I am taking these reviews from my website Reading Room page; thought someone might find them of use. There are other Celtic resources available at the site: www.mccelticdesign.com Slan all!
"How the Irish Saved Civilization" by Thomas Cahill (1995) Anchor/Doubleday ISBN 0-385-41849-3
Cahill reveals what they never taught in history class: how the Irish monks saved the classic works of Greece and Rome while western civilization was descending into barbarism on the continent . . . a tour de force! Highly Recommended.
"Sun Dancing" by Geoffrey Moorhouse (1997) Harcourt-Brace ISBN 0-15-600602-2
An unusual journey into the daily life of Celtic monks on the island of Skellig Michael over the course of six hundred years. The second half factual and the first half historical fiction, Moorhouse's book is a charming blend of speculation and history.
"The Book of Kells" by Bernard Meehan (1994) Thames & Hudson ISBN 0-500-27790-7
Short of coughing up $18,000 for the facsimile edition, this paperback is as close as you'll come to owning the Book of Kells. The color plates are breathtaking and overwhelmingly superior to any previously released publication. Meehan's commentary is insightful and the text covers all aspects of the Book of Kells, its history and the methods of the artists . . . First Rate!
"The Lindisfarne Gospels" by Janet Backhouse (1981/1997) Phaidon ISBN 0-7148-2461-5
Recently reissued with improved color plates, this 1981 volume remains the definitive reference source for Lindisfarne. As an added bonus several details are reproduced at actual size, giving the reader an appreciation of the miniscule scale attained by the scribes.
"The Book of Durrow" by Bernard Meehan (1996) Roberts Rinehart ISBN1-57098-053-5
The Book of Durrow is one of the earliest fully illuminated Irish gospel books. Filled with enigmatic and often primitive designs, it is an important link between the earlier semi-decorated manuscripts and the later masterpieces of Kells and Lindisfarne. This hardcover edition contains plenty of good-quality color plates and the text is informative, but the placement of the photos and the descriptions of each are scattered throughout with no apparent rhyme or reason. Still well worth having, even if you may have to thumb back and forth a bit.
"Celtic Art: Symbols and Imagery" by Miranda Green (1997) Sterling One of the best all-around books on the subject, this paperback has on nearly every page sumptious color photos of Celtic artifacts from the Neolithic Age to the Book of Kells, including many not often published in Celtic art books. Green's commentary is scholarly and extremely well-balanced between archaeological fact and speculation on symbolic meanings. ***Highly Recommended.
"Irish Archaeology Illustrated" edt. by Michael Ryan (1994) Country House ISBN 1-57098-035-7 For the reader with a more serious interest in the history of Ireland, this volume will not fail to please. Packed with over sixty essays by respected archaeologists, the book discusses all facets of daily life from the earliest prehistoric settlements to the time of Cromwell. Lots of black and white illustrations and a few color plates as well.
"The Picts and the Scots" by Lloyd and Jenny Laing (1993) Sutton Publishing ISBN 0-7509-0677-4 A fascinating guide to the history and art of the people of southwest Scotland and northeast Ireland, whose combined influence on Celtic art was considerable. Long known for their great stone slab monuments covered with mysterious clan and religious symbols, these Celtic warrior tribes have largely remained an enigma. This book throws new light on the Picts and Scots, discussing their respective cultures, heritage, and the relationship between these two ancient peoples, with an excellent commentary by archaeologists Lloyd and Jenny Laing.
"Illuminated Manuscripts" by Giulia Bologna (1988) Crescent Books ISBN 0-517-12083
An excellent overview of the written book from its earliest days to Gutenberg's press.The first half of the book contains the author's text, which documents the art of the scribe and the development of the book from scroll to codex. The real treat however is the second half of the book, which consists of hundreds of full-color photos of illuminated masterpieces from Roman days to the medieval books of Hours. ***Recommended.