Friday, March 29, 2013


Time travel offers the genealogist a chance to view the world as it existed.  One's ancestors help provide a window to the understanding of who we are, and from where did we [our family] begin this life process.  The Celtic gene pool begins the roots of my own family tree, and it is the Romans who were the first to write down what they saw.   Getting to know one of those "Romans" has been a special treat among my own JONES surname tree climbing.

Hadrian was his name.  He wrote an account of his life and travels in a series called "memoirs".  I had to chuckle many times because he seemed to express many of the same thoughts I share.  The text is:

                                      "Memoirs of Hadrian" by Marguerite Yourcenar.

This translation was first published in French 1951, and first translated into English 1954.  Hadrian begins his life story visiting his doctor. [Being a physician perked my attention.]  He states:

        "It is difficult to remain an emperor in presence of a physician, and difficult even to keep one's essential quality as man." (p.3)  What a thought it is.

He goes on to say:

      "This morning it occurred to me for the first time that my body, my faithful companion and friend, truer and better known to me than my own soul, may be after all only a sly beast who will end by devouring his master." (p.3)  Wow, lots of truth here I thought.

My favorite words are:

     "One part of our ills comes from the fact that too many men are shamefully rich and too many desperately poor." (p. 119)  [Not much has changed here!]

The following is a picture of two of my daughters standing on a section of what remains of Hadrian's Wall.

Built in or about 122 AD, a Roman biographer states: "{Hadrian} reformed many things, and, the first [to do so], erected a wall over a length of 80 miles, which was to force apart the Romans and barbarians".*  Well are some of those "barbarians" standing upon your wall.  Getting to know you a little bit, I thought you might get a chuckle out of this picture.

* The notes are taken from "Hadrian's Wall History & Guide" by Guy de la Bedoyere, p. 13.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

An Outpost

The end of the world was this island.  The Roman Empire made this their outpost.  H.H. Scullard in his book titled: "Roman Britain Outpost of The Empire" is a very readable text which gives this theme its due.  Of course, beginning with the Celts, he gives a general overview of the island from this time frame. 

With 125 illustrations and 5 maps, a number of topics are presented.  They are by chapter title:

Britain and the Celts
Caesar and the native kingdoms
Conquest, occupation and Romanization
Defence : The second and third centuries
Military and civil administration
Life in the towns
Villas and countryside
Economic life
Language, art and religion
The end of Roman Britain.

First published 1979 by Thames and Hudson Ltd, London, it was printed in Great Britain by Jarrold and Sons Ltd, Norwich.  It is a wonderful read for the time traveler. 

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Roman Britain

The first folks who started to write things down about the island were the Romans.  They saw, they came, and they conquered as the saying sort of goes.  For some 400 years they gave it their best shot to take complete control of all those folks who were already here.  Peter Salway does a excellent job on organizing and discussing this period of Celtic history. "The Oxford Illustrated History of Roman Britain" it is called.

Illustrated it is with over 30 color plates, and 10 detailed maps.  Chronology, chronology, chronology is the greatest help for us chronology lovers.  From the iron age warrior to the last days of the Empire, a detailed account is provided.  Published 1993 by the Oxford University Press, it has proved a great resource and reference for my tree climbing. 

Monday, March 11, 2013

Celtic Britain

The arrival of the Celtic race to the "ends of the world" would of course lead to the British isles.  This is the foundation of the language, culture, society, and lore of the peoples that were to become Welsh.  Of course there were the Irish, Scots, Cornish, Isle of Man, and the Britons who shared these roots.  Celtic Britain written by Lloyd Laing is such a book. 

In broad terms, he discusses the arrival of the Celts to the British isles giving the locations of the most notable Celtic sites in Britain.  The chapter titles are:

1) Introduction - the Celts in Europe
2) Iron Age Britain
3)The Roman Interlude
4)The Dark Ages
5)Epilogue - Celtic Twilight

There are 109 plates (mostly pictures) contained within the pages. [I like pictures!]  It was published 1979, by Charles Scribner's Sons, New York.  A fun kind of book.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

The Celtic Realms

A second book that has provided useful information regarding the Celts is The Celtic Realms.  Written by Myles Dillion and Nora Chadwick, it is more like a survey of the Celts of the British Isles from their beginnings.  It is an introduction to literature, religion, and visual arts of this ethic group.  It was first published in 1967, but this cover is from the 2006 edition published by Castle Books.

The content is more focused on the Celts of the British Isles, and deals a lot with the Celtic kingdoms of Ireland and Wales.  My favorite part is the explanation of "Ogam", and the providing of the alphabet for this earliest of Celtic writings. [Chapter 9, The Celtic Language and The Beginnings of Literature ]  It provides documentation that this language was used to transmit "genealogies" [markers for names], thus giving the foundation to Celtic family trees.  The chapters are as follows:

1. Discovering The Celts
2. The History and Geography of The British Isles To The End of The Roman Period
3. The Celtic Revival
4. The Formation of The Historical Celtic Kingdoms
5. Secular Institutions: Early Irish Society
6. The Early History of The Modern Celtic Kingdoms
7. Celtic Religion and Mythology and The Literature of The Otherworld
8. Celtic Christianity and Its Literature
9. The Celtic Language and The Beginnings of Literature
10. Irish Literature
11. Welsh Literature
12. Celtic Art

A good read for those who like to go to the roots.