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What's in a name? The ‘Celts’ in presentations of prehistory in Ireland, Scotland, and Wales

  • Michael A. Morse (a1)

Abstract

In presentations of prehistory in museums and heritage centres in Ireland, Scotland, and Wales, the ‘Celts’ often appear as a prehistoric ethnic category. This single name, however, carries different meanings in these three contexts. This paper examines the range of prehistoric presentations across these regions in order to discover the relationship between the meaning of the word ‘Celt’ and the type of authority invoked to convey that meaning. It is found that ‘Celt’ is a malleable enough category to accommodate different nationalist agendas and that archaeological authority can be devalued when it does not support a desired meaning for the category. Recently, archaeologists have been making calls for critical self-reflection as they generate knowledge about the past which also has an impact on notions of heritage. By focussing on some of the primary media through which the public learns about the past, this paper argues that it is in archaeological presentations, not merely in archaeological discourse, that critical reflection must take place.

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What's in a name? The ‘Celts’ in presentations of prehistory in Ireland, Scotland, and Wales

  • Michael A. Morse (a1)

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