|Baby Rock - page 2|
Rock itself is only about five feet high and ten feet in diameter.
Entirely covered with inscriptions, it must have been in use for
many years. The very wealth
of writing itself makes translation extremely difficult, since it’s
often hard to tell where one inscription leaves off and another begins.
Ogham here is typical of that found in the eastern U.S. and in the
Midwest. There are several
different styles. In some
cases there are words formed with a traditional baseline and vertical
strokes. In others, a natural
crevice is used as baseline. Other
words are inscribed without a base. There are some symbols that appear to
be vowel indicators, typical of later forms of Ogham; in some cases a
vowel is indicated with an extended vertical stroke.
I must make a disclaimer: I am neither an Ogham expert nor a linguist; I
am merely a reporter. However,
with even my scant familiarity with this alphabet, I was able to recognize
one word almost immediately. This
was “B-L,” the name of the sun god Baal or Bel in Ogham consaine.
It is found in at least two prominent places on top of the rock. The letter “B” is a later American form, like a “V”
on its side. The “L” is
two short vertical strokes with no baseline.
inscription I could make out appears to spell: “M-G, M-H-M-B.”
The separation between the first and second word is indicated by
the way the letters slant. According
to Barry Fell, “M-H-M-B” refers to Mahair Mabon, the Celtic mother
goddess whose name is often found on fertility stones.
The meaning of “M-G” is uncertain.
Barry Fell gives the meaning of “fog or mist,” but in Old Irish
“mag” is an open field. This
would make sense in the context – “Field of the Mother Goddess.”
I became aware of the above translation on flipping through America
B.C. There, on page 240, I found a picture of an almost
identical inscription on a fertility stone in Vermont. 1
aware that I’m on shaky ground here.
We don’t even know for sure what language this is.
I prefer to leave the difficult task of translation to others. However, it was startling to discover a similar Ogham
inscription in California and on a “baby rock” in New England!
the obvious sun marker on top, there are a number of other designs
probably astronomical in nature, but less apparent in their purpose.
There are nine sunburst designs.
There are also two other designs with holes in the center – but
these are square holes, rather than round.
detail I found puzzling, since I could not understand why someone would
want a tiny square hole rather than a round one; nor could I understand
how they were made without metal tools.
I realized that until the 19th Century, most hand wrought nails
were square in shape. Probably
the maker wanted a peg for casting a shadow in the design, but instead of
using wood he simply drove a nail into the rock.
The nail may have remained there for years, until it rusted and
fell out, leaving a perfect square hole.
This fact would indicate the rock was in use until well after the
hope I have conveyed something of my sense of amazement on the day I first
saw Indian Rock. But this was
nothing to my sense of amazement later, when I began to examine some of
the previous reports filed on this same artifact.
such report describes the “rock art” in great detail:
top of the boulder bears hundreds of cupules and incised grooves…
the incised grooves form sometimes complex, parallel-line,
radiating, and intersecting-line patterns, often associated with one or
writer counted a total of 214 cupules.
Oddly, he never mentions that some of them are blackened inside, as
if they had been used for burning incense or some other substance.
What I found odder still was his complete lack of awareness of
the other hand, I was not surprised at the fact that none of the previous
investigators had noticed that the rock is covered with writing.
It has been long standing dogma that Indians were illiterate.
In reality, it is the archeologists who are illiterate.
what are we to make of this artifact?
What is it trying to tell us?
That the Celts reached California and traded with the Indians?
Possibly, but not necessarily.
There are several other possibilities:
alternate scenario is that the Ogham alphabet traveled independently all
the way to the West Coast and was adopted by the Pomo, Wappo and Mi-Wok.
This is not impossible, since Ogham is one of the oldest forms of
writing known; it may be related to Sumerian Cuneiform. 2
On the other hand, I’m skeptical about this idea because of the lack of
supporting evidence. Furthermore,
why would a Pomo use the names of Celtic gods such as Baal and Mahair
would like to propose a third possibility.
Ogham was an evolving and changing alphabet; the early forms were
not identical to the later styles.
my hypothesis that Gaelic or Celtic traders introduced Ogham quite early
to the East Coast of the U.S. Certainly
they left plenty of inscriptions to prove that.
Americans would have observed the inscriptions and regarded them as a form
of magic. They began to copy
some of the more important symbols, such as “Baal.”
This symbol ceased to be a phonetic spelling and became an
ideogram, meaning “God,” “Sun,” or perhaps, “Power.”
The word thus traveled unchanged yet unverbalized all the way
across the continent.
theory may be wrong, but I can not find a more plausible one.
Indian Rock sits there in the middle of a horse pasture, year after year,
in hot sun and drenching rain, bearing its silent message through the long
years. Formed of diorite, it
is a hard, brittle stone that may endure for centuries, or until the creek
undermines its foundation and it topples in.
The rock’s message will last a long time, but not forever.
day, I hope a real epigrapher may undertake the daunting task of
translating Baby Rock. I hope it happens before our history is lost
Note: There is a great deal more to learn from this rock, and more to be said about it. I will limit myself, however, to one brief addendum to this first article: Final Word
For a view of some Ogam found in a different area of California, look here.