So I waited to read this book for no good reason, it was just one of those things. But I’m glad I got around to it because this book is brilliantly written and excellently put together.
Alice Roberts really looks at all the practical, rather than ’emotional’ evidence which is out there in the world and under the dirt. She looks at different hypotheses about the Celts and how realistic they all are or whether people are just trying to find evidence of preconceived ideas from previous hypotheses (which happened a few times in the book, especially when looking into the ‘origins’ of the Celtic language/ culture – there were a few concepts that stuck around and are still seen today, even though they contradict evidence).
The scientific yet human approach to finding Europe’s Celtic ancestors really makes the book fun to read. It’s not only informative and historical, with her meeting different archaeologists, scientists and historians, but it’s also emotional as the book goes on and we get closer and closer to seeing who the Celts could have possibly been, where they came from, how they acted, what they did, and who they did and didn’t like.
There was a little bit that I didn’t like in where she imagines an ancient flashback from one of the Celtic bodies found (in which she seemed to implant modern scepticism onto an ancient person) but that was honestly the smallest blip in what is a wonderfully insightful book.
Though she is following the evidence and making sure that she’s not sucked into myth and legend, Roberts never let’s the book get boring and it seems more like an adventure than an archaeological question. She takes us anywhere there is evidence, myths or whispers of the Celtic occupation.
One thing I wish she would have touched on a little bit more, just from a personal interests point of view, was the mythology and beliefs of the Celts. But there is little to no historical record of this as the Celts barely wrote records, especially anything religious/ folkloric. She does touch on the myths but as a ancient religion nerd, I was hoping for a little more detail (whether that be in names and origins of gods and how far spread each version was, or just in how they were celebrated). But, other than that, the detail is incredibly intricate for a book that isn’t the size of a dictionary.
I’d personally recommend this book to anyone interested in Celtic history, prehistory, archaeology or just humans in general as it truly gives insight into all of these bases and is honestly just an engaging journey to read about.