Skip navigation

Welsh History Review


Vol. 5, nos. 1-4 1970-71

A history of medieval Ireland : Book review.

Previous page Rotate Left Rotate Right Next page Original Image Large Image Zoom View text PDF
Jump to page
substantive plwca, 'dirt, mire', of uncertain origin. A blindwell (p. 251) is
probably a well without an outlet, as is its Welsh equivalent Ffynnon Goeg.
A more general criticism of the book is that it is far too long; it could
have been pruned severely without detracting from the quality of its
scholarship and real interest. Too much of the 'thesis' has come through
to the printed page, and the fact that the notes on names were compiled
with the general reader in mind as well as the specialist has led to the
inclusion of much extraneous and irrelevant material. Compression is a
virtue in this kind of work. The piling up of early forms (for instance,
about forty references to the form Barry), especially if they are merely
orthographical variants, serves little purpose. A representative selection
of significant early forms which illustrate the history and development
of a name should suffice. The articles tend to be over-elaborate. Three
simple names like St. Andrews, St. George and St. Nicholas take up seven
and a half pages of text. There is no need to trace the cognates of common
words like calch, eryr, gof, mynydd, newydd, etc., in other Celtic languages,
nor to include fanciful etymologies, particularly the curious fabrications
of lolo Morganwg. To survey the place-names of the other nine hundreds
of Glamorgan on this extravagant scale would require another nine
volumes. The EPNS has dealt with Yorkshire, an area seven times larger,
in ten volumes.
National Library of Wales,
A HISTORY OF MEDIEVAL IRELAND. By A. J. Otway-Ruthven. With an
introduction by Kathleen Hughes. Benn, London, 1968. Pp. xv, 454,
with pull-out map. 70s.
Professor Otway-Ruthven has written a history of medieval Ireland.
The indefinite article may be regarded as having more than its usual
significance. The author, with undue modesty, calls her book 'no more
than an interim report'. It is vastly more than that; but she also admits to
two major gaps, the economic history of the period and the history of
Gaelic Ireland, 'subjects which have hardly been touched by any writer'.
Miss Otway-Ruthven's book does not fill these gaps, but it does give
us in twelve massively-documented chapters, the fullest and most author-
itative account of the Anglo-Norman conquest of Ireland, of the medieval
state which was set up by that conquest, and of the 'English colony' to
which in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries that state had been reduced,
that we have yet had from any scholar or are likely to have for many years.
The book may therefore be said, paradoxically, to be incomplete yet
definitive. That history must be written from several different standpoints
Previous page Rotate Left Rotate Right Next page Original Image Large Image Zoom View text PDF
Jump to page

This text was generated automatically from the scanned page and has not been checked. Typical character accuracy is in excess of 99%, but this leaves one error per 100 characters.

The National Library of Wales has created and published this digital version of the journal under a licence granted by the publisher. The material it contains may be used for all purposes while respecting the moral rights of the creators.