If you’re looking for stories with details on iron age life and the magical acts performed by Druids, you will be disappointed with this book. Graham Robb doesn’t promise what he can’t deliver.
But if you are curious about what we now know about the mythological and practical maps that the Celts used to map Gaul, Britain, and Ireland, he can help you out. And he knows what he’s talking about because he first realized that hints at the Iron Age Celtic world still exist in the landscape of these places today.
Using solar routes, longitude and latitudes, and Celtic myths, Robb draws up places either long disappeared or buried beneath more recent history. Taken together, they provide maps of a world long gone. The Celtic world he has discovered is based on myth, yes. But more importantly, it’s based on math, including a geometry different from the Euclidean geometry of the classic world.
While I sometimes found this book difficult to follow, the glimpses I got were fascinating. The ancient Celts weren’t the unsophisticated, hairy brutes the Romans portrayed them to be. They were different, but in their own way, just as intelligent as the Romans who defeated them.
I recommend this book to anyone genuinely curious about ancient Celtic cultures. While they didn’t leave written accounts to satisfy our curiosity, what Graham Robb teases out of the rubble provides a tantalizing peek and much fodder for the imagination. I’d give this book 3.5 stars if I could. It’s a good book, though sometimes hard to follow.