Celtic art in pagan and Christian times [1904] PDF book by J. Romilly Allen (With Illustrations)

Celtic art in pagan and Christian times  [1904] PDF book by J. Romilly Allen (With Illustrations)

Celtic art in pagan and Christian times

Excerpt from Introduction:

This work is an attempt — whether successful or not the critic must decide — to give a concise summary of the facts at present available for forming a theory as to the origin and development of Celtic art in Great Britain and Ireland. By Celtic art is meant the art of the peoples in Europe who spoke the Celtic language, but it must always be borne in mind that although linguistically they were Celts, yet racially they were of mixed Celtic and Iberian blood so that their art was possibly quite as much Iberian as Celtic. It is only since the epoch-making discoveries of Schliemann in Greece, of Flinders Petrie in Egypt, and of Arthur Evans in Crete that it has been possible in a satisfactory manner to connect the culture of Britain in the Bronze Age with the corresponding culture on the Continent.


It is now quite clear that certain characteristic decorative motives, such as the divergent spiral, are of foreign origin instead of having been invented in Ireland, as was at one time believed. Other discoveries made in England, more especially those at Aylesford, Glastonbury, Mount Caburn, and Hunsbury, have thrown entirely new light on the archaeology of this country by showing that the Early Iron Age began here two or three centuries at least before the Roman occupation. Lastly, the explorations made by Continental antiquaries at Hallstatt in Austria, La Tene in Switzerland, and in the Gaulish cemeteries of the Marne district in France, point to the sources of the culture to which the late Sir Wollaston Franks gave the name " Late-Celtic." Celtic art naturally divides itself into two distinct periods, the Pagan and the Christian. With regard to the latter, the remains have been so fully investigated that it is hardly probable any new facts will be brought to light which will seriously alter the conclusions now arrived at.


With regard to the Pagan period the case is altogether different, as most of the finds hitherto made have been due to accident, and until a large number of inhabited and fortified sites belonging to this period are systematically excavated our knowledge must necessarily remain incomplete. I have endeavored to give in the footnotes all the sources whence my information has been obtained, but I should like more especially to acknowledge my indebtedness to A. Bertrand and S. Reinach's Les Celtes Dans Les Vallees du Danube; J. Anderson's Scotland in Pagan Times and Scotland in Christian Times; Arthur Evans' papers on the Aylesford, ^sica, and Limavady finds in the Archceologia; and George Coffey's papers on the ornament of the Bronze Age, Newgrange, etc., in the Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland, and in the Transactions and Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy.

The theory of the evolution of Celtic knotwork out of paintwork (as explained on pages 257 to 278) is entirely original, and, simple as it appears when explained, took me quite twenty years to think out whilst classifying the patterns that occur on the early Christian monuments of Scotland, England, Wales, and Ireland, nearly all of which I have examined personally.

Author: J. Romilly Allen 
  Publication Date:1904


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