Happy Burns Night

Robert Burns was born 251 years ago today in Ayrshire, Scotland in 1759. Much to my delight, the BBC has begun a site about Burns, featuring his poetry in partially uncensored form. You can read the true lyrics of “John Anderson My Joe, John,” though “Comin’ through the Rye” is still much expurgated. One of the best things about the site is that you can hear 386 poems read by native Scots.

Iron Men, Natural History Magazine, and Simon James

Via the customary cursory glace at my referrals, I noticed that a new article on the Natural History magazine Web site links to me via the following:

At Lisa L. Spangenberg’s Digital Medievalist site you can find a good list of Celtic Web Resources (scroll down). At one of them, Simon James’s Ancient Celts Page, the author, who is an archaeologist at the University of Leicester in England, presents alternative views on this culture. After presenting the conventional wisdom, he gives an alternate history of “Celticness,” which examines the justification for unifying so many tribes under one banner—with particular attention to the British Isles.

I very much respect the work of Professor James. He’s an excellent archaeologist, and I do understand the problems of referring to a huge span of, what, three thousand years of history, and a geographical reach that covers most of Europe and a decent chunk of the Middle East as “Celtic.” The also fabulous Barry Cunliffe, another archaeologist, shares some of the same concerns.

But.

The Celtic languages are:

  1. Clearly related, with a single common ancestor.
  2. They share myths and laws and motifs not only with other Indo-European cultures, but with each others—right down to the names, never mind the stories.
  3. There are also shared myths, etymologies, laws, and practices, that are unique to Celtic languages, and shared among Celtic languages.

I note that Professor James largely ignores Celtic languages and linguistics; I really wish he wouldn’t. I realize the enormous cultural differences over time and geography—these are especially apparent in terms of archaeology and art—but given that the peoples who we associate with Celtic in terms of pre industrial history spoke a Celtic language, I assert that it is perfectly reasonable to refer to those peoples as Celts, however we decide to bento-box their artifacts.

Birth of a Blog: Reprise

I began Scéla, my first real blog, on January 21, 2002. That’s eight years of more-or-less regular blogging. You can still read my first post, which is very much an instance of me trying to figure out blogging as a tool for sharing content.

Since then, I’ve finished my Ph.D. I’m now blogging quite a lot—though not, alas, blogging as often as I would like here. I’ve moved Scéla from my primary site at Digitalmedievalist.com, to here, at Digitalmedievalist.net [ETA: and back again as of 11/15/2014]. I’ve also converted from Blogger to WordPress, and am iconverting the Celtic Studies Resources content from static pages (pages that go back in some versions to 1997) to WordPress.

When I began, I was the Digital Medievalist. Now, there’s an organization. When I began, I was one of about five Medievalist bloggers; now, there are about sixty of us, and three or four that emphasize Medieval and Celtic.

That said, here’s a tip of the hat to the folks who’ve been doing this as long or longer than I, or more reliably, especially: S. Worthen/Owlfish, the keeper of the Medievalist Blogger List, Richard Nokes of Unlocked Woardhord, Elizabeth Carnell of The View From Kalamazoo, and Michael Drout, who started blogging on Wormtalk and Slugspeak at the hind end of the same year I did, and makes much more sense.

The Medievalist bloggers as a group, never mind those I’ve been lucky enough to meet at Kalamazoo, have added a lot to my life, scholarly and otherwise.

Thanks guys.