The Celtic Fringe in British History--Historiography and Bibliography


Historians have long acknowledged the importance of broadening the content of British history to include the histories of Scotland, Ireland and Wales. However, until the last decade, most treatments of British history have paid only lip service to the "Celtic fringe" and then have proceeded to treat English history alone as tantamount to British history. At most, historians noted the periods in which events in Scotland, Wales and Ireland affected major political, social, religious, and economic movements in England.

However, in the past decade, distinguished historians, led by J.G.A. Pocock, have begun to take a more integrative view of British history, transforming the Celtic fringe into integral elements in the formation of British identity. These historians include, among others, Linda Colley, R. Merfyn Jones, Geoff Eley, David Stevenson, and Jane Ohlmeyer. An early seminal work in this redefinition of British history was Michael Hechter's Internal Colonialism, published in 1975.

This Web site is intended to complement this recent development in British historiography by providing an annotated sampler of Web sites relevant to the history of the Celtic fringe--Ireland, Scotland and Wales. Its purpose is to provide online resources for use in senior-level college courses on British history, from ancient times to the twentieth century, emphasizing the role of the Celtic fringe in the formation of the British nation, as well as courses on the history of Scotland, Wales, and Ireland for the same time period. The emphasis of the sources is political, while also providing cultural and anthropological background and pointers to sources for original research.



The following is a select bibliography of secondary sources related to the role of the Celtic fringe in the formation of British national identity and the course of British history.

With the exception of B. Bradshaw and J. Morrill's, The British Problem, all the citations listed in this bibliography are linked to Web-based online cataloging records. These records were derived from the University of California's online catalog's (MELVYL) UC Books file through the Cheshire II interface.

The Cheshire II project at the UC Berkeley's School of Information Management and Systems is developing a next-generation online catalog and full-text information retrieval system using advanced IR techniques. The system incorporates a client/server architecture with implementations of current information retrieval standards including Z39.50 and SGML.

The Cheshire II project currently has a test WWW search interface which allows the user to search some 18 bibliographic databases. As indicated, the online catalog records linked to this bibliography were derived from the MELVYL systems' UC Books database. Local call numbers were stripped out, leaving the standard Dewey and Library of Congress call numbers. The main utility of these Web-based online records is that they contain links to related subjects and authors, thus allowing the user to query the MELVYL UC Books database for other materials related to the Celtic fringe in British history.

I would encourage users of this Web site to visit the Cheshire II project and use its test search form to look up other secondary materials listed under the various Celtic fringe pages which comprise this Web site. Be sure to explore some of the databases other than the MELVYL UC Books database that Cheshire offers access to.


Ronald G. Asch (ed.), Three Nations -- A Common History?: England, Scotland, Ireland and British History , c. 1600-1920 (1992)

"Britishness and Europeanness: Who Are the British Anyway?" The Journal of British Studies 31:4 (October 1992)--especially the following articles:

Linda Colley, "Britishness and Otherness: An Argument"

R. Merfyn Jones, "Beyond Identity?: The Reconstruction of the Welsh"

J. G. A. Pocock, "History and Sovereignty: The Historiographical Response to Europeanization in Two British Cultures"

Geoff Eley, "Culture, Britain, and Europe"

Linda Colley, Britons: Forging the Nation, 1707-1837 (1992)

Steven G. Ellis and Sarah Barber (eds.) Conquest and Union: Fashioning a British State 1485-1725 (1995)

Alexander Grant and Keith J. Stringer (eds.) Uniting the Kingdom?: The Making of British History (1995)

Michael Hechter, Internal Colonialism: the Celtic Fringe in British National Development, 1536-1966 (1975)

Hugh F. Kearney, The British Isles: A History of Four Nations (1989)

John Morrill (ed.), The Scottish National Covenant in its British Context (1990)

Jane H. Ohlmeyer, Civil War and Restoration in Three Stuart Kingdoms: The Career of Randall MacDonell, Marquis of Antrim 1609-1683 (1993)

J. G. A. Pocock, "The Atlantic Archipelago and the War of the Three Kingdoms" in B. Bradshaw and J. Morrill, The British Problem c. 1534-1707: State Formation in the Atlantic Archipelago (In press).

J. G. A. Pocock, "The Limits and Divisions of British History: In Search of an Unknown Subject" American Historical Review, 87:2 (April 1982)

David Stevenson (ed.), The Government of Scotland Under the Covenanters, 1637-1651 (1982)

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