Portal:Celtic Studies

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Celtic Studies

edit Celtic Studies is the academic discipline occupied with the study of any sort of cultural output relating to a Celtic people. This ranges from archaeology to 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 which still survive, or have only recently become extinct: Irish, Welsh, Scottish Gaelic, Manx, Cornish and on the continent, Breton. Many consider the Celtic languages to be the least studied surviving branch of the Indo-European language family. The field has at this time barely been surveyed; this is due to the small number of trained experts.[citation needed] Thus it is possible for relatively inexperienced scholars to make a significant contribution.

As a university subject, it is taught at a number of universities worldwide, most of them, obviously, in Ireland, Scotland, Wales, England and Brittany. Some universities in the US, Canada, Germany, Poland, Austria and the Netherlands offer courses as well.


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Diachronic distribution of Celtic peoples:
  core Hallstatt territory, by the 6th century BC
  maximal Celtic expansion, by the 3rd century BC
  Lusitanian area of Iberia where Celtic presence is uncertain
  the "six Celtic nations" which retained significant numbers of Celtic speakers into the Early Modern period
  areas where Celtic languages remain widely spoken today

Celts (/ˈkɛlts/ or /ˈsɛlts/, see Names of the Celts; the proper usage is with a hard (Latinic) "c", pronounced as "k") is a modern term used to describe any of the European peoples who spoke, or speak, a Celtic language. The term is also used in a wider sense to describe the modern descendants of those peoples, notably those who participate in a Celtic culture.

The historical Celts were a diverse group of tribal societies in Iron Age Europe. Proto-Celtic culture formed in the Early Iron Age in Central Europe (Hallstatt period, named for the site in present-day Austria). By the later Iron Age (La Tène period), Celts had expanded over wide range of lands: as far west as Ireland and the Iberian Peninsula, as far east as Galatia (central Anatolia), and as far north as Scotland.

The earliest direct attestation of a Celtic language are the Lepontic inscriptions, beginning from the 6th century BC. Continental Celtic languages are attested only in inscriptions and place names. Insular Celtic is attested from about the 4th century AD in ogham inscriptions. Literary tradition begins with Old Irish from about the 8th century. Coherent texts of Early Irish literature, such as the Táin Bó Cúailnge, survive in 12th century recensions.

By the early centuries AD, following the expansion of the Roman Empire and the Great Migrations of Germanic peoples, Celtic culture had become restricted to the British Isles (Insular Celtic), with the Continental Celtic languages extinct by the mid-1st millennium AD. "Celtic Europe" today refers to the lands surrounding the Irish Sea, as well as Cornwall and Brittany on either side of the English Channel.


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Muiredach's High Cross, Ireland, early 10th century
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