This widely praised introduction, now extensively revised and enlarged, examines the predominantly warrior and aristocraftic art of the Iron Age inhabitants of Britain and Ireland from the fourth century BC until the Roman conquest. Since these communities, conventionally referred to as Celts, were peoples with an oral tradition, medieval Irish and Welsh texts embodying these traditions are a very uncertain guide to the life and culture of peoples of upwards of a millennium earlier. Celtic art is thus one of the rare, if obscured, windows into the minds and souls of early Celts. Much of the surviving art decorates metalwork, usually weapons or items of personal adornment; there is little or no securely dated sculpture, whether in stone or wood. This is an art style whose imagery is elusive, non-representational and non-narrative, and thus difficult to analyse. This book looks at Celtic art made by communities who lived in Britain and Ireland a thousand years and more before the creation of the Book of Kells or the Ardagh Chalice, the art which is more popularly known as 'Celtic'.
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The Megaws are internationally acknowledged as experts in the study of the art of the European Iron Age. Dr Ruth Megaw read history at the University of Glasgow, to which she has returned as an Honorary Research Fellow. In 1961 she moved to Sydney with her husband and taught at the Universities of New South Wales and Sydney. Vincent Megaw graduated from the University of Edinburgh in prehistoric archaeology and fine art. He taught archaeology for ten years at Sydney University, moving to the Chair of Archaeology at the University of Leicester in 1972. In 1992 Edinburgh University awarded him a DLitt for his contribution to the study of early Celtic art. Now retired, he is Emeritus Professor of Visual Arts and Archaeology at Flinders University, Adelaide, and Honorary Senior Research Fellow at Glasgow University.
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