The Celts: A Very Short Introduction, Paperback Book

The Celts: A Very Short Introduction Paperback

Part of the Very Short Introductions series

4.5 out of 5 (2 ratings)


Savage and bloodthirsty, or civilized and peaceable?

The Celts have long been a subject of enormous fascination, speculation, and misunderstanding.

From the ancient Romans to the present day, their real nature has been obscured by a tangled web of preconceived ideas and stereotypes.

Barry Cunliffe seeks to reveal this fascinating people for the first time, using an impressive range of evidence, and exploring subjects such as trade, migration, and the evolution of Celtic traditions.

Along the way, he exposes the way in which society's needs have shaped our visions of the Celts, and examines such colourful characters as St Patrick, Cu Chulainn, and Boudica.

ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area.

These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly.

Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 176 pages, numerous halftones and maps
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: British & Irish history
  • ISBN: 9780192804181

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Showing 1 - 2 of 2 reviews.

Review by

The term 'Celtic' is enormously evocative; but the images it evokes are highly diverse and confusing. What exactly do we mean by 'Celtic', and who, past and present, can reasonably be called 'Celts'? Part of the problem is that 'Celtic' is a term with many meanings. In this densely packed little book, Barry Cunliffe explores evidence for the myriad of tribes and cultures that have been associated with term 'Celt' from the time the term was applied by the Greeks to their neighbours, through the nationalist movements of the 1700s and ending with the modern day adoption by various groups. Mr Cunliffe sifts through the fields of archaeology, history, literature for the latest research into the cultural identity of the 'Celts'.I liked this little book a lot. Packed full of information with helpful maps, though I admit to printing off one or two extra from the net, so that you could see the areas being discussed. The tone of the book was accesssible; a degree in archaeology, literature, anthropology, history or languages was not required in order to make sense of what was being presented. Mr Cunliffe did offer a limited bibliography with the qualification that the bibliographies of the books mentioned will provide more food for thought.All in all, this book provides what it says on the cover. I'm off to read Mr Cunliffe's more extensive book: "The Ancient Celts".

Review by

This was a nice little introduction to Cunliffe's thesis regarding the spread of so called "celtic" culture in early Europe. This little Very Short Introduction has a great bibliography for further reading. I recommend it for anyone who is trying to explore a little deeper into the roots of Celtic culture.