Iron Age Communities in Britain: An Account of England, Scotland and Wales from the Seventh Century BC until the Roman Conquest

Author: Barry Cunliffe
Publisher: Taylor and Francis Inc.
Date Published: 1971 (First Edition), 1991, 2005 (Revised Fourth Edition)
ISBN13: 9780415562928

Synopsis:Since its first publication in 1971, Barry Cunliffe’s monumental survey has established itself as a classic of British archaeology. This fully revised fourth edition maintains the qualities of the earlier editions, whilst taking into account the significant developments that have moulded the discipline in recent years. Barry Cunliffe here incorporates new theoretical approaches, technological advances and a range of new sites and finds, ensuring that Iron Age Communities in Britain remains the definitive guide to the subject.

Review: This is fast becoming one of my favorite books on the subject. It is a treasure, simply put. I’ve become very used to Barry Cunliffe’s writing style and the way he divides his books and this book is no different.

The book is divided into four parts each one shines the light on something different. Part I is the introduction where you are given a history of the study of the Iron Age. Part II talks about time and space. The author here describes (as he always does in his books) the parameters he will be using in the book. You are told the time period, and the places he will be discussing. You are also given a timeline of the history he is looking into. Part III discusses the themes, what they are, and the different settlements that can be found. Part IV discusses Iron Age society, social change and the models and systems involved. The book also has three Appendices; (A) discusses pottery, (B) is a note on radiocarbon dating, and (C) is a list of principle sites. The bibliography listed is a dream.

I read the book once through all together so that I know where everything is. Then I went back and re-read parts of it with concentration. This book should be read this way because there is just too much information there to do it justice by reading it once. It is best to pick a region in Britain and go through everything written about it in the book, digest the information then go back and pick another region and so on. This is a book that should be kept as a reference, and one I know I will be reading or looking through time and again.

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War, Women, and Druids by Philip Freeman

Author: Philip Freeman

Publisher: University of Texas Press

Date Published: February 19th, 2002

ISBN13: 9780292718364

Synopsis: This book draws on the firsthand observations and early accounts of classical writers to piece together a detailed portrait of the ancient Celtic peoples of Europe and the British Isles. Philip Freeman groups the selections (ranging from short statements to longer treatises) by themes–war, feasting, poetry, religion, women, and the Western Isles. He also presents inscriptions written by the ancient Celts themselves. This wealth of material, introduced and translated by Freeman to be especially accessible to students and general readers, makes this book essential reading for everyone fascinated by the ancient Celts.

Review: This is a very short book that puts together materials from classical writers and even eyewitness accounts about the Celts. The categories discussed in this book are war, feasting, poetry, religion, women and the western Isles as well as a final chapter that discusses inscriptions from the ancient Celts. It is also indexed and has a further reading and references section. The categories make it very easy for people to go directly to what they want or just read the whole book through. Although the book isn’t as extensive as the Heroic Age (which is similar but has WAY more material) it is still a good quick reference to have in your library.

A History of Gaul by Fr. Funck-Brentano

Full Title: A History of Gaul – Celtic, Roman and Frankish Rule (Original Title: The Earliest Times)

Author: Fr. Funck-Brentano and translated by E. F. Buckley

Publisher: This edition was published by Barnes and Noble (Original Publisher: G. P. Putnam’s Son’s)

Year: This edition – 1993 (Originally published 1927)


Synopsis: Traces Gaul from its prehistoric beginnings to the founding of the Capetian ruling house in 987 A.D.

Review: As you can see this book is really old. Considering however, that we don’t really have a lot of books out there on Gaul (if someone knows of any history books on Gaul please let me know) I was very excited to get a copy of it from a seller on Amazon.

The book is divided into five chapters that follow the historical divisions of Gaul. The first chapter talks about the pre-historic period, the second one is about Celtic Gaul, the third is about Roman Gaul, the fourth about the Merovingians and the fifth is about the Carlovingians.

Each chapter is further divided into topics like the Druids or Feudalistic Gaul. Each chapter also ends with a bibliography, and the whole book is also indexed. This book is a translation so I’m not sure if the original book in French had the same tone as this one but it seems like the translator and maybe the author was telling a story to people who were reading the book. It took me back to the days when my grandfather would tell me the stories of the myths and the history of Ireland. The dates in the book were all very general, there was some archeology in there but mostly it seems like the author was recounting what other people had told him about the subject he was talking about or what the classical writers had said about it.

So what did I get from this book? Honestly, mostly broad strokes of history that need re-checking because there has been a lot of archeological finds since 1927. It is a great book to have so that you can see the progress of how things developed over the course of the years and a great way to get a broad outline of Gaulish history. It wasn’t specific enough for me, but it is a place to start my search.

The Sacred Isle: Belief in Pre-Christian Ireland by Dáithí Ó HÓgáin

Author: Dáithí Ó HÓgáin
Publisher: Boydell Press
Years published: 1999 and October 4th, 2001
ISBN13: 9780851158563
Pages: 259 including index

Synopsis: The first modern study of prehistoric religion in Ireland to draw on the combined evidence of archaeology, literature and folklore to illuminate practice and belief from the earliest human habitation in the island down to the advent of Christianity in the fifth century AD. An excellent book… a highly accessible and lively assessment of continuity and change in belief and religion from pre-Celtic times through to the arrival of St Patrick. …A fine book and to be recommended to a wide readership, especially to all those who think that Irish history started in 1601.

Review: This is the first book published specifically about the Pre-Christian religion in Ireland and so far I have only seen one other book that addresses the same material but it also expands to include Christianity. So I guess, specifically this is the only book I’ve seen so far ONLY addressing the Pre-Christian religion in Ireland (if some one knows of a book with similar material please let me know).

The book is an interesting and easy read with lots of good information. The author uses archeology and the classical writings as well as mythology to try and put together the Pre-Christian Irish religion, with a dash of comparative religion and mythology thrown in. It is well documented and has an extensive bibliography.

The problem I see with the book comes in the form of some outdated information and some conclusions that have already been debunked like the solar gods theory (he seems to see them EVERYWHERE). He also likes to put the Irish gods in neat little boxes which really don’t work well for them.

If you are careful with cross referencing and making sure that his information is up to date, this is actually a great book to have.

The CR FAQ: An Inreoduction to Celtic Reconstructionist Paganism

Authors: Kathryn Price NicDhána, Erynn Rowan Laurie, C.Lee Vermeers, Kym Lambert Ní Dhoireann and other members of the CR Community

ISBN13: 9780615158006

Publisher: River House Publishing

Published: August 22, 2007

Pages: 204

Synopsis: The CR FAQ – An Introduction to Celtic Reconstructionist Paganism is a landmark in the field of Celtic religion and spirituality. The first book completely devoted to the spiritual path of Celtic Reconstructionism (CR), it is the work of a diverse group of CR elders – including some of the founders of the tradition – making it a foundation document for this growing religious and cultural community.

Celtic Reconstructionist Paganism (CR) is a movement that seeks to rebuild and revitalize an authentic, pre-Christian, polytheistic spiritual practice – one that is true to the ancient sources and the ways of the ancestors, yet also contains deep relevance to our lives in the modern world. Celtic Reconstructionists place a strong emphasis on the preservation of Celtic languages and cultures, and on respecting the definitions found in the living Celtic cultures rather than redefining them.

Patricia Kennealy Morrison, Celtic priestess and author of The Keltiad, says: “There has been a need for this book for decades. Finally it’s here. Comprehensive, common-sensical, reverent, witty, all-encompassing: it deals with Celtic modes in a way both down-to-earth and tran-scend-ent, honoring the past, sacring the present, hallowing the future. Anyone who feels the pull of the Celtic way of spirit, regardless of ethnic heritage, and who would like to embody it in their lives, needs to read this extraordinary work.”

With a welcome glossary and pronunciation guide, The CR FAQ also provides a much-needed and helpful introduction to the Celtic languages. Additionally, suggestions for personal practice, along with a resources section, furnish the reader with an entrypoint to the community as well as the tradition.

The CR FAQ is the only book on the topic that speaks for more than one group’s or individual’s vision: As a collaborative work, the core group of authors reached a group consensus before finalizing and approving the text. Input from the wider, international community of Celtic Reconstructionists was also solicited, and their feedback incorporated. Focused yet accessible, serious though humorous, it provides a thorough introduction to its subject and a great resource for the seeker on the Celtic path.

All proceeds are being donated to Gaelic language and cultural preservation charities in the Celtic Nations and worldwide.

Review: I bought this book for myself even though all of it is already on the internet for two reasons, the first is that I like the feel of a book in my hands and enjoy it more than having to read it via the internet, and secondly because I wanted to reacquaint myself with the information presented in it. Lately, a lot of the people I spoke to about CR seem to misunderstand what it is.

The book is pretty short (from my point of view lol) 155 pages of questions and answers and the rest is a pronunciation guide with a glossary, which aren’t online. Both are a great addition to the FAQ. It is very well organized just like the website and the writing is very clear and precise. The information within is very simple yet extremely informative and for a beginner on the path invaluable. The reading list provided might need to be updated with the latest books on the subject of the Celts but the books on the list are still a must read for anyone thinking of walking this path.

If you don’t want to buy the book I highly recommend reading it online here [http://www.paganachd.com/faq/index.html]