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Welcome to the website for the AHRC/IRC Project OG(H)AM: Harnessing digital technologies to transform understanding of ogham writing, from the 4th century to the 21st.

An ogam stone adjacent to a laptop - the laptop shows a green 3D model of the adjacent stone.
Digital scanning of ogham stone, Lugnagappul, Co. Kerry (c) Nora White.

Og(h)am of the Month: January

Our first Ogham of the Month for 2023 is one of three certain ogham stones from Co. Wexford (4 more are doubtful/lost). Listed by Macalister as ‘Houseland’, the find site of Brecaun’s church is actually in the neighbouring townland of Portersgate. Located at the edge of a cliff on the East side of the Hook Peninsula, the graveyard is long lost to coastal erosion and unfortunately the church is gradually following the same fate with little now remaining (old and more recent images here).

Three fragments of the stone survive and are now part of the National Museum of Ireland ogham collection. The lower (and largest) fragment of the stone was discovered in 1845 by Mr Hugh Nevin of Waterford ‘beneath the clay cliff under the ruins [of the church] in the course of some geological researches on the promontory of Hook’. The second fragment (most of the top) was discovered almost 100 years later ‘near the church’ by Rev. Thos. Cloney, P.P., Templetown, Fethard. A third, small fragment was recovered in the 1987 excavation of the site.

Above left: screenshot of 3d model by Discovery Programme (available here).
Above right: Drawing by Macalister (1945) including his suggested reconstruction of the missing section on the top left.

The inscription is on the rounded sides of the stone (reading from bottom left, up-top-down). The strokes are very carefully spaced, aiding legibility, and clear apart from partial damage to a couple of letters (RC) in the final word. Macalister read the inscription as SEDAN[I MAQQI CAT]TABBOTT AVVI DERCMASOC ‘of Sétnae son of Cathub Uí Dercmossaig’, with suggested letters in square brackets from the missing part of the stone based on the space available and what might be reasonably expected. The proposed personal name CATTABBOTT (Old Irish Cathub, genitive Cathboth, later Cathbad)is found in an earlier form on an ogham stone from Greenhill, Co. Cork (CATTUBUTTAS). The third fragment, discovered in 1987, is too small to confirm Macalister’s restoration but, with just four identifiable strokes and the remains of a probable fifth, it could be a Q of the suggested MAQQI. AVVI DERCMASOC ‘descendants of Dercmossach’ appears to be the Uí Dercmossaig kin group. However, according to later genealogical sources, this group were located further North in the Dublin area.

The linguistic evidence (syncope (i.e. loss of internal vowels) in DERCMASOC) suggests an approximate dating of this inscription to the late sixth or early seventh century.

The OG(H)AM project seeks to harness digital tools from different fields to transform scholarly and popular understanding of ogham—an ancient script unique to Ireland and Britain. It is jointly funded by the Irish Research Council and the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council under the UK–Ireland Collaboration in Digital Humanities Research scheme. The project provides the long-awaited opportunity to complete the corpus of ogham-inscribed Irish stones begun by the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies Ogham in 3D project (2012-15, 2016-17), to extend it beyond stone monuments to cover ogham in all media (including portable objects and manuscripts), and to incorporate the many examples from outside the Republic of Ireland.

The OG(H)AM project runs from 1 August 2021 till 31 July 2024 and is a collaboration between the University of Glasgow, Scotland, and Maynooth University, Ireland. For details about the Project team, see here.

The project’s name is explained here.

This web resource is under construction and will be updated as the project progresses.