Some of the ideas discussed in this blog are published in my new book called "The Stonehenge Bluestones" -- available by post and through good bookshops everywhere. Bad bookshops might not have it....
To order, click

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Calling all Ogham Readers

Rob Ixer thinks these marks on the rock surface at Carn Enoch are entirely natural, and I'm inclining that way too........  but just for fun, I had the idea that maybe there is somebody out there who reads Ogham stories at bedtime, and who is totally familiar with the earliest forms of the script.  So here\s a challenge -- do these marks mean anything or say anything?

Here are two old stones (taken from the Babelstone web site) which have just perpendicular marks along the central line -- ie no angled marks.

These might be as early as 400 AD -- and the thinking is now that these old scripts didn't use angled cuts, but simply groups of perpendicular ones.  If you look at the Carn Enoch photos, you can see (with the eye of faith) some groups of three, four or five notches.  Meaning?

This may all be far too fancilful, but let's see where we go with this one!


Constantinos Ragazas said...


I am far from an “Ogham reader” but to me these markings look a lot like some form of 'count'. Maybe the count of 'sheep heads' or even notches of men killed – like cowboy gun notches of men they killed in a gunfight in the Wild Wild West.

The main distinctive features are a prominent long vertical or horizontal line with small straight notches in groups on one side or the other side of this line. One side would be, say +, while the other side -. Or one side could be for clan A while the other side for clan B. Such count can be extended indefinitely along the main 'count line'.


BRIAN JOHN said...

Kostas -- I have put up another post with a key. I am not holding my breath re a miraculous and spectacular translation --- but one never knows!

Tony Hinchliffe said...

Following on Kostas' theme of 'notches' as in the Wild Wild West, I've just found this item on a memorable Time Team Isle of Man programme from 2007.

Before it was even broadcast, the find of a rare inscribed Ogham stone at Speke Keill, near Mount Murray Hotel, had a spokesperson declaring:-
"It may be talking about a congregation or 'flock' of 50 people although the initial excitement was that it could indicate a group of warriors as the word 'posse' was suggested".

Viewers of Time Team may recall this excavation took place on a golf course.

Maybe Wale had its own Wild Wild West?!?

BRIAN JOHN said...

Pembrokeshire IS the wild west, and we are proud of it!!

Philip Powell said...

Hi, I do think these are not ogham scores.Looking at the bottom photo, it would read (from bottom-up)'V N V B A',so the script is all wrong.In the top photo, I can't see the stem line properly to even give a guess.As regards the 'Bablestone', the top image is upside-down.Ogham is read from bottom left, up, over the top and down the right. It would read '(the stone of) A (son of) B (of the tribe/ancestor) C' so 'DOLATIBIGAISGOB MAQQI LUGUDECCAS MUCOI NETASEGAMONAS'...'(the stone of)Dolativix (son of) Lugud (of the tribe) Nia Segaman'.
Kindest regards
philip Powell

BRIAN JOHN said...

Thanks Philip -- much appreciated! Yes, I am now convinced that these notches are natural -- I have seen similar marks not far away, on the edges of other dolerite stones -- some erratics, and some in their natural positions. We are probably looking at a natural weathering phenomenon, where bands of crystals in the rock have been picked out selectively....

Unknown said...

Im currently studying archaeology at UCC in ireland. And while im far from an expert i would still like to try and translate the markings. Most early forms of ogham writings dont include slanted markings. And if the markings translate to anything i would guess that they predate 400AD. The translations philip gave are from an ogham stone found in Ardmore co waterford ireland. The stone has 2 inscriptions 1 reading "Of Dolativix the smith Lugud's son, tribesman of Nia Segamain" which was dated to around 226-219BC. Which was the reign of Nia segamain a former tribe leader from what is now the waterford county area who became high king of ireland around that time. The second marking was a much later one from early christian times. So either way natural formation or not i'll let you know what i come up with. If you have any questions my email is

BRIAN JOHN said...

Thanks Moses -- as I said, I'm now pretty convinced that these marks on the rocks at Carn Enoch are natural. But it would be fun to discover whether natural marks can create something meaningful or almost meaningful! The marks will not be random, since I suspect they coincide with weaknesses or layers in the rock -- and of course we all know that natural phenomena can sometimes give us patterns which our brains recognize as reminding us of something or other -- such as faces in the rock, or shapes in the clouds.