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The Stations of the SunA History of the Ritual Year in Britain$
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Ronald Hutton

Print publication date: 1996

Print ISBN-13: 9780198205708

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198205708.001.0001

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(p.408) 40 Conclusions
The Stations of the Sun

Ronald Hutton

Oxford University Press

This chapter discusses the history of the ancient British and Irish year. This has sufficed to build up a powerful impression of an ancient year of Celts, probably uniform from Ireland to Gaul, consisting of the four quarter-days of Samhain, Imbolc, Beltane, and Lughnasadh, and commencing on the first of those festivals. The importance of the quarter-days in medieval Irish literature was noticed in the first systematic treatment of those texts, such as the works of Charles Vallancey in the eighteenth century. By the second half of the nineteenth, it had become assumed in folklores in England that they were observed in ancient Britain as well. One of these writers, Charles Hardwick, either borrowed or made himself a misreading of the description of the fire rite of Beltane in Sanas Chormaic which caused him to believe that it was carried out upon all four feasts. From this error sprang the characterization of them as ‘the fire festivals’.

Keywords:   Britain, Ireland, Celts, Samhain, Charles Vallancey, England, fire festivals, history, folklores, feasts

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