Celtic Ogham

I wrote this site before I had access to many of the key references, and although there is nothing in it that is egregiously wrong, many parts are incomplete, misleading, or are based on minority interpretations. For a more accurate and complete historical perspective, please see the Wikipedia article.

The word ogham (pronounced OH-am) has been used to refer to:

  • An alphabet of twenty-five characters used for stone and wood inscriptions in Celtic Ireland and Britain.
  • A group of twenty sacred trees that give names to the letters of the ogham alphabet.
  • A calendar of thirteen months named for some of the trees.
  • A purported system of hand-signing used by Druids that relates to the alphabet.
  • A system of divination in Celtic paganism that may or may not relate to the alphabet.

The ogham alphabet is often called "beth luis nion". This is somewhat like the word "alphabet"; it comes from the names of the first, second, and fifth letters. The letters consist of one to five perpendicular or angled strokes, meeting or crossing a center line. The form of the letters allows them to be carved easily on objects of wood or stone, with the edge forming the center line. Most ogham inscriptions come from Ireland and Scotland.

Here is a discussion of the questions surrounding the origins of the ogham.

The letters of the ogham are available in a Windows TrueType font, which is free for personal use. For other uses, please see the licensing agreement.

Michael Everson has proved links to every Ogham thing on the Web.

Space for this page is provided by California State Polytechnic University, Pomona. Although it is intended to further the educational mission of the University, the opinions expressed here are those of Curtis Clark, and do not represent official policy of the University.

© 1997-2001 by Curtis Clark

This page has been accessed counter graphic times since October 22, 1997.