Date of Award
Master of Science
Patricia B. Richards, Bernard Perley
Ireland, Material Culture, Object Biography, Ogham, Scotland
A PARTIAL READING OF THE STONES: A COMPARATIVE ANALYSIS OF IRISH AND SCOTTISH OGHAM PILLAR STONES
The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, 2015
Under the Supervision of Professor Bettina Arnold
Ogham is a script that originated in Ireland and later spread to other areas of the British Isles. This script has preserved best on large pillar stones. Other artefacts with ogham inscriptions, such as bone-handled knives and chalk spindle-whorls, are also known. While ogham has fascinated scholars for centuries, especially the antiquarians of the 18th and 19th centuries, it has mostly been studied as a script and a language and the nature of its association with particular artefact types has been largely overlooked. This thesis will examine ogham as a cultural artefact and the role of stone as a medium in the transfer of the concept of ogham stones from Ireland to Scotland. The ways in which the stones were adapted from their Irish forms to fit the needs of the peoples of Scotland in the Late Iron Age and early medieval period will be examined from the perspective of both the material and the context of the finds. Selected pillar stones and other objects in the collections of the National Museum Scotland (NMS) and University College Cork (UCC) were examined for evidence of variations and similarities between these monument assemblages in both areas. Reflectance Transformation Imaging (RTI), a free-ware program provided by Cultural Heritage Imaging was used on selected stones bearing ogham inscriptions in the National Museum Scotland in an attempt to shed new light on this enigmatic class of artefacts. Indirect evidence in the form of ogham inscriptions on selected non-lithic objects, evidence from site records, and historical references to ogham and other scripts found in the British Isles during the Iron Age and the early medieval period were also consulted to put the pillar stones in context. This thesis represents a pilot study of the functional and material differences in the ogham stones in the Irish/Scottish interface. The project demonstrates how ogham can be analyzed as an archaeological artefact category by utilizing spatial and new imaging analysis in addition to existing studies of the inscriptions themselves.
Connelly, Clare Jeanne, "A Partial Reading of the Stones: a Comparative Analysis of Irish and Scottish Ogham Pillar Stones" (2015). Theses and Dissertations. 799.