Informing and research Old-Irish law

At the beginning of 2011, Celtic Britain started her research on Brehon law. The law offers an ideal starting point to form a better image of Gaelic society. From the beginning it was clear that this project would take a long time because of the many continuations and aspects of this research.

Type: informing, research
Goal: research to the arrangement of the Gaelic clan system in the Old-Irish law.
Authors: Patrick Gilbers, Judith Schoen
Year of publication: 2011

The first research on old-Irish law mainly focused on literary research, which offered insight in the perspective of Brehon law on a Gaelic society. Criminal law, politics and religion, social consistency and the law per class are included. This was later expanded with archaeological research in which different objects, recorded in old-Irish law, were examined. A strong agricultural culture emerged, strikingly structured and separated. The law can be divided in civil law and criminal law. The law offered structure, praised qualities and punished misbehaviour. It also demanded a certain input per class of society. In that way it guaranteed that the land managed by the túath, clan, would continually be cultivated by capable farmers and this provided the continual availability of important commodities such as wood.

Celtic Britain often writes informative articles based on her research, which can be read on her website In addition, the research is expounded further in the Celtic Magazine Gaelic ways and Gaelic laws and offers inducement for new research. The research offers insight in the material culture which is being used in the projects Celtic re-enactment and Experimental Archaeology.


Ó Cróinín, Dáibhí, “Early medieval Ireland: 400-1200” (London 1995)
Kelly, Fergus, “A guide to early Irish law” (Dublin 1988)
Kelly, Fergus, “Early Irish farming” (Dublin 1997)
Laing, Lloyd, “The archaeology of Celtic Britain and Ireland” (Cambridge 2006)
Quin, E.G. et al., “Dictionary of the Irish Language: Based Mainly on Old and Middle Irish Materials” (Dublin 1983)







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