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The Discovery of Middle Earth

Mapping the Lost World of the Celts

Graham Robb (Author)


A treasure hunt that uncovers the secrets of one of the world’s great civilizations, revealing dramatic proof of the extreme sophistication of the Celts, and their creation of the earliest accurate map of the world.

Fifty generations ago the cultural empire of the Celts stretched from the Black Sea to Ireland and the Highlands of Scotland. In six hundred years, the Celts had produced some of the finest artistic and scientific masterpieces of the ancient world. In 58 BC, Julius Caesar marched over the Alps, bringing slavery and genocide to western Europe. Within eight years the Celts of what is now France were utterly annihilated, and in another hundred years the Romans had overrun Britain. It is astonishing how little remains of this great civilization.

While planning a bicycling trip along the Heraklean Way, the ancient route from Portugal to the Alps, Graham Robb discovered a door to that forgotten world—a beautiful and precise pattern of towns and holy places based on astronomical and geometrical measurements: this was the three-dimensional “Middle Earth” of the Celts. As coordinates and coincidences revealed themselves across the continent, a map of the Celtic world emerged as a miraculously preserved archival document.

Robb—“one of the more unusual and appealing historians currently striding the planet” (New York Times)—here reveals the ancient secrets of the Celts, demonstrates the lasting influence of Druid science, and recharts the exploration of the world and the spread of Christianity. A pioneering history grounded in a real-life historical treasure hunt, The Discovery of Middle Earth offers nothing less than an entirely new understanding of the birth of modern Europe.

Book Details

  • Hardcover
  • November 2013
  • ISBN 978-0-393-08163-3
  • 6.6 × 9.6 in / 416 pages
  • Sales Territory: Worldwide including Canada, but excluding the British Commonwealth and the European Union.

Other Formats

  1. Book CoverThe Discovery of Middle Earth: Mapping the Lost World of the Celts


Endorsements & Reviews

“Presenting one of the most astonishing, significant discoveries in recent memory, Robb, winner of the Duff Cooper Prize and Ondaatje Award for The Discovery of France, upends nearly everything we believe about the history—or, as he calls it, 'protohistory'—of early Europe and its barbarous Celtic tribes and semimythical Druids…. Like the vast and intricate geographical latticework that Robb has uncovered, the book unfurls its secrets in an eerie, magnificent way—a remarkable, mesmerizing, and bottomless work.” — Publishers Weekly, Starred Review and Pick of the Week

“[A] daring theory…. thrilling.” — Laura Miller, Salon

“Upends nearly everything we believe about the history… of early Europe.” — Gabe Habash, Publishers Weekly

“Combines travelogue and historical detective story…. The work of a man to whom the past is vividly present.” — Ian Morris, New York Times Book Review

“Fascinating…The historical value of Robb's vivid portrait of Celtic culture is unquestionable.” — Wendy Smith, Los Angeles Times

“Raises intriguing questions about the relationship between tribe and empire, local identity and larger superstructure.” — Rachel Donadio, New York Times

Also by Graham Robb All

  1. Book CoverBalzac: A Biography


  2. Book CoverThe Debatable Land: The Lost World Between Scotland and England


  3. Book CoverThe Discovery of France: A Historical Geography