Minister Launches Lecture Series

First lecture on the ancient island Celts

Who were the Celts? Were there any Celts at all in the British Isles? Are Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland really Celtic nations? The historical and scientific truth behind these questions will be explored in the first lecture of a series launched at W5 by Minister for Culture, Arts and Leisure, Nelson McCausland.

The Exploring Culture lecture series aims to encourage discussion and analysis of issues relating to culture, identity and public understanding of the historical, social and scientific themes that shape society.

Speaking at the launch, Minister McCausland said: 'Wider understanding of the impact and origins of culture and identity is an important element in developing an informed and vibrant community.

'The Exploring Culture lecture series will facilitate discussion on diverse issues of who we are and what we believe. A society confident and open in exploring and debating such issues is a society that can build a Shared Future.

'The lecture series will also hopefully spark new ideas for developing content, programming and products by our local creative industries. Our cultural wealth and heritage can be brought alive by the vision and talent of creative companies and entrepreneurs.'

The inaugural lecture ‘The Ancient Island Celts – Modern Invention or Rediscovery?’ will be delivered by archaeologist Dr Simon James from the University of Leicester. His research focuses on cultural identities, interactions, conflict and change in Old World societies.

Dr James's work has considered how conceptions of the past impinge on the present, and how the present constrains views of the past. This includes how and why academics and public groups envisage and represent past societies as they do, through verbal discourses, ethnic stereotypes and visual clichés.

Dr James believes there are serious difficulties with some of the common, basic assumptions of Celtic history. He writes that the concept of the Scots, Welsh, Irish and other groups in the British Isles being called 'Celtic' evolved during the 18th and 19th centuries.

Dr James asks how far is it a rediscovery of a forgotten past reality? Or is it simply a modern invention, imposed on the past? His presentation will provide a highly visual and entertaining analysis of these issues.

Chairing the lecture will be local commentator William Crawley, whose renowned inquisitive style will challenge opinions and ignite lively audience participation and debate.

The Exploring Culture lectures will be free to the general public. The inaugural lecture by Dr Simon James will take place at 6pm on Thursday, November 11 at W5 in the Odyssey Complex – tea and coffee from 5.30pm.

Registration for the event will be on a first come, first served basis. Contact Catherine Lowe at or phone 028 9051 5035 to confirm bookings.