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Bill Thayer

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Nora Chadwick:
Celtic Britain

Nora Kershaw Chadwick (1891‑1972) was a well-known Celtic scholar, whose most important work lay in the field of Celtic poetry and European oral literature and folklore. The work transcribed here, however, is a general survey of the entire subject of British Celtic history, literature and art.

For technical details on how the site is laid out, see below; here then is the complete work:

The work is inscribed:

To the early British lords,

our first historians


List of Illustrations






The End of Roman Britain


Celtic Rule in Britain


The Foundation of the Kingdom of Scotland


The Foundation of the Kingdom of Wales


Institutions, Architecture and Way of Life






The Church


Notes to Chapters

In this Web transcription, I've folded the notes into their respective chapters.

Some Works of Reference and Sources

Primary Authorities

Key to Selected Periodicals

General Works of Reference

Books and Articles Relevant to the Chapters


Sources of Illustrations


The Plates

In this Web transcription, the Plates are omitted because I'm unsure about their copyright status, since the original copyright holders are third parties.


Notes on the Plates

These are the captions to the Plates, above. Unfortunately, so to speak, those photographs, for once, are of exceptional quality and relevance to the text: I'll therefore eventually put the captions online here, to enable anyone interested in a specific photo or other to get a copy from me privately.


Technical Details

Edition Used, Copyright

The American edition, by Frederick A. Praeger, Inc., New York, 1963. The book was in the public domain in the United States from 1992 to 1996, paradoxically, for having complied with then U. S. law — then having failed to renew U. S. copyright at the required time, in 1990 or 1991: details here on the basic copyright law involved.

January 1, 1996, however, saw the restoration of many foreign copyrights of works having fallen into the public domain in the United States, subject to four conditions, all of which must have been met (see U. S. Copyright Office Circular 38b). Celtic Britain meets the first three, but not the fourth, since it was published in the United States simultaneously with its publication in the United Kingdom in 1963. It is therefore public domain in the United States.

Nora Chadwick died in 1972: the book thus remains under copyright in most other countries, including Great Britain, thru Dec. 31, 2042.


As almost always, I retyped the text by hand rather than scanning it — not only to minimize errors prior to proofreading, but as an opportunity for me to become intimately familiar with the work, an exercise I heartily recommend: Qui scribit, bis legit. (Well-meaning attempts to get me to scan text, if success­ful, would merely turn me into some kind of machine: gambit declined.)

This transcription has been minutely proofread. I ran a first proofreading pass immediately after entering each chapter; then a second proofreading, detailed and meant to be final: in the table of contents above, the chapters are shown on blue backgrounds, indicating that I believe them to be completely errorfree; any red backgrounds would mean that the chapter has not received that second final proofreading. The header bar at the top of each chapter page will remind you with the same color scheme.

The print edition was remarkably well proofread. I've still caught a few errors in it, not all of them even strictly typographical. Those I could fix, I did, marking the correction each time with one of these: º. If for some reason I could not fix the error, I marked it º: as elsewhere on my site, glide your cursor over the bullet to read what was actually printed. Similarly, bullets before measurements provide conversions to metric, e.g., 10 miles. Very occasionally, also, I use this blue circle to make some brief comment.

Inconsistencies in punctuation have been corrected to the author's usual style, in a slightly different color — barely noticeable on the page, but it shows up in the sourcecode as <SPAN CLASS="emend">. Finally, a number of odd spellings, curious turns of phrase, apparently duplicated citations, etc. have been marked <!‑‑ sic  in the sourcecode, just to confirm that they were checked.

Any over­looked mistakes, please drop me a line, of course: especially if you have the printed edition in front of you.

Pagination and Local Links

For citation and indexing purposes, the pagination is indicated by local links in the sourcecode and made apparent in the right margin of the text at the page turns (like at the end of this line p57 ). Sticklers for total accuracy will of course find the anchor at its exact place in the sourcecode.

In addition, I've inserted a number of other local anchors: whatever links might be required to accommodate the author's own cross-references, as well as a few others for my own purposes. If in turn you have a website and would like to target a link to some specific passage of the text, please let me know: I'll be glad to insert a local anchor there as well.

[image ALT: A highly stylized drawing of a fish, made up mostly of small dots. It is an illumination in an 11c Welsh manuscript.]

The icon with which I indicate this work is a Welsh fish: my adaptation of the illustration given in our book, on p119, as Figure 19. I have not seen the original, however: so although in colorizing it I took my cue from Chadwick's caption, the result is pure guesswork.

[image ALT: Valid HTML 4.01.]

Site updated: 13 Dec 20