PS690,000 to Fund Quest for Origins of the Welsh Language; RESEARCH WILL LOOK INTO CELTS ON THE ATLANTIC EDGE OF EUROPE

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Byline: SION MORGAN sion.morgan@walesonline.co.uk

QUESTIONS over the "enigmatic" origins of the Celtic race and how, where and when the Welsh language first emerged could be answered thanks to a three-year project taking place in Aberystwyth.

Researchers at the University of Wales Centre for Advanced Welsh and Celtic Studies (CAWCS) have been awarded PS690,000 from The Arts and Humanities Research Council to conduct the work.

The research grant will support a three-year research project taking place at CAWCS, in collaboration with the University of Oxford, King's College London, Bangor University, and the National Library of Wales, on the archaeological background of the emergence of the Celtic languages in Western Europe.

Many still believe the Celts spread from Iron Age central Europe between 750 and 100BC.

But new evidence suggests there was more than one Celtic language in what is now modern day Spain, and it remains a mystery as to how and when the Celts arrived there.

Professor Dafydd Johnston, director of CAWCS in Aberystwyth, said: "The funding will enable us to make a substantial contribution to the understanding of the cultural heritage of Wales and the other Celtic countries.

"There is fierce competition for Research Council funding, and the centre's success in gaining a grant of this magnitude demonstrates its strong international reputation and outstanding track-record in running collaborative research projects."

A spokesman for CAWCS explained that many still believe that Celts spread from Iron Age central Europe bringing Hallstatt and La Tene material culture and Celtic speech with them; meaning that earlier eras further west are non-Celtic by definition.

The spokesman said: "A previous project at CAWCS, Culture and Celtic speech, showed the inadequacy of this theory for explaining the evidence in the westernmost areas. For the Iberian Peninsula in particular, the traditional model of Celtic origins simply does not work.

"It is known that there was more than one Celtic language in pre-Roman Iberia, but it remains an enigma as to how and when they got there."

Previous work on maritime networks and Atlantic Europe's first written language, Tartessian, led to a shared conclusion that in Atlantic Europe Celtic culture probably evolved from Indo-European during the bronze age. …