CELTIC SACRED LANDSCAPES
By Nigel Pennick, published by Thames & Hudson at £12.95. 224pp. ISBN: 0-500-016666
This is another book whose title is a little misleading as Pennick deals not so much with Celtic landscapes as a holistic system but rather with the individual pieces which if you put them together will ultimately form a jigsaw with a coherent and recognisable picture. Thus, Ol' Nige delves quite deeply into such individual matters as the lore of holy wells and sacred stones, sacred trees and mountains and other high places, holy islands and enclosures, labyrinths, earth works, paths and trackways and sacred caves, but does not seek to relate them in any systematic way to each other. It's a bit like being given a complete jigsaw with no picture on the lid of the box - all the information is there, but it requires intuition and sensitivity to see the whole picture.
The book is rounded off with a very useful gazeteer of Celtic sites - and not only the obvious ones in Britain and Ireland but also a good selection of lesser known ones taken from continental Europe including Germany and the Alps and Brittany. This is not necessarily a criticism of the book - as a very well presented hardback it offers excellent value for money. Another strength is that Pennick illustrates the book with his own powerful and evocative line-drawings which have a vigour and clean strength lacking in the usual mass market pseudo-Celtic stuff largely churned out by Courtney Davis. Actually, this is the sort of book which you will find yourself relying on and referring to over and over again. Very highly recommended.