The Atlantic Irish And Celts

Following on from a previous post examining the “Celtic from the West” theory, a quick thank you to ASF reader, Mark, for reminding me of the tetralogy, “Atlantean“, by the iconic Conamara-based film-maker Bob Quinn. His 1981 documentary series for RTÉ was one of the first to popularise in Ireland the argument that the early prehistory of western Europe should be reorientated towards its littoral, the coastal regions from southern Spain to northern Scotland, rather than its centre and south-east. Though the four films occasionally strayed into the pseudo-academic territory of Graham Hancock and others, Quinn was at least on the right track. His general instincts were correct even if his particular methods and interpretations were not. The first episode is up on Daily Motion and is well worth a look, not least because it represents a very different era of film- and television-making (much like the BBC’s old Chronicle programmes). I can’t imagine the Discovery Channel broadcasting anything as laid-back, languid and eclectic as this!



  1. There’s always been something intriguing about how Sumer, Egypt stand up as almost complete civilisations quite rapidly. Along with the universal flood and fall from grace myths. The discovery of settlements on the sea bed of the North Sea, does hint at the idea there was some civilisation (not Atlantis with advanced tech) that was inundated.

    In Mabinogion’s recounting of Tristan & Isolde the invading Irish army wade over but are drowned by a rising sea. I’ve wondered if these tales don’t stretch back to the end of the last ice age (13kya) when the sea levels rose rapidly around the world. Were a lot of settlements inundated and had to relocate inland resulting in the start of history as currently accepted. Looking at the number of revolutionary reinterpretations of previously settled ancient history in just the last 50 years – to think we have it right now is naive at best.

    Read a chunk of Fingerprints – his Tiwanaku dating by sideral alignment and lake shore retreat and theory about accessible tin in the Andes seemed the two plausible facts to take away from it.

    1. I thought Hancock came across as fairly normal/level-headed in the documentary series he did for Channel 4 in the UK, however when one got into the detail of his theories it just fell apart. At least that was my impression. He played up the “universality” of the flood myths too much while ignoring the original source in the Sumerian/Babylonian religions, and the huge influence they had in the prehistoric world.

      1. He does indeed. But then he starts trying to make everything pre-Egypt fit. I still think there’s a kernel of truth in there.

        Have you read Brian Fagan’s The Long Summer?

  2. A short version of Hancock’s most recent book – the Magicians of the Gods, which stacks up better than his earlier work

    1. This is a far better articulation of the hypothesis, boiled down to the core argument with a couple of strong pieces of evidence – Göbekli Tepe and the Younger Dryas are hard to counter. The North Sea bed is likely where the definitive evidence will be found.

      Thinking about this in the context of Lewis-William’s hypotheses, Jared Diamond’s Collapse and Brian Fagan’s The Long Summer suggests that in response to adverse climactic conditions humans formed more complex societies and agriculture – the domestication of the bottle gourd for example is ~11kya. They are making a go of it (or at least not all dying) but then the melt pulse and they have to flee for much higher ground.

      FYI PNAS is an “interesting” journal – here’s a good current writeup.

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