Thursday, January 17, 2013

Codices Celtarum et Germanorum

When I was asked if I could write the massive Codices for the Celts and Germans it seemed surreal. My academic specialties lie in Arthurian Studies with an emphasis on the 'real' historical era of 6th Century Britain, and on the Celts and Saxons of that time. The role-playing game 'Chivalry & Sorcery' was my original inspiration in finding those areas of study. They had a supplement out on the 'Barbarians' and I was always drawn to it, reading it deeply on the Celts section. Intuitively I was taken by the names of tribes, etc and it made sense to me. I knew I wanted to be somehow involved in that sort of thing someday. From the mid to late 80's I was beginning my personal studies in the field of the Celts and the Arthurian era, it was an obsession at first. I looked for anything 'Celtic', New-Age, General Reading, etc. I did not care, so long as it had the Celts as the subject matter.

By the early 90's my studies began to turn into real research and my academic side was emerging. Slowly I was able to step away from the outrageous claims and nonsense in the Pagan and New-Age books on the subject, and there were too many. Initially, it was Arthurian matters that drew me in. I went from that to a leap over into the druids and the pre-Christian Celts and then to language. It was mine-field though. Most books are rubbish and filled full of speculative garbage that is only 'correct' on the shallowest levels and they still are more than ever. To obtain actual factual data you have to delve deep and spend some money, because the basic rule I have noticed in my decades of Celtic studies is that: if the book is under $30 it is usually not worth the time or money and is superficially relevant.

Near the time I was graduating with my BA in History in 2001 from NWOSU my skill in finding and knowing my sources was finally at hand. It took a while, but it was needed for me to mature in my academics. Most people I have noticed just read (if even that) a few secondary sources, those books under $30, and assume they know the rest, filling in the gaps they don't know with their imagination and delusion. Celticism and Celticity, two concepts that 98% people who show some interest in the culture do not comprehend or even know, are crucial to understanding who the Celts are and were, past and present. 

I have heard some of the most outrageous claims and statements by people over the years regarding the Celts, but since the advent of the internet it has grown exponentially a million times over. I was able to separate fact from fiction in this field fairly easily and was happy that was the case, while most live in a fantasy world with the imagined Celts in their minds. After Undergrad school I was set on getting a Masters in the field of Celtic studies somehow, it didn't matter how or where I was going to do it. Otherwise, most people would not take my serious and fact based research at all and dip right into their delusional mindset.

In this search I found Prifysgol Cymru Llanbedr-Pont-Steffen and their new international Masters program of Arthurian Studies (Astudiaethau Arthuriadd) and by the summer of 2004 I was beginning in the program. Before I knew it I was flying through each module lightning fast, quicker than they even had the course material written for yet. This Masters was focused around the very area of my expertise, Arthur - the Celtic warlord of History and myth. Previously I have spent fifteen years studying in the field and this was my subject. 

To earn this wonderful higher degree I had to complete six modules. I could pick the subject (if it was finished and readied for study) and do one language option: Irish, Welsh or Latin. Logically I picked Welsh to perfect my knowledge of it since my skill was solely based on a handful of courses over the years and not that splendid. Before this I had learned Scottish Gaelic, Cornish (Unified/Unified Revised) and Irish Gaelic, but my Welsh was severely lacking. The final part of this graduate degree was a dissertation, and I chose to write mine on the alleged 'Prophetiae Merlini' since my other proposals were PhD material. 

In three and a half years I completed my Masters' work and was the first to graduate in the whole program worldwide with honors (Cum Laude) in July 2007. I do plan on going back to the University of Wales Lampeter and earning my PhD in Celtic Studies very soon to round out my studies, this time with an emphasis on another area of my specialities  - Celtic Gaul/Galatia. 

As a logical addition to my studies the knowledge of the Anglo-Saxons was implied since Celtic Britain was being invaded and taken over from the Germanic tribes out of Germany between the 5th and 10th centuries. This knowledge I earned on my own on the side to my primary Celtic research but it is equally as important. to know the Saxon opposition to the native Britons is only logical. Another side interest of mine is with the Gothic peoples and their language. The Goths were subjugated to the Celtic peoples in earlier times and had many traces of that period in their culture, a small fusion making them almost Celto-Germanic as a people. 

So my composition of the Celtic and Germanic Codices with Troll Lord Games does come with LOTS of academic validity and is not just out of pure fringe interest. To add to this I have been a teacher since 2002, first in Higher Education teaching Humanities, and now in the public school systems with an expertise in History/Geography and English. Know this summary of my academic expertise in this very subject and gaming history (going back to 1984) are here to ensure that what I write and design does come with decades of work behind them. 


  1. Hi Brian,

    Thanks for laying out your expertise. I'm now more excited to receive my copy of the Codex Celtarum. One question: given that many popular books about the Celts are full of inaccuracies, is there any one book you could recommend to an amateur historian who wants to learn more about the historical Celts?


    Chris D.

  2. Chris,

    Thanks for your words! I think, if you want a complete collection of knowledge about the Celts, in an up to date format within Celtic Studies, the 'Celtic Culture: A Historical Encyclopedia' edited by John Koch. It is hardback, five books, but still slightly expensive at around $250-500, or on PDF (slightly less but can be found online in certain sites for free). The higher up one gets in the field the more expensive the books get, and harder to find. There are so many, it is hard to know where to start depending on what aspect of the Celts you want to start in.

  3. Wow, that set looks fantastic but way out of my price range! Anything academic single volume in a less than $50 price range?