A master of storytelling
Chadwick studied at Newnham College, Cambridge and later became an Honorary Life Fellow. An internationally renowned authority on the origins and customs of the Celtic peoples, she was awarded a CBE in 1961. Here she creates a panoramic portrait of their culture, from their arrival in the British Isles around the 8th century BC to the eventual transformation of their way of life under the Romans and later the Saxons. Her book is a remarkable achievement, not least because the Celts, believing that knowledge was a spiritual possession, left virtually no written records. Using archaeological evidence and descriptions from classical sources, Chadwick reveals the Celts to be a people feared and admired in equal measure, who, at their peak, ruled the greater part of Britain and large swathes of Europe. Their history is one of resilience and unlikely survival, as first the Romans – to whom they were both formidable opponents and, later, invaluable allies – and then the Anglo-Saxons descended on the lands the Celts had made their home.
Chadwick devotes chapters to their art, literature and religion, including the arrival of Christianity. Her detailed exploration unearths fascinating facts, such as the development of distinctive musical forms, the ritual importance of human sacrifice and how the traditions of both marriage and concubinage varied across the Celtic regions. Shedding light on the beliefs, mythology, institutions and artistic heritage of the Celts, Chadwick crafts an intimate portrait of early life across Europe and the British Isles.
‘The culmination of a lifetime’s study by one of our greatest Celtic scholars.’
- Sir Barry Cunliffe
First published in 1971 and fully revised in 1997, The Celts has exerted a huge influence over a generation of academics and general readers. This newly reissued edition features binding and slipcase designs specially commissioned from the artist Frances Button, as well as a coloured title-page frieze and Celtic-style ornaments around each chapter opener. Also included are new maps drawn by Reginald Piggott. Our picture researchers sourced new photographs from the British Museum, the Württembergisches Landesmuseum and the National Museum of Denmark. Among them are images of the exquisite Tara Brooch, helmets and shields found in the River Thames, and the stone figure of the mythological ‘Monster of Noves’.