The Atlantic Celts: Ancient People or Modern Invention?

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Overview

The Celtic peoples hold a fundamental place in the British national conscious-ness. In this book Simon James surveys ancient and modern ideas of the Celts and challenges them in the light of revolutionary new thinking on the Iron Age peoples of Britain. Examining how ethnic and national identities are constructed, he presents an alternative history of the British Isles, proposing that the idea of insular Celtic identity is really a product of the rise of nationalism in the eighteenth century. He considers whether the “Celticness” of the British Isles is a romantic, even politically dangerous, falsification of history, with implications for the debate on self-government for the Celtic regions of the United Kingdom.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780299166748
  • Publisher: University of Wisconsin Press
  • Publication date: 5/28/1999
  • Pages: 160
  • Product dimensions: 8.25 (w) x 5.75 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Table of Contents

Preface 7
Introduction 9
1 The debate on Celtic identity 15
2 Standard histories: assumptions, limitations and objections 26
3 How the Celts were created, and why 43
4 Current ideas on ethnicity, and the insular Ancient Celts 67
5 Towards a new ethnic history of the isles 86
6 Conclusion: are the modern Celts bogus? 136
Glossary 145
Further reading 147
Bibliography 150
Index 155
Illustration acknowledgments 160
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 30, 2004

    Axes to Grind it would seem

    The Romans made it rather clear that they attacked the Celts of Briton as retribution for the rebellions of their cousin in Gaul (modern France). They also made it clear that many tribes in Celtic Britain bore the exact same names as those of the continent (i.e. Gaul, Belgium, South Germany). The author has a fear of nationalism in Celtic countries like Ireland and Wales, and it shows in his book. Modern DNA is making clear that the Celts were actually fairly homogenous ethnically, even if individual tribes had variations on the Celtic culture; just as there are various traditions in northern versus southern China (yet nobody tries to claim they are different people, lacking cultural unity).

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 28, 1999

    Social agenda mars history of the British peoples

    In his 1707 work ¿Archaeologia Britannica¿, Oxford scholar Edward Lhuyd proposed that similarities in the Welsh, Breton, Cornish, Irish, and Scots Gaelic languages were attributable to common origins he called ¿Celtique¿. Archaeologist Simon James of the University of Durham argues that no ancient or modern culture of the British Isles can properly be called ¿Celtic.¿ Professor James maintains that the ancient peoples of the British Isles were culturally diverse and probably lacked any sense of common identity with the Celtic peoples of continental Europe. True enough, but the same could be said of any cultural group that lacks a unifying political structure. The aboriginal peoples of North America saw themselves as over 500 distinct tribes until, faced with extinction in the 19th century, they developed a sense of common identity and destiny. Independence and diversity seem to have marked the Celtic tribes. The Celtic languages are the unifying forces of Celtic culture.

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