While Ogham script originated in Ireland, many people around the world are familiar with this ancient way of writing and how it represents letters in the old Irish alphabet. Ogham is the earliest form of writing in the Irish language and was used from the 4th century AD. It was most often carved into wood or stone and consists of a deeply carved central line with various marks running from this point.
As it was carved in to stone (often standing stones), there are approximately four hundred existing examples of Ogham in Ireland and West Wales. These stones have been translated and it is thought Ogham was used to inscribe names for memorial stones, tribal names or boundary markers. Today Ogham is often used in jewellery and calligraphy to create a secret message or personalised artwork.
To help you to better understand this ancient Irish script I’m going to demonstrate how easy it is to write your name in Ogham.
Ogham is made up of a series of marks running along a central line. Each letter is made of up to five lines either full or half, horizontal or diagonal. There are a few important things to remember when writing in Ogham.
- Ogham is written from the bottom of the central line to the top.
- There are certain letters in the English alphabet which do not have a direct translation in Ogham like J, V and Y. To compensate we spell the word phonetically so we use an I for Y and a F for V.
- An even space needs to be left between each letter so the lines don’t blend in to each other and spell out something completely different!
- It is important that the lines are positioned at the correct side of the central line. Otherwise for example T’s could be read as F’s and D as L’s.
- Make sure the diagonal runs from the correct side otherwise your inscription could be read upside down!
We design and handcraft an extensive range of Ogham Jewelry for Ladies and Gents. Contact us if you have an idea for a design and you would like to discuss commissioning a unique Ogham piece.