The Celtic WorldPosted: May 23, 2018
Jennifer Paxton is one of the most engaging lecturers at The Great Courses and the subject matter for this course is fascinating.
Paxton starts out by telling us that many of the conceptions that scholarship has had about the Celts have been proven wrong in recent years. She spends a good deal of time setting us straight. For example there was long a belief that the Celts of mainland Europe, the Gauls of Julius Caesar for example, were related to the Celts of Ireland and Scotland. Later evidence, including what we have learned from genetics, tells us that the peoples are not related. Paxton demonstrates that common culture and art does not necessarily mean a racial or genetic relationship.
Paxton busts other myths as well. She tells us that Celtic Christianity wasn’t that much different from mainline Christianity. She says that Sir William Wallace (of Bravehart fame) and his men would never have worn blue paint on their faces. She even disappoints aficionados of Scottish festivals by explaining that tartans originally varied by geographic region and not by clan. Assigning a specific tartan to a particular clan is only a couple of hundred years old and was a result of the Celtic revival of the nineteenth century.
If such material interests you, you will likely love this course. You might consider a video version, as I’m sure I missed a lot with respect to art and visual depictions of geographical locations.