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An Iron Age Celtic Bibliography


"The Celts" by T G E Powell (Thames and Hudson, 1SBN 0-500-27275-1) is one of the first texts, published in 1958, and is still one of the best.

"The Celts: First Masters of Europe" by Christiane Eluere (Thames and Hudson, ISBN 0 500 300348) is cheap, colourful, accurate and excellent.

"The History of the Celtic People" by Henri Hubert (Bracken Books, ISBN 1-85170-952-5) is the first text (as far as we know), published in 1934. A little dated, but interesting and dramatic.

"The Celts" by Frank Delaney (Hodder & Sloughton, ISBN 0-340-349328) covers the whole history and mythology of the Celts in a broad sweep.

"The Celtic World" by Barry Cunliffe (Constable, ISBN 0-09-471640-4) is a huge, luscious coffee-table book, lovely to look at and state-of-the-art.

"The Celts" by Duncan Norton-Taylor (Time-Life Books, no apparent ISBN) is thorough, well written, nicely illustrated and very hard to get hold of.

There are numerous chiIdren's books which are very good, such as "The Celts" by Robin Place in the Macdonald Peoples of the Past series (ISBN 0 356 05470 5). This is a good one to keep for showing to new re-enactors.

Another one is "The Celts" by Hazel Mary Martell in the Hamlyn See Through History series (ISBN 0-600-58414-3), with neat see-through acetate scenes.

In 1991 Venice hosted the best Celtic exhibition there will ever be. The English translation of the catalogue is "The Celts" (popular title) by about 50 authors, published by Bompiani, with no ISBN I can find. It is huge (800 pages) and expensive (£25 in paperback), but packed with detail and glorious full colour photos on every aspect of Celtic culture. For hard-core Celtophiles.

"Celtic Britain" by Lloyd Laing (Paladin, ISBN 0-586-08373-1) is a little dry, but good value.


Way of Life

Any book by Anne Ross is illuminating, such as "The Pagan Celts" (Batsford, ISBN 0 7134 5527 6). This describes everyday life.

"The Everyday Life of a Celtic Farmer" by Giovanni Caselli (Macdonald & Co ISBN 0-356-11366-3) is a good chiIdren's book, except that the Celts help a wounded Roman instead of hacking his head off.

"The Catuvellauni" by Keith Branigan (Alan Sutton, ISBN 0 86299 255 9) is scholarly and dry, but thorough.

"Boudicca and the Ancient Britons" by Lucilla Watson (Wayland, ISBN 0 85078 760 2) is for kids, derivative, not terribly accurate but OK for kids.

"Butser Iron Age Farm" by P J Reynolds (Later Dr Reynolds, British Museum Publications, London, 1979) is the definitive book on how to build a round-house.



The best primer is definitely "Rome's Enemies (2): Gallic and British Celts" by Peter Wilcox, number 158 in the Osprey Men-At-Arms series (ISBN 0-85045-606-1, 1985). It covers all major historical events and is superbly illustrated by Angus McBride.

There is also "Celtic Warrior 300 BC - AD 100" by Stephen Allen, number 30 in the Osprey Military series (ISBN 1-84176-143-5, 2001), and adequately illustrated by Wayne Reynolds (but there's only one Angus McBride).

"Ancient Celts" by Tim Newark (Concord Publications, ISBN 962-361-623-6, 1997) is a big soft cover book filled with terrific illustrations by the inimitable Angus McBride.

In the same vein is "Barbarians" by Tim Newark (Concord Publications, ISBN 962-361-634-1, 1998), also featuring illustrations by Angus McBride.

"Celtic Warriors" by Tim Newark (Blandford Press, ISBN 0-7137-16908) is a proper hard-back and thouroughly covers 400 BC to AD 1600.

There is an excellent section on the Celts in "Greece and Rome at War" by Peter Connolly (Macdonald, ISBN 0-7481-0109-8).

"Celtic Warriors" by W F and J N G Ritchie (Shire, ISBN 0-852637144) is OK . Giggle at the top photo, page 39.

"The Conquest of Gaul" by Caesar (Penguin Classics, ISBN 0-14-044433-5). It may be written by a war criminal, but it is an eye-witness report, and hence of interest.

"The Armies and Enemies of Imperial Rome" by Phil Barker (Wargames Research Group publication, no apparent ISBN) has a few good Celtic bits.

"The Celtic Empire" by Peter Beresford Ellis (GuiId, no apparent ISBN) is OK .



"The Gods of the Celts" by Miranda Green (Alan Sutton Publishing ISBN 0-86299-292-3) is about their religion and beliefs.

"Dictionary of Celtic Myth and Legend" by Miranda Green (Thames and Hudson, ISBN 0-500-01516-3) is thorough and handy.

"Animals in Celtic Life and Myth" by Miranda Green (Routledge, ISBN 0-415-05030-8) is also thorough. I think Miranda may be secretly a druid.



If you have any pretensions at all to understanding the Celtic temperament you MUST read "The Tain" translated by Thomas Kinsella (Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-281090-1). It separates the men from the boys.

And while you're reading that, why not listen to these most excellent and bodacious soundtracks:

"The Tain" by Horslips (CD by Homespun Records, MOOCD 5), a musical interpretation of the myth.

"Cuchulain" by Van Morrison (tape by Moles Records, MRILC 012), a raw and powerful telling of the story whilst obviously drunk.

"Myths and Legends of the Celtic Race" by T W Rolleston is now out of copyright and back in print and therefore cheap (Senate, ISBN 1-85958-006-8). The myths are essential to appreciating the Celtic temperament.

Somehow he came back 80 years later and managed to produce "The Illustrated Guide to Celtic Mythology" (Studio Editions, ISBN 1-85170-882-0). Less words and more pictures, but still good.

"Celtic Myth & Legend" by Charles Squire dates from the same period (circa 1915) and is also pretty good. I don't know if it is in reprint or has an ISBN.

 "Lady Gregory's Complete Irish Mythology" (including "Gods and Fighting Men" and "Cuchulain of Muirthmne") by Lady Gregory (Smithmark, ISBN 0-7651-9824-X) is the first translation into English of the old myths, but it's by a Victorian girl so its a bit flowery.

"Early Irish Literature" by Myles Dillon (Four Courts Press, ISBN 1-85182-177-5) covers some stuff most books leave out.

"The Mabinogion" by Gwyn Jones and Thomas Jones (Everyman's Library, ISBN 0-460-11097-7) is a definite classic.


Beware books claiming to be about Celtic art. They usually mean post-Roman dark-age Book of Kells Anglo-Christian art from the 6th century AD onwards, not pagan Celtic La Tene art which dates no later than the 1st century AD.

"Celtic Art" by I M Stead (British Museum, ISBN 0-7141-2031-6) is an excellent introduction.

"Celtic Art" by Ruth and Vincent Megaw (Thames and Hudson, ISBN 0-500-05050-3) is huge.

"Early Celtic Art in Britain and Ireland" by Ruth and Vincent Megaw (Shire, ISBN 0-85263-679-2) is cheap and cheerful.

"Art of the Celts" by Lloyd and Jennifer Laing (Thames and Hudson, ISBN 0-500-20256-7).

"Celtic Art in Pagan and Christian Times" by J Romilly Allen (Bracken Books, ISBN 1-85891-075-7) ia another venerable old tome out of copyright, back in print and cheap.

"Early Celtic Art in Northern Britain" by Morner McGregor (Oxford University Press, 1976) is recommended by Orm.

One iron age Celtic art form was warpaint, and probably the definitive article on this obscure subject was written by this author and appears in body art issue 20, published by Publications Ltd. "Painted Britons" by Karl Gallagher.

"Early celtic Art in Ireland" by Eamonn Kelly (National Mueseum of Ireland, ISBN 0-946172-34-X, 1993) Covers Iron Age art in Ireland and evolution into the later Christian styles.

"Celtic Coinage in Britain" by Phillip de Jersey (shire, ISBN 0-7478-0325-0) is cheap and an excellent reference for British coins.


"Danebury - Anatomy of an Iron Age Hillfort" by Barry Cunliffe (Batsford, ISBN 0-7134-0999-1) is thorough and readable.

"Hillforts of England and Wales" by James Dyer (Shire, ISBN 0-7478-0180-0) is short and sweet.

"The Lake Villages of Somerset" by Arthur Bulleid (Glastonbury Antiquarian Society) is the classic text on the Glastonbury lake villages, containing details on their way of life and posessions.

"Arthur Bulleid and the Glastonbury Lake Village" by John Coles, Armynell Goodall and Stephen Minnitt (Somerset Levels Project, ISBN 0 9507122 1 3) is all about the above book, and is far less interesting.

"The Life and Death of a Druid Prince" by Anne Ross (Rider, ISBN 0-7126-2511-9) is a scholarly and imaginative work on Lindow Man.

"Towns, Villages and Countryside of Celtic Europe" by Francoise Audouze and Olivier Buchsenschutz (BCA) is scholarly and full of useful information.

"Iron Age Cemeteries in East Yorkshire" by I M Stead (British Museum Press, ISBN 1 85074 3517) is packed with useful information, including everything you need to know to reconstruct the Kirkburn Sword.

"The Arras Culture" by I M Stead (Echo Press, SBN 902 357 03 4) is less weighty and fills in some of the holes in the above.



There are plenty of mists and twilight pseudo-Celtic novels around, but we think these are the best.

"The Black Charioteer" by Hugh Paterson (Dobson, SBN 234 77296 4). Set around and after the Battle of Medway, and the best Celtic novel we've found yet.

"The People of the Horse" by Mary Mackie (Star, ISBN 0-352-32112-1). Boudicca, sex and violence.

"Red Branch" by Morgan Llywelyn (Ivy, ISBN 0-8041-0591-X). The best novelization there will ever be of the Ulster Cycle. Also published as "On Raven's Wing".



These are pretty thin on the ground.

Viking Queen
For a laugh, or a cry, try
"The Viking Queen", by Warner/Hammer in 1967. It has nothing to do with Vikings, and not much to do with Celts either really. It follows the Boudicca story pretty accurately, but Boudicca is renamed Selena for some stupid reason, and played by a Swedish beauty queen known only as Carita.

Less glossy, but carrying the Brigantia seal of total approval is the documentary Boudicca, produced by Cromwell Films for Castle Vision for W.H. Smith in 1994. Highly accurate, and starring several Celtic re-enactment societies including Prytani, the Silures, the Catuvellauni, the Cantiacci and Brigantia, and the Arthurian society Britannia. This is now being seen on the Discovery channel from time to time. The horrors of human sacrifice are demonstrated by this author (the druid with the handful of guts). This time Boudicca is played by Andrea Mason, currently appearing on the British cop show "The Bill". Paullinus, you're nicked.


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