Everyday Life of the Pagan Celts by Anne Ross


Anne Ross is a well-respected writer on the Celts most of her books are on the Celtic Reconstructionist lists and that tells you a lot because as a rule they are very picky.  This book is a part of a series called Everyday Life Of…The other two books in the series are The Everyday Life of the Vikings, and The Everyday Life of the Anglo-Saxons.

The book is copy righted to 1970 so right off you know it is an old book, with outdated information, though not much of it is.  People who are not new to the Celtic history will probably not find anything new in this book.  What impressed me though is the fact that she not only talks about the history of the Celts but their culture, society, and religion too.  She starts her survey when the Celts first burst onto the scene, and ends it at 500 CE.  Up front she tells you the limitations of the book and the aim she hopes to achieve with it.  The limitations are as follows: limitations in the evidence available (this of course has changed from the 1970s to now), and limitations of space.  The aim of the book is to find out something about the pagan Celtic world; about its origin; about the people who lived in it, what they did and how they conducted their day-to-day affairs.

Like all other writers on the subject of the Celts she starts her book with how we know about the Celts.  She discusses the sources, which ones are good, which are bad, and which are acceptable and how to combine them all to get a good picture of the Celts.

Then comes the substance.  She starts out with the structure of the society, how they looked, what they wore, their weapons and the way they conducted warfare, their roads, fortifications, houses, the games they played, their music and entertainment, their food and drink, their laws, their religion, and their artistic styles.

I loved all the details she provided for things that most scholars would have over looked like what they wore, and what they might have ate or drank.  It is a well-rounded book.  And it has it all. You learn exactly what the Celts have done in their everyday life, in war, and what they did for entertainment or for their worship.  You learn about their art and music, and it provides a vivid picture that you can carry of the people you want to study.

I highly recommend it.

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5 thoughts on “Everyday Life of the Pagan Celts by Anne Ross

  1. Simian says:

    Excellent. I’ve been reading bits and peices from multiple to books to try and gather the information you state is included in this one. I will look for it. It will be nice to have a reference that covers so many aspects.

    Thank you and good work.

    Simian

    • celticscholar says:

      So long as you keep in mind that it is a bit dated. Also it might be out of print, try looking for it in Alibris.com as they have old books there.

  2. tomoconnor09 says:

    I find your Celtic Scholar reviews very interesting, especially your latest on Anne Ross’book. I have read all her books and used some of her material in my own research. Some of the material from other authors in your earlier reviews is quite misleading, for instance Julianna Lees claim that “by the 3rd century BC the Belgae had populated part of the British Isles where they became Britons”. Actually the Belgae were only then crossing the Rhine into Western Europe. Anne Ross in her ‘Pagan Celtic Britain’ (p. 39-40) dates the first influx of Belgic peoples to around 100 BC and further Belgic settlements were established there between 55BC and 43AD. The Belgae were not known as Britons. The aboriginal pre-Celtic people of the British Isles who gave their name to the British Isles(Pritanic Isles = Britain and Ireland) were the Pritani, known in Ireland as the Cruithni.

    Irish pseudo-historians fictitiously manipulated the facts of history to glorify Tara as the seat of the Celtic High Kings of Ireland from time immemorial. Tara was still an integral part of the very extensive Cruithin Province of Ulster until 637 AD and no Celtic King reigned there before then. Irish pseudo history subverted the facts of history and superimposed a strained Celtic mythological chronology on a hostile Cruithin-held Tara region, as noted in Daithi O hOgain’s ‘Myth, Legend & Romance’. I have elucidated this in my book ‘Hand of History, Burden of Pseudo History’.

    Looking forward to more of your Celtic Scholar reviews. Thank you.

    Tom O Connor
    tomo.connor@yahoo.co.uk

    • celticscholar says:

      Every book has its problems Tom, not every book is completely up to date with the new discoveries and let us face it, everyone has a theory that they want to push. And this is why I always stress that you must read, but you must also do your own research into everything you read.

    • Julie Lees says:

      Hello, Tom, re your email, I may have got the bit about the Belgae wrong, but I didn’t invent it. I would have been quoting from one of the books in the short bibliography at the end of my article,
      http://www.green-man-of-cercles.org/articles/celtic_religion.pdf
      However, now that you have put me right, I will correct the reference – when I get round to it!
      Best wishes,
      Julianna

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