Direct Comparison of Pictish and Ogham Astronomical Text on the Brandsbutt Ogham Pictish Stone: Confirmation that Ogham and Pictish Glyphs are Compression Languages

Midnight Science (2013-2014), Volume 11, Paper 1

Author: Derek Cunningham

Paper Submitted: 5th June 2013, Published: 5th June 2013


2016 July Website Ad Page The Long JourneyThe Ogham and Pictish diagrams found on the Brandsbutt stone which was found in Aberdeenshire, Scotland align to astronomical values. The co-existence of Ogham and Pictish astronomical text on the same side of the same stone permits for the first time both texts to be aligned to the same analysis angle and thus directly compared. The observation that the Ogham Script and the Pictish glyphs align to the same angular/astronomical values confirms that Pictish stones are pictorial writing and that they were created to encode a specific range of astronomical data.


Previous studies have now shown that Pictish Symbols, and the Ogham Script both contain astronomical data that originates from a much earlier archaic proto-writing (1,9,10).

The astronomical proto-writing found on archaic stones, some of which substantially pre-dates the cuneiform or proto-cuneiform text found in Iraq, differs from the “accepted” definition of “glottography” that was introduced by Pulgram, and phonography as described by Gelb.

In modern studies of ancient written text there is now a strong distinction between written text that specifically replicate the spoken word (these are classified as glottographic (phonetic) languages), semasiographic text (where the symbol may have no correlation to a spoken word), and symbolic text (which can be considered to be an early type of proto-writing) that simply translates daily functions, such as act of simple counting, and creates a marker for that function.

The circa 70,000 year old astronomical text found by the author that is encoded in the blombos cave Ochres (in South Africa), and the even more archaic astronomical text found drawn on a circa 300,000 to 400,000 year old elephant bone in Bilzingsleben, Germany can be argued to be none of these, and is more accurately described as a type of compressional written language, where complex ideas are reduced to their simplest visual representation. Here multiple astronomical values were converted to angles equivalent to the magnitude of the astronomical feature being recorded. This system is thus also outside the semasiographic description,

As the angular values also contain an artistic component this allows the same information to be drawn as multiple variants of the same “idea”. Thus in many ways the text created is more accurately described as a “book”, because behind each line is a substantial body of astronomical knowledge. It is also probable that to properly interpret the meaning behind the lines and all the lines must be taken together, as clearly it would be impossible to interpret just one single line taken in isolation.

Though Ogham is normally associated with only Ireland, Ogham bearing Stones have also been found in Scotland, Wales, the southwest corner of England and on both the Shetland and Orkney Islands. Surprisingly, the Orkney and Shetland Islands are the richest (most dense) region where Ogham and linear grid-type drawings have been found.

The prior analysis of the circa 5,000 year old linear carvings found on the Orkney Venus, and the Skara Brae dressed stone, both discovered recently on the Orkney Islands (3,4) has led to the conclusion that artistic lines drawn on various Orkney pieces are both examples of this angular text, with the lines drawn to match the same array of astronomical values found in much older incised and engraved samples found in Germany (10), Siberia (1), China (9) and South Africa (1). This places the writing found on the Orkney stones to a time period roughly contemporary with Babylonian clay tablets that are impressed with what is believed to be a series of numerical notations, but align to the same angular values seen elsewhere. As with Ogham, the Cuneiform writing style employs both lines and stems and, in the case of Ogham, occasional circles. The Cuneiform style also contains many of the same elements seen in the Windmill Hill stone uncovered in the Stonehenge Heritage Site (20). However, in the Windmill Hill Stone the circular component is reduced to a partial circle, where only part of the circumference of the circle can be seen.

The compressional writing found on the Orkney Venus is also replicated by many younger art pieces, such as the 1,300 year old Pictish artwork found mostly in the northeastern region of Scotland (2,5-8). Of these Pictish stones the Invereen Stone (2) is perhaps the most well preserved, and the most interesting, as the artwork directly suggests the Picts understood both the size of the moon relative to earth and also that the distance from the earth to the moon was circa 30 earth diameters. This same astronomical data is also found encoded in the physical layout of Stonehenge earthworks, which again are roughly contemporary with the Orkney writing (14,15).

In prior studies (1-24), the astronomical values used to analyze the various linear patterns discovered on various stones are again used. These values are zero degrees (perhaps referencing the horizon); 1.0 degrees, which represents the daily motion of earth as it travels around the sun, 5.1 degrees which relates to the moon’s inclination to the ecliptic; 6.5 degrees relates to the 6 synodic month eclipse semester, but calculated instead in draconic months; the values 9.3 and 18.6 relate to the lunar nodal cycle which relates to the precession of the moon’s orbital plane; and the 13.66 and 27.32 degree values corresponds to the half and full sidereal month. A value of 11 degrees is also found in almost all pieces and appears to related to the 11 day difference between the lunar and solar years.

The intent here is to now compare directly these values to the Ogham Script and Pictish Glyphs found on the poetically named Brandsbutt Stone. As both Ogham and Pictish Glyphs are present on the same side of this stone it should now be possible to match directly Ogham to Pictish compressional writing, and in doing so determine if prior astronomical interpretation of Pictish art are indeed correct.


First the Brandsbutt stone is analyzed to see if the Ogham script present on the stone aligns to the standard list of astronomical values presented above (1). Due to considerable damage to the stone that occurred in its destruction in 1866 to make a dyke, and subsequent repair this effort concentrated mainly on the section of the stone bearing the Serpent, the Z-bar and approximately one third of the written Ogham text.

In this study it is found that the lower Ogham section shows reasonable alignment to the listed astronomical values, with the 23.6 degree value being an alignment noted infrequently at several archaeological sites. This value is similar to the latitude for the tropics. The value of 30 is equivalent to the average distance of the moon from earth when measured in earth diameters, and is a value found repeatedly on Pictish Stones.

At this alignment angle, the Z-bar, which is the primary component used for alignment purposed in prior studies of Pictish stones (2-9), the central bar aligns to 5.1 degrees, which is the angle of inclination of the moon’s orbit relative to the ecliptic. This value is found often in the Dunnichen Pictish Stone (8). At this angle the limbs of the Z point upwards at an angle of 89 degrees, creating a 1 degree offset from the vertical. This replicates the pattern seen on other Pictish stones except that in this case the pattern is now rotated by 90 degrees. It is noteworthy that rotational secondary alignments have previously been uncovered on the Orkney Venus Stone, and also the Invereen Pictish Stone.

After rotation of the sample by 90 degrees the orientation of the stem, or ridge-line, on which the Ogham text is drawn then also aligns initially to 5.1 degrees, (the lunar angle of inclination relative to the ecliptic), and then changes angle to 9.3 degrees (which is the duration taken for the moon to travel between apogee and perigee). A careful study of the stone after the break suggests the repairs are not 100% accurate, and thus no attempt is made here to study the line further.

At this secondary angle the Pictish stone now aligns to the same prior orientation as the many Pictish stones analyzed previously in this series (2-9), and in agreement with the prior studies of the Pictish Stones the Brandsbutt stone also produces potential secondary angular data where the circumferences of the various circles can be joined to create hidden angular values. Further work is however required to confirm these alignments, and to determine if other astronomical data can be reliably extracted from what remains of the Pictish Glyph.

Discussion and Conclusions

The study of Ogham and Pictish astronomical writing now argues that both both writing styles are related, and both originate from a detailed understanding of astronomy.

It is suggested from this work that the Pictish artwork is much more secretive in nature, with some components only partially drawn. However, in contrast to Pictish artwork in the case of Ogham there are typically no circular components present on many stones, and thus it is also encoded and difficult to see the hidden astronomical values contained in the texts.


  1. 400,000 Years of Stone Age Science, Author Derek Cunningham, Amazon Kindle.
  2. D. Cunningham, Accurate Drawing of the Earth and Moon in Pictish Artwork: A Detailed Analysis of the Invereen Stone, Midnight Science Vol. 8, (2011-2013) Paper 4.
  3. D. Cunningham, Analysis of the Orkney Venus: Suggestion of Proto-writing in the Alignment of the Etched lines Present on the Orkney Venus Statue to Standard Lunar Astronomical Values, and the Suggestion of an Archaic Global Civilization, Midnight Science Vol. 8 (2011-2012), Paper 2.
  4. D. Cunningham, The Decorated Stone of Skara Brae: Presence of Astronomical Data Similar in Structure to that seen at the Irkutsk Geoglyph Field Midnight Science Vol. 9 (2012-2013), Paper 1.
  5. D. Cunningham, Analysis of the Aberlemno 1 (Serpent Stone): Evidence of Accurate Knowledge of the Moon’s Orbit in Pictish Artwork, Midnight Science Vol. 9 (2012-2013), Paper 2.
  6. D. Cunningham, Interpretation of Astronomical Data in Pictish Artwork: Analysis of the Aberlemno III Pictish Stone, Midnight Science Vol. 9 (2012-2013), Paper 3.
  7. D. Cunningham, Analysis of the Fiscavaig Pictish Stone: The Presence of Basic Astronomical Data, Midnight Science Vol. 9 (2012-2013), Paper 4.
  8. D. Cunningham, Analysis of the Astronomical Data Contained in the Dunnichen Stone, Midnight Science Vol. 9 (2012-2013), Paper 5.
  9. D, Cunningham, Analysis of the Astronomical Data Contained within the Engraved Stone uncovered at the Shuidonggou Paleolithic Site, Northwest China, Midnight Science Vol. 9 (2012-2013), Paper 6.
  10. D. Cunningham, Presence of Astronomical Art in the 400,000 year old Bilzingsleben Bone Artifacts, Midnight Science Vol. 9 (2012-2013), Paper 9.
  11. D. Cunningham, Preliminary Analysis of Tibetan Mascoid Art: Presence of Astronomical Data Consistent with Knowledge of Eclipses and Lunar Motion, Midnight Science Vol. 9 (2012-2013), Paper 10.
  12. D. Cunningham, Preliminary Analysis of the Acre Geoglyph Field for Evidence of Astronomical Art, Midnight Science, Vol. 9 (2012-2013), Paper 12.
  13. D. Cunningham, Analysis of the Fazenda Colorada site in Brazil for alignment to astronomical values, Midnight Science Vol. 9 (2013-2014), paper 13.
  14. D. Cunningham Extracting Lunar Astronomical Data from Stonehenge and the Stonehenge Cursus: Evidence of Knowledge of a 365 day year and Knowledge of Lunar and Earth Dimensions in the physical layout of Stonehenge Midnight Science, Vol. 9 (2013-2014), Paper 14.
  15. D.Cunningham, Presence of Proto-Writing in the Engraved Stones uncovered at the Orkney Ness Site, Midnight Science Vol. 8, (2013-2014).
  16. D. Cunnngham, Evidence of Accurate Knowledge of the Size of the Earth and the Moon and Knowledge of Lunar Astronomical Data in the Physical Layout of Stonehenge, Durrington Walls and the Stonehenge Barrows: Uncovering Evidence That Stonehenge Was Once Only A Small Part Of A Much Larger Structure, Midnight Science, Vol. 10 (2013-2014), Paper 2.
  17. D. Cunningham, The Lunar Connection: Linking Stonehenge and Avebury to the Orkney Island Ring of Brodgar, Midnight Science, Vol. 10 (2013-2014), Paper 3.
  18. D. Cunningham, Analysis of linear incised artifact uncovered on the Colorado River for Astronomical Values: A study of early Proto-writing, Midnight Science, Vol. 10 (2013-2014), Paper 5.
  19. D. Cunningham, Analysis of a Carved Rock Discovered at Holt’s Point in Canada: Evidence of Proto-writing and Astronomical Awareness, Midnight Science, Vol. 10 (2013-2014), Paper 6.
  20. D. Cunningham, Analysis of the Windmill Hill engraved Chalk for Astronomical Values, Midnight Science, Vol. 10 (2013-2014), Paper 7.
  21. D. Cunningham, Development of Ogham writing from Lunar Astronomical Values: Analysis of the Ardmore I Stone, Midnight Science, Vol. 10 (2013-2014), Paper 8.
  22. D. Cunningham, Analysis of Ballintaggart I Ogham: Apparent Confirmation that Ogham Writing was Constructed Using Simple Astronomical Values, Midnight Science Vol. 10 (2013-2014), Paper 9.
  23. D. Cunningham, Analysis of the Ballintaggart III Ogham Stone using Astronomical Values to Explain the Angular Alignment of the Drawn Lines, Midnight Science Vol. 10 (2013-2014), Paper 10.
  24. D. Cunningham, The Astronomical Origin of Ogham Writing: Analysis of the Lunar Data Contained on the Drumconwell Ogham Stone, Midnight Science Vol. 10 (2013-2014), Paper 11.
  25. D. Cunningham, Interpretation of the Atacama Giant using Lunar Astronomical Values: A comparison with the Cerne Abbas Giant of England, Midnight Science Vol 10 (2013-2014), Paper 12.
  26. Palreolithic Sites in Trans-Baikal, by A. P. Okladnikov, Translated by Chester S. Chard,


© 2010 – 2013 Derek Cunningham; Midnight Science, ISSN 2160-0201; Volume 11, Paper 1.

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