The best books on the Celts

4 authors have picked their favorite books about the Celts and why they recommend each book.

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The World of the Celts

By Simon James,

Book cover of The World of the Celts

The difference between an account of history and historical fiction is in the sensory images the writer conjures up for the reader --"You are there!" Searching for everyday details to “set the scene” for the novel, I found a wealth of material in this scholarly discussion of Celtic life, dwelling places and weaponry, clothing, technology, history and culture. Lots of useful illustrations here that brought family bonds and Celtic society to life for me.


Who am I?

Sheila Finch is best known as a Nebula-winning author of science fiction, but on a visit back to her first alma mater in Chichester, UK, she encountered a mystery that wouldn’t let her go. Who built the nearby magnificent Roman palace that was just now being excavated at Fishbourne, and why? Months of research later, she came up with a possible explanation that involved a sixteen-year-old Roman mother, a middle-aged Celtic king of a small tribe, and Emperor Nero’s secret plans:


I wrote...

A Villa Far From Rome

By Sheila Finch,

Book cover of A Villa Far From Rome

What is my book about?

A homesick, 16 year-old Roman girl and her illegitimate child, exiled by the Emperor Nero to Britannia. A middle-aged Celtic king of an insignificant tribe, trying to find middle ground between Celtic tradition and Roman rule and making enemies on both sides. The shadow of martyred Queen Boudicca like a curse on the land. An old Legionary willing to give his life for a friend, and a former Greek slave with a secret past who rescues him. And an overbearing Roman architect trying to build a copy of one of the most glorious palaces in Rome in a backwater of the Empire - What could go wrong?

The Druids

By Peter Berresford Ellis,

Book cover of The Druids

My copy of this book is highlighted and dogeared to the max. When searching the word Druids, you usually come up with books on magic or books related to the neopagan movement which calls itself "druidism". This book, however, is a summary of what we really know about them and is based on solid research. Scholarly yet highly entertaining. Awesome book!


Who am I?

I have been studying Celtic history and lore since I was in college and took a class on Arthurian literature. Drawing heavily from Irish and Welsh lore to build my “land beyond the veil” known as the Five Quarters, I have always been intrigued by the Celtic view of the land of the dead as a distinct world to which we go and then return, like two sides of the mirrored surface of a well. The land below the water, and the land above. I hope you enjoy these books as much as I have!


I wrote...

Three Wells of the Sea: Three Wells Series Book 1

By Terry Madden,

Book cover of Three Wells of the Sea: Three Wells Series Book 1

What is my book about?

When high school English teacher Hugh Cavendish is summoned back across the well between worlds, he finds his killer sitting on his throne and invaders at his shore. He was a failure as a king in his last life. Why does this druid think he can fix things now? But this world holds everything he has longed for—vengeance, love, and a second chance at all of them. For he is bound to this land by blood magic and something far stronger.

He soon realizes he wasn't the only one who crossed the well. Someone has followed him here, and they are set on taking him back. But first, Cavendish vows to set things right with his land, his people, and his own soul.

The Celtic World

By Barry Cunliffe,

Book cover of The Celtic World

If you are looking for an overview of Celtic culture, this book is it. It is richly illustrated with artifacts, many obscure, which I appreciate. It is written by one of the foremost Celtic historians. Cunliffe continues to delve into the relationships between tribes of people who have been collectively called "Celts."

Who am I?

I have been studying Celtic history and lore since I was in college and took a class on Arthurian literature. Drawing heavily from Irish and Welsh lore to build my “land beyond the veil” known as the Five Quarters, I have always been intrigued by the Celtic view of the land of the dead as a distinct world to which we go and then return, like two sides of the mirrored surface of a well. The land below the water, and the land above. I hope you enjoy these books as much as I have!


I wrote...

Three Wells of the Sea: Three Wells Series Book 1

By Terry Madden,

Book cover of Three Wells of the Sea: Three Wells Series Book 1

What is my book about?

When high school English teacher Hugh Cavendish is summoned back across the well between worlds, he finds his killer sitting on his throne and invaders at his shore. He was a failure as a king in his last life. Why does this druid think he can fix things now? But this world holds everything he has longed for—vengeance, love, and a second chance at all of them. For he is bound to this land by blood magic and something far stronger.

He soon realizes he wasn't the only one who crossed the well. Someone has followed him here, and they are set on taking him back. But first, Cavendish vows to set things right with his land, his people, and his own soul.

Celtic Devotions

By Calvin Miller,

Book cover of Celtic Devotions: A Guide to Morning and Evening Prayer

This beautiful book includes thirty morning and evening readings of Celtic prayers, poetry, and quotations. I love the fresh look at nature and God through the eyes of the Celts. Readings are from Psalm 119 and from the Carmina Gadelica, a collection of traditional Gaelic Songs.  A lovely and inspirational way to start and end your day. 


Who am I?

Books have been an important part of my faith journey. I set aside time each morning to read scripture, and devotional material, to meditate and pray. As I read about the experiences of others my faith increases and I know God better. As a writer I express my own faith through words and invite others to know God better by experiencing Him with time set aside in the mornings. More Love is part of a series of small books that I have created to give readers experiences to connect with God and to know His love. 


I wrote...

More Love: Experiencing God's Love

By Betsy Duffey,

Book cover of More Love: Experiencing God's Love

What is my book about?

Have you wondered about God? For those who have never known God, those who desire a deeper connection with God, or those who feel unworthy of love, this book is for you. More Love provides 30 short exercises, prayers, and reflections to help you experience God’s love. Through prayer, breathing, and imagery you can draw closer to God and experience His love.

Pagan Celtic Britain

By Anne Ross,

Book cover of Pagan Celtic Britain

I am fascinated by the author’s contention that neither the Roman invasion of Britain nor the coming of Christianity eliminated pagan religious practice across the land. I also like the combination of archaeological and anthropological evidence with folklore and tradition, which is very unusual in such works, and provides a far broader insight into the early Celtic world than most books of its type. 


Who am I?

I have been fascinated by ancient sacred sites since I first visited the ancient Rollright Stones on the Oxfordshire/Warwickshire border decades ago. I am interested in how the study of folklore and local traditions can be used in conjunction with archaeology to trace the origins and purposes of ancient monuments. I am an author and researcher who has had seven books published on the subjects of ancient civilizations, prehistoric monuments, and supernatural folklore. Born in Birmingham, England, I am a qualified archaeologist with a BA in European Archaeology from the University of Nottingham, and an MPhil in Greek Archaeology from Birmingham University.


I wrote...

Haunted Spaces, Sacred Places: A Field Guide to Stone Circles, Crop Circles, Ancient Tombs, and Supernatural Landscapes

By Brian Haughton,

Book cover of Haunted Spaces, Sacred Places: A Field Guide to Stone Circles, Crop Circles, Ancient Tombs, and Supernatural Landscapes

What is my book about?

Examines the megaliths of Britain and Ireland, the tombs of the Etruscans, the ancient Native American city of Cahokia, and other legendary and mysterious places around the world, with a review of the myth, lore, and paranormal phenomena for which they are known.

The Book of Hallowe'en

By Ruth Edna Kelley,

Book cover of The Book of Hallowe'en: The Origin and History of Halloween

Originally published in 1919, Kelley’s book is the first in-depth history of Halloween, and it remains entertaining and surprisingly accurate. The book also includes charming photographs and a brief bibliography. Although the book is scarce in its original printing, it is readily available as either a free e-book or an inexpensive print-on-demand hard copy.


Who am I?

As a kid growing up in Southern California during the 1960s – what some now call “Golden Age of Trick or Treating” – I always loved Halloween, but I didn’t develop a real obsession with it until I wrote The Halloween Encyclopedia (first published in 2003). Since then, Halloween – once almost exclusively an American celebration – has achieved global popularity, and has created an entire cottage industry in haunted attractions. I remain fascinated by Halloween’s continuous expansion and evolution.


I wrote...

Trick or Treat: A History of Halloween

By Lisa Morton,

Book cover of Trick or Treat: A History of Halloween

What is my book about?

Halloween has spread around the world, yet its associations with death and the supernatural as well as its inevitable commercialization have made it one of our most puzzling holidays. How did it become what it is today?

Trick or Treat is the first book to examine the origins and history of Halloween and to explore its current global popularity. Festivals like the Celtic Samhain and Catholic All Souls’ Day have blended to produce the modern Halloween, which has been reborn with new customs in America—but there are also related but independent holidays, especially Mexico’s Day of the Dead. Lisa Morton lifts the cobwebs off everything from the explosion in popularity of haunted attractions to the impact of events like the global economic recession, as well as the effect Halloween has had on popular culture through literary works, films, and television series.

Death Makes a Holiday

By David J. Skal,

Book cover of Death Makes a Holiday: A Cultural History of Halloween

David J. Skal’s delightful books always offer insight alongside history, and his history of Halloween (published in 2002) is no exception. Death Makes a Holiday (which was recently reprinted under the title Halloween: The History of America’s Darkest Holiday) remains probably the most popular recounting of the holiday’s long and fascinating history.


Who am I?

As a kid growing up in Southern California during the 1960s – what some now call “Golden Age of Trick or Treating” – I always loved Halloween, but I didn’t develop a real obsession with it until I wrote The Halloween Encyclopedia (first published in 2003). Since then, Halloween – once almost exclusively an American celebration – has achieved global popularity, and has created an entire cottage industry in haunted attractions. I remain fascinated by Halloween’s continuous expansion and evolution.


I wrote...

Trick or Treat: A History of Halloween

By Lisa Morton,

Book cover of Trick or Treat: A History of Halloween

What is my book about?

Halloween has spread around the world, yet its associations with death and the supernatural as well as its inevitable commercialization have made it one of our most puzzling holidays. How did it become what it is today?

Trick or Treat is the first book to examine the origins and history of Halloween and to explore its current global popularity. Festivals like the Celtic Samhain and Catholic All Souls’ Day have blended to produce the modern Halloween, which has been reborn with new customs in America—but there are also related but independent holidays, especially Mexico’s Day of the Dead. Lisa Morton lifts the cobwebs off everything from the explosion in popularity of haunted attractions to the impact of events like the global economic recession, as well as the effect Halloween has had on popular culture through literary works, films, and television series.

Celtic Heritage

By Alwyn Rees, Brinley Rees,

Book cover of Celtic Heritage: Ancient Tradition in Ireland and Wales

An amazing analysis of myth and folklore from Ireland and Wales linking culture and language back to our Indo-European roots and parallels with Hinduism. It is rather technical, but if you are researching the foundation of Celtic lore, this is a must. I got my title from a quote in this book.


Who am I?

I have been studying Celtic history and lore since I was in college and took a class on Arthurian literature. Drawing heavily from Irish and Welsh lore to build my “land beyond the veil” known as the Five Quarters, I have always been intrigued by the Celtic view of the land of the dead as a distinct world to which we go and then return, like two sides of the mirrored surface of a well. The land below the water, and the land above. I hope you enjoy these books as much as I have!


I wrote...

Three Wells of the Sea: Three Wells Series Book 1

By Terry Madden,

Book cover of Three Wells of the Sea: Three Wells Series Book 1

What is my book about?

When high school English teacher Hugh Cavendish is summoned back across the well between worlds, he finds his killer sitting on his throne and invaders at his shore. He was a failure as a king in his last life. Why does this druid think he can fix things now? But this world holds everything he has longed for—vengeance, love, and a second chance at all of them. For he is bound to this land by blood magic and something far stronger.

He soon realizes he wasn't the only one who crossed the well. Someone has followed him here, and they are set on taking him back. But first, Cavendish vows to set things right with his land, his people, and his own soul.

The Mabinogion Tetralogy

By Evangeline Walton,

Book cover of The Mabinogion Tetralogy

Be sure it is Walton’s version of this very ancient Welsh mythological cycle. I have read other translations, but Walton turns the stories into more modern fiction and it rivals the best fantasy books out there, in my opinion. The Welsh pig-herd Pwyll and his bargain with the king of the dead is wonderfully told and highly readable.


Who am I?

I have been studying Celtic history and lore since I was in college and took a class on Arthurian literature. Drawing heavily from Irish and Welsh lore to build my “land beyond the veil” known as the Five Quarters, I have always been intrigued by the Celtic view of the land of the dead as a distinct world to which we go and then return, like two sides of the mirrored surface of a well. The land below the water, and the land above. I hope you enjoy these books as much as I have!


I wrote...

Three Wells of the Sea: Three Wells Series Book 1

By Terry Madden,

Book cover of Three Wells of the Sea: Three Wells Series Book 1

What is my book about?

When high school English teacher Hugh Cavendish is summoned back across the well between worlds, he finds his killer sitting on his throne and invaders at his shore. He was a failure as a king in his last life. Why does this druid think he can fix things now? But this world holds everything he has longed for—vengeance, love, and a second chance at all of them. For he is bound to this land by blood magic and something far stronger.

He soon realizes he wasn't the only one who crossed the well. Someone has followed him here, and they are set on taking him back. But first, Cavendish vows to set things right with his land, his people, and his own soul.

Stone Heart

By Peter J. Merrigan,

Book cover of Stone Heart

I loved this book. If I had to describe this novel in one word it would be intelligent. Set in Celtic Ireland in the Iron Age, the language is rich and expressive and Merrigan takes you into his world until you feel you belong there. You are drawn into a time where everything is governed by the gods. The story takes you through the training of the young warriors and druids. With the ongoing conflict over land, and with the people’s lives steeped in superstitious beliefs, we come to care that the outcome falls well with our tribe.

Fionn is born into a simple rural tribe. His life is sweet as he grows to double figures playing with his sisters in the fields. At the age of ten, he is called to serve, and the boys of fighting age are gathered from across the land, taken from their families, and…


Who am I?

I’ve been writing for a long time and reading even longer. I enjoy intelligent books that are well written—not overwritten or over punctuated—and as we all do both of those, I mean that it’s been well edited. And I understand the struggle which is why four of my five choices are from indie authors like myself.


I wrote...

Leverage

By Katherine Black,

Book cover of Leverage

What is my book about?

Leverage is a testament to how one innocuous ad in the local paper can turn your world upside down. Two people come into Beth’s life. One gives her a reason to die. The Other gives her no other option. She appears out of nowhere and wants to be Beth’s friend. It would be sweet if it wasn’t so damned creepy. Beth can’t shake her. She won’t take no for an answer and Beth’s gentle life becomes a vortex that she can’t control.

Black’s trademark knack of delving into the psyche and finding the pockets of humanity that nobody wants to admit to have never been more in evidence than in Leverage. In this book, she bypasses black and goes to whatever black becomes when it gets darker. This is a story about power - how much influence can one person have over somebody else? Be Beth’s friend and find out.

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