I will be reading more of Moffat's books if I can get my hands on them.
In short: I really enjoyed the insight to this pagan world, of this ancient environment where the stories I love could arise naturally. I recommended this book to anyone interested in cultural works from this ancient Celtic territories.
Alistair Moffat's 'The Sea Kingdoms' is a powerful historical odyssey to strange distant lands that our modern day map books cannot name.
Even with trends in history to write about those who have been ignored, the Celts seemed to have been passed over here too. There is clear agenda running through this book, which makes it seem very 'English v. Now, the English people (I being one myself) have committed atrocities, especially in Scotland and Ireland.
I love the fact that someone was so into the Celtic history of the UK that they went around researching and visiting all the out of the way, forgotten kingdoms, fading languages, strange customs and half-forgotten stories. While it was interesting and much of it totally new to me, I was sad to have left the sea so far behind that it was not mentioned for chapters at a time and had little relevance to the stories being told.
The Sea Kingdoms is an attempt at a history of Celtic Britain and Ireland but, by the nature of the subject and the sources, it's more a series of impressions and snapshots: places, events, people, all serving to illuminate some aspect of the other history of these islands, the history that has never been written but has been sung, recited, felt.
A helpful history of the Celtic peoples of the British Isles and Ireland, organized in thematic (language, religion, etc.) and regional (Cornwall, Wales, Man, Ireland, Scotland) chapters.
Alistair Moffat has produced in this work one of the most intriguing and informative history books I have read in some time, covering the Celtic peoples, history, and traditions of Scotland, Wales, Ireland, Cornwall, and the Isle of Man (and to a much lesser extent Brittany in northern France) as well as of England itself. This is a history written by the victors; too often the side of the losers was not told, or improperly told, aided by the fact that the Celts were largely a non-literate (though not illiterate) culture, greatly valuing oral tradition but for the most part not embracers of the written word. The Celtic lands were by no means completely non-literate; in a striking paradox the Irish monks were noted producers of written material, preserving much ancient Greek and Roman knowledge and literature that might have otherwise been lost. Efforts are being made to preserve the Celtic languages, not out of any "weird, woolly, quaint, or daft" dream of supplanting English, but merely to seek to preserve ancient traditions and knowledge of Celtic history and culture. The kilt most well known today is more properly called the feileadh beag or small kilt and is actually the creation of an 18th century English factory owner to aid employees in his ironworks; even the word kilt is from the Danish kilte, which means "to tuck up." Even the tradition of identifying certain tartan patterns (or setts) with certain clan names dates largely back to a book published in 1842 that was largely made-up.