10 Research Essay Topics on Celtic Christianity

Topics and ideas
Posted on February 18, 2016

If you are tasked with writing a research essay on Celtic Christianity, you will need to substantiate your claims with facts. Below are some interesting facts you may want to include:

  1. Christianity is a religious force which has influenced Great Britain heavily, and the introduction of it to the Irish Celts had similar effect, the evidence of which is seen in mythology, archaeology, and Celtic beliefs which transformed from Pagan practices to Christian practices. Early Celtic people were referenced in the fourth century by Greek and Roman writers, who listed information about their social history during the early Middle Ages. Scholars like Aristotle, Plato, Livy, Lucan, and Polybius offer information on Celtic daily life activities, the food and drinks Celtic people consumed, the organization of the urban society and local rural society among Celtic people, the gender relations and class relations found among Celtic people, political and military history of the Celtic people, and the impact of their commerce.
  2. The Hallstatt period is the earliest Celtic culture, one which shows the arrival of the Celts in Britain. These Belgic tribes were attempting to run away from German and Roman expansion, which does present a certain irony given their succumbing to Roman Christianity later in life. During this time the Celtic world extended to southern Germany as it is geographically known today, Bohemia, and the Balkans. Their growth did not stop there, as their power soon moved to Turkey, France, Italy, Portugal, Spain, Britain, and Ireland. Because, in part, of their expansive geographic enterprise, they responded differently to historical and geographical circumstances in different areas. Some would rely on trade while other groups relied on farming. The focal point of their power began to shift thanks to the Alpine trade routes which led to the second Celtic historical phase referred to as the La Téne period. Both periods showed great artwork and civilization expansion.
  3. The Celtic people had complex and varied societies prior to the introduction of Celtic Christianity during the Early Middle Ages. Between Celtic groups the social customs and religions would vary, save for the order of pagan priests known as Druids, which were universally recognized throughout all Celtic villages. The Druids were the religious leaders among the Celtic communities prior to the introduction of Christianity and in fact, legend holds that when St. Patrick was sent to convert the Irish, he received magical strength and power from the Christian god to help him fight off the Druids who claimed to have their own unique connection to the Celtic gods. Among the Celtics, there were small units of people who were all tightly knit. Within the societies rule took place by warriors, in the form of warrior aristocrats or warrior kings and queens.
  4. The Celts were not known as a racial group, but were instead a linguistic group which means their language and culture were the single unit which distinguished them from among the other peoples in Europe and held them together as a society. Of course, language soon became one of two main factors holding the Celts together, with religion being the second. The decentralized society was still ruled over by the Druid order who would move from village to village the same as the missionaries. It was against the rules of the Celtic communities to attack a Druid. As they moved from village to village their job was to practice rituals and magic, to be an intermediary with the Celtic gods, to interpret sacrifices, to be a bard, and to function as a natural philosopher.
  5. It was taught by the Druids, the same as in Christianity, that there was life beyond a physical death, and that those who were brave warriors should not worry about their physical life on earth, because they would enjoy another one after death. It was because of this belief that they were fearless warriors whose bravery in battle garnered commentary in Roman and Greek historical records. It was also this which laid the foundation for the general acceptance of some aspects of Christianity, including that of a life after death, which was based on actions completed during the physical life.
  6. Early beliefs included sacrifices, with Druids controlling sacrifices from village to village and using banishment from said sacrifices as the most extreme punishment. Celts who were not allowed to participate in sacrifices were essentially cut off from the good favor of the gods, another aspect that laid a solid foundation for the later belief in the Christian God and Jesus. The Druids lost their control over the Celtic people in the 3rd century AD when the first signs of Christianity spread throughout Britain. The Council of Arles took place in A.D. 314 and it was because of this that British bishops allowed the new Roman religion to enter.
  7. When the Roman-British church collapsed during the 5th century, the spread of Christianity among the Celts was limited. At this point, the reach of Celtic Christianity could be found in Cornwall, Devon, Wales, and Cumbria. Following the defeat of Gaul, there is evidence that Celtic culture essentially vanished from the main parts of Europe. The far West areas of Europe saw the remainder of Celtic artwork. There also remained teachings about the Christian Celts.
  8. It was during the fifth century and for two centuries after, that St. Patrick worked to establish Christianity among the Celts. Following this endeavor, the Irish began to send missionaries themselves to try and convert other European peoples. The missionaries made it to the northern parts of Italy, to Iona, and to Switzerland.
  9. Written evidence for the introduction, rise, and spread of Celtic Christianity throughout Ireland began with a historical record from A.D. 431 wherein a message was written about a man being ordained by the Pope Celestine and then sent as the first bishop to the Irish Christians. From this, the community of Celtic Christians seemingly evolved as a result of having contact with the Celtic Church located in western Britain prior to the introduction of St. Patrick.
  10. Irish monasteries soon became the social locations for the education of Christianity and the arts. It was at locations including the monastery at Durrow, at Kells, and at Armagh that the Celtic Christian faith was able to prosper during the early Middle Ages. Viking invasions took place between A.D. 700 and 900 but in spite of these invasions, the Celtic civilization and their Christianity therein, continued as a powerful art form and center of learning among Europe.

These were 10 facts on Celtic Christianity for a research essay. We hope they gave you a better idea of the topic. Insert them into your custom research paper in order to fortify it. Additionally don’t forget to check our 20 topics and a sample essay on Celtic Christianity as well as a research essay guide.

Duncan, Anthony Douglas. The Elements Of Celtic Christianity. Shaftesbury, Dorset: Element, 1997. Print.
Kelly, Fergus, ed. Audacht Morainn. Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies, 1976.
Herbert, Máire, and Patrick K. Ford. “Celtic Folklore And Christianity”. Béaloideas 52 (1984): 163. Web.
Herren, Michael W, and Shirley Ann Brown. Christ In Celtic Christianity. Woodbridge, Suffolk, UK: Boydell Press, 2002. Print.
Joyce, Timothy J. Celtic Christianity. Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis Books, 1998. Print.
Lehane, Brendan. Early Celtic Christianity. London: Continuum, 2005. Print.
Mackey, James P. An Introduction To Celtic Christianity. Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1989. Print.
Marsh, William Parker, and Christopher Bamford. Celtic Christianity. Great Barrington, Mass.: Lindisfarne Press, 1987. Print.
Murphy, Gerard, ed. Early Irish lyrics: eighth to twelfth century. Four Courts Pr Ltd, 1956.
O’Meara, John J. “The Voyage of St Brendan: Journey to the Promised Land.” (1978): 31.

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