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The Quest for the Celtic Key Paperback – December 1, 2003

ISBN-13: 978-1842820315 ISBN-10: 1842820311

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Product Details

  • Series: The Quest for
  • Paperback: 411 pages
  • Publisher: Luath Press Limited (December 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1842820311
  • ISBN-13: 978-1842820315
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 1 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,334,772 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


The reader who travels with Karen Ralls-MacLeod and Ian Robertson...will find a travelogue which enriches the mythologies and histories so beautifully told, with many newly wrought connections to places, buildings, stones and other remains which may still be viewed in the landscape and historic monuments of modern Scotland... Rev. Dr. Michael Northcott, Faculty of Divinity, University of Edinburgh Karen Ralls-MacLeod is endowed with that rare jewel of academia: a sharp and inquisitive mind blessed with a refreshing openness. Her stimulating work has the gift of making the academic accessible, and brings a clear and sound basis to the experiential...from 'Idylls of the King' to 'Indiana Jones', the search for the Holy Grail will never be the same again. This is a 'must read' book for all who sense the mystery and magic of our distant past... Robert Bauval, bestselling author of The Secret Chamber and Keeper of Genesis

From the Author

From Ancient Quest, the official website of Dr Karen Ralls-MacLeod:

History is a Quest, or journey, through time. Today, as never before, there is tremendous growing interest in the history of western philosophical and spiritual traditions. Since the beginning of devolution and the new Scottish Parliament, interest in Scotland is also growing tremendously.

In this ground-breaking book, medieval religious historian and Celtic scholar Ralls-MacLeod and local Scottish historian Robertson describe the people, places, and traditions associated with Scotland's past.

The authors explore the history of the origin-myth of the Scots, the Declaration of Arbroath, the Stone of Destiny, the 'missing library' of Iona, the Picts, the Druids, stone circles and megalithic sites, the Celtic saints, the Culdees, the Celtic church, the 'Word', Scottish Arthurian traditions, the Holy Grail, the Guild traditions of medieval Edinburgh, Robert the Bruce, the battle of Bannockburn, Royal Order of Scotland, William Wallace, Rosslyn Chapel, the Knights Templar, the Blue Blanket, and much more.

In addition to examining historical sources from library, government, and museum archives, or academic and rare antiquarian books, the authors also bring to light some of the lesser known, sidelined, or previously unacknowledged aspects of history from credible sources that for one reason or another, may not have made it into the history books.

The result is a riveting read of historical detective work and a 'first' of its kind... seen by some as a real Scottish tour de force. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

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Read this book--highly recommended!
This is a wonderful book. very educational, easy to read and exciting. my attention was captured at the first chapter and kept all the way.
don ennis
The sources and notes 'checked out'--and as I live in Edinburgh, I can say that their knowledge of Scottish history is very good.
Alastair MacDonald

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Dr Karen Ralls-MacLeod & Mr Ian Robertson on March 13, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Discusses some of the various underlying factors that have influenced Scotland through the centuries that, for one reason or another, may not have made it into the history books. These subjects include Knights Templar, Rosicrucian, and Masonic history and traditions, early Celtic history, Arthurian legends, the Stone of Destiny, Rosslyn Chapel, Prince Henry Sinclair's 1398 voyage to Nova Scotia, Robert the Bruce, Declaration of Arbroath, the early Celtic church, and the Scottish 'origin-myth'. Well-referenced, from credible sources, it also includes illustrations and photographs. We sincerely hope that this book will contribute to the overall picture of Scotland's history and also tell more about its important contribution to aspects of American history as well. Enjoy!
[Please forgive us for the apparent '5-star' review of our own book. The online review form will not accept any information without a rating!]
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Alastair MacDonald on February 11, 2004
Format: Hardcover
A great combination of reliable, documented sources yet still managing to remain readable and fun, this book was a sheer delight. This book must have taken years to research. Packed with fascinating information (some little known, but true) about the history of Scotland--ranging from the Declaration of Arbroath, Robert the Bruce, the Druids and the Picts, to the Celtic saints, the Stone of Destiny, Masonic and guild traditions and Rosslyn Chapel, it delivers well. The sources and notes 'checked out'--and as I live in Edinburgh, I can say that their knowledge of Scottish history is very good. But they got the mix right, as this book still manages to be readable and fun --perhaps a bit rare for a history book! Would have liked to have seen a bit more on the specific battle strategies of Bannockburn, some descriptions of early Highland weaponry and even more on the Templars or the guilds, but overall this was a fantastic read about so many different aspects of Scotland's past. The Bibliography alone is worth the price of the book. I also thought the Rosslyn Chapel chapter was particularily interesting, as it was also featured in the novel, The Da Vinci Code---but here, you get the FACTS about the place!
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By "toni_smith04" on January 16, 2004
Format: Hardcover
A real breath of fresh air--This book is a fascinating compendium of chapters on various aspects of Scottish and Celtic history, each of which could easily stand on their own. Looking for a good read you can also "dip into"? Bored? Intrigued by Scotland, but beyond just clans or "tartan and shortbread"? Want the actual historical facts about Scottish places or people? Read this book!
Everything from the usual subjects like the Declaration of Arbroath, Robert the Bruce, or the Stone of Destiny are included, but here, we also have the occasional topic or subject that has (for whatever reasons) often been "left out" or ignored in previous works on Scottish history. So as readers, we are treated to "the whole story", it seems, but when this is done in this work, the sources do check out and often end up coming from more conventional sources!---but were simply not included in previous books on Scotland. Each chapter is its own separate 'world' and the notes for them are extensive, which I found very helpful
One has to wonder why it took so long for some of these interesting facts about Scottish history to finally come to light. This book offers an especially fresh outlook and the authors should be commended for even attempting a work that combines both the usual and the more unusual factual aspects of history. It is accurate, yet stimulating; academic yet readable--a rather rare combination these days.
Yet most refreshing of all, the authors never make any sensational claims, nor do they exploit what might be called the "Braveheart" factor to sell their work. The reader is ultimately left to decide for themselves, but after having read a great variety of sources. This is a solidly researched book from one end to the other.
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By Vicki May on May 14, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Probably not for everyone but if are interested in the Celts, history, spirituality, you'll love it. I'll read it again.
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More About the Author

History, symbolism, and historic places continue to fascinate many all over the world today. Many say visiting historical and ancient places has often greatly inspired them, or, at times, even completely changed their life in some way. Anyone can enjoy and appreciate the beauty of an ancient, historical, or sacred site and its surrounding landscape, and celebrate an era gone by. New perspectives of the past can also help us create a better world today. As we mutually step back in time to explore the history and unexpected wonders of the ancient and medieval eras, we cross the threshold...and enjoy the journey.

About the Author:

Dr Karen Ralls, medieval historian and Celtic scholar, obtained her PhD from the University of Edinburgh, followed by six years as Postdoctoral Fellow and Sr Lecturer (Univ. of Edinburgh) and was Deputy Curator of the Rosslyn Chapel Museum Art exhibition (Scotland) before relocating to Oxford,UK, where she continues with specialized ancient and medieval historical research.

A former Visiting Scholar at UC Berkeley, and others, Dr Ralls completed a specialist Medieval and Renaissance Art History course at the Victoria and Albert (V&A) Museum (London) and serves as professional Historical Advisor and consultant for selected film/media projects (Discovery, National Geographic, History Channel, etc) and for various travel, charity, museum and heritage-related organizations.

Noted for groundbreaking 12th-14th c. medieval research in particular, Karen is a conference speaker, historical and sacred sites tour guide, workshop/retreat presenter, and a musician (flute(s) and Celtic harp), interested in sharing and further exploring links between history, art, symbolism, music, and historic sites and the landscape today, i.e., at conferences, on workshops or retreats, or on a historical tour or sacred journey.

Recent books include GOTHIC CATHEDRALS: The History, Art, Places and Symbolism (Ibis/RedWheelWeiser/USA); MEDIEVAL MYSTERIES: History, Places and Symbolism (Ibis Press /RedWheelWeiser/USA); The TEMPLARS AND THE GRAIL (Quest Books), The KNIGHTS TEMPLAR ENCYCLOPEDIA (Career Press), MUSIC AND THE OTHERWORLDs (forthcoming), and five previous titles.

Join the Quest! See the Facebook Author page - Karen Ralls Author - and the website

'Taking the Wisdom of the past... into the Future'.

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