Celtic Cornwall

Full title: Celtic Cornwall: Nation. Tradition. Invention

Author: Alan M. Kent

Photographer: Jan Beare

Publisher: Halsgrove

Published: 23 July 2012

ISBN: 978-0857040787

Pages: 288 with an index of place names and a bibliography

Synopsis: Exploring the sites associated with the Celts, both in ancient and more modern times, this volume provides a fascinating insight into the landscape, life and traditions that have made Cornwall and its people ‘different’.


Review: The book is organized like a Gazetteer, and it discusses the areas of Penwith, West Cornwall and Scilly. There is an index in the back with place names so that you can look up a certain area and the entries have color coded dotes that tell you what interest the entry falls under. The interests include: Arthurian references, literature, sacred wells, monuments, Celtic crosses just to name a few.

I was looking for things in this book that point towards an ancient Celtic calendar or at least hints to feasts…it didn’t really have any. What it did have was an amazing array of places that will give you a taste of how complicated Cornwall is and how beautiful. I think this book is a great place to look if you want a historical tour of Cornwall or are planning the best places to see while you are there. The pictures are beautiful and very intriguing. The information that accompanies the entries is very informative and interesting. Great reference to places I want to one day visit.

The Silver Bough Vol 1

Full Title: The Silver Bough Volume 1 Scottish Folklore and Folk Belief. (1 of 4)

Author: F. Marian McNeill

Publisher: Canongate Classics

Published: 1956 by William MacLellan, first published by Canongate Classics in 1989

ISBN: 0 86241 231 5

Pages: 242, with the notes starting on page 169

Synopsis: A marvellous and indispensible treasury of Scottish folklore and folk belief from the world of Celtic magic, gods and fairies, to the prophesies of the Brahan seer, second sight, witchcraft, earth magic, selkies, changelings and a host of traditional spells and cures. The Silver Bough involved many years of research into both living and recorded folklore, and remains a classic of literature.


Review: I’m not going to review this book on whether or not it can be trusted factually. It can’t. This was first published in 1956 and since then, a lot of new discoveries were made and a lot of information in this volume of The Silver Bough has either been completely debunked or shown to be missing or incomplete. However, for its time it was cutting edge.

What I will do is tell you what this volume discusses. The Silver Bough volume 1 sets up the rest of the volumes of this series. It gives you the background to the festivals and where they may have come from, it discusses the druids, witches, the Gods, magic, fairies, and Christianity.

Now let me tell you what I got out of this book. I got a general sense of what in 1956 was known about the Celts, and I got the set up of a general outline of what the next three volumes of The Silver Bough will be talking about. The text also has some quotes from classical writers about the Celts, and the Druids.

I would not recommend it as a book to start out your studies with but as one that you can read after you have some history about the Celts- especially the Scottish people- and the Druids.

Help a doggie live.

My friends and followers. I don’t usually do this but this is something close to my heart. My amazing friend Saigh Kym Lambert owner of Shadow of the Hooded Crow website needs our help. She has a beautiful dog, Gleann, who needs life saving surgery and she needs to raise money to get that done. She has some amazing perks that she is offering for donations, as well as a shop you can by stuff from and an auction going on for those who love Linda Hamilton, The Terminator years. So let me tell you a little about these perks.

Beautiful black dog called Gleann1. The fund raiser:

Gleann’s Surgery Fundraiser  

Perk 01:  Saigh says, “This is a voucher for a reduction in the cost of workshops, in person (which may not happen at all if no venue can be found) or online. Due to the focus on trying to save Gleann, the planning for these workshops has been put on hold, so they may not happen until LATE 2017 now…and to be perfectly frank, far longer if we do lose him after all this, it will take me more time to recover. 

The reduction will be for $5 LESS than the donation, due to the fees. It is also retroactive, so if you have donate $10 or more and are interested you can take this. 

If you choose this option, I will send you an email acknowledging this and you need to keep it safe. At the time of registration you can send a copy of the email with your registration (or if it is a real life venue and you register in person you can use a print version). I will also keep a list of email addresses and I will send a mailing out.”

Perk 02: A Celtic Knot Embroidered bag if you donate 100 dollars. Only 1 available.

Felt bag by Gaiam, messenger type, long strap, wood toggle closure, zipper pocket under flap.

If outside of the US, please know if there are any shipping restrictions. They will ship anywhere they can but they will ask you for the shipping costs.

Perk 03: Pictish Horse Pendant if you donate 100 dollars or more. Only 1 available.

Appears to be by Rainnea when they were making such things. Pewter. No chain/cord, mesh bag.

If outside of the US, please know if there are any shipping restrictions. The will ship anywhere they can and add on the shipping costs.

Perk 04: Wolf head pendant/charm if you donate 100 dollars or more. Only 1 available.

Silver or silver plated, yes it’s tarnished, sorry, comes with velvet like pouch but no cord or chain. Wolf “bites” the chain. Black stone. 

If outside of the US, please know if there are any shipping restrictions. The will ship anywhere they can and add on the shipping costs.

Perk 04: Lady With A Mead Cup if you donate 500 dollars. Only 1 available.

Four Court Press, 2007 hardcover edition. Like new, barely touched. Which is all she’ll say about her feelings for this book. Well, okay, she also feels her dog should be richly awarded for keeping this book in such condition because it would have flown across the room many times if she hadn’t been worried about scaring him. So to release another copy back into the world she expects a good donation. More than she is asking would be appreciated. Remember you’re helping us save a dog and getting a book in return, not buying a book! 

If outside of the US, please know if there are any shipping restrictions. The will ship anywhere they can and add on the shipping costs.

2. The Auction at The Terminator Fans website

If you are a fan of Linda Hamilton, the Terminator years then please go and bid on the items available.

Item 01: A signed autograph of Linda Hamilton

Item 02: 3 McFarlane Sarah Connor Varient Figures BOXED!

3. The shops: 

Nurturing Strength 

Dún Sgáthan

Sarah Conner Charm School

If you buy anything from these shops you will be helping the funding for the operation.

PLEASE, PLEASE help if you can or bid on the items. And please, please share this wide and far.

Welsh Folk Customs

Author: Trefor M. Owen

Publisher: Gomer Press

Published: First edition 1959, this edition 1994

ISBN: 0863833470

Pages: 197 including a selected bibliography and index, and 16 black and white plates.


I bought this book for my research and it was such a delight to read. The text talks about the customs of the Welsh people, both calendrical and social. 

It has five chapters about the Christmas season, Candlemas and the moveable feasts, May and Midsummer, the harvest and winter eve, and finally birth, marriage and death.

I learned a lot from this book but what I loved most about it was how the author presented the material. You know what was considered a “new” custom and what might have been a remanent of ancient times. Highly recommended.

Celtic From the West 3

Full Title: Celtic From the West 3 – Atlantic Europe in the Metal Ages: Questions of Shared Language

Editors: John T. Koch and Barry Cunliffe in collaboration with Kerri Cleary and Catriona D. Gibson

Published: 2016

Publisher: Oxbow Books, Oxford

Pages: 539 including Index

Synopsis: The Celtic languages and groups called Keltoi (i.e. Celts ) emerge into our written records at the pre-Roman Iron Age. The impetus for this book is to explore from the perspectives of three disciplines archaeology, genetics, and linguistics the background in later European prehistory to these developments. There is a traditional scenario, according to which, Celtic speech and the associated group identity came in to being during the Early Iron Age in the north Alpine zone and then rapidly spread across central and western Europe. This idea of Celtogenesis remains deeply entrenched in scholarly and popular thought. But it has become increasingly difficult to reconcile with recent discoveries pointing towards origins in the deeper past. It should no longer be taken for granted that Atlantic Europe during the 2nd and 3rd millennia BC were pre-Celtic or even pre-Indo-European. The explorations in Celtic from the West 3 are drawn together in this spirit, continuing two earlier volumes in the influential series.”

Review: Celtic From the West 3 is the result of an interdisciplinary research project about shared language in Atlantic Europe during the Metal Ages. This study took place between 2013 – 2016. The Atlantic Europe during the Metal Ages project had two main aims: (1) gathering and interpreting archaeological evidence for inter-regional connections in Atlantic Europe during the Copper and Bronze Ages c. 2900 – 800; (2) gathering Ancient Celtic written evidence relevant to the reconstruction of Proto-Celtic.

The book is divided into three parts: Archaeology, made up of ten essays; Genetics, made up of two essays; and Linguistics, made up of four essays and two ancillary studies. The essays 1-16 are reflections of presentations given in the forum called “Ancient Britons, Wales, and Europe – New Research in Genetics, Archaeology, and Linguistics”, the forum called “New Light on the Ancient West – Recent work in Archaeology, Genetics, and Linguistics on Late Prehistory and Protohistory”, and the workshop and forum called “Atlantic Europe in the Metal Ages – Questions of Shared language”.

Each essay has footnotes and an extensive bibliography to expand ones research and reading, and to be honest these resources must be looked at to get the complete picture. The essays themselves have a lot of good information but to be honest I finished the book thinking so was it Celtic from the West or East? It could be that I just couldn’t grasp all that was being said. I definitely could have missed something while reading because this book has a LOT of information in it. Like I said though, I was still left wondering East or West.

Archaeologically speaking I learned a lot about the Bell Beaker material culture in the Atlantic. I could almost see a place where it might have been “Celtic from the West” but it was vague feeling and not something that I could point too and say THIS.

The two essays on genetics were mildly interesting and I will confess I was confused a lot in some places. Besides, genetics is the last this I would look at when it comes to the Celts (if I ever do consider looking at it.)

This brings us to the linguistic portion of the book and this was the part of the book that I found the most interesting. I did feel like they kind of when on a tangent in some cases like the essay that compared the Celtic languages to Arabic (and found similarities!). But to me the most informative essays in the linguistic section are J.P. Mallory’s Archaeology and Language Shift in Atlantic Europe because of the general hypothesis he put forward as to how a language shift can happen without a big influx of people which can show up in the archaeological record and the two ancillary studies which look at the Celtic language and where it may have come from. One of the ancillary studies says it could be in Italy citing the Leptonic language as being the oldest known Celtic language and the second supports the view that the Celtic language came via the more accepted hypothesis by archaeologists which is the Hallstatt/La Téne area.

I’m still giving this book a thumbs up simply for the shear amount of information it presents in the archaeological and linguistic sections which is enough to make it worth buying.

Foundations of the Gaels

Foundation of the Gaels is a course on Udemy given by Tyler Hackworth, historian and storyteller, who has a B.A. in History, a Certificate of Celtic Studies, and a M.A. in Cultural Heritage and Museum Studies.

The course is divided into two parts, the first was the ancient Celts and the second was the Celts in the Classical World. All in all there was 13 small lectures, 4 – 7 minutes long, an Introduction video and 2 simple quizzes that check your knowledge of the videos. The lecturer provided a PDF file containing a bibliography and further reading.

The first section had some retellings of Irish myths and a little bit of history. The second section had a very general history of the Celts in the continent and in Britain and their interactions with the Romans, Greeks and the rest of the world.

I think the lecturer fell into some pit falls when he was taking about the history of the Celts which many other scholars fell into in the 1980-1990s, for example; the massive Celtic migrations, which archaeology has not found a lot of evidence for. I also have a few problems with his interpretation of the Irish myths when it comes to Cú Chulainn but then I have these with a lot of people including some of my friends.

Another problem I had, which is my own learning preference and not the lecturers fault, is that it was the lecturer standing there and basically talking. I’m a visual person and I like to have something to read or look at. I found myself zoning out sometimes even though the lectures were pretty short.  If he had had maps up there or some bullet points to look at while he was talking I probably would not have zoned out.

The file containing the bibliography and further reading books contained a lot of good books but they were also a bit old for the most part. Some of them are from Osprey which mostly caters to the re-enactment crowd. They are good books with some good scholarship behind them but they are very simplistic.

I’d give this course a 3.5/5 and wouldn’t recommend it to people with advanced knowledge or ones who want a full historical picture. I would recommend it to people who are interested in a general idea of the beginnings of the Celts but ask that they supplement it with a history book.

Ancient Ireland: Culture and Society

I’m going to do something different today. I’ve reviewed books and websites before but this is the first time I review a study course.

The course is on the website Udemy The course is called Ancient Ireland: Culture and Society by Kevin Flanagan. Kevin Flanagan owns the website The Brehon Law Academy. The course is self-paced so you can take it in your own time.

I’m going to start with what I didn’t like to get it out of the way. I was hoping for a further reading file on every lecture or a big one at the end but there wasn’t one. I was also hoping for a bibliography or a works cited file but there wasn’t one either. A lot of the time I wasn’t sure where his information was coming from but he was very good at telling us where his quotes were coming from and the precise page in the book it came from. Finally, and this might not be important to everyone, there wasn’t any homework or quizzes to help me check my understanding of the lectures.

I really liked the course despite what I said above. I didn’t agree with some of what he said especially about the Tuatha De Dannan turning into the sidhe (it is not that simple) but for the most part his information is pretty sound. The subjects that Flanagan discussed were logical and grouped very well. They gave a good understanding of the Irish society and culture. I loved that he uses the Irish word for what he is discussing whenever possible. 

His sources for the quotes were a bit on the old side but they were sound for the subjects he was discussing. He has resources on each lesson that sometimes included articles off site or YouTube lectures by well known professors of Celtic studies along side his slides and wave files of the lectures themselves. Almost all of it is downloadable. 

Some of the subjects discussed in this course were the structure of Irish society, kings, warriors, women (I was very impressed with this subject as he gets it right), divisions of the land and the sacred sites, pagan religion, and burial rites. 

All in all I would recommend this course to people who are interested in a solid introduction to the ancient Irish culture and society, but as with everything…cross-reference, cross-reference, cross-reference.