Kila Crook_The Ogham Stone on Inis Mór

31 Jan

Exactly a week ago, I was enjoying the remote beauty of Inis Mór, the largest of the Aran Islands. The landscape from the top of Dún Aonghasa was breathtaking and was made all the more lovely by the beautiful sunny weather. This fort is an amazing part of history and in the musem there where so many exhibits that explained the formation and all other the other aspects of the fort; but it was at the end of the tour while our group was waiting for the bus to arrive, that I noticed a tall, thin, and unassuming stone pillar standing in an out of the way place, right next to a tourist shop. At the time I had no idea what it was, it had slash marks all up and down the stone at various angles. There was no plaque, or sign, or anything that gave hints as to what it was; but, I none-the-less took a picture of it because I take pictures of everything. It was not until the Irish Life and Culture class the following week that I understood what I had taken a picture of; this unassuimg stone had carved into it an anciet alpahbet, and it is properly called an Ogham Stone. My fascination with this stone is what lead me to the topic of my blog post today; to look more deeply into the purpose and history of The Ogham Stones. After a little research, I have a new apprecation for the Irish language. It seems that these Ogham Stones are the earlist recorded form of the Irish language, dating back to at least the 5th century AD. The slash marks upon the stones are part of an early Irish alphabet and each distinct grouping of slash marks, about twenty-five in total, were assigned names that held special meaning in early Irish culture. Many, but not all of the distinct groupings of the Ogham alphabet were named after trees. It seems also that there are two types of Ogham stones: “orthodox” and “scholastic”. The scholastic Ogham stones are not directly related to the orthodox stones, they instead came later and dervied from the more modern manuscript tradition, as opposed to the orthodox Ogham stones which were dervied from the ancient Irish language.The orthodox Ogham stones recorded the names of individuals and often thier tribal or family lineage; and it is believed that they were used as memorials or to mark land boundaries and ownership. It seems that there is still a debate among scholars as to the purpose and exact origins of these stones and there is still much to be learned about them. I think these stones are an important and interesting aspect of traditional Irish language and culture.




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: