Barry Vann,
Rediscovering the South's Celtic Heritage
(Overmountain, 2004)

In Rediscovering the South's Celtic Heritage, Barry Vann puts forth the idea that the unique culture of the upland southern United States is due to the influence of Scots-Irish and German settlers (groups he unfortunately lumps together as "Celtic"). According to Vann, southern states and northern states vary so much in outlook partly due to the migration patterns of the original settlers, with people of Anglo-Saxon descent staying primarily in the north. Both groups of settlers brought with them their histories and mindsets and in the isolated, upland south, the mindsets of those early German and Scots-Irish settlers remain prevalent in the people to this day.

In examining the culture of the upland south, however, the author doesn't just look at migratory patterns. He includes an analysis of census data, a look at dialect and belief in the supernatural. As religion plays a large part in the mindset of southerners, he also includes information on the late Tudor monarchy and their attitudes toward religion as well, as the Reformation and the schisms that followed that led to the modern Protestant denominations.

I do have a quibble with some of Vann's terminology; at one point, he refers to the German people as "Celts," and though there was a tribal people in ancient times called the Germanii, they were not a Celtic people. It does sometimes seem as though Vann is attempting to give a linguistic and socio-economic history to lay people without getting too technical, and is perhaps trying to use general rather than precise terms.

Rediscovering the South's Celtic Heritage is a slim volume, but packs a lot of history and folklore, and is recommended for people interested in cultural aspects of the southern United States.

- Rambles
written by Laurie Thayer
published 28 May 2005

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