An Otherworldly Day – Celts, sidhe and a clarsach…

2 faced

On entering the Celt exhibition in Edinburgh your met with this amazing 8 foot 2,000 year old blond sandstone carved two faced statue. A guardian to the exhibition to all these fantastic works of art, the stories and all the hundreds, if not thousands of makers that made all these lovingly curated items.

g cauldron

The Gundestrup Cauldron – dating from 300-200 BCE

The Celts were never one people of one nation it was the term the Greeks used to describe the people of northern Europe – who they called barbarians as they lived very different lives to the Greeks. The one things that did unify this diverse band of well connected people of course was their imagination and their art.


Artio – Bear Goddess

It was wonderful to see items I’d poured over in books throughout the years especially the statue of Artio (above) made in 150-200 CE, while her name is Latin it meant bear in many of the Celtic languages.


Click on the above to view a video of the Carnyx being played

The sounds of the carnyx (a long horse headed trumpet) must have been impressive whether it was inspiring folks into battle or installing fear in the enemy.


How wonderful to walk around the huge Gundestrup Cauldron admiring the outside and inside panels and the stories they tell.


The collection of torques is impressive – although people must have looked spectacular wearing this often huge intricate, highly decorated gold prices. Personally I’d rather have one of the later, slightly smaller spiral silver pieces.

The exhibition weaves itself through centuries of the Celts to the picts and right up to the Victorian era where railway construction and river dredging led to hosts of archaeological discoveries which really fired the public imagination. This Celtic revival played out differently in each of the Celtic countries – in Wales is brought about a resurgence of the Bardic tradition, in Ireland it fired politics helping disconnect them from Britain while in Scotland the revival was artistic and cultural.


DSC_0014Giant Elk/deer

yuleAfter the exhibition I wandered down to the Storytelling Centre for a wonderful evening of supernatural tales, ballads filled with ghosts, witches, the sidhe, selkies and even the devil with all to a wonderful clarsach accompaniment.

Next stop – is a trip off to the Isle of Eigg, The Isle of the Big Women  (in Gaelic Eilean nam Ban Mora)..on the trail of supernatural women – the old ones, Pictish Amazon warriors…

I’m looking forward to five days of walking, thinking and just being. No words, no phones no technology….


2 thoughts on “An Otherworldly Day – Celts, sidhe and a clarsach…

  1. Reblogged this on Kate McClelland and commented:
    I love Edinburgh museum. The sandstone figure reminded me of the carving at Gobekli Tepe in Turkey (square shaped bodies, belt details). The Celtic workmanship and artistry is so beautiful and intricate.

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