The idea of a shared Celtic heritage across ancient Europe retains a powerful hold over the popular imagination. But many common ideas about the people known as ‘Celts’ are in fact more recent re-imaginings, revived and reinvented over the centuries. The exhibition (opening March 10th) unravels the story of the different groups who have used or been given the name ‘Celts’ through the extraordinary art objects they made and used. Spanning more than 2,500 years, the exhibition explores history through these powerful decorated objects and examines how art styles have changed considerably over time, often flourishing during periods when different cultures came into contact.
The distinctive art styles were transformed and took on new influences in response to the expanding Roman world and the spread of Christianity afterwards. The decorative arts of the late 19th century were inspired by different ideas about this past, and played a key role in defining what it meant to be Irish, Welsh, Scottish and British. More than 300 treasured objects from across the UK and Europe are, assembled together (see also the newsletter).