Blood of the Celts

Jean Manco


Manco, Jean. Blood of the Celts: The New Ancestral Story. London, EN: Thames & Hudson, 2015. Paperback: 9780500295878.


“The heritage of the Celts turns up from Portugal to Romania, from Scotland to Spain. Yet debate continues about who exactly were the Celts, where ultimately they came from, and whether the modern Celtic-speakers of the British Isles and Brittany are related to the Continental Celts we know from ancient history. So a fresh approach is needed. Blood of the Celts meets this challenge, pulling together evidence from genetics, archaeology, history and linguistics in an accessible and illuminating way, taking the reader on a voyage of discovery from the origins of the ancient Celts to the modern Celtic Revival, with some startling results.”



“There is no Celtic race, any more than there is a Germanic race or a Latin race, if by ‘race’ we mean some set of physical features that clearly distinguishes one from another” (9)

“It needs to be said that what MacNeill surmised in 1920 we can now prove. He felt that all the present nations of Europe are a mixture of the same ancestral components in varied proportions” (9)

“They came from ancient hunter-gatherers, early farmers and a Copper Age people” (9)

“The modern Irish have a mixture of all three, as do the modern Germans and Italians” (9)

A “web of migration that over the ages criss-crossed a continent and took to the sea” (10)

“None of our ancestors lived in a fairy tale, though they might have the wit to invent one” (10)

The Voices of the Celts

“No stereotype can truly mirror a multitude of individuals. Yet the voices of the Celts long gone can reveal the values of the elite for whom songs were sung and pedigrees recited” (12)

Y Gododdin” (13)

“the gradual rise of Christianity in Ireland rendered druids redundant as priests and teachers. We find Celtic Christian saints credited with the gift of prophecy” (16)

Táin Bó Cúailnge” (17)

Annals of the Four Masters” (19)

“Annalists could make mistakes, but the fact that they were recording events as they happened makes annals one of the most reliable sources for historians” (19)

“How plausible is the concept of oral memories passed down over thousands of years?” (20)

Ruin of Britain” (21)

Historia Brittonum” (21)

History of the Kings of Britain” (22)

“Since Christianity and literacy were so closely linked, it was generally the scholarly religious who began to shape origin stories for the Celts of Britain and Ireland in the Middle Ages” (24)

“The Historia Brittonum provides a descent of Brutus from Japheth via his son Javan, which is the word used throughout the Old Testament for the Ionian Greeks of western Asia Minor” (25)

Lebor Gabála Érenn” (25)

“The pattern of mutations in your Y-DNA places you in a haplogroup” (26)

“Western Europe is saturated with a particular Y-DNA signature, which has been labelled R1b1a2a1a2” (26)

“The subclade (subgroup) R1b1a2a1a2c (L21) is overwhelmingly common in Ireland and north and west Britain” (26)

Ecclesiastical History of the English People” (28)

“Linguistic and genetic evidence conclusively rule out a Scythian ancestry for the Celts, as we shall see” (29)

“Though some probable input from Iberia into the Celts of Ireland or Britain will emerge in Chapter 5, modern DNA suggests that this was overlain by a stronger migration pulse down the Rhine” (29)

“The medieval Irish, Welsh and Picts had no true knowledge of their origins, which were too far in the past for recollection. So origin stories were developed by early Christian scholars, using Genesis and Classical sources” (29)

The Gauls and Celtic

“The Gaul of Caesar’s day did include all of mainland France, but it also stretched eastwards to the Rhine, encompassing what is now Belgium and Luxembourg, the Netherlands south of the Rhine, and those parts of Germany and Switzerland west of the Rhine” (30)

“this region was Transalpine Gaul” (30)

“Since Gauls had spread over the Alps into northern Italy by then, there was also a region known to the Romans as Cisalpine Gaul” (30)

“Caesar famously declared that Gaul was divided into three parts, inhabited by the Belgae, the Aquitani and ‘a people who call themselves Celts, though we call them Gauls’” (31)

“The earliest surviving record of these Keltoi comes from Hecataeus of Miletus (c. 500 BC)” (31)

“Celts were living north of the Alps around the head of the Danube” (32)

“It has been supposed by many authors that the Celts spread out from Central Europe with the La Tène culture. In this model the first Celtic-speakers to set foot in Britain would have arrived c. 450 BC and in Ireland not much before 300 BC” (42)

“Yet La Tène had an insignificant impact on southern Ireland and most of Iberia, where Celtic languages were spoken as far back as we can delve with historical sources” (42)

“we have a man with a clearly Celtic name in Iberia long before the La Tène period” (45)

Ora Maritima

“The Ora Maritima goes on to say: ‘From here it is a two-day voyage to the Sacred Isle, for by this name the ancients called the island. It lies rich in turf among the waves, thickly populated by the Hierni’” (46)

“‘Sacred Isle’ is a misconstruction of the name of Ireland. In ancient Greek hieros meant ‘sacred.’ The Hierni are easily identified as the Irish and the Albiones as the people of Britain. The Irish name for themselves can be reconstructed as Iwerni, from the Irish name for Ireland, Iverio (‘the fertile land’). That evolved into Old Irish Ériu and modern Irish Éire” (46)

“Here are Celtic names dating from two or three centuries before La Tène material appeared in Ireland” (46)

“Awareness of these flaws in the concept of Celtic spreading only with La Tène has generated new interest in an alternative model, proposed intermittently since the 1930s, in which the Bell Beaker culture was the vector for the earliest forms of Celtic” (47)

“Support for this model is starting to arrive from ancient DNA” (47)

“Yet we shall see in the next chapter that a straightforward equation of Bell Beaker with Celtic may over-simplify a messier reality” (47)

Bell Beakers and Language

“Metal management lay at the centre of the Bell Beaker culture” (48)

“Bell Beaker (c. 2800-1700 BC)” (48)

“evidence for fermenting and brewing has been pushed so far into the past that beer is challenging bread as the presumed staple of early farmers. Perhaps as early as 9000 BC people gathered to feast and drink beer at the world’s first megalithic monument, Göbekli Tepe in Anatolia” (50)

“while there was some movement of actual pots, in the main what moved was knowledge of how to make them” (51)

“Bell Beaker folk ushered the Bronze Age into western Europe. They were the first metalworkers to enter the British Isles, homing in on the copper belts of Ireland and Wales” (51)

“Around 2400 BC they left their characteristic beakers at a copper mine on Ross Island, in Lough Leane, Co. Kerry” (51)

“From around 2200 BC Bell Beaker interest in Britain intensified as Cornwall was discovered to be a prime source for tin, the rare and precious component of true bronze” (52)

“We often find a correlation between Y-DNA haplogroups, which are passed down from father to son, and languages” (57)

“We need mentally to turn back that Roman tide if we are to reconstruct the linguistic pattern of western Europe as far back as we can” (58)

“the scattered Celtic place-names east of the Rhine tell us that a Celtic language was in use there before the expansion of Germanic speakers from 500 BC” (60)

“the pattern seems to be one of waves of Celtic migration, the earliest of which were before recorded history” (60)

“some linguists argue for a common ancestor for the two families which they call Proto-Italic-Celtic” (61)

“It is the proposed ancestor of both languages families” (61)

“The alternative explanation for their shared features is that Proto-Celtic and Proto-Italic developed in such close proximity that they influenced each other” (61)

“there are several lost languages, such as Ligurian and Lusitanian, that do not fit into either the Italic or Celtic branches, but are related” (61)

“They were also spoken within the regions colonized by Bell Beaker” (61)

“we must look to a yet earlier language” (61)

Alteuropäisch (Old European) hydronymy [river names]” (61)

“the first language of Bell Beaker communities in the west may have been a form of Indo-European too early even to have features specific to both Celtic and Italic”

The Indo-European Family

“From a Copper Age homeland on the European steppe, Indo-European languages spread far and wide” (65)

“There is no indication of PIE being in contact with any of the languages of Anatolia. The PIE homeland lay elsewhere” (67)

“PIE spread later, along with metallurgy, from the Pontic-Caspian steppes” (68)

“PIE can be located in time by its vocabulary and in place by its neighbours. PIE-speakers created their own words for wagons and wheels, from Indo-European roots” (68)

“PIE cannot date before the invention of the wheel around 3500 BC” (68)

“PIE evolved in contact with Proto-Uralic” (68)

“Farming vocabulary was absorbed from PIE and its offspring by Uralic” (68)

“PIE was spoken somewhat to the south of Proto-Uralic, closer to the sources of farming” (68)

“The Yamnaya culture on the European steppe fits the type of society PIE leads us to expect. Then we see the influence of Yamnaya moving east and west to places where Indo-European languages later emerge” (68)

“The relationship of Uralic to PIE runs deeper than the adoption of farming terms” (68)

“explanation could be contact at an early stage, before Uralic and PIE were fully formed” (68)

“A language ancestral to Proto-Uralic was probably spoken somewhere in the Sayan region of south-central Siberia” (68)

“we may suspect migration along the trail of technology” (70)

“The pressure technique emerged around 20,000 BC in Mongolia, northern China and the Lake Baikal area of Siberia” (70)

“Moving westwards it arrived in the upper Volga region around 9600 BC” (70)

“Pressure blade-making spread north of the Black Sea from about 9000 BC” (70)

“Long obsidian blades have been found at Çayönü Tepesi in layers dating to around 7000 BC” (70)

“Around 4800 BC the innovatory Cucuteni-Tripolye culture formed north of the Black Sea, with pressure blades and great herds of cattle” (71)

“The Palaeolithic boy from Mal’ta in central Siberia was found to have carried Y-DNA R*, the ancestor of the whole R lineage” (70)

“The boy was related not only to modern Europeans but also to Native Americans” (70)

“The Y-DNA haplogroups R and Q are brothers, both descended from P. Some Q was to enter America across the Beringian land bridge, but it seems that R1 went westwards instead, to appear in western Russia from around 5600 BC” (70)

“Mal’ta boy was unrelated to modern East Asians, whereas modern Native Americans have a clear relationship to the latter. So those relatives of Mal’ta boy who moved into Beringia must have mixed with an East Asian group somewhere along the way” (70)

“A second genome was extracted from an adult male at Afontova Gora, a site to the west of Mal’ta and later in date. It proved similar to that of Mal’ta boy. Together these two genomes were used to represent ancestral north Eurasians (ANE) in an analysis of the source populations of Europe” (70)

“A second craft innovation also spread west from Lake Baikal to the European steppe” (71)

“The earliest pottery was made in the Far East, thousands of years before farming” (71)

“The idea was carried westwards across Siberia by hunter-gatherers” (71)

“This type of pottery reached the Samara region in the middle Volga River valley by 7000 BC” (71)

“Genetic characteristics associated with Mal’ta boy and Afontova Gora man were present at Samara along with pottery” (71)

“The survival of male forager lineages as the Neolithic engulfed a territory would depend on the willingness of foragers to adopt farming” (72)

“In the forest-steppe zone the pottery-making foragers of Dnieper-Donets I transformed themselves into Dnieper-Donets II cattle farmers around 5000 BC” (72)

“Their ancient mitochondrial DNA is revealing. They carried not only a typical haplogroup for European foragers, but also some haplogroups found in European farmers, and, intriguingly, others normally found in Central Asia” (72)

“This already mixed culture seems to be just one of the ingredients of the cultural bmbe surprise that is Yamnaya, which raced acrross the steppe absorbing previous cultures” (72)

“It eventually melded with the remnants of the Cucuteni-Tripolye culture” (72)

Commentator’s Note: so the progression (in multiple waves of migration across centuries and even millenia, with multiple convergences and divergences) is Mal’ta–Buret’ culture > Samara culture > Dnieper-Donets I > Dnieper-Donets II > Yamnaya > Bell Beaker.

“the PIE lexicon reveals a great deal about the lifestyle of its speakers” (72)

“They were familiar with agriculture and metallurgy. As we have seen, they coined words for wheels and wagons. They talked of dairy products, sheep and wool. They had a concept of social ranking, but few words for specific occupations, or other clues to urban life. The lexicon reveals a Copper Age society, but not an urbanized state. That is a match for the mobile, pastoralist Yamnaya (Pit-Grave) culture of the European steppe” (72)

“Yamnaya (3400-2800 BC) is a rich blend of influences” (72)

Dnieper-Donets I, Balkan farmers, Cucuteni-Tripolye culture, Maikop culture (72-74)

“The modern European gene pool was formed from three main source populations: western hunter-gatherers (WHG); early European farmers (EEF); and ancestral north Eurasians (ANE) (73)”

“Around 3400 BC Yamnaya archaeology begins to be seen” (74)

“Swings of climate played a large part in triggering movement from the steppe” (75)

“The first Indo-European move east had all the boldness that would come to characterize the steppe nomads” (76)

“The next movement visible in the archaeology flowed to the western end of the steppes, integrating Yamnaya herders and Late Cucuteni-Tipolye farming communities into the Usatovo culture around the mouth of the River Dniester” (76)

“This culture could be the first step along the road leading to the Pre-Germanic dialect splitting away” (76)

“The next step was migration up the Dniester, which blended with the descendants of Balkan farmers to create the widespread Corded Ware or Single Grave culture (2750-2400 BC)” (76)

“Ancient DNA samples suggest that people of the Corded Ware culture had on average three grandparents descended from Yamnaya ancestors” (76)

“Yamnaya herders passed through the Usatovo culture into the Danube Valley, ending up in what is now eastern Hungary” (76)

“In that Danubian arm of the expanding culture we can visualize the gradual development from Old European (Alteuropäisch) to Proto-Italo-Celtic” (77)

“Towards the end of the most arid period on the steppe, a final expansion east of the Ural mountains apparently set the Indo-Iranian languages on their way” (78)

“let us focus on the fate of those who remained on the steppe to emerge in history as Scythians, since several medieval pseudo-histories that we encountered in Chapter 1 claim them as the ancestors of the Insular Celts” (78)

“They were not a nation, but rather numerous tribes, all speaking dialects of an East Iranian language. So the Scythians were not the ancestors of the Celts” (78)

“the predominant Y-DNA signature found in ancient Scythians was R1a, while that of Celtic-speakers is R1b” (78)

“In the next chapter we follow a trail of clues from the steppe to the homelands of the Celts” (78)

Stelae to Bell Beaker

“A culture named after the site of Mikhailovka on the Lower Dnieper seems to be a cross between farming and steppe influences inits first phase (3700-3400 BC)” (80)

“This seems to be the tentative start of what became a long steppe tradition of anthropomorphic stelae” (81)

“Funeral stelae radiate out from the European steppe in several directions” (82)

“Copper Age anthropomorphic stelae along the Mediterranean and Atlantic route herald the earliest Bell Beaker pottery, that which falls into the southern sphere” (89)

“Carbon-14 has dated the earliest Bell Beaker pottery to the 2700s BC and the earliest Corded Ware to c. 2750 BC. These two widespread cultures were contemporary” (92)

“Their similarities reflect a shared cultural parent in Yamnaya” (92)

“copper-working descendants of Yamnaya developed bell-shaped pottery in southern Europe” (92)

“There was an abrupt change at the Alpine sites of Sion and Aosta around 2425 BC. The former Bell beaker stelae were smashed” (97)

“The evidence adds up to a power shift in the middle of the Bell Beaker period from the mouth of the Tagus to the head of the Rhine” (97)

“Around 2200 BC a new phase of Bell Beaker began in central Spain, the Ciempozuelos horizon” (98)

“Celtiberian is the most archaic form of Celtic. If indeed it arrived c. 2200 BC, then it becomes plausible that Proto-Celtic developed during the Bell Beaker period. If the very earliest Bell Beaker arrivals in the British Isles spoke a pre-Celtic Indo-European language, later ones arriving down the Rhine would bring the earliest Celtic” (98)

“around 2400 BC anthropomorphic stelae were sometimes used to close up megalithic monuments in Iberia and Brittany” (98)

“This is just the period when Bell Beaker makers first entered Ireland. Did migrating families say farewell to their ancestors in a ceremony of closure?” (98)

“There are clues that the first Bell Beaker makers in Ireland arrived from Brittany or Portugal” (98)

“that would mean that the first Bell Beaker arrivals in the British Isles spoke some form of Old European or Alteuropäisch” (98)

“Then from about 2200 BC the earliest Celtic would start to appear with new arrivals drawn to Cornish tin and perhaps Irish gold” (98)

“It has been argued that the Celtic languages of the British isles and Gaul are too similar to have diverged this early. This case depends on them actually diverging at this point, never to meet again. The archaeological record suggests continuing contact, with recurrent bursts of migration right up to the Roman period” (98)

The Iron Sword

“Swords were first made in the Bronze Age. Unlike bows and axes, initially devised for hunting and chopping, swords had no other function but to fight other human beings” (102)

“In Central Europe the first armour appears c. 1300 BC at the beginning of the Urnfield culture” (102)

“the Cimmerians appear in the Late Urnfield and related cultures of the Upper and Middle Danube region” (104)

“Their influence on the developing Hallstatt culture was profound” (104)

“a meeting between Celtic- and Iranian-speakers sometime after 2000 BC” (104)

“The Hallstatt people had adopted iron-working in the 8th century BC as an addition to bronze-making, rather than an immediate replacement” (105)

“the Glauberg prince” has a “solidity [that] gives the upper body a similarity to the anthropomorphic stelae of the Copper Age, but the considerable gap in time makes it impossible to claim a continuous tradition from the earlier stelae to these Iron Age statues” (113)

“The Golasecca culture of the north Italian lake region acted as a trade gateway between Hallstatt and the Etruscans. Here Celtic-speakers were in contact with literacy. They adapted an Etruscan script to write in their own language, and so left us the first inscriptions that are generally agreed to be Celtic. There are about 140 such inscriptions, beginning c. 600 BC and ending around 1 BC” (113)

“language was labelled Lepontic by modern scholars, knowing that a people called Lepontii lived within the area in Roman times” (113)

“The Golasecca culture began in the 9th century BC, developing from the local Bronze Age culture” (114)

“This can be traced back to a variety of Urnfield that arrived in the 13th century BC. Given its wide cultural connections north of the Alps, and its seemingly abrupt arrival, this brand of Urnfield has been generally favoured by scholars as the vector of the first Celtic language south of the Alps” (114-115)

Commentator’s Note: another multiple progression, Urnfield > Hallstatt > La Tène. La Tène is the later influx to the British Isles, and Manco is working to show how these cultures were already influenced and intermixed with the earlier Bell Beaker (and even earlier Yamnaya) culture.

“Yet if we go further back in time we reach the Bell Beaker sites of Sion on the upper Rhône and Aosta in the southern Alps” (115)

“It will be remembered that they received a sudden influx of new, eastern Bell Beaker material c. 2425 BC” (115)

“an earlier wave that could have brought Celtic to the southern Alps. If so, the continued use of trans-Alpine trade routes would keep those Celts of the southern Alps in touch linguistically with the developing core of Proto-Celtic north of the Alps as it gradually turned into Gaulish” (115)

“The earliest form of Celtic to enter the British isles was probably Proto-Celtic, which would gradually diverge from its parent. La Tène movements from Gaul to Britain would explain the similarities between Gaulish and Brittonic. Continuing interaction between Celtic-speakers in Britain and Ireland would blur the distinctions between languages. So we can understand the similarities between Brittonic and Irish, without ascribing them all to a very early date” (116)

“There is no abrupt break between the Hallstatt and La Tène cultures. The one flows into the other” (116)

“signs of power struggles around 450 BC crop up here and there” (116)

“What lifted Celtic art above imitation was the La Tène confidence to innovate. A Celtic preference for curvilinear rather than angular design can be seen in the Hallstatt period” (118)

“Such works continues into La Tène, but we also see a new freedom. Gradually the fully glory of the Celtic visual imagination emerged” (118)

“Celtic art had parted company from the drive towards ever greater naturalism within the Classical world” (118)

On the Move

“The attack on Rome in 390 BC burnt its brutal message into the collective consciousness of an emerging power, and spurred the Romans to ever more conquests to bolster their security” (122)

“[The Gaulish] attack on the sacred site at Delphi deeply shocked the proud Greeks and was likewise never forgotten” (123)

“By contrast Celtic movements into prehistoric Britain and Iberia have to be traced mainly by the objects and place-names they left behind” (123)

“La Tène influences generally started seeping across the Channel around 450 BC. Even before that, Hallstatt material is found in Lowland Britain” (124)

“Then there is the surge southwards across the Alps around 400 BC” (124)

“Through the channel of the Golasecca culture (pp. 113-14) the Gauls had plenty of time to assess the power politics of northern Italy before they ejected the Etruscans from the Po Valley around 400 BC” (126)

“the incoming Gauls adopted the alphabet used earlier for Lepontic to leave inscriptions in their own language, known as Cisalpine Gaulish” (128)

“In Asia Minor these Celts gained the name Galatoi (the Greek version of ‘Gauls’), which the Romans rendered as Galatae” (131)

“St Jerome remarked that the Galatians spoke a language almost identical (apart from a Greek influence) to that of the Treveri, among whom he had studied at their capital Trier (in present-day Germany). He encountered the Galatians in AD 372/3 on his travels in the Near East. The Treveri were Belgae [also Gauls]. This is interesting confirmation that the Belgae spoke Gaulish, for what remnants we have of the Galatian language appear Gaulish with a Greek overlay” (113)

“the oldest layer of Celtic to enter Iberia came with a late Bell Beaker influx across the Pyrenees into the eastern meseta c. 2200 BC” (133)

“the Celtiberi had been expanding westwards for several centuries before the Romans arrived” (134)

“The La Tène culture spread deep into Britain soon after it arose on the Continent” (135)

“Ireland had become a backwater” (135)

“productivity hit a peak in 1000-900 BC and then began to fall. During the early Iron Age (c. 800/750-400 BC) evidence of human occupation is thin in the Irish landscape” (137)

“Ireland had sunk into a poverty that would not support large numbers. Decline began before the end of the Bronze Age” (137)

“There is a sharp increase in activity in Ireland at around 400 BC, followed by stability until the end of the millennium” (137)

“the first La Tène objects appear in Ireland by around 300 BC” (137)

“The Iwerni were once the people of all Ireland, as recorded by ancient Greek travellers centuries earlier (see p. 46). So it seems that they had been squeezed into the south by incomers from the La Tène period onwards” (138)

“A likely genetic signature of La Tène in Ireland is Y-DNA R1b-M222 carried by up to 44 per cent of men in parts of Northern Ireland today” (139)

“The expansion of the Celtic-speaking world had reached its greatest extent in around 100 BC” (141)

Celts vs Romans

“Hannibal cherished high hopes of the Cisalpine Gauls as allies, given their bravery in war and hatred of Rome. He secured their support, including that of the Cenomani, before setting out on his extraordinary journey with an army complete with elephants, starting from Cartagena in Iberia” (143)

“The Romans were acquiring an empire, and at the expense of the Celtic peoples” (146)

“Most of the Gaulish tribes were still led by kings, but some had abandoned hereditary monarchy in favour of government closer to the Roman model” (147)

“Gaul was a prize worth fighting for” (148)

“it needs to be said that a system of roads and bridges already existed in Gaul. Caesar encountered roads in Britain too. In Ireland, which was never engulfed by the Roman empire, the early medieval law texts made provisions for public roads” (148)

“Caesar considered Gaul to be pacified at the end of 57 BC” (151)

Christian Celts

“Latin had been so firmly entrenched among the literate that the earliest written sources from the British Isles are in that language” (162)

“It was the language of Christianity” (162)

“In Iberia and Gaul (except Armorica), Celtic languages were irretrievably lost. Romance languages such as French and Spanish, which evolved from Latin, are spoken there today” (162)

“The oldest recorded form of the Gaelic languages is primitive Irish, which is known only from ogham inscriptions” (164)

“the Latin alphabet was probably the first that the Irish encountered. Instead of adapting it to the writing of Gaelic, the Irish simply took the concept and created their own alphabet”—Ogham (164)

“Primitive Irish is markedly more ancient than Old Irish, which appears in manuscripts from the 6th century onwards” (165)

“Tribal society in Ireland gradually dissolved in the centuries after 400” (170)

“When Christianity replaced druids with priests in Ireland, it also replaced Primitive Irish with Latin as the sacred language” (173)

“The Latin alphabet was also used to create a new written form of Irish. This was Old Irish” (173)

“Just as the Romans can be seen as creating Scotland, so in a way the Anglo-Saxons created Wales” (177)

“There was so strong a flow from Britain to Armorica that the latter gained the name Brittany. For the French, Brittany is Bretagne, while Britain is Grand Bretagne (Great Britain)” (180)

“A separate Brittonic settlement in the former Roman province of Gallaecia in Spain was known as Britonia. Gallaecia was larger than the present region of Galicia” (181)

“Gaelic could have been introduced to Scotland partly through a web of alliances, with threads of religion, politics and marriage” (184)

“Irish art came with Columba and the community he founded. The swirling La Tène style had continued to develop in Ireland after the Continental heartlands of La Tène and most of Britain were absorbed into the Roman sphere. As Ireland embraced Christianity, Irish art blossomed in such masterpieces as the famed Book of Kells “ (185)

Loss and Revival

“There is no doubt that over the centuries there have been deliberate attempts by govenrment and other authorities to suppress the Celtic languages within the British Isles” (192)

“Welsh Scholar Edward Lluyd … travelled through Cornwall, Scotland, Ireland and Brittany taking notes. In 1707 the first volume of his Archaeologia Britannica appeared. It provided the first detailed account of the Insular Celtic languages, exploring their affinity with each other and with Gaulish. The concept of the Celtic language family was thus set on a solid footing” (195)

“A Pan-Celtic spirit is reflected in the Inter-Celtic Festival held at Lorient, Brittany, designed to foster contacts between the six modern ‘Celtic nations’ of Brittany, Cornwall, Ireland, the Isle of Man, Scotland and Wales” (198)

“The concept of the Celts, it seems, could serve a variety of political purposes, some of which could leave archaeologists distinctly uneasy” (200)

“Linguistics was being used to shed light on prehistory and early history. In a similar way, archaeology in the modern era has enabled scholars to delve deeper than the written word” (202)

“What is emerging is a story that goes beyond Celtic roots to the origin of the entire Indo-European language family” (202)

“we can draw a line from a Siberian mammoth-hunting family to many a modern-day speaker of Celtic” (202)

“The Celtic languages have such deep roots in the past that constant linguistic evolution and adaptation is as much a part of their story as their common origin” (204)

Surnames and DNA

“At the time of the Norman conquest of England in 1066, surnames in the modern sense were unknown” (206)

“a by-name,” “some striking personal quality,” “occupation,” “father’s name,” “place of origin,” or “place of residence” (206-207)

“Only very gradually did hereditary surnames develop from such descriptors. The knightly class began to adopt dynastic names in the 12th century. Surnames had filtered down to most English families by 1400, though their form was still evolving” (207)

“Some Irish surnames can be traced back further than any others in the British Isles, with a few appearing in the early 10th century AD” (207)

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