Shaping the growth, development and impact of Celtic Studies by editing and publishing, within the Department, a journal, Cambrian Medieval Celtic Studies (1993-)

Submitting Institution

Aberystwyth University

Unit of Assessment

Modern Languages and Linguistics

Summary Impact Type


Research Subject Area(s)

Language, Communication and Culture: Language Studies, Literary Studies
History and Archaeology: Historical Studies

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Summary of the impact

The journal and books disseminate our high quality research in an accessible form that deepens public understanding of Celtic Studies, shapes HE curricula worldwide, contributes to cultural life and informs public debate. The journal has been ranked as one of the two most internationally influential in the field of Celtic literature.

Underpinning research

In 1993 Sims-Williams established Cambrian Medieval Celtic Studies in the Department. It succeeded in its aim of bringing accessibly edited, quality research on medieval Celtic culture to a much broader readership than previous journals in Wales. It is read by students and amateurs, and articles in it by members of the Department have shaped HE curricula worldwide; for example, Sims-Williams's `Celtomania and Celtoscepticism' (CMCS 1998), described as `the best analysis of "the Celtic war"' at the Belgisch Genootschap voor Keltische Studies (, first disseminated the term `Celtoscepticism' which now features in most discussions of the Celts. His influential sequel in CMCS 2012, `Celtic Civilization: Continuity or Coincidence?', questioned further orthodoxies. Between 1993 and July 2013 eight members of staff published 21 articles in CMCS, reflecting their original research [the figures e.g. `(3.2)' refer to supporting grants listed in Section 3]: John Reuben Davies (3.2), Alexander Falileyev, Marged Haycock, Graham Isaac, Helen McKee (3.2, 3.6), Richard Glyn Roberts (3.14), Simon Rodway, and Patrick Sims-Williams. One article, by Jon Coe, `Dating the Boundary Clauses in the Book of Llandaf', CMCS 2004, was based on a 2001 PhD in the Department, funded by the British Academy's Humanities Research Board and the Oxford University Rhys Fund; it revealed significant evidence for Welsh border historians. In the same geographical area, Sims-Williams's CMCS 1993 article `The Provenance of the Llywarch Hen Poems: A Case for Llan-gors, Brycheiniog' established the link that was soon accepted by historians and archaeologists (e.g. Other articles on Welsh literature which opened new phases of debate included Marged Haycock, `Taliesin's Questions' in CMCS 1997 (revealing the Latin background to the poems) and Simon Rodway, `The Date and Authorship of Culhwch ac Olwen: A Reassessment' in CMCS 2005 (on reaction to this article see idem, Dating Medieval Welsh Literature, 2013). Rodway also started a long-running debate about the origin of leprechauns in `Mermaids, Leprechauns, and Fomorians: A Middle Irish Account of the Descendants of Cain', CMCS 2010. These are just a few examples.

In 1996, as `CMCS Publications', Sims-Williams began publishing books as well, all of them by members of the Department. These had the same aim as the journal but covered a wider chronological range, disseminating the staff's fundamental research on the language and literature of the Celtic-speaking peoples from as far back as 500 B.C., but also reaching post-medieval times: the first volume (1996), which won the Katharine Briggs Folklore Award, was M.-A. Constantine's Breton Ballads (3.1). (References in brackets e.g. `3.2' again refer to competitively awarded research grants; these indicate the academic quality of the books, as does their submission in successive RAEs and REF 2014.)

After Breton Ballads, CMCS monographs between 1996 and 2013 published much original new research on evidence for linguistic Celticity in ancient Europe, as revealed by place- and personal names (for all titles see 3.). The first was Sims-Williams (joint ed.), Ptolemy: Towards a Linguistic Atlas of the Earliest Celtic Place-Names of Europe (3.4), including chapters on Wales and Ireland by Sims-Williams, Toner & De Bernardo Stempel, 3 members of the UoA; this led to a series of successful volumes on place-names, culminating with Alexander Falileyev's Dictionary of Continental Celtic Place-Names (3.7). Three works on ancient Celtic personal names were published by Marilynne E. Raybould & Patrick Sims-Williams, mapping their Europe-wide distribution for the first time (3.9, 3.10), while Falileyev combined place- and personal names in studies of Celtic Dacia (3.12) and The Celtic Balkans (3.13).

From 2000 books on Welsh language & literature were published: Helen McKee's books on the ninth-century Juvencus manuscript glossed in Welsh, Irish and Latin (3.2, 3.5, 3.6), Marged Haycock's editions of poems from the Book of Taliesin (3.3, 3.11), Simon Rodway's Dating Medieval Welsh Literature (3.14) and Richard Glyn Roberts's edition of the proverbs in the Red Book of Hergest, Diarhebion Llyfr Coch Hergest (2013).

All authors named above were on the staff of the UoA at the time. Nearly all these works were based on externally funded research, as indicated by figures in brackets which refer to Section 3.

References to the research

All the monographs and a set of the journal 1993-2013 [ISSN 1353-0089] are available for auditing in hard copy.

Grants (indicating quality), linked to CMCS publications:

3.1. British Academy: Postdoctoral Fellowship 1996: 1996 Mary-Ann Constantine, Breton Ballads.


3.2. Leverhulme Trust: Old Welsh Manuscripts Project 1997 £87,350: 2000 Helen McKee, Juvencus: A Ninth-Century Manuscript Glossed in Welsh, Irish and Latin, 2 vols; Helen McKee, `Scribes and Glosses from Dark Age Wales: The Cambridge Juvencus Manuscript', CMCS 2000: John Reuben Davies, `"Liber Landavensis": Its Date and the Identity of its Editor', CMCS 1998.

3.3. Leverhulme Trust: Research Leave 1998 £15,365: 2007 Marged Haycock, Legendary Poems from the Book of Taliesin & 2013 Prophetic Poems from the Book of Taliesin.

3.4. British Academy International Joint Activities Fund 1999 £3,915: 2000 Patrick Sims-Williams (joint ed.), Ptolemy: Towards a Linguistic Atlas of the Earliest Celtic Place-Names of Europe.

3.5. British Academy Neil Ker Fund 2000 £1,500: 2000 Helen McKee, Juvencus: A Ninth-Century Manuscript Glossed in Welsh, Irish and Latin, vol. II, Facsimile.

3.6. British Academy: Postdoctoral Fellowship 2000: 2000 Helen McKee, Juvencus: A Ninth-Century Manuscript Glossed in Welsh, Irish and Latin, 2 vols.

3.7. AHRB: Ancient Celtic Place-Names in Europe and Asia Minor 2001 £305,017: 2004 G. R. Isaac, Place-Names in Ptolemy's Geography CD; 2006 Patrick Sims-Williams (ed.), Additions to Alfred Holder's Celtic Thesaurus; 2010 Alexander Falileyev, Dictionary of Continental Celtic Place-Names.

3.8. British Academy: Major Conference Grant 2002 £15,000: 2007 Patrick Sims-Williams & Gruffydd Aled Williams (eds), Croesi Ffiniau/Crossing Boundaries: Trafodion y XIIfed Gyngres 2028 Astudiaethau Celtaidd Ryngwladol/Proceedings of the XIIth International Congress of Celtic Studies.

3.9. British Academy: Incidence of Celtic Compound Names in the Latin Inscriptions of the Roman Empire 2003 £6,220: 2007 Marilynne E. Raybould & Patrick Sims-Williams, A Corpus of Latin Inscriptions of the Roman Empire Containing Celtic Personal Names & The Geography of Celtic Personal Names in the Latin Inscriptions of the Roman Empire.

3.10. British Academy: Supplement to Celtic Personal Names in the Latin Inscriptions of the Roman Empire 2007 £29,488: 2009 Marilynne E. Raybould & Patrick Sims-Williams, Introduction and Supplement to the Corpus of Latin Inscriptions of the Roman Empire Containing Celtic Personal Names.

3.11. AHRC: Research Leave 2007 £25,706: 2007 Marged Haycock, Legendary Poems from the Book of Taliesin & 2013 Prophetic Poems from the Book of Taliesin.

3.12. AHRC: Early Celtic Linguistic Evidence from Dacia and Moesia Inferior 2006 £48,998: 2007 Alexander Falileyev, Celtic Dacia, 2nd edn 2009.

3.13. AHRC: Gaulish Morphology with Particular Reference to Areas South and East of the Danube 2008 £390,889: 2013 Alexander Falileyev, The Celtic Balkans.

3.14. Leverhulme Trust: Grammatical Conservation and Innovation in Thirteenth-Century Welsh Texts 2011 £78,413: Simon Rodway, Dating Medieval Welsh Literature: Evidence from the Verbal System (2013); Richard Glyn Roberts, `The Functions and Distribution of pei and bei in Early Middle Welsh' CMCS Summer 2013.

Details of the impact

(Figures in brackets e.g. `[1]' cross-refer to Section 5)

The monographs are widely disseminated (cf., and the total number of subscribers to the journal has reached 680 individuals and 311 institutions, far more than other Celtic Studies journal. Subscribers include undergraduates (e.g. currently 7 at Cambridge) and many non-academics. CMCS was one of only two Celtic journals placed by the European Science Foundation's European Reference Index for the Humanities (2007, 2011) in its top `INT1' category for Literature — INT1 denotes `International publications with high visibility and influence among researchers in the various research domains in different countries, regularly cited all over the world'.[1]

Contribution to Cultural Life
While CMCS's impact within HE, including on teaching and students, extends throughout the world, there is also an appreciative lay readership. One subscriber wrote: `I am not an academic — my working life was in central banking, however I have found many CMCS articles fascinating and admirable, and they have gone a long way to satisfying my general curiosity about all things Celtic).[2] The Foundation for Inspirational & Oracular Studies, London, noted that `The impact of CMCS goes far beyond universities and its research inspires many ordinary readers whose love of Celtic Britain and medieval matters cannot be sated',[2] and Haycock's Legendary Poems from the Book of Taliesin (2007), which will be reprinted in 2014, led to widespread interest outside conventional academia, e.g. the Temenos Academy in 2009, and to an invitation to present a dayschool at the Bleddfa Centre in July 2013.[3] In 2009 a draft online version of Falileyev's Dictionary of Continental Celtic Place-Names had more hits than any other academic item in Aberystwyth University's electronic repository Cadair and its accompanying map was downloaded 350 times in the year up to July 2013.[5] It and the other CMCS monographs on Ancient Celtic attracted particular interest in Eastern Europe, e.g., collaboration in an open meeting in the Bulgarian National Archaeological Institute and Museum in 2010 (Aberystwyth University `being an important centre of Celtic Studies'), followed by requests to help with a Celtic tourist centre in Bulgaria.[6] Sims-Williams's CMCS article in linking the Llywarch Hen poems and Llan-gors (see 2. above) led to an invitation to address the Powysland Club in 2011 and a request by a Heritage Lottery Fund partnership project between `Head4Arts' and the National Museum of Wales to assist with the libretto for Ynys Gwydr: Island of Glass, an opera about Llan-gors featuring Llywarch [7, 9, 10]. The opera was staged in Merthyr Tudful and the Wales Millennium Centre 12-20 April 2013. The project aimed to raise public engagement with an `elist' artform, to increase the community's sense of ownership of its heritage, and to add to cultural regeneration, and was deemed a great success [7,8].

Influence on HE curricula beyond Aberystwyth
CMCS's influence on HE curricula is illustrated by the Bibliography of medieval Welsh literature for students, which has 177 journal-citations for 1993-2011, of which 52 (29%) are to CMCS, the most cited journal, followed by Studia Celtica with 23 (13%).[11] Sims-Williams's 1998 CMCS article `Celtomania and Celtoscepticism' (cited in 2.), was particularly influential on the development of the discipline, partly via its reprinting in a volume on Critical Concepts in Historical Studies (ed. R. Karl & D. Stifter). It was abridged in a Russian magazine in 2008 (`Kel'tomanija i Kel'toskepticizm', Neprikosnovennyj zapas [Moscow], 57 (2008), 179-91), and praised as `wonderful, one of the most balanced views of the problems at hand' in the inaugural lecture of the Professor of Celtic Studies at the University of Sydney in 2008 [12]. It introduced the now widespread term Celtoscepticism/Celtoskepticism to the English language, copied as Celto-scepticisme in French.[13] Thus a new Celtic Studies MA course at Bangor (2013) considers `What are the strengths and weaknesses of "Celtomania" and "Celtoscepticism"?'.[14] The article is one of several CMCS items (cf. 2. above) much used in HE; according to a professor in the Humboldt University, Berlin:

`In teaching Celtic Studies to students in Germany, Sims-Williams's article Celtomania and Celtoscepticism (1998) has become a standard starting point that introduces beginners to complicated issues in a competent and unbiassed way. Rodway's discussion of The date and authorship of Culhwch ac Olwen (2005) is a must for every class approaching this important Welsh text, as is Haycock's Taliesin's Questions (1997) for graduates. The admirable readiness to take up challenges for teaching and research in the field of Celtic is perhaps most evident in the monograph series. The volumes by Raybould & Sims-Williams on Continental Celtic personal names (2007 and 2009), with English translations and helpful comments, make it possible for the first time to present the evidence of Latin inscriptions to undergraduates.'[2]

Another HE appreciation of CMCS comes from the École Pratique des Hautes Études, Paris:

`As a teacher of Celtic languages, I found this journal full of resources .... Some contributions from the editor address central questions in Celtic Studies (1998, 2012); this is, in a way, a re-foundation of Celtic Studies'.[2]

The importance for HE of the CMCS 2012 contribution here mentioned (Sims-Williams, `Celtic

Civilization: Continuity or Coincidence?') is also praised by a teacher in the USA:

`Sims-Williams' extraordinary article on "Celtic Civilization" leaves one breathless. Forty-four densely packed pages with oodles of footnoted references—really a summary of Celtic studies scholarship published over the past 25 years or more. This is a model of scholarly research at its best. I will again be teaching the retired/adult-learner class on a Celtic topic, and of course I will share the article with them—truly it will be a kind of ice-breaker for the students, to bring into focus the breadth and depth of this important area of humanistic research' [2].

Another note:

`I have just started teaching here at Belmont Abbey College in North Carolina and already CMCS has been making an impact on my students, especially the recent research from Clarke, Rodway and Bisagni on the origins of Leprechauns [CMCS 2010-12]. Leprechauns are far more prevalent in American culture today than they ever were in Ireland so the topic was a good way to introduce a range of ideas — including early Irish scholarship and the blending of local and Christian ideas sometimes found therein — in my course on Early Christian Ireland' [2].

Similarly a professor from the Netherlands comments:

`As CMCS is written in an accessible language and offers a platform to young scholars, it is an important source of inspiration for the student generation ... I find especially rewarding the research articles (and monographs) by, for instance Haycock, Constantine, Falileyev' [2].

Sources to corroborate the impact


[2] (English, Welsh, German).

[3] Temenos Academy Review 12 (2009) [cf.];

[4] Bleddfa invitation (scanned copy available); cf.

[5] Cadair: Statistical Report — January-June 2009; data from IRUS UK who harvest repositories data to COUNTER compliant standards.

[6] Archaeologia Bulgarica 15/1 (2011), 83. [cf. In Search of Celtic Tylis in Thrace (IIIc BC): Proceedings of the Interdisciplinary Colloquium arranged by the National Archaeological Institute and Museum at Sofia and the Welsh Department, Aberystwyth University, edited by Lyudmil F. Vagalinski (Sofia, 2010)]; further information in REF 3a.

[7] Ynys Gwydr: Island of Glass in the media:;

[8] Ynys Gwydr: Island of Glass, correspondence.

[9] Ynys Gwydr: Island of Glass, a video of the performance is available for auditing (Welsh).

[10] Ynys Gwydr: Island of Glass, the programme containing acknowledgement is available for auditing (Welsh).

[11] Paul Russell, A bibliography of medieval Welsh literature for students, ASNC guides, texts, and studies, 7, 3rd edn (Cambridge: Dept. of Anglo-Saxon, Norse, and Celtic, University of Cambridge, 2011). [ISBN 9780956235381]

[12] A. Ahlqvist, `Celtic!', in Arts: The Journal of the Sydney University Arts Association 30 (2008) [scan available]

[13] (French).