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 2023

Similinus Tovisacus Stone

Clocaenog (Bryn y Beddau), Denbighshire (W-DEN-001; ECMW no 176; CIIC no 399)

This stone originally stood as one of two prehistoric standing stones on a summit (SJ0525 5354) as part of the Bryn y Beddau site. The Bryn y Beddau site is a monumental landscape further populated with up to six barrows and two stone circles. In the late fifth or early sixth century, the stone was reused to display a name in two scripts, Roman and Ogham.


‘Similin(i)us Tovisacos’

Ogham: S[I]B[I]L[I]N[I]  / [TO]VISACI

‘Sibilin(i)us Tovisacos’

A scaled line drawing of the stone with Latin clearly legible in the centre of the stone, and ogham partially visible on the edges.
Figure 1: Line drawing of the Similinus Tovisacus Stone. Edwards 2013, 318.

Both inscriptions are simply a name, Si(m/b)ilin(i)us, followed by the title or patronymic Tovisacos, meaning ‘leader’ representing an early form of later Welsh tywysog and Old Irish toísech, Modern Irish Taoiseach. The significance of this reuse is uncertain but combined with the content of the inscription, it could reflect a method of affirming and communicating identity and authority. It may also be a way of legitimising land claims, or perhaps an attempt to relate to myths and leaders important in the land. Regardless, reusing the prehistoric standing stone for this inscription reflects an Early Medieval recognition of prehistoric monumental landscapes and the desire of Early Medieval leaders to relate to the past through monumental reuse.

Further reading:

Daniel, P. 2022. ‘What are the Dead for?’ Bronze Age Burials in a Multi-period Landscape at Bucklow Hill, Cheshire. Archaeological Journal 179(1): p.1–82.

Edwards, N. 2013. A Corpus of Early Medieval Inscribed Stones and Stone Sculpture in Wales. North Wales: University of Wales Press.

Edwards, N. 2017. Early Medieval Wales: Material Evidence and Identity. Studia Celtica 51: p.65–87.

Fomin, M. 2018. Multilingual Practices and Linguistic Contacts in Pre-Patrician Ireland and Late Roman Britain. Studia Celto-Slavica 8: p.151–172.

Hutton, R. 2011. Romano-British Reuse of Prehistoric Ritual Sites. Britannia 42: p.1–22.

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.