06: Ogham: Lost Script of the Highlands and Islands

06: Ogham: Lost Script of the Highlands and Islands

06: Ogham: Lost Script of the Highlands and Islands

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by Prof. Katherine Forsyth


The ingenious ogham script is most commonly associated with Ireland, where it was likely invented during the Roman period for writing short messages on sticks. The hundreds of ogham-inscribed stone pillars from 5th-7th century Ireland are well known as the earliest surviving texts in the Irish language (which, of course, is also ancestral to Gaelic). What is less well known is that ogham was early adopted and widely used in Scotland, including across the Highlands and Islands. The talk explores the evidence for this ‘lost’ script both in the early medieval archaeology of the Gàidhealtachd, but also in manuscripts which show that knowledge of ogham survived in Scotland even into the 17th century.

Image caption: Oghams in one of John Dewar’s manuscripts, written 1860–72. Source: Argyll Papers, Inveraray

About the speaker

Katherine Forsyth is Professor of Celtic Studies at the University of Glasgow where she has taught for over 20 years. Her research interests lie in the history and culture of the Celtic-speaking peoples in the first millennium AD. She has published on aspects of Pictish studies and on sculpture in Scotland, and on board-games in Celtic Britain and Ireland, but the main focus of her research is epigraphy, particularly inscriptions in the ogham alphabet. She is currently the Principal Investigator on the 3-year, AHRC/IRC-funded project OG(H)AM: Harnessing digital technologies to transform understanding of ogham writing, from the 4th century to the 21st.

How to participate

This talk will begin at 7.30 pm (GMT) and last up to one hour, followed by questions. As the audience for each talk will be limited to 100, please register in plenty of time by emailing us directly, or clicking the ‘Register’ button above. You will then be sent a code to allow you to join the talk.

  • Participation in these lectures is free to members of the Society and to students.
  • Non-members (other than students) are politely requested to make a donation of £5 to society funds.

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Date And Time

10-Mar-2022 @ 19:30

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