Jones' Celtic Encyclopedia

INTRODUCTION

This encyclopedia is an attempt to catalogue all possible elements of Celtic culture, from its origins in central Europe in the Bronze Age, through the 21st century. Obviously, this is a rather daunting task, and one which needs some explanation.

To begin with, we must address what as meant by "Celtic". The Celts were not and are not a race, but a linguistic group with some overlapping cultural customs and beliefs. They are not a homogenous group; the neolithic aboriginies of the British Isles whose decendents still live there today, particularly in Connaught, Ireland, are no less "Celtic" than the Gauls who battled Caesar--and yet, they are not of the same "race". "Race" is a cultural concept. The Celts never thought of themselves as a single race, but were organized as a series of tribes; loyalty was to the tribe, to the tuath, but never to a single "race"--this is the fantasy of nineteenth century nationalists and twentieth century fanaticists.

However, what is to be seen is that the Celts both absorbed and distributed their culture over much of Europe. There are certain cultural characteristics which, arguably (and there is much argument in this field), would be defined as "Celtic": the druid class, certain deities, a certain type of stylized art, to name a few. From there, we can move forward into the Middle Ages, in which we focus on the literature of the Irish, Welsh, and Scottish, as well as continental literature, particularly in France, but also in German, the Netherlands, Spain, Italy, etc. From there, the emphasis grows outwards, encompassing the New World, particularly Nova Scotia, with its Gaelic-speaking population and tales of "Finn mac Cool".

My hope is that I am creating a reliable, fairly complete reference guide--not simply a concordance or dictionary of names, my hope is that this will serve to explore the major themes of Celtic culture and the modern perception of this culture, over the past 2,500 years.

This encyclopedia is copywritten to the author, who only requires credit where credit is due.

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Mary Jones 2003