Image by Arnaud Mesureur

The Ogham Grove

The Ogham Grove invited 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 was 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.

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There were a lot of people helped bring The Ogham Grove to life, from the Culture Night team to all the hands on deck that hammered nails, drove vans & sourced materials. Thank you to every last one of them. 

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Our approach to the sourcing of materials & production of the monumental structures was that we should attempt to be as sustainable as possible. Read more about how we did it.

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The thinking behind the The Tree Alphabet, The Ogham Wheel & the digital trail.