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Celtic studies


Celtic studies or Celtology is the academic discipline occupied with the study of any sort of cultural output relating to the Celtic people. This ranges from linguistics, literature and art history, archaeology and history, the focus lying on the study of the various Celtic languages, living and extinct. The primary areas of focus are the six Celtic languages currently in use: Irish, Scottish Gaelic, Manx, Welsh, Cornish, and Breton.

As a university subject, it is taught at a number of universities, most of them in Ireland, the United Kingdom, or France, but also in the United States, Canada, Australia, Germany, Poland, Austria and the Netherlands.

Written studies of the Celts, their cultures and their languages go back to classical Greek and Latin accounts, possibly beginning with Hecataeus in the 6th century BC and best known through such authors as Polybius, Posidonius, Pausanias, Diodorus Siculus, Julius Caesar and Strabo. Modern Celtic studies originated in the 16th and 17th centuries, when many of these classical authors were rediscovered, published and translated.

Academic interest in Celtic languages grew out of comparative and historical linguistics, which was itself established at the end of the 18th century. In the 16th century, George Buchanan studied the Goidelic languages. The first major breakthrough in Celtic linguistics came with the publication of Archaeologia Britannica (1707) by the Welsh scholar Edward Lhuyd, who was the first to recognise that Gaulish, British and Irish belong to the same language family. He also published an English version of a study by Paul-Yves Pezron of Gaulish.



  • Busse, Peter E. "Zeitschrift für celtische Philologie." In Celtic Culture. A Historical Encyclopedia, ed. J.T. Koch. 5 vols: vol. 5. Santa Barbara et al., 2006. p. 1823.
  • Brown, Terence (ed.). Celticism. Studia imagologica 8. Amsterdam: Rodopi, 1996.
  • Fischer, Joachim and John Dillon (eds.). The correspondence of Myles Dillon, 1922-1925: Irish-German relations and Celtic studies. Dublin: Four Courts, 1999.
  • Huther, Andreas. "'In Politik verschieden, in Freundschaft wie immer': The German Celtic scholar Kuno Meyer and the First World War." In The First World War as a clash of cultures, ed. Fred Bridgham. Columbia (SC): Camden House, 2006. pp. 231–44. .
  • Koch, John T. "Celtic Studies." In A century of British medieval studies, ed. Alan Deyermond. British Academy centenary monographs. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007. pp. 235–61. . RHS record
  • Mac Mathúna, Séamus. "The History of Celtic Studies in Russia and the Soviet Union." In Parallels between Celtic and Slavic. Proceedings of the First International Colloquium of Societas Celto-Slavica held at Coleraine 19–21 June 2005, ed. Séamus Mac Mathúna and Maxim Fomin. Studia Celto-Slavica 1. Coleraine, 2006.
  • Meek, Donald E. "'Beachdan Ura à Inbhir Nis / New opinions from Inverness.' Alexander MacBain (1855-1907) and the foundation of Celtic studies in Scotland." Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland 131 (2001). pp. 23–39. ISSN 0081-1564.
  • Ó Lúing, Seán. Celtic studies in Europe and other essays. Dublin: Geography Publications, 2000.
  • Schneiders, Marc and Kees Veelenturf. Celtic studies in the Netherlands: a bibliography. Dublin: DIAS, 1992.
  • Sims-Williams, Patrick. "Celtomania and Celtoscepticism." Cambrian Medieval Celtic Studies 36 (1998): pp. 1–35.
  • Wiley, Dan. "Celtic studies, early history of the field." In Celtic Culture. A Historical Encyclopaedia, ed. J.T. Koch. Santa Barbara et al., 2006.
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