From the Library… A Celtic Spectacular

As many lis­ten­ers will know, we at Radio Riel are great fans of Celtic music – as befits our roots in the Inde­pen­dent State of Cale­don in the Sec­ond Life Meta­verse. Indeed, vis­i­tors to the open­ing of the H G Wells Memo­r­i­al Library in Cale­don Well­sian at the week­end will know how much fun we have play­ing Celtic dance music at many of the spe­cial events at which we per­form.

We thought we would con­tin­ue the theme this week in From the Library – pro­duced, as always, appro­pri­ate­ly enough, in con­junc­tion with the Cale­don Library – with a Celtic Spec­tac­u­lar. We’ve inter­pret­ed the term pret­ty wide­ly this week, in a sim­ply enor­mous playlist that will take sev­er­al days to com­plete: so you will hear orches­tral works like Shaun Dav­ey’s Bren­dan Voy­age; instru­men­tal arrange­ments of Celtic clas­sics; the clas­sic them­selves; a wide range of per­for­mances by well-known pop­u­lar Celtic artists; and music inspired by the Celtic her­itage. There is a slight bias towards the music of Ire­land, Scot­land, Wales, Corn­wall, the Isle of Man and Brit­tany – ‘the Six Celtic Nations’ – but that’s because we will be fea­tur­ing tra­di­tion­al music from oth­er Celtic Lands in lat­er pro­grammes.

So who were, or are, the Celts? When we use the term today, we refer pri­mar­i­ly to the Euro­pean peo­ples who speak, or once spoke, a Celtic lan­guage. Obvi­ous exam­ples include Scot­land, Ire­land, Wales, Corn­wall, and Bri­tan­ny, but the Celts were spread much more wide­ly afield. Dur­ing the Iron Age, Celtic cul­ture was spread from the Iber­ian Penin­su­la to Ana­to­lia (Turkey), but the ulti­mate ori­gin of the Celts is a sub­ject of con­tro­ver­sy. Tra­di­tion­al­ly, schol­ars have placed the Celtic home­land in what is now south­ern Ger­many and Aus­tria, asso­ci­at­ing the ear­li­est Celtic peo­ples with the Hall­statt cul­ture.

Although more recent­ly restrict­ed to the Atlantic coast of West­ern Europe (known as the ‘Celtic fringe’), Celtic lan­guages were once pre­dom­i­nant over much of Europe, with ter­ri­to­ry large­ly ced­ed to expand­ing Ger­man­ic tribes and the invad­ing Roman Empire. Archae­o­log­i­cal and his­tor­i­cal sources show that at their max­i­mum extent in the third cen­tu­ry BC, Celtic peo­ples were also present in areas of East­ern Europe and Asia Minor.

Celtic­i­ty’ gen­er­al­ly refers to the cul­tur­al com­mon­al­i­ties of these peo­ples, based on sim­i­lar­i­ties in lan­guage, mate­r­i­al arti­facts, social organ­i­sa­tion and mytho­log­i­cal fac­tors. Ear­li­er the­o­ries were that this indi­cat­ed a com­mon racial ori­gin but more recent the­o­ries are reflec­tive of cul­ture and lan­guage rather than race. Celtic cul­tures seem to have had numer­ous diverse char­ac­ter­is­tics but the com­mon­al­i­ty between these diverse peo­ples was the use of a Celtic lan­guage.

Celtic’ is a descrip­tor of a fam­i­ly of lan­guages and, more gen­er­al­ly, means ‘of the Celts,’ or ‘in the style of the Celts’. It has also been used to refer to sev­er­al archae­o­log­i­cal cul­tures defined by unique sets of arti­facts. The link between lan­guage and arti­fact is aid­ed by the pres­ence of inscrip­tions. (see Celtic (dis­am­bigua­tion) for oth­er appli­ca­tions of the term)

Today, the term ‘Celtic’ is gen­er­al­ly used to describe the lan­guages and respec­tive cul­tures of Ire­land, Scot­land, Wales, Corn­wall, the Isle of Man and Brit­tany, also known as the Six Celtic Nations. These are the regions where four Celtic lan­guages are still spo­ken to some extent as moth­er tongues: Irish Gael­ic, Scot­tish Gael­ic, Welsh, and Bre­ton plus two recent revivals, Cor­nish (one of the Bry­thon­ic lan­guages) and Manx (one of the Goidel­ic lan­guages). ‘Celtic’ is also some­times used to describe regions of Con­ti­nen­tal Europe that have Celtic her­itage, but where no Celtic lan­guage has sur­vived; these areas include the north­ern Iber­ian Penin­su­la (north­ern Por­tu­gal, and the Span­ish his­tor­i­cal regions of Gali­cia, Asturias and Cantabria), and to a less­er degree, France. (Infor­ma­tion from WikipediaThe Celts)

• This pro­gramme is pro­duced by Radio Riel in con­junc­tion with the Cale­don Library in Sec­ond Life, and pre­sent­ed by Elrik Mer­lin. For more infor­ma­tion on the Cale­don Library, cur­rent exhibits and the work of Sec­ond Life ref­er­ence libraries in gen­er­al, please vis­it the Cale­don Library Web site, or one of their loca­tions in-world.

• You can lis­ten to the pro­gramme now at, or sim­ply vis­it any Cale­don Library branch in-world and press Play on your embed­ded music play­er.

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