Video: Dublin IAS

A team at the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies lead by Dr. Nora White are creating a publicly accessible database of 3D models of 400 Ogham Stones. This amazing project is not only cataloging each stone with details of its’ inscription, but adding a commentary, details of the stone’s location and situation, a map, a video and now – most incredibly – a 3D model of the stone that you can spin in your browser to look at all angles of the chisel-marks of the Ogham inscriptions! They have been using an Artec Eva 3D scanner to produce these models which are not only going to be viewable online at the DIAS website but they will be making high detail *.OBJ files  available for download for further study.

So What is the Ogham?

Ogham stones are among Ireland’s most remarkable national treasures. These perpendicular cut stones bear inscriptions in the uniquely Irish Ogham alphabet, using a system of notches and horizontal or diagonal lines/scores to represent the sounds of an early form of the Irish language. The stones are inscribed with the names of prominent people and sometimes tribal affiliation or geographical areas. These inscriptions constitute the earliest recorded form of Irish and, as our earliest written records dating back at least as far as the 5th century AD, are a significant resource for historians, as well as linguists and archaeologists. Seminal work has already been carried out on Ogham inscriptions, most notably by Damian McManus (Professor of Early Irish, Trinity College Dublin and author of A Guide to Ogam) on the linguistic aspects and by Fionnbarr Moore (Senior Archaeologist, National Monuments Service) on the archaeological perspective. To date, the Ogham inscriptions have been recorded using drawings and conventional photography. The Celtic Inscribed Stones Project (CISP) also includes many of the Ogham stones in its on-line database.
Ogham Stone at Boleycarrigeen

Ogham Stone at Boleycarrigeen

Pic: Nora White

The Ogham in 3D project focuses exclusively on Ogham stones, bringing all of the available information together in a single searchable archive and adding a crucial new dimension to the work already carried out in the form of 3D models of the stones.

Known Ogham Inscriptions

There are more than 400 known orthodox Ogham inscriptions. These are Ogham inscriptions on stone recording the names of individuals, sometimes accompanied by their parentage and/or tribal affiliation, as opposed to later ‘scholastic’ Oghams, which derive from the manuscript tradition and do not descend directly from orthodox Ogham. Orthodox Ogham stones appear to have primarily served as memorials and/or boundary markers as well as indicators of land ownership. Possible associations between the commemorative function of Ogham stones and actual burials, and how these may have changed over time or geographical area, is an ongoing area of study. The inscriptions themselves were usually carved along the natural edge of the stone, generally starting at the bottom left-hand side of the face and reading upwards, across the top and down the right-hand side (up-top-down). However, there is a good deal of variation in this pattern, such as upward readings on both edges (up-up, e.g. CIIC 146. Ballineanig, Co. Kerry).

There is a fascinating amount of information as well as access to all of the collected work so far on the DIAS 3D Ogham Project website.


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