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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: September

35 of the c. 40 ogam inscriptions in Wales, Cornwall and Devon are bilingual, i.e., they contain text in Latin and Irish, usually – but not always – with identical content. The Latin text often displays unclassical features, e.g. ‘wrong’ case endings. The stone from Nevern, Pembrokeshire (W-PEM-014) is built into a church windowsill. The two versions read:

Irish: MAGLICUNAS MAQI CLUTA[RIGAS]

Latin: MAGLOCVN(I) FILI CLVTORI

Drawing from Nash-Williams 1950.

The archaic retention of all endings, the lack of vowel affection (-CUNAS and CLUTA-, not younger *-CON and *CLOT-), and the lack of syncope of the middle vowels mean that it probably belongs to the oldest layer of Irish inscriptions in Britain. There are subtle differences between the two languages. In Irish, the name of the commemorated person shows the consonant-stem genitive ending -as, as is expected for the Proto-Celtic *, gen. *kunos ‘dog, hound’. In Latin, this has been replaced by the productive o-stem ending ; in CLVTORI the entire second part *-rīgī has been reduced to just -rī.

The choice of names is revealing: MAGLICUNAS is an archaic form of Welsh Maelgwn or Meilgi; the corresponding Irish name would be *Málchú, but this is nowhere attested. CLUTARIGAS likewise only has onomastic parallels in British (e.g., W Clodri, Bret. Corn. Cleder); Old Irish only has the generic expression clothrí ‘famous king’. Therefore, while the inscription is in an Irish script, uses Irish endings and the Irish word MAQI, the names are gaelicised British Celtic. This inscription, and others of a similar nature, afford a glimpse into the complex multiethnic and multilingual situation in early medieval Wales.

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.