Corpus Refs:Forsyth/1996:9
Discovery:non-arch dig, 1852 Charlton, E.
History:Forsyth/1996, 117: `This cross-slab was first brought to public attention by Edward Charlton, the Newcastle-on-Tyne Antiquary, who, in 1852, had been informed by W.H. Fotheringham of Kirkwall of the existence of a 'runic' inscriptions in the minister's garden at the manse on the Island of Bressy, Shetland. The slab had been found by a labourer digging a piece of waste land near the old churchyard of Cullingsburgh (formerly known as Culbinsgarth) on the east side of the island sometime before. It was first taken to Gourdie House the home of Captain Cameron Mowat of Garth, and was later brought to the churchyard of Bressay by the minister Rev. Dr Zachary Macaulay Hamilton. Dr Charlton visited Shetland that summer and, seeing the stone, recognized the inscription as ogham. Dr Hamilton lent him the stone which he took back with him to Newcastle ... and exhibited the slab at a meeting of the Archaeological Institite of Great Britain in Newcastle-upon-Tyne. ... The stone was sent back to Shetland where it remained until February 1864 when Dr Hamilton presented it to the National Antiquities Museum where it is currently on display NMS Cat. No. IB 109)'.
Geology:Forsyth/1996, 119: `Chlorite schist'.
Dimensions:1.15 x 0.4 x 0.05 (Forsyth/1996)
Setting:in display
Location:National Museum of Antiquities (Cat: NMS Cat. No. IB 109.)
Forsyth/1996, 117, states that the stone is in the National Museum of Antiquities.
Forsyth/1996, 118: `A tall, very thin cross-slab, tapering at the bottom. Sculpted on its broad faces with low relief decoration and incised up the length of both flat, narrow faces with ogham letters'.
Condition:complete , good
Forsyth/1996, 119: `Good, complete'.
Crosses:1: arcs; interlace; straight; plain; circular; circular; none; angular; decorated
Decorations:animal; figural; geometric other

Forsyth/1996, 119--121: `Both faces of this rather wedge-shaped slab are completely covered with carving in low and false relief'.

Front: `Two beasts with massive heads and tiny bodies face each other over the top of the slab. They hold between them in their jaws a small human figure, who may be intended to represent Jonah'.

Back: `This face is divided into three unequal panels framed by plain narrow bands. The top panel occupies half of the face and contains a cross with a ring, all created out of a single band of interlace...The narrow middle panel, which takes up about a sixth of the face, consists of a pair of opposing lions facing each other with open jaws. The bottom panel contains two profile ecclesiastics like the ones on the front. Around the cross is an interlace of two-strand ring-twist of a distinctive pattern `typical of Norse-influenced sculpture of Clydeside, south-west Scotland, Wales and elsewhere' [Stevenson 1955:28]'.

Allen/Anderson/1903, 6--10, also gives a detailed description of decoration of this stone.





Allen/Anderson/1903 8 reading only
Forsyth/1996 122--126 substantial discussion


Orientation:vertical up
Position:inc ; narrow ; beside cross ; undivided
Forsyth/1996, 119: `The two lines of ogham occupy almost the full length of the narrow edge of the slab...The longer of the two lines, the right-hand side, consists of twenty-nine letters and starts parallel with the feet of the lion. The shorter side, to the left and comprising nineteen letters, begns a little higher, level with the mouth of the lion, and ends a little lower'.
Date:None published
Language:Indeterminate (ogams)
Ling. Notes:Forsyth/1996, 129--136, discusses the text of the inscription. She suggests that CRROSCC and MEQQ are Goidelic while DATTR is possibly Old Norse as are some of the names.
Palaeography:Forsyth/1996, 122--129, `There are five forfeda at Bressay, one of which is repeated. Three of these are paralleled on other Scottish monuments and also in Irish manuscripts, but the other two are unique to Bressay.

Character Right 4:...this is probably not a forfid but rather a corrected error in carving.

Character Right 20. 21: This rabbit-eared character is unique to Bressay. Since it consists of two strokes to the left of the stem previous authorities have taken it as some kind of modified D, presumably the voiced spirant...This seems by far the most likely explanation (and if it is not we can only guess at this character's value), but implies a breakdown in the old convention DD for /d/, D for [voiced aspirant] /d/ (presumably the initial D in the following word has the value /d/ because of the practice of avoiding geminate consonant symbols in word-initial position [Harvey 1987]).

Character Right 28:...angled vowels...may indicate long vowels. Whatever its value, we may take it as some form of A, contrasting with the standard A-character occurring in the previous two words (10, 18, 23).

Character Left 5: ...this unique character, five undulating strokes sloping backwards across the stem, is presumably a vowel, since it occurs between the second and the third of a group of three Ns. As a five-stoke vowel we may take it as some from of I, rather than R. Angled-stroke I...does not occur at Bressay, but since angle-stroke A does, we may have warrant for rejecting /f/ as the value of this character. Though it is really rather different from them, it may be useful to compare instances elsewhere in Scottish oghams of cross-strokes with flaps, e.g. Birsay 1-2 [BIRSY /1, BIRSY/2], Latheron [LARON], Lochgoilhead [LOHED/1, LOHED/2], though most of these face in the opposite direction.

Character Left 15: A character consisting of four-stroke cross-hatching...appears in the late eighth or ninth-century Bern ogham alphabet and syllabary under a label which has previously been read as RR. Sims-Williams has argued convincingly that instead this is SS (1992:38--39, fig. 5), but rather than remove the manuscript key to the Bressay character's value, he has in fact demonstrated the precedent (with the letters BB and LL) which shows that the five-stroke character here...represents RR. Sims-Williams suggests that monograms for LL and RR were generated by 'late but keen-eared ogamists' to represent the geminate or long liquids /ll/ and /rr/ (1992: 72). The context of this character at Bressay, after DD and before OA , fits Sims-Williams interpretation, but if the forfid is /rr/, what then is meant by the doubling of the ordinary R character on the other line of text (right 2/3 and 26/7)? As Macalister points out, though it may be easier to read, this character is not easier to carve, and, since there was ample space for two characters, we can only assume some nuance of phonology/orthography drove its inclusion. The only other instance of this character in practical use is at Burrian [BURIN/1, BURIN/2]. It appears in the Book of Ballymote [No. 64, Calder 1917 Aur. 6085), but there all the letters are doubled and the device has no phonetic significance.

Character Left 16:...This character is discussed in the entry on Formaton [see also Sims-Williams 1992:58-60].'

Forsyth/1996, 119: `Inscription intact, clear, and well preserved'.
Carving errors:1