The Celtic Revival

Explore the fascinating interdisciplinary movement that identified medieval Celtic culture

The Awakening (Dated 1904) by Phoebe Anna TraquairNational Galleries Scotland: National

The Celtic Revival was an interdisciplinary movement which started in Ireland and quickly gained popularity in Britain and Europe in the late 19th and early 20th century. 

The Hunt (previously known as Diana and Her Nymphs) (About 1926) by Robert BurnsNational Galleries Scotland: National

Proponents of this revival sought to identify and explore aspects of early-Medieval Celtic culture in their art, music, poetry and literature. In Scotland, ancient myths, legends and folklore were being reintroducing in a modern context. 

Patrick Geddes (1854-1932)Mundaneum

An important figure in Edinburgh who promoted the Celtic Revival was town planner and social reformer Patrick Geddes. 

In 1884 Geddes established the Environment Society (later the Edinburgh Social Union) to encourage local residents to survey, plan, and improve the local environment. He played a central role in promoting the Celtic Revival partly through artistic schemes associated with the Edinburgh Social Union.

Window to Womanhood in All Saints, Cambridge (1944) by Douglas StrachanChurches Conservation Trust

Prominent figures within the Edinburgh Social Union were the stained-glass artist Douglas Strachan

Settle (1892) by Whytock & Reid, Sir Robert Stodart LorimerLos Angeles County Museum of Art

and the renowned architect and designer Robert Lorimer.

The Psalms of David (About 1884 - 1891) by Phoebe Anna TraquairNational Galleries Scotland: National

Artists involved with the group who participated in the Celtic Revival in Scotland included Phoebe Anna Traquair, who produced a huge array of artworks including embroidery, illuminated manuscripts and murals featuring references to Celtic mythology or visual culture.

Saint Bride (1913) by John DuncanNational Galleries Scotland: National

Scottish artist John Duncan was also an active union member and played a significant role in Scotland’s Celtic Revival, resurrecting subject matter from Celtic folklore for many of his most famous paintings, including Angus Og, God of Love and Courtesy, Putting a Spell of Summer

The Defeat of Hako King of Norway by Alexander III at Largs A.D. 1263 by William Brassey HoleNational Galleries Scotland: Portrait

William Brassey Hole’s murals for the Scottish National Portrait Gallery made in 1889, did much to promote Scottish history, illustrating over 150 figures in the Processional Frieze and documenting important events from Scottish history.

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