Saturday, May 1, 2010

The Celtic World: National Geographic Maps

"Fearless and high-spirited, they rushed into battle as if into sport. In hilltop forts they held regal feasts, and in sacred oaks groves they offered human sacrifices. Ornaments adorned their chariots and person; poets sang of their deeds. They were the Celts. In the eight centuries before Christ, these people created the first civilizaztion north of the Alps; their domain at its height spread from the North Sea to the Atlantic"

I don't know about you, but when I was growing up National Geographic was a big deal. Hopefully it still is. Back then, I would flip through glossy pictures of places I never imagined, and of persons and cultures who seemed very different than my own. It was the Internet before the internet, where one could aimlessly browse, get lost, and learn something of value. But the real jewel, like the prize in Cracker Jack, or gum in baseball cards, was the map that came with each issue. I can even remember my  father asking me if I wanted the maps of Britain, Western Europe, or some other place. I guess the internet has killed the need for that, and you can find those maps now for sale at a public library near you.

I found one titled "Celtic Europe" and gladly paid 25 cents to get it at my local library in Kaneohe, Hawaii. I look at that map from time and time and wonder. Like my Dad, maps fascinate me as well. I try to imagine what is was like for those tribes of Celts who wandered across what we now call Europe. Hey, its a long way from Ireland to Galatia or Asia Minor. Damn far! Why the wanderlust, and what were they looking for? Perhaps greener pastures, perhaps new lands to conquer, pillage, and plunder. I don't know.

These are not just maps. They also contain small but significant details which are artistically drawn out. For example, the quote on the top of this article is from the map. There are also notations about Druids, naked warfare, mercenaries, warfare, Celtic women, agriculture and more. There are also side columns which provide important information. For example, the Celts were not just one tribe, but many independent tribes. We also learn something about the Romans, the enemies of the Celts. By the third century B.C., Rome began defeating the Celts by taking on one tribe at a time. The old divide and conquer routine. There are even some a smaller snapshot maps and one it titled "Irish Monasticism" which marks the places where there were Celtic strongholds. The list includes monasteries as far away as Kiev, Vienna, and Erfurt. Not bad places to hang out, even today!

If you're interested in purchasing this map from National Geographic, you can find the link here. You can even purchase a laminated copy if you like. Not a bad gift for someone who loves Celtic culture.

1 comment:

  1. Dear Andy,

    Where did you find info about a monastery in Kiev?