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25 November 2008 @ 03:25 pm
Hutton's _The Pagan Religions of the Ancient British Isles_  
I'm looking for additions to my library, and wondering about Ronald Hutton's The Pagan Religions of the Ancient British Isles : Their Nature and Legacy. It looks like a pretty broad survey, and therefore the sort of book one reads with the intention of using it to find more specific books and articles to read, but I haven't really run into anything else that looks quite like it.

Has anyone else read this? Is it good and useful? Is Hutton a good scholar?

For reference, my interests tend to run Brythonic rather than Gaelic, so that's a factor in whether this book will be a priority for me.
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hagazusahagazusa on November 26th, 2008 10:06 am (UTC)
Having read several of his books, I wouldn't say he's that extreme.

In The Rise and Fall of Merry England, for example, he states that Christmas "almost certainly" derived from pre-Christian solstice rites--there is no Biblical evidence to state that Jesus was born around the time of the winter solstice. Under Cromwell, Christmas was banned for being too pagan.

I think Hutton is definitely worth reading, although no *one* scholar knows it all.
Christian A. Youngbodlon on November 26th, 2008 03:11 pm (UTC)
Thanks. That second book looks intensely useful. Maybe I'll try to pick them up together.
Lady T. - "The Witch Is In"ladytairngire on November 25th, 2008 10:11 pm (UTC)
I read it in college for an archeological paper, long before I would have considered it from a CR perspective. And being that it was so long ago, memory has whitewashed most of the details. That said, I did find it useful support for an undergraduate research project... though i seem to remember it made for dry reading.
Christian A. Youngbodlon on November 26th, 2008 03:12 pm (UTC)
Right. Not for reading in the bath or in bed, then.

Vaporizekalakumari on November 25th, 2008 10:51 pm (UTC)
I really did like how he debunked some of the new age Celtic nonsense, but I agree that you'll want to read some other authors for balance.
Miss Lynxmisslynx on November 25th, 2008 11:45 pm (UTC)
He's definitely a reputable scholar, but he's occasionally been criticized for having "disciplinary tunnel vision" -- that is, as a historian, only acknowledging evidence from within his own discipline and ignoring or downplaying evidence from other fields such as archaeology, folklore, comparative religion, etc.

So I guess that pretty much echoes what others have recommended: read him, but include some other writers from varying academic backgrounds for balance.