Academics Join Up To Protect Ireland's Ancient Language

Ogham Stone in Kerry, Ireland

Ireland’s important ancient writing system Ogham has been given added protection with news that Irish and Scottish academics have come together to use the latest in technology to preserve this very special language. The aim is to also give the ‘amazingly clever’ writing system of Ogham wider attention.

Ogham is a medieval Irish letter system which pre-exists modern Irish and Scottish Gaelic. Dating back to the 4th century AD, it’s found in manuscripts and seen on stones and monuments across Ireland. Many of these however are in exposed sites and at risk from being damaged by the elements.

With the aim of protecting this ancient language, academics from Maynooth University and the University of Glasgow have announced plans to create a digital database of all 640 pre-1850s Ogham scripts that exist in Ireland and the UK over the course of the next three years. Researchers state that this new database will make 3D models of Ogham inscriptions readily accessible to academics and members of the public alike.

It’s planned that the 3D models produced by this project will also provide a baseline against which future weathering can be assessed and there will be a new archaeological resource available as a lot of these monuments are currently considered to be under threat from the ongoing effects of climate change as they are not housed in museums.

This important project is a follow-up to the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies’ “Ogham in 3D” project, which carried out research gathering information on stones located in the Republic of Ireland. It’s planned that there will be collaborations with museums in Ireland, Scotland, Wales, and England.

In a statement, Maynooth University and the University of Glasgow have said that there has been an “explosion of popular interest in recent years in Ogham, especially among Irish and Welsh artists and designers.”  They said that few people are currently familiar with this highly unusual and amazingly clever writing system and that this project will help to change that.

Professor David Stifter, Professor of Old Irish at Maynooth University said: "We hope to get a better understanding of its meaning as a cultural expression of Gaelic intellectual history way beyond the narrow group of Irish 'orthodox inscriptions'."  

Ogham Jewelry

There is a beautiful selection of Celtic jewelry at Rings from Ireland featuring many pieces that celebrate this ancient language and carry Ogham inscriptions, keeping this special language alive.
Posted on November 9, 2021

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