British Archeologist Writes a Keystone History Book on Brittany

Book cover

Sir Barrington Windsor Cunliffe, (born 10 December 1939), known as Barry Cunliffe, is a British archaeologist and academic. He was Professor of European Archaeology at the University of Oxford from 1972 to 2007. Since 2007, he has been an emeritus professor. Barry Cunliffe conducted numerous research projects on ancient Celts in the UK but also in Spain and in Brittany. When he is not in Oxford, he lives part of the year in Le Yaudet, near the village of Ploulec’h in the Côtes d’Armor department.

He has written many books on prehistoric peoples, and his two latest : Exploring Celtic Origins: New Ways Forward in Archaeology, Linguistics, and Genetics. (2020) and Bretons and Britons: The Fight for Identity, Oxford University Press (2021) are corner stones. Barry Cunliffe contests the mainstream narrative that the Celts came from Central Europe, he explains how the Celts migrated from the Atlantic coast and islands toward the interior of the continent. His conference Who Were the Celts? has been seen by 300 000 people on Youtube.

In Bretons and Britons, Barry Cunliffe explores the history of the Armoricans, from the time of the first farmers around 5400 BC to the present day. More than simply a history of a people, Bretons and Britons is also the author’s homage to a country and a people he has come to know over decades of research in particular at the oppidum of Le Yaudet.

The book relates the Armoricans’ fight against Roman invasion and the Bretons’ fierce effort to maintain their independence following their arrival on the peninsula from Great Britain in fifth century AD. He shows how the duchy of Brittany was a sovereign state but had the misfortune to have a very powerful neighbour. Both England and France tried to annex the duchy, but it was France that succeeded in the end.

In their endeavour to save their identity and their Breton language, the last Celtic language spoken on the continent, Bretons were able to present themselves as the direct successors of the ancient Celts along with the Cornish, Welsh, Scots, and Irish. The struggle never ends.

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