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interest can be extracted from an old inquisition as from a tumulus. He has gone so far as to give extracts from the charters of Pembroke; but since these exist only in copies which have never been published, we trust he will print them entire in his second edition.

We have space to mention but one or two other points for correction or further reflection. The Romans could not have reached Pembrokeshire so early as a.d. 52 (p. 37), as it was only in the preceding year that Caratacos was overthrown. The observation (p. 53) that the mission of Germanus resulted in the fusion of the Kunedda and Brychan schools of Christianity is ingenious, but not convincing. The birthplace of St. Patrick (p. 55) is not placed by modern scholars in the sonth-west of England. The statement that “Ogma was the son of Tuatha de Danaan” (p. 61) requires after the word "of" "one of the gods of tho". To say (p. 69) that Hywel dda was, of course, outside the pale of the Church of Rome, "as the Welsh Church had not acknowledged the supremacy of the Pope”, is misleading. What was denied was the supremacy of the see of Canterbury, though at the date of Hywel even this is problematical (see an admirable note on this question by Mr. E. J. Newell in the Cardiff Weekly Mail of 15th May, “Cymru Fu" column). We are surprised to learn (p. 112) that the Gwylliaid Cocbion Mawddwy, who in 1555 murdered Baron Owen, bad had an unbroken existence of four centuries and a half, having been "founded" by Owain ap Cadwgan, who was killed in 1113; the author has adopted a late invention. The assertion (p. 168) that Henry II“ practically conquered the Principality" requires considerable qualification; and instead of Glyndwr having thrown away a fair chance by his non-appearance at Shrewsbury fight, the late Mr. T. O. Morgan has proved in our own pages (2nd Series, vol. ii, p. 117) that he never had a chance at all, being too far away to join the luckless Hotspur. Lastly, the note on p. 244, calling in question the accuracy of the late Mr. Thomas Wright, who attributed a letter of Barlow, Prior of Haverfordwest, and afterwards Bishop of St. David's, to the year 1533, is superfluous. Further inquiries will show Mr. Laws that Mr. Wright was perfectly correct.

Such errors and omissions as we have pointed out are easily remedied, and militate but slightly against the real value of Mr. Laws's work. Frequent perusaľ brings out its excellences, and its slight defects sink into comparative insignificance. We trust the time will soon come when the call for a new edition will allow of their complete elimination.

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late Sir SAMUEL FERGUSON, P.R.I.A., LL.D. Edinburgh :

David Douglas. 1887. 8vo. Pp. 164. The study of Ogham inscriptions is one of the least popular branches of archæology, and the reason of this appears to be that 5TH SEE., VOL. V.


the authorities on the subject have arrived at no definite conclu. sion as to the meaning of the inscriptions, or as to the origin of the peculiar form of letter in which they are written. Most people like to be told dogmatically what they should believe. As Mark Twain says, when he sees an object in a museum labelled as being of uncertain date, it produces no effect upon his imagination whatever; but if its age is marked several hundred years B.C., he is deeply impressed. Without wishing to depreciate the services rendered to science by the late Sir S. Ferguson, we fear that he has not succeeded in advancing the study of Ogham inscriptions sufficiently far to enable the general reader to accept his conclusions unhesitatingly. The present volume contains the Rhind Lectures on Archæology, delivered in the autumn of 1884 at Edinburgh, in connection with the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland. Before the work was ready for the press, the accomplished President of the Royal Irish Academy died, deeply lamented by all who had the privilege to know him, and leaving a gap amongst Irish antiquaries that will not easily be filled. The history of his labours is told in the preface as follows: "For many years it had been the habit of Sir S. Ferguson to spend his summer holidays in visiting these monuments. His time and energies for the rest of the year were devoted to his professional or official duties; but his annual vacation was consecrated to the pursuit of poetry, literature, and antiquities. The sedentary life of the city was then laid aside, and the long summer days were passed driving about the country in search of these and kindred subjects of interest. The rough accommodation and homely fare which these excursions often entailed were not without their attraction for him; his genial nature was happy in simple intercourse with his fellowman, while the varied beauties of the extenal world ever gave him deep and keen delight. Year after year every nook and corner of Ireland and Wales was thus explored." The result of these annual expeditions was that before his death Sir S. Ferguson had visited and taken casts of almost every Ogham monument in Great Britain, with the exception of those in Scotland. One hundred and sixty-three of these casts have been photographed by direction of the Royal Irish Academy, and twenty-one have been published in their Transactions. This being the case, it is a matter of extreme regret, and one which very much detracts from the value of the book, that it contains no illustrations whatever, although all this material was available. The readings of the inscriptions only are given, so that without referring to other works or seeing the stones themselves the reader has no means of testing their accuracy.

It is bardly necessary to remind members of the Cambrian Archæological Association that the Ogham alphabet is formed by straight strokes (numbering from one to five), branching out on either side of a stem-line, or cutting right across it. The twenty letters of the alphabet are divided into four groups of five each, thus :



M G Ng St R


Assuming the stem-line to be horizontal, the first group consists of cross-strokes drawn at right angles below the line; the second of cross-strokes drawn at right angles above the line; the third of long strokes drawn diagonally across the line; and the fourth of short strokes drawn at right angles across the line. In addition to the above there is a supplementary group of diphthongs, called the "Forfeada" or "overtrees", expressing the following sounds:

Ea oi vi Ia ле

The origin of the Ogham alphabet is a hard nut to crack. Canon Isaac Taylor has attempted to solve the problem, in his Greeks and Goths, and so has Prof. Rhys, in his Lectures on Welsh Philology; but no satisfactory answers have been given to the questions, Who invented it, Celts or Scandinavians? When was it invented? Is it founded on the Roman alphabet, or derived from the Runic Futhorc? The tradition in Ireland is that it was invented by the half-mythical Tuatha de Danaan, a colony supposed to have come from the north of Europe through Scotland. There are some curious resemblances between the Ogham and the Runic alphabets, both being formed of straight strokes branching out of a stem-line; both being divided into groups of letters; and both having the letters called after the names of trees. The later Runic alphabet or Futhorc consists of sixteen letters, arr arranged in three groups, thus:


Setting aside, as being contrary to experience, the possibility of a new alphabet of letters representing sounds having been invented by an illiterate people without passing through the hieroglyphic and other stages of development, it is evident that both the Runic and Ogham alphabets must have been derived from either the Greek or Roman ones; but the secret of the alteration of the order of the letters has yet to be discovered. The fourth group of the Ogham alphabet consists entirely of vowels, which explains its raison d'être; and Sir S. Ferguson suggests that the second group is an anagram of the words for one, two, three, four, five in the ancient Celtic speech, thus:




but this theory appears to be very far-fetched.

1 These being the ones derived from the Phoenician alphabet, which the Celts and Scandinavians would be most likely to have seen.

The disfavour into which the study of Ogham inscriptions has fallen at various times, and the openly sceptical opinions which have been expressed as to this kind of letter having any meaning at all, arise from the uncertainty as to what the true readings should be. Sir S. Ferguson gives a clear explanation in the first chapter of the reasons why correct readings are so difficult to obtain, even when the key to the alphabet is known. Errors are due to four distinct causes: (1) imperfections in the alphabet itself; (2) want of skill on the part of the writer or carver; (3) destruction of parts of the inscription by the effects of the weather; and (4) inequality in the angle of the stone used as the stem-line.

The Ogham alphabet has an inherent defect which exists in no other, for the shapes of the letters give no clue as to whether the inscription is in the proper position for being read, or whether it is upside down. In some cases also the inscriptions are intended to read from right to left, instead of from left to right. There are thus four distinct ways of reading an inscription, because the first group of letters, if placed in its proper position, with the cross-strokes below the horizontal stem-line, and read forwards (i.e., from left to right), gives BLFSN; but if read backwards (i.e., from right to left), NSFLB; if placed upside down and read forwards it becomes HDTCQ; and if read backwards in the same position, QCTDH.

The want of skill on the part of the writer or carver of the inscription may cause the strokes forming a letter to be inexactly spaced, and in the older Ogham inscriptions there are no points to separate the words. The effects of weathering or fracture of the stone may remove the strokes on one side of the stem-line or at one end of a letter, thus entirely altering its value. On the Ogham monuments the angle of the stone is generally used as the stemline, and if it is not perfectly even it is often difficult to tell on which side of the line the cross-strokes are intended to be.

Sir S. Ferguson says: • With so many causes of uncertainty, inherent and external, it is not surprising that scholars of fifty years ago looked upon Oghamic investigation as an unpromising employment. Sir James Ware and Mr. Astle had made public the fact that such an alphabet existed, and that Irish manuscripts of respectable antiquity professed to give examples of several varieties of it, and to furnish keys. Lhuyd, the father of CambroBritish archæology, had seen the Ogham inscribed stone of Bruscos on the strand at Trabeg Creek, near Dingle Harbour, in Kerry. Petrie had made known the general appearance of such a monument by bis drawing of the Ogham-inscribed pillar-stone at St. Manchan's, in the same neighbourhood; but he did not at that time regard such an inscription as true alphabetic writing, and attempted no transliteration of the digits he had drawn.”

The key to the Ogham alphabet is given in the Book of Ballymote, a compilation of the fourteenth century preserved in the Library of the Royal Irish Academy in Dublin, and a knowledge of the meaning of the Ogham letters still survives amongst the



common people in the South of Ireland in a doggrel rhyme beginning with the following lines :

“For B one stroke at your right hand,
And L doth always two demand ;
For F draw three, for S make four ;

When you want Ñ you add one more." Sir S. Ferguson quotes a curious passage out of the Windele MSS., in the Library of the Royal Irish Academy, about a man named Collins, living at Duneen, co. Cork, who, in our own day, painted a long Irish poem on the Zodiac in the Ogham character upon his favourite walking-stick, and was also summoned before the magistrates for putting his name on his cart in similar letters. The accuracy of the key given in the Book of Ballymote has been proved by the Right Rev. Dr. Charles Graves, Bishop of Limerick, who applied the well-known cypher-test to the Ogham inscriptions of Ireland, and also by the discovery of the Sagramnus biliteral and bilingual stone at St. Dogmael's, in Pembrokeshire.

Sir S. Ferguson's book contains seven chapters, the first being introductory, the next four dealing with the inscriptions of Ireland, the sixth with those of Wales and Devon, and the last with those of Scotland. The arrangement is geographical, the monuments being described in the order in which they were visited, with remarks as to the surrounding scenery and the situation of each. The whole is divided into numbered paragraphs with marginal notes in the most systematic manner, so that, with the aid of a complete index and list of contents, the labour of looking out any particular passage is reduced to a minimum. In this respect it compares very favourably with the slovenly manner in which many archæological writers put their work together. The exact position of each monument is carefully defined, and a reference given to the sheet of the Ordnance Map where the place is marked. Many authors of papers in the journals of archæological societies kuow so well where the localities they mention are to be found, that they assume their readers are equally well informed, and consequently omit such very necessary information as the number of the sheet of the Ordnance Map, the county, parish, the number of miles north, south, east, or west of some large town, and the distance from the nearest railway station. The omission of particulars of this kind causes a vast amount of unnecessary trouble and annoyance to students.

Sir S. Ferguson has produced a handbook of the Ogham monuments of Great Britain which will be a great help to future inquirers wishing to visit the localities where they are to be found, and it is also valuable as giving a careful series of readings of the inscriptions; but it leaves completely untouched all the most interesting problems connected with the subject. If these problems are ever to be solved, it must be by some person like Prof. John Rhys, who possesses a thorough knowledge of the Celtic language. Sir S.

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