Image by Arnaud Mesureur

The Ogham Grove

The Ogham Grove invites the public to explore our relationship with our native woodland and environment through a totally innovative and spectacular artwork. Taking inspiration from the Celtic Ogham Tree Alphabet a monumental, immersive sculpture will be created within Writer’s Square as the centre piece to a trail of cryptic markers distributed throughout the Cathedral Quarter.

THE OGHAM WRITING SYSTEM

Since much of it is shrouded in mystery, nobody is quite sure where the name Ogham originated. One theory is that it comes from the Irish phrase og-úaim—literally “point-seam,” or the seam caused by a sharp weapon. More poetically, it might also be referring to the Irish Warrior-God Ogham, who’s also known as the “God of Eloquence”—a fitting name for an alphabet.

The alphabet is generally written vertically from bottom to top, mostly found inscribed on stone slabs. However horizontal script is also found, written from left to right, mostly in manuscripts. The letters are linked together by a solid line

Ogham is not a language, but a writing system. Those literate in Ogham could secretly communicate with each other by using it as a sign language, using the fingers on their hand to form the cross strokes of the letters across the straight line of their nose or shin.

This meant that an individual could have an ordinary conversation with someone in public, whilst passing signals and secret messages in plain sight. This provided druids so much power that royal edicts were issued to prevent them conversing in Ogham, and was used to communicate with each other whilst remaining undetected by the Roman Empire.

tree-alphabet1.jpg

01

The Tree Alphabet is the primer for learning about the Ogham characters, their meanings, and their tree associations.

02

The Ogham Wheel signifies the links with our natural environment, living in harmony with it, and the awareness of our place in the universe, the lunar and solar cycles that drive the life on this planet of ours, and all of how life lives – in balance and together.

ogham-wheel1.jpg
ogham-grove-bit_edited.jpg

03

Using QR codes linked to inscriptions participants will be able to divine their own way through the Cathedral Quarter attempting to crack the secret code and discovering the rich cultural offering of Belfast’s Cathedral Quarter along the way.