Early Medieval Celtic Art in Britain and Ireland: A Curator’s Perspective

Gundestrup Cauldron. Silver. Gundestrup, northern Denmark, 100 BC–AD 1. © The National Museum of Denmark.

Martin Golberg, Senior Curator at the National Museums of Scotland, travelled to the British Museum to give audiences perspective on the various pieces in the exhibit as well as an introduction to what constitutes “Celtic” art.

Celtic Mythology in the Arthurian Legend

Gundestrup cauldron

The aim of this thesis is to find out whether there are some aspects, themes or symbols of the pagan Celtic mythology that appear in the Arthurian legend and if so, what role they play there and to what extent they influence the legend.

Who Were The Celts? The British Museum Offers Answers with New Exhibition

Gundestrup Cauldron Silver  Gundestrup, northern Denmark, 100 BC–AD 1 © The National Museum of Denmark. The British Museum. Photo by Medievalists.net

The British Museum just opened its latest exhibit, Celts: Art and Identity this past Thursday, covering 2,500 years of Celtic history. The exhibit explores Celtic identity and how it eveolved from the time of the Ancient Greeks to the present through art, culture, daily life, religion and politics.

5 Cool Celtic Things at the British Museum

(L) Horned helmet. Bronze, glass, Found along the Thames river near Waterloo, London, England (200-100 BC). (R) Greek helmet, bronze. Olympia, South-Western Greece (460 BC), The British Museum.Photo by Medievalists.net.

I attended the opening of the British Museum’s, Celts: Art and Identity exhibit on Sept 24th. It showcases stunning art, jewellery, weaponry, daily and religious objects to tell the story of the Celtic people.

Lughnasa and Lammas: Summer Holidays Lost and Found Again

John Linnell - The Harvest Cradle 1859

For centuries two holidays were celebrated by neighboring peoples on the same day. The people were the Celts and the Anglo-Saxons, and their holidays were Lughnasa and Lammas respectively.

Researchers create genetic map of the British Isles

Image credit: Stephen Leslie et al/Nature

Many people in the UK feel a strong sense of regional identity, and it now appears that there may be a scientific basis to this feeling, according to a landmark new study into the genetic makeup of the British Isles.

ARTICLES: The Deflation of the Medieval in Joyce’s Ulysses

Marilyn Monroe Reading Ulysses

For James Joyce, Irish nationalism, with its appeal to patriotic emotionality and promotion of interest in the archaic and medieval Irish past, was suspect.

Britain and the Beginning of Scotland

King Cinaed mac Ailpín (Kenneth Mac Alpin - King of the Picts

Until recently it was generally held that Scotland first began to take shape with a union of Picts and Scots under Cinaed mac Ailpín, who died in 858.

The Economy of Early Medieval Ireland

Medieval agriculture

The Old Irish law tracts have been the subject of many serious studies. In the early twentieth century the forensic philology of the great European Celticists, such as Rudolf Thurneysen or Kuno Meyer, prepared the ground for later philologists, such as Daniel Binchy and Liam Breatnach.

Sex and obscenity in medieval art

Sex 2

When researching early or ‘forbidden’ historical subjects it can be a considerable challenge finding primary sources that give a first-hand experience of contemporary events.

The Early German Settlement of North Eastern Moravia: and What the Pied Piper of Hamelin Had to Do with It

Pied Piper of Hamelin

Long ago, primordial forests, dark and impenetrable, surrounded the mountainous frontier, which today separates northeastern Bohemia from large parts of northern Moravia in the Czech Republic. This area was situated north of the sparsely populated flatlands of the March (Morava) River. The stillness of the forests remained largely undisturbed by man.

St. Ninian of Whithorn

Saint Ninian

My interest here is in finding usable information regarding the centuries before Bede and in the way in which new data, especially the outstanding recent archaeological discoveries at Whithom in Wigtownshire (which is certainly the site of Candida Casal. might support and add to his picture of St. Ninian and the importance of his church at Candida Casa.

Samhain: How Ritual Formed and Formation of Irish Celtic Identity

Samhain on the Coligny Calendar, dating from the 2nd century AD

There are many lines of inquiry to explore in the analysis of Samhain’s role in Celtic identity, including: What constituted the Celtic identity? What did the Celtic community hold as its core values, ideals, hopes, and fears? How did Samhain rituals establish and reaffirm Celtic identity?

War dogs among the early Irish

War Dogs History Ireland

In the Celtic world, as elsewhere, canines were admired for their senses of sight, smell and hearing. Dogs were used on hunting expeditions and to guard homes, as domestic pets and as a source of food

Orkney’s Terrible Trows

trows - Illustration of Walter Stenström's The boy and the trolls or The Adventure in childrens' anthology Among pixies and trolls, a collection of childrens' stories, 1915.

Trows are fascinating creatures found only in the folklore of the Orkney and Shetland islands. Yet, describing them accurately is difficult because sources are not always clear.

BOOKS: Happy St. Patrick Day! New reads to celebrate Medieval Ireland!

The Element Encyclopedia Of The Celts

BOOKS: Happy St. Patrick Day! New reads to celebrate Medieval Ireland!

Faerie Folklore in Medieval Tales: An Introduction

Celtic Faeries

Defining the term ‘faerie’ is not easy; some definitions include only specific, pre-Christian types of mythological creatures while other definitions include all of the spirits, angels and supernatural animals as well as the souls of the dead. I will take a middle road and include the spirits and the souls of the dead, since the dead and the faeries have an intimate connection in the folklore of the British Isles.

From Paganism to Christianity: Transition of the Insular Celts As Seen Through The Archaeological Record

Pagan Celtic

These centuries of tension and adaptation provide the evidence for the interaction of Christianity and Celtic religions, but one must use caution when examining Celtic religion because of potentially biased evidence.

Property Rights in Celtic Irish Law

Medieval Celtic Law text

Unfortunately, many historians not specializing in the study of the ancient Irish law tracts have been unaware of the textual inaccuracies of the O’Curry – O’Donovan translations and have continued to incorporate their older unscientific work, and that of their editors, into their own work.

What can written sources, sculpture and archaeology tell us about Pictish identity and how this might have changed between the sixth and ninth centuries?

Dupplin Cross

Arguably one of the biggest changes in how the Picts portrayed themselves is understood through their use of sculpture. The earliest is thought to date to around the fifth century (Historic Scotland, 2012) lending itself to the Class I typology.

The pattern of settlement on the Welsh border

Medieval Wales - agriculture

The attempt made in this paper to answer these questions will be based almost entirely on Welsh evidence. The English evidence, examined and re- examined since the late nineteenth century, is already sufficiently familiar to members of the British Agricultural History Society.

The Arthur of the chronicles

King Arthur

Even if we cannot accept the claim made by Geoffrey in his introduction that his putative source was ‘attractively composed to form a consecutive andorderly narrative’, he certainly made extensive use ofWelsh genealogies andking-lists.

Lofty Depths and Tragic Brilliance: The Interweaving of Celtic and Anglo-Saxon Mythology and Literature in the Arthurian Legends

The Lady of the Lake offering Arthur the sword Excalibur.

Arthur and his knights are set apart from other literary heroes because of their unique construct, a blending of two cultures into one legend.

Juxtaposing Cogadh Gáedel re Gallaib with Orkneyinga saga


My intent in the following paper is to make a case for the usefulness of comparative analysis in a narrower and more specific context, that is, in examining two fascinating but often marginalized medieval works: the Irish Cogadh Gáedel re Gallaib (modern Irish Cogadh Gaedhel re Gallaibh [“The Battle of the Gaels and the Foreigners”]) and the Icelandic/Orcadian Orkneyinga saga (“The Saga of the Orcadians”).

Celticity: Migration or Fashion?

celtic dragon - photo by Alexandre Perez Vigo

The definition of the Celts and Celtic is at the core of Celtic Studies, either in antiquity or the early medieval period.

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