In the autumn of 1884, Sir Samuel Ferguson, President of the Royal Irish Academy, delivered in Edinburgh the Rhind Lectures on Archaeology, and at the request of the committee he selected for his subject " Ogham Inscriptions." He had for many years taken a keen interest in this form of writing, which consists of notches of various lengths cut on the edge or arris of suitable stones, generally unhewn, and frequently standing pillars of striking dimensions. These are found at certain districts of Ireland, Wales, and Scotland, including the islands of Orkney and Shetland, and in few instances in south-western England, and in the Isle of Man. The Ogham bears a certain resemblance to the "Scandinavian Rune." Both seem designedly obscure, although in ancient Irish manuscripts a key to the interpretation of Ogham is given. In some cases, as in South Wales for instance, epigraphs in Roman characters occupy the face of the stone, while - Ogham-writing on the edges has been found to contain an echo of the same. It will readily be understood that the value of these bilingual examples, as a test of correct rendering of the Ogham, is very great. The stones are generally to be met with in remote and un-cultivated districts, not unfrequently in disused churchyard reserved for the burial of unbaptized children and suicides. On land more valuable for agriculture they have been broken up, or removed for safety to the vicinity of the nearest church, or set up in private demesnes. In Ireland many of these in- scribed stones are found on the summits of lofty mountains or on lonely moors ; they abound on the rugged storm-swept promontories which, on the south and west of the island, are washed by the Atlantic.

 

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Ogham Inscriptions in Ireland, Wales and Scotland

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