Early medieval Insular styles of metalwork and manuscript decoration resulted from blending old Celtic swirling patterns with Germanic zoomorphic interlace. . . The Insular styles were labelled “Celtic” in the 1850s [after which there were] attempts to revive them, by Arts and Crafts devotees, among others. . . . Celts as Celtic-speaking peoples were in place long before any notion of Celtic art. That only arrived from 1851 onwards with Daniel Wilson, J. O. Westwood and J. M. Kemble. While most ancient Celts spoke what we call Celtic languages (so far as we know), only some Celtic-speakers went in for “Celtic art”. — Patrick Sims-Williams


Sheehy, Jeanne. The Rediscovery of Ireland's Past: The Celtic Revival 1830-1930. Thames and Hudson, London: 1980.

Sims-Williams, Patrick. “Languages and Labels.” Times Literary Supplement (7 October 2015): 19. This is a review of Celts: Art and Identity, a 2015-2016 exhibition at the British Museum.

Last modified 10 February 2016