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Observations placeholder

Language - Picts - 02 Examples



Type of Spiritual Experience


Red tags mark the sites of certain Ogham stone inscriptions (a dot indicates that the stone is in situ)
Yellow tags mark the sites of dubious or unconfirmed Ogham stone inscriptions
Green tags mark sites where an Ogham-inscribed portable artefact was found
Blue tags mark museums or other sites where Ogham stones are held


location of Ogham inscriptions in Scotland

The distribution of Ogham inscriptions across Scotland reflects the political geography of Scotland during the 5th through 10th centuries, when most of Scotland north of the Forth-Clyde line, including the Outer Hebrides, the Orkney Islands and the Shetland Islands, were under the control of various Pictish kingdoms, whereas the southwest part of Scotland north of the Forth-Clyde line, including many of the Inner Hebridean islands, and part of northern Ireland were under the control of the Gaelic kingdom of Dalriada

A description of the experience

The Ogham stones of Scotland are more typologically diverse and linguistically intriguing than those of any other part of Britain and Ireland. There are about 34 confirmed Ogham inscriptions on pillar stones, symbol stones, cross slabs, and natural rock faces, as well as five Ogham inscriptions that have been found on portable artefacts :

There are only three Ogham stones in the parts of Scotland corresponding to the Gaelic kingdom of Dalriada, all on or very near the coastline. Two of these are classic Ogham pillar stones with a Goidelic language Ogham inscription engraved along one of the natural edges of the stone, such as are found in Ireland : one on the island of Gigha (GIGHA/1) which has a typical "X, son of Y" formula; and one on the mainland at Poltaloch (POLCH/1) which has a single personal name. These two stones may reflect the first wave of colonization of Scotland by Gaelic speakers from Ireland during the 5th and 6th centuries.

The only other Ogham stone to have been found in this area is a fragmentary block from Lochgoilhead (LOHED/1), which has a number of unusual features not found on classic Ogham pillar stones: the stone has the remains of both an Ogham inscription and a Latin inscription (only one of two such stones in Scotland); and the Ogham inscription is engraved on an artificial stemline on the surface of the stone rather than along the edge of the stone. As the name represented by the Ogham inscription has been interpreted as being Goidelic, and there are no Pictish-style decoration on the stone, it is probably also a product of Gaelic settlers in the area, although the Latin inscription suggests a later date than the two Ogham pillar stone, perhaps the 7th or 8th century.

In addition to these three Ogham-inscribed stones, a number of Ogham inscriptions have been identified on natural rock surfaces. One, only 4 km from the Ogham stone at Poltaloch, is on a rock outcrop at the top of the hill fort at Dunadd (DUNAD/1), which has been identified as the seat of the kingdom of Dalriada. The inscription is incomplete, but part of a Gaelic name has been identified. Three other Ogham inscriptions are to be found on the walls of the Blackwaterfoot Cave on the Isle of Arran (BLFOO/1, BLFOO/2, BLFOO/3). These rock inscriptions are highly unusual, and are the only examples in Great Britain besides an unconfirmed Ogham inscription in a cave in Fife (WEMYS/1).


The source of the experience


Concepts, symbols and science items


Science Items

Activities and commonsteps