The Big Book List

Please don’t feel put off by the size of this list…I’m not saying you should read every book on it, or that by not reading them, ‘you won’t be CR enough’. This is intended to be a list of suggestions for those who want to do some more in-depth reading, and it shouldn’t be expected that every book will appeal to every person.

If you haven’t already, see The Quick And Dirty ‘Where Do I Start?’ Book List for some lighter reading and a bit of blurb on what each book is about so you can decide on where is best to invest time and/or money first…It’s also worth searching on Google Books to see if any titles you might be interested in have previews available, even if they’re not accessible in their entirety once they fall out of copyright.

Books that can be difficult to get hold of are marked ◘, and these are probably best obtained through academic libraries. Your local university should be able to order them for you through inter-library loan if they don’t carry them (and you should be able to become a member of the library even if you’re not a student. Usually there’s a joining fee involved, but some university’s allow a free visit or two before you have to pay – it never hurts to ask).

It’s probably worth noting that while a book might have made it to the list, that doesn’t necessarily mean that it doesn’t have its problems. No book is perfect. Sometimes books have a lot to offer but can be fundamentally flawed or outdated, and the antiquarian books that are listed are a case in point in particular. Many of these antiquarian books are now out of copyright and are available freely online, and there is a longer list on the Antiquarian Books page. Others aren’t – yet – available online, but it needs to be borne in mind that the older the book, the less up to date it should be considered to be.

Over time, books may be added to the list as I read them, and links to my reviews are also worth looking out for if you want to know more, or why I’m recommending them. Of course, these reviews are just my opinions and you might agree or disagree.

Quick jump:

Scottish Legend and Literature
Scottish Folklore and Practice
Scottish History and Archaeology
Irish Myth and Legend
Irish Folklore and Practices
Irish History and Archaeology
Isle of Man

► Highly recommended
◘ Hard to find – very expensive or limited availability for sale
☼ Older/antiquarian books


► The Ancient Celts – Barry Cunliffe
The Celtic World – Barry Cunliffe
Myths and Symbols in Pagan Europe – H R Ellis Davidson
The Lost Beliefs of Northern Europe – Hilda Ellis Davidson
Lady With a Mead Cup – Michael J Enright
The Sutton Hoo Sceptre and the Roots of Celtic Kingship Theory – Michael J Enright
Gods of the Celts – Miranda Green (review)
Animals in Celtic Life and Myth – Miranda Green (review)
Seeing the Wood for the Trees – Miranda Green (review)
Symbols and Image in Celtic Religious Art – Miranda Green (review)
Britain and the Celtic Iron Age – Simon James and Valerie Rigby (review)
The World of the Celts – Simon James
►◘ Celtic Culture: A Historical Encyclopedia – John T Koch
Celtic Mythology – Proinsias Mac Cana
Celtic Mythology – J A MacCulloch
► The Celts: A History From Earliest Times to the Present – Bernhard Maier (review)
◘ The Celts – Sabatino Moscati
Celtic Consciousness – Robert O’Driscoll (Ed)
The Celts and the Classical World – H D Rankin
Pagan Celtic Britain – Anne Ross
The Pagan Celts – Anne Ross
Introduction to the Celtic Languages – Paul Russell
The British Celts and their Gods under Rome – G Webster (review)
Beyond Celts, Germans and Scythians: Archaeology and Identity in Iron Age Europe – Peter Wells


► Studies in Irish Mythology – Grigory Bondarenko (review)
► Celtic Cosmology: Perspectives from Ireland and Scotland – Edited by Jacqueline Borsje, Ann Dooley, Séamus mac Mathúna, and Gregory Toner (review)
The Sacred Tree: Ancient and Medieval Manifestations – Carole M. Cusack (review)
Mythic Ireland – Michael Dames (review)
► Celtic Christianity and Nature: Early Irish and Hebridean Traditions – Mary Low (review)
The sacred trees of Ireland – A. T. Lucas (review)
The Cult of the Sacred Centre: Essays on Celtic Ideology – Proinsias Mac Cana (review)
► Understanding Celtic Religion: Revisiting the Pagan Past – Katja Ritari and Alexandra Bergholm (review)
Fiery Shapes: Celestial Portents and Astrology in Ireland and Wales, 700-1700 – Mark Williams (review)

Scottish Legend and Literature

The Life of Saint Columba – Adomnán
Popular Tales of the West Highlands – J F Campbell
The Triumph Tree – Thomas Owen Clancy
Iona: The Earliest Poetry of a Celtic Monastery – Thomas Owen Clancy and Gilbert Markus
Wonder Tales from Scottish Myth and Legend – Donald Alexander MacKenzie

Scottish Folklore and Practices

► Healing Threads – Mary Beith
► Scottish Customs from the Cradle to the Grave – Margaret Bennett (review)
Scottish Charms and Amulets – Geo F Black
► The Gaelic Otherworld – edited by Ronald Black
This volume comprises the two books below, but with other essays by Gregorson Campbell as well as extensive footnotes and commentary from Ronald Black that expand on Campbell’s work and corrects some of the inaccuracies/outdated material:
Witchcraft and Second Sight in the Highlands and Island of Scotland: Collected entirely from oral sources – John Gregorson Campbell
Superstitions of the Highlands and Islands of Scotlan – John Gregorson Campbell
►☼ Ortha Nan Gaidheal: Carmina Gadelica in English and Gaelic – Alexander Carmichael
Carmina Gadelica: Volume 1 – Alexander Carmichael
Carmina Gadelica: Volume 2 – Alexander Carmichael
Carmina Gadelica: Volume 3 – Alexander Carmichael
Highland Heritage – Barbara Fairweather (review)
Highland Folk Ways – I F Grant
Notes on the Folklore of North-East Scotland – Walter Gregor
► Scottish Fairy Belief – Lizanne Henderson and Edward J. Cowan (review)
Fantastical Imaginations: The Supernatural in Scottish History and Culture – Lizanne Henderson (Ed.) (review)
Power of Raven, Wisdom of Serpent – Noragh Jones
Scottish Customs – Sheila Livingstone (review)
Scottish Festivals – Sheila Livingstone (review)
Gaelic Incantations, Charms and Blessings of the Hebrides – William MacKenzie
☼ Scottish Folk-Lore and Folk-Life – Donald A MacKenzie (review)
Folklore of Scottish Lochs and Springs – James M McInlay (review)
►☼ The Silver Bough (four volumes) – F Marian McNeill (review)
☼ Hallowe’en: It’s Origins, Rites and Ceremonies in the Scottish Tradition – F Marian McNeill (review)
☼ The Scots Kitchen – F Marian McNeill
☼ The Scottish Cellar – F Marian McNeill (review)
A Description of the Western Isles of Scotland – Martin Martin
Curiosities of Art and Nature: The New Annotated and Illustrated Edition of Martin Martin’s Classic ‘A Description of the Western Isles of Scotland’ – Martin Martin (M Robson, Ed.)
Seanchas ìle/Islay’s Folklore Project – foreword by Donald Meek (review)
Folk Lore or Superstitious Beliefs in the West of Scotland Within This Century – James Napier (review)
A Tour of Scotland – Thomas Pennant
☼ Our Highland Folklore Heritage – A Polson (review)
☼ Scottish Witchcraft Lore – A Polson (review)
Reminiscences of Scottish Life and Character – E B Ramsay
► The Folklore of the Scottish Highlands – Anne Ross
Folksongs And Folklore Of South Uist – Margaret Fay Shaw (review)
► The Life and Legacy of Alexander Carmichael – Domhnall Uilleam Stiùbhart (review)
Highland Smugglers, Second Sight and Superstitions – Francis Thompson (review)
► The Secret Commonwealth and the Fairy Belief Complex – Brian Walsh (review)
The Twelve Winds of the Ancient Gaelic World – Jean L Wright-Popescul (review)

Scottish History and Archaeology

Surviving in Symbols: A Visit to the Pictish Nation – Martin Carver (review)
Spes Scotorum: Hope of Scots: Saint Columba, Iona and Scotland – Thomas Owen Clancy and Dauvit Broun (Eds)
Saints and Sea Kings – Ewan Campbell  (review)
► Picts, Gaels and Scots – Sally M Foster
Sacrifice and Settlement – Richard Hingley  (review)
► The Picts and the Scots – Lloyd and Jennifer Laing
Scotland: A New History – Michael Lynch
► Before Scotland – Alistair Moffat (review)
Scottish Place-Names – W F H Nicolaisen (review)
Perceptions of the Picts: From Eumenius to John Buchan – Anna Ritchie
The Archaeology of Scotland – Graham and Anna Ritchie
☼ The Celtic Place-Names of Scotland – W J Watson (review)

Irish Myth and Legend

► Irish Mythology – Grigory Bondarenko (review)
► The Celtic Evil Eye and Related Mythological Motifs in Medieval Ireland – Jacqueline Borsje (review)
Auraicept na n-Éces: The Scholars Primer – George Calder (Ed)
King of Mysteries: Early Irish Religious Writings – John Carey
Lebar Gabala: Recension I – John Carey
The Irish National Origin-Legend: Synthetic Pseudohistory – John Carey
A Single Ray of the Sun: Religious Speculation in Early Ireland – John Carey (review)
Studies in Irish Literature and History – James Carney
► The Táin – Ciarán Carson
► The Great Queens – Rosalind Clark  (review)
The Counsels of Cormac – Thomas Cleary
Ancient Irish Tales – Cross and Slover
Mythic Ireland – Michael Dames (review)
Early Irish Literature – Myles Dillon
Irish Sagas – Myles Dillon
Cycle of the Kings – Myles Dillon
A Woman’s Words: Emer and Female Speech in the Ulster Cycle – Joanne Findon (review)
The Irish Tradition – Robin Flower
► Early Irish Myths and Sagas – Jeffrey Gantz
The History of the Kings of Britain – Geoffrey of Monmouth
A Golden Treasury of Irish Poetry A.D. 600 to 1200 – Edited and with translations by David Greene and Frank O’Connor (review)
War Goddess: The Morrígan and her Germano-Celtic Counterparts – Angelique Gulermovich Epstein
Sweeney Astray – Seamus Heaney
The Ancient Irish Goddess of War – W M Hennessy
Studies in Early Celtic Nature Poetry – Kenneth Jackson (review)
A Celtic Miscellany – Kenneth Hurlstone Jackson
The Oldest Irish Tradition: A window on the Iron Age – Kenneth Jackson
The Irish Mind – J Kearney (ed)
The Táin – Thomas Kinsella
► The Celtic Heroic Age – John T Koch and John Carey (Eds) (review)
The Banshee: The Irish Death Messenger – Patricia Lysaght
The Learned Tales of Medieval Ireland – Proinsias Mac Cana
The Festival of Lughnasa: A Study of the Survival of the Celtic Festival of the Beginning of Harvest – Máire MacNeill (review)
► The Waves of Manannán: A Study of the Literary Representations of Mannanán mac Lir from Immram Brain (c700) to Finnegans Wake (1939) – Charles MacQuarrie (review)
The Learned Tales of Medieval Ireland – Proinsias Mac Cana
► Pagan Past and Christian Present in Early Irish Literature – Kim McCone
Aspects of the Táin – J P Mallory (ed)
Ulidia – J P Mallory (ed)
☼ Ancient Irish Poetry – Kuno Meyer
◘ The Wisdom of the Outlaw – Joseph Falaky Nagy
Conversing With Angels and Ancients – Joseph Falaky Nagy
► The Book of the Cailleach – Gearáid Ó Crualaoich
Cormac’s Glossary, ed. Whitley Stokes – John O’ Donovan
► The Rites of Brigid: Goddess and Saint – Seán Ó Duinn
Celtic Heritage – Alwyn and Brinley Rees
Understanding the Universe in Seventh-century Ireland – Marina Smyth
► Gods and Heroes of the Celts – Marie-Louise Sjoestedt (trans Myles Dillon)
Three Irish Glossaries: Cormac’s Glossary Codex A, O’Davoren’s Glossary and a Glossary to the Calendar of Oingus the Culdee with a Preface and Index – Whitley Stokes
The Irish Literary Tradition – J E Caerwyn Williams and P Ford
► Ireland’s Immortals: A History of the Gods of Irish Myth – Mark Williams (review)

Irish Folklore and Practices

► The Year in Ireland – Kevin Danaher (review)
In Ireland Long Ago – Kevin Danaher
Irish Customs and Beliefs – Kevin Danaher (review)
► Irish Folk Ways – E Estyn Evans  (review)
Passing the Time in Ballymenone – Henry Glassie
Irish Folktales – Henry Glassie
The Old Gods: The Facts About Irish Fairies – Patrick Logan (review)
Irish Folk Medicine – Patrick Logan (review)
◘ Cattle in Ancient Ireland – A. T. Lucas (review)
► The Sacred Trees of Ireland – A. T. Lucas (review)
►◘ The Festival of Lughnasa: A Study of the Survival of the Celtic Festival of the Beginning of Harvest – Máire MacNeill  (review)
Irish Folkore – Brid Mahon (review)
The Sheela-na-Gigs of Ireland and Britain – Joanne McMahon and Jack Roberts (review)
Celtic Curses – Bernard Mees (review)
The Good People: New Fairylore Essays – Peter Narváez (Ed.) (review)
► The Book of the Cailleach – Gearáid Ó Crualaoich
► The Rites of Brigid: Goddess and Saint – Seán Ó Duinn
Where Three Streams Meet – Seán Ó Duinn (review)
Irish Superstitions – Dáithí Ó hÓgáin (review)
The Otherworld: Music and Song from Irish Tradition – Ríonach ui Ógáin and Tom Sherlock (Eds.) (review)
Irish Folk Custom and Belief – Séan Ó Súillebháin  (review)
Irish Wake Amusements – Séan Ó Súilleabháin (review)
Irish Superstitions – Sir William Wilde
►☼ The Fairy-Faith in Celtic Countries – W Y Evans-Wentz

Irish History and Archaeology

Armagh and the Royal Centres in Early Medieval Ireland: Monuments, Cosmology and the Past – NB Aitchison (review)
► Land of Women: tales of sex and gender from early Ireland – Lisa Bitel (review)
Irish Kings and High-kings – John Francis Byrne
Pre-Christian Ireland – Peter Harbison
► Early Irish Kingship and Succession – Bart Jaski
► A Guide to Early Irish Law – Fergus Kelly
Early Irish Farming – Fergus Kelly  (review)
The Origins of the Irish – J. P. Mallory (review)
A Guide to Ogam – Damian McManus
Ireland before the Normans – D Ó Corráin
Early Medieval Ireland: 400-1200 – D Ó Cróinín (review)
A New History of Ireland Volume 1: Prehistoric and Early Ireland – D Ó Cróinín (Ed)
Early Ireland – Michael J O’ Kelly
◘ Early Irish History and Mythology – Thomas F O’ Rahilly
► Cattle Lords & Clansmen – Nerys Patterson
Sex and Marriage in Ancient Ireland – Patrick C Power (review)
Pagan Celtic Ireland – Barry Raftery
Constructing Gender in Medieval Ireland – Sarah Sheehan and Ann Dooley (Editors) (review)

Isle of Man
The Isle of Man: Its history, physical and ecclesiastical – J G Cumming
A Second Manx Scrapbook – W Walter Gill
Mona Miscellany: A selection of proverbs, sayings, ballads, customs, superstitions and legends, peculiar to the Isle of Man – William Harrison
Twisting the Rope and other folktales from the Isle of Man – Kathleen Killip
☼ William Cashen’s Manx Folklore – Edited by Stephen Miller (pdf)
►☼ The Folklore of the Isle of Man – A W Moore
Manx Ballads and Music – A W Moore
An abstract of the laws, customs, and ordinances of the Isle of Man – John Parr
◘☼ Manx Calendar Customs – Cyril I Paton
Celtic Folklore: Welsh and Manx: Sir John Rhys
Manx Notes and Queries – C Roeder
Historical and Statistical Account of the Isle of Man – Joseph Train
A description of the Isle of Man : with useful and entertaining reflections on the laws, customs and manners of the inhabitants – George Waldron