My study of altar stones began with the study of the Irish Ogham alphabet and Viking runes. Vikings left runic stones as marking stones that outlined property, stones that acted as road markers and memorial stones. The most interesting ones are those raised in memory of Husbands, Brothers and Sons who died during their Viking Voyages. Almost all of the known stones date from about 800 to 1100 C.E.On stone reads: Björn, Ödulv, Gunnar, Holmdis let raise this stone after Ulv, Ginnlög's husband (died). And Åsmund cut. (this stone)
Since the Celts had an oral tradition and not a written one, most of the accounts of the Irish
are those written by foreigners, like the Romans. However, a form of "alphabet" for inscriptions appear on a large number of stones. There are over 300 stones in Ireland which have Ogham inscriptions and other examples are found in Wales, Cornwall, the Isle of Man and western Scotland. It is amazing to listen to the words of the people and the ways they loved their families and their dead.
With my studies centering around the U.K. museums, it was impossible not to come across the Roman remains in England which are plentiful and interesting. Even if most of the altar stones were carved to honor Jupiter or Mars, there were others here and there that taught me much. I could make an entire study of nothing but altar stones. Roman's were great for abbreviating. In common Latin, there are over 280 abbreviations for the letter M. So, I studied dozens of altar and memorial stones to find the patterns. I studied long enough that when there weren't translations, I could do the translating myself. It was more fun that it had any right to be. For a person who doesn't really like puzzles, I loved figuring out how these people thought about those they loved.
So, I decided that one day, I will have a stone carved for my goddess patroness. Until I can afford to do that, I have placed the wording in several placed in my printed Book of Shadows. So I, again, put it here - until I can fulfill my vows.
The abbreviations mean..."To the goddess Bridget, Ardriana, a high priestess, (who) placed this altar for herself and her family, gladly, willingly and deservedly fulfills her vow."
© 2004 Ardriana Cahill