Sep 23, 2013
Medieval Mondays: Early Irish Ogam
If you look more closely, you'll see a series of slashes cut into the rock. This is a simple form of writing called Ogam. The Irish developed Ogam in the 4th century AD. The system was simple: letters were made up of one to five slashes, either short or long, on either side of a natural edge of the rock or a carved line. Slanted lines and lines that cut across the dividing line were also used. It was generally read counter-clockwise.
This particular stone dates to the 5th century and was found along with two others, having been reused to build a later medieval fort. The inscription reads, "[stone] of Vedac, [son] of Tob of the Sogain."
Such a short inscription is common with Ogam. Like Viking runestones, most Ogam stones were simple memorials that only recorded the carver and who the stone was dedicated to. Ogam died out after a couple of centuries as it was replaced by Latin.