One of the treasures which can be seen in the Robinson Library in Armagh is the Drumconwell Ogham Stone. Over 300 Ogham stones have been found in Ireland, mainly concentrated in the S.W. of Ireland. A few isolated examples have been identified in other parts of Ireland, Wales & the Isle of Man.
Ogham is the earliest known system of writing in Irish. It consists of an alphabet of originally 20 later 25 letters, which are incised along the edge of a stone pillar. The language used is Primitive Irish with early Latin influences. The inscriptions commemorate or record the name of a person and his kinship, X son of Y. The Book of Ballymote a manuscript compiled at Ballymote, Co. Sligo in the fourteenth & fifteenth centuries gives the key of the Ogham script (it is preserved in the Royal Irish Academy Dublin). The stones are generally dated from 4th - 7th Centuries, the period of transition from paganism to Christianity in Ireland.
The Drumconwell Stone stood in the town-land of Drumconwell, 3 miles south of Armagh near to Lisnadill Church on the ancient route way to Armagh and Navan, also near by are the linear earthworks known as Dane’s Cast.
Pillow in 1887 states that the stone stood at the highest point of the field just below a ringfort. The field is known locally as ‘The Graveyard Field.’ Local tradition has it that other stones have been found from time to time in the same field and taken away. In 1990 while inspecting the site R.B. Warner, of the Ulster Museum, found a dome shaped upper stone of an early iron age quern.
In 1897 Pillow and Dr. Reeves moved the stone to its present position in the entrance to the Library where it is cemented into the floor.
It has a flat face, a broken top and simple carved crosses inside a circle, the Ogham marks are down either edge.
The inscriptions are damaged and worn. There have been inconclusive studies by Dr. Reeves - 1883, Rhys - 1895, Hamlin - 1987 and Warner - 1990. Warner’s interpretation is CUN AM AGLOS the old Irish Conmael. The name of the townland Drumconwell being from the Irish Druim Conmhail the ridge of Conmael. There was a King Conmael, King of the Airthir (the people living in Armagh in 7th Century). Could this Drumconwell stone be his grave marker?
Warner, R.B. - The Drumconwell Ogham and its implications - Emania 8 1991.