Ogham fonts, which provide a variety of different styles of Ogham lettering (stemline and stemless, bound and unbound, straight strokes and angled strokes). Web font (WOFF) versions should be automatically downloaded and applied to this page, but if you want to install these fonts on your local system they may be downloaded for free here.


Revised: 2016-02-02


5 comments:

Nora White said...

This would be another Scottish ogham wouldn't it?
http://www.pasthorizonspr.com/index.php/archives/09/2011/identifying-an-early-monastic-school-house

Andrew West said...

Yes indeed. Thank you for drawing it to my attention, I will add it the post shortly.

M V Wexford said...

The inscription on Lochgoilhead Stone (LOHED/1) above spells [H]OMO POILEA in both Latin alphabet and Ogham. It means "literary man" in Latin and may have something to do with the partial alphabet carved on the other side. Hope this helps!

Andrew West said...

Dear M V Wexford, Thank you for the suggestion, which sounds plausible. Do you know whether this suggested reading has been published anywhere?

M V Wexford said...

Not that I am aware of. This is my own work. Missing the 'H' is consistent with other Ogham inscriptions in Latin, as in SDOGW/1 in Wales that you mention. 'P' is expressed using 'peith', a horizontal stroke under the stemline. The first 'O' is worn, 'L' is faint, but both are visible. I am a graduate student in IT and I do this as a hobby. Thank you for creating this page. If you would like to publish the HOMO POILEA reading please give me credit.