Celtic Art & Archaeology

A lot of what we know about Celtic-speaking peoples or the Neolithic and early Medieval residents of places settled by Celtic speaking peoples is from Celtic Art & Archaeology. Their art and artifacts, whether metalwork, massive stone structures, small inscribed stones or monuments, pottery, inscribed tablets, pottery or manuscripts, tell us about the earlier peoples living in lands that were inhabited by Celtic speaking peoples. While it’s true that we do not know what languages the Neolithic peoples who settled the lands that by the Middle ages were Celtic speaking regions in Europe, their artifacts share some common features with the Celtic art and archaeology of the later settlers. The following posts discuss Celtic art and archaeology.

  • Archaeology,  Celtic Art & Archaeology

    Exhibition National Museum of Scotland The Galloway Hoard: Viking-age Treasure

    From the exhibit announcement: Bringing together the richest collection of rare and unique Viking-age objects ever found in Britain or Ireland, the internationally significant Galloway Hoard is transforming our understanding of Scotland’s connections with the wider world during this period. The Hoard was buried around AD 900 and contains over 100 diverse objects, from silver, gold and jewelled treasures to rarely surviving textiles, including wool, linen and Scotland’s earliest examples of silk. Discovered by a metal detectorist in Dumfries and Galloway in 2014, the Hoard was allocated to National Museums Scotland in 2017, when a selection of items went on display as part of a fundraising campaign to save it…

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  • Archaeology,  Celtic Art & Archaeology

    Newly Discovered Pictish Carved Stone

    Found near Dingwall, Scotland, as part of an excavation of an early Christian site in Easter Ross, the 1,200 year-old stone is not typical of other Pictish stones found in the area. The slab is probably a fragment from the massive slab forming the top section of a Pictish stone cross. John Borland, of Historic Environment Scotland and president of the Pictish Arts Society, said: “The two massive beasts that flank and surmount the cross are quite unlike anything found on any other Pictish stone. “These two unique creatures serve to remind us that Pictish sculptors had a remarkable capacity for creativity and individuality. Via the BBC (see links below…

  • Celtic Art & Archaeology,  Celtic Myth

    Saint Patrick, Saint Bridget, and the Brewing of Beer

    Despite the idiocies of Saint Patrick’s Day in the U.S. (by which I mean the consumption of green beer rather than blessed Guinness, and the over-enthusiastic endorsement of imbibing while Irish, there is a genuine, and historical, connection between Ireland and beer, or cuirm, in Old Irish. For one thing, there’s a long and documented history of Irish brewing that is very legitimate. So legitimate, in fact, that beer laws occur in the medieval corpus of traditional Irish law known as the Senchus Mór, which was colloquially known as Cáin Padraic, or Patrick’s Law, since the bodies of traditional Irish civil law and church law were said to have been…

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  • Celtic Art & Archaeology

    Ava A Woman from Scotland 4,250 Years Ago

    In February of 1987 William and Graham Ganson were working in a quarry at Craig-na-Feich near Achavanich, in Caithness, Scotland. Their machinery dislodged the capstone of a prehistoric short cist , slightly damaging the stonework on the south corner and consequently exposing human remains and ceramic vessel known as a Beaker. The Gansons contacted the local authorities, and the Highland Regional Archaeologist Robert Gourlay began a preliminary excavation on February 19, 1987.[ref]Hoole, M., Sheridan, A., Boyle, A., Booth, T., Brace, S., Diekmann, Y., Olalde, I., Thomas, M., Barnes, I., Evans, J., Chenery, C., Sloane, H., Morrison, H., Fraser, S., Timpany, S., & Hamilton, D. (2018). “‘Ava’: a Beaker-associated woman from…

  • Celtic Art & Archaeology

    Celtic Chariot Burial Discovered in Wales

    This burial in Pembrokeshire is the first such discovered in Wales. Mike Smith was using metal detection equipment when he discovered the chariot. Smith, beginning in February, discovered several pieces of Iron Age Celtic metalwork, including parts of a horse harness, bronze bridle fittings, and a brooch. Several of the items still had bright red enamel. After Smith informed the National Museum of Wales of his find, the Museum and Dyfed Archaeological Trust began an excavation in June. The discovery of two iron (and rusted) chariot wheels confirmed that the site was a ritual chariot burial. These burials, which typically include the chariot, the fittings, the driver, sometimes the horses,…

  • Celtic Art & Archaeology

    Ötzi the Iceman’s Last Meal

    Ötzi is the name given to a 5,300-year-old European glacier mummy, the frozen remains of a hunter from the Copper age. He is thought to have been about 45 years old when he died, probably from blood loss after an arrow to the should, some 5,300 years ago. When he died Ötzi was wearing a woven grass coat with wore leggings and shoes of leather. He has some line tattoos that may have been spiritual or medical in nature, and carried a copper axe, a knife and flint-tipped arrows. The first in-depth analysis of the hunter’s stomach contents reveal that half of his last meal consisted of animal fat, primarily…

  • Celtic Art & Archaeology,  History

    1867 Stonehenge Pictures

      The image above, which was recently made public by the photo research company TimePix, is from 1867, and is part of the first known photographic sequence ever taken of Stonehenge. (There are older individual photographs, in the Royal Collection.) It’s from a book called Plans and Photographs of Stonehenge, released by the U.K.’s Ordnance Survey and written by the department head, Colonel Henry James.

  • Calendar,  Celtic Art & Archaeology,  Medieval manuscripts

    Très Riches Heures for November

    The November calendar page for the Trés Riches Heures du Duc de Berry (Cluny Musee MS 65 F11v) is one of the pages in the book of hours that the Limbourgs did not complete before they, and their patron Jean Duc de Berry, died June 15 1416 in Paris. Charles I, the Duc de Savoie, commissioned Jean Colombe to finish the central image of the November calendar page sometime between 1485-1489. The traditional labor of the month for November is gathering acorns to feed pigs. You can see a similar image for the month of November in the British Library’s St. Mary’s Psalter Royal 2 B VII f. 81v.   The central…

  • Celtic Art & Archaeology,  Celtic Studies Books

    Free Ebook from RIA: Modern Ireland in 100 Artworks

    Modern Ireland in 100 Artworks was edited by Fintan O’Toole and Catherine Marshall. The book, available as an ebook and as a printed book, traces the story of Ireland’s creative output from the revolutionary period until today. The book consists of 100 artworks created from 1916 (the year of the Easter Rising) to 2015, using each year as a spring board to trace the cultural history of Ireland. The works include visual works (paintings, sculptures, architecture) as well as literary; images of the visual works are included. The literary works are represented only by allusion and discussion in the short essays accompanying each piece. It’s interesting, though I suspect more interesting the…

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  • Celtic Art & Archaeology

    British Museum Exhibit: Celts: Art and Identity

    This exhibit runs from September 24, 2015 – January 31 at the British Museum. Celts: Art and Identity is an exhibit created by the British Museum in partnership with National Museums Scotland.British Museum lead curator of the exhibit, Julia Farley (she’s the Curator, European Iron Age collection, British Museum) describes it as “the first major exhibition to explore the full history of Celtic art and identity.” Ms. Farley writes about the exhibit on the British Museum’s blog: Who were the Celts? The British Museum’s official Celts: Art and Identity exhibit page (where you can buy tickets!). There’s an exhibition catalog (paperback and hardcover).   Farley, Julia and Hunter Fraser. Eds.…