Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Bits and pieces - links to books online

Some useful links to hard to find books popped up on the CR group on Facebook a while ago so I thought it would be useful to make a note of them here as I make some updates to my website as well, for any readers who might not be on the group; following on from the books that were mentioned on the group I decided to have a wander around Scribd to see if there is anything else of interest. It turns out that yes, there's probably a huge amount there, but that would make for a long and boring list that would make even my eyes crossed! So instead, here are just a few that I found or was pointed to via FB:

First and foremost, there is Celtic Culture: A Historical Encyclopedia edited by John Koch. It's incredibly expensive to buy otherwise and it's a fantastic resource so it's well worth taking a look at. Of all the Celtic encyclopedias I've seen, I would say this is by far the best, and certainly the most extensive work; a lot of well-respected academics have contributed to the entries here and it makes a great starting point for research. The downside to its extensiveness (all 2000+ pages of it) is that it's an absolute bugger to find anything quickly! But seriously. For any Celtic Reconstructionist I would recommend this encyclopedia as one of the absolute necessities for your bookshelf. In my humble opinion, anyway...

Less useful is Patricia Monaghan's Encyclopedia of Celtic Mythology and Folklore. Her research isn't great and sometimes she's way off base, but I thought it was worth noting in case somebody stumbled across it and wondered about it. You can do a lot worse, but you can also do a lot better (see above...) and personally I wouldn't rely on this book for serious research. This is from the same author as The Red-Haired Girl From the Bog, which I've tried to read many times and have failed...(I know a few folks who love that book but for some reason her tone really grates on my nerves).

Something a little different is a collection of essays in The Vikings in Ireland; there are some contributions in there from well-respected academics and it's a subject that's often neglected so I think it's well worth exploring.

Another book is Graham Webster's The Roman Invasion of Britain. I've yet to read this but I think I have it somewhere on my bookshelf, having inherited it from the library of a friend and colleague of my mother-in-law earlier this year. I've read another book of his, The British Celts and Their Gods Under Rome, which I thought was mis-titled but otherwise not bad.

The Archaeology of Celtic Art offers an up to date perspective on the subject and gives a discussion about the use of the term 'Celtic' within archaeology these days; many archaeologists are reluctant to use the term, preferring 'Iron Age' instead (although they'll happily sap Celtic on the title of the book so it will sell...). This offers its own problems, but there are many who criticise these 'Celtoskeptics' as denying Celtic heritage and everything that entails. Aside from that, there are lots of purty pikchurs of shiny things.

Symbol and Image in Celtic Religious Art by Miranda Green is one I've reviewed here; it's good, but of more interest to those of a Gallo-Roman flavour rather than the Gaelic or Brythonic Polytheist. There is also Animals in Celtic Life and Myth, which is another one I've reviewed. It's probably good to remember that Green is generally stronger on archaeology than myth.

Finally, I stumbled across a recently published essay by Mary Jones called Rethinking Imbolc. It's aimed at a reconstructionist audience and I think there's good research and references here. The essay offers a different perspective on Imbolc, exploring the associations of the festival with purification, and I think it's well worth a read; there's some good food for thought here.

That's all, folks!

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