Staff Picks

The Discovery of Middle Earth: Mapping the Lost World of the Celts Cover Image

Ancient Celtic culture didn’t go away when the Romans conquered Gaul in 50 B.C.—it only settled in more firmly, waiting to be noticed. Graham Robb, the intrepid cyclist behind The Discovery of France, noticed. His attention was caught by the way hill forts and other remnants of sites sacred to the pre-Roman tribes who populated Europe seemed to be aligned with the path of the solstice sun. Coincidence? Was he reading too much into the landscape? Robb set off along the Via Heraklea for a closer look at this “Druidic blueprint”; he reports his findings in The Discovery of Middle Earth (W.W. Norton, $28.95), a book of travels, history, and many “grand and rugged tales.” Blending—as the Celts did—science and myth, legend and solid geographical fact, Robb presents the hard and soft evidence to redeem the Celts from simplistic images as a pack of bloody and barbaric tree-worshippers (though, yes, Druid is derived from dru, meaning “oak”). Along with the evidence on the ground, irrefutable testimony to Celtic engineering and mathematical skills, Robb cites the Druids’ sophisticated communication and education systems and their remarkably accurate calculation of Pi. Delving as deeply into place names as into places, Robb revives the tradition of the Irish Dindsenchas, “the lore of place names”; fascinating in itself, this facet of the book also demonstrates the vitality of old practices.

- Laurie G.
The Discovery of Middle Earth: Mapping the Lost World of the Celts Cover Image
ISBN: 9780393349924
Availability: Not On Our Shelves—Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: W. W. Norton & Company - November 3rd, 2014

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