Literary research

Literary research

Scripts & manuscripts
Although it does not seem very obvious at first, linguistic information and the understanding of manuscripts are essential parts of a good reproduction. The ability to translate texts ourselves enables us to read texts and manuscripts in their primary source. A large number of texts and manuscripts has already been translated one time or more, but the largest part has never been studied. Besides, translations can deviate mutually as a result of small differences in interpretation which can still have a large influence in the long run. This is why in most cases it is still essential to use the source text to verify an existing translations. Secondary sources, like text analyses, are an important addition but we are not depending on them.

Celtic languages
Celtic Britain does research in several Celtic languages. We are a strong supporter of the preservation of the Celtic languages and we support this cause whenever we are able to. Researching the Celtic culture of central Europe and the British isles is one of the core activities of Celtic WebMerchant. Our specialisation lies in the Celtic culture of the British isles and we therefore frequently reconstruct objects from the British- and Irish-Celtic culture.

One of our larger projects is reconstructing several types of spearheads that are described in the Old and Middle Irish literature.The relevant research will be published in 2014.

We find it important that the context of our replica's is explored as well. Another paper of one of our employees, Seks in Cath Maige Tuired en zijn invloed op de loop van het verhaal (Sex in Cath Maige Tuired and its influence on the course of the story) was published in the Dutch magazine Keltenfrom foundation A.G. van Hamel for Celtic studies. This focuses on the different kinds of marriage in Old Irish law and how they predict the course of the story of Cath Maige Tuired

In most of our research we use the original Old Irish, Middle Irish or Middle Welsh sources. Scottish Gaelic was mostly similar to the Irish language until the late Middle Ages.

Celtic Britain conducts research in Middle Welsh, Modern Welsh, Old Irish, Middle Irish, Modern Irish and Breton.

Greek & Latin
The largest part of the historical sources is written in Greek or Latin. This is why according to us these two languages are indispensable in this sector.
Classical sources provide many instructions on objects, but they provide context as well. They inform us on the society of the classical antiquity and on neighbouring cultures. Writers often had their own agenda, when performing research on texts like this you should always keep that in mind. An example of this can be read in our research in Celtic Magazine issue 14 (Dutch).
What we often forget is that most of the medieval sources are written in Latin as well. Medieval Latin differs from classical Latin in some areas, but when you have mastered the differences the large number of sources that will be accessible as a result make it surely worthwhile.

Aramaic, Hebrew and Yiddish
Greek and Latin texts are of course the largest literary sources from the classical antiquity. Other sources we must surely not underestimate are the Hebrew texts from the Old Testament and Aramaic texts like the Dead Sea scrolls and parts of the Bible books Ezra and Daniel. Aramaic has even been the diplomatic language of the Assyrian Empire, the Persian Empire (Achaemenid Empire) and the Ancient Egyptians for ages.
Both the Old and New testaments are of course hotly debated subjects. It is always handy to keep in mind that both writings are composited for different goals and religions and in different languages. The Old Testament is one of the most complete texts that give us insight on a culture that lived with and in the Greek and later the Roman societies and greatly adapted to these other cultures. Besides, Hebrew and Yiddish enable us to study the medieval texts of Jewish Europe. Jewish manuscripts strongly deviate in both script and style from other medieval European manuscripts. Manuscripts like the Rylands Haggadah for example provide us with an amount of information on the garments and culture of Jews in medieval Europe.
One of our employees can work with the languages: ארמית (Aramaic),ייִדיש (Yiddish), מקראית עברית (Biblical Hebrew), עברית ימי הביניים (Medieval Hebrew) and עברית (Modern Hebrew).

Old Norse
For a speaker of English Old Norse, a Germanic language, is one of the easier languages to comprehend, because it shows many resemblances to Dutch, English and German. One of the most important motives for working with Old Norse is that most of the Scandinavian sagas are written down in this language. Iceland has always been the country of writers and storytellers so a treasury of information is hidden in these stories for us. Sagas tell us about the worldview of the Vikings, their standards and traditions and how they regarded history.

Ogham & runes
During our research we frequently encounter runes and ogham. A lot of emotional value has been attached to these scripts for the last few years. In real life most ogham and rune inscription were of a more practical nature.  Most of these inscriptions were written on stones in memory of a deceased person or for defining borders and pieces of land. Nevertheless these simple and practical texts are interesting as well, especially when they mention names which occur in other sources as well. Both scripts are possibly influenced by each other and in their turn based on the Roman numerical system. This however remains a case of speculation. We mainly work with transcriptions of ogham and runes during our research after (early) medieval stones on the British isles.

From literary research to customer service
As we lack the financial resources to hire permanent (literary) researchers, the same employees are active in other areas in the company. Our literary researchers are experienced in resolving complex linguistic and historical issues. This quality returns in their work at the customer service. They are specialised in what they sell and use our products themselves during living history and experimental archaeology. As a result you are always aided by a specialist and you can choose in which of the following languages you wish to communicate. Our customer service speaks or writes: Dutch, English, Deutsch, Français, עברית, linguam Latinam, Cymraeg and Gaeilge.