Categories FAQ

Readers ask: What are Ogham staves?

Ogham staves are typically comprised ofwooden sticks with the Ogham symbols carved or painted onto each one, then used as a form of divination. I’ve seen some beautiful sets where each stave is made of the corresponding tree it’s connected to, but some are as simple as popsicle sticks.

How do you read ogham?


  1. Ogham (pronounced ‘oh-am’) is a primitive alphabet which takes the form of linear strokes cut into stone, etched onto wood or written down.
  2. Inscriptions are read from the bottom left upwards. Longer passages sometime continue, and are read, across the top and down the right side.

What was ogham and why was it important?

As well as its use for monumental inscriptions, the evidence from early Irish sagas and legends indicate that ogham was used for short messages on wood or metal, either to relay messages or to denote ownership of the object inscribed.

How many Oghams are there?

There are over 400 surviving ogham stones in the landscape today, the bulk of which (approximately 360) are in Ireland.

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What purpose did Ogham stones have?

Ogham is sometimes referred to as the “Celtic Tree Alphabet” as a number of the letters are linked to old Irish names for certain trees. The alphabet was carved on standing stones to commemorate someone, using the edge of the stone as the centre line.

Is Ogham read bottom to top?

Ogham is written from the bottom of the central line to the top. There are certain letters in the English alphabet that do not have a direct translation in Ogham like J, V and Y.

Did Vikings use ogham?

The Viking letters are called RUNES. This alphabet is called the Elder Futhark and they are the oldest type of RUNES. In Ireland, the alphabet the Irish developed is called ogham. This alphabet was used on standing stones to inscribe the names of the dead.

When did ogham stop being used?

Ogham is an alphabet that appears on monumental inscriptions dating from the 4th to the 6th century AD, and in manuscripts dating from the 6th to the 9th century. It was used mainly to write Primitive and Old Irish, and also to write Old Welsh, Pictish and Latin.

What do Ogham stones say?

Ogham Stones on the Dingle Peninsula The inscriptions can signify a single name, or a phrase such as ‘X son of Y of the family of Z ‘, but sometimes a little more detail is added. The inscriptions can date from the end of the 4th up to the early 8th century AD.

Is ogham the same as runes?

With one exception, the Irish records are in ogham alone. Most peculiar is the runic-oghamic inscription from the Isle of Man (the runes being a kind of “secret” writing and the oghams being a cryptic script). They either belong to the same type as the Irish and Welsh oghams or are written in another ogham variety.

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Was ogham used in Wales?

Though ogham stones originated in Ireland, a significant number of stones are recorded in Wales. The ogham stones of Wales are very similar but are often bilingual and depict writing in both ogham and Latin, whereas Latin is not used on any of the stones in Ireland.

How were Ogham stones carved?

Each group, or aicme, was made up of single strokes, easily carved in wood or stone, with each letter represented by one, two, three, four or five strokes and grouped in sequences of one to five located to the left, right, diagonally across or in the middle of a central stem-line (one stroke to the right is a ‘b’, two

Are there standing stones in Ireland?

Standing Stone, Glencullen (location) Standing stones are something of a curiosity, as little is known of their intended function. It is believed that rituals and other ceremonies would have been carried out around them. They were also known as gallauns or menhirs down in the south of Ireland.

Are standing stones Celtic?

standing stones. STANDING STONES are one of the most obvious of prehistoric monuments and have a particular association with the Celtic west of Britain, where the stones of the modern Gorsedd circles are frequently seen.

What does Gaelic origin mean?

Gaelic is an adjective that means “pertaining to the Gaels”. As a noun it refers to the group of languages spoken by the Gaels, or to any one of the languages individually. Gaelic languages are spoken in Ireland, Scotland, the Isle of Man, and Canada.

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