The digitized, full-text Royal Irish Academy Archive of Celtic-Latin Literature (RIA-ACLL)


Show me what is included in the current on-line version, as now further expanded


In the early Middle Ages, literate individuals in and from the Celtic periphery of Europe (Ireland, Wales, Brittany, Cornwall, Scotland and the Isle of Man) wrote many and varied Latin works constituting what can arguably be seen as a distinctive literature, whose unusual vocabulary, grammar and phrasing (to say nothing of subject-matter) made it into what has been called “one of the most curious and interesting phenomena of medieval philology”. In an attempt to codify this usage, the Royal Irish Academy has been working actively since the late 1970s towards producing a definitive Dictionary of Medieval Latin from Celtic Sources (DMLCS) — part of a Europe-wide movement to publish lexicons of the medieval Latin of specific national areas.

From the outset DMLCS has been computer-based, having as a second objective the establishment of a permanent electronic database containing the whole corpus of Celtic-Latin literature from the period 400-1200 A.D. (about 1300 separate texts, varying from fragmentary inscriptions to learned treatises hundreds of pages long). This full-text database, historically held in the Queen's University, Belfast, is richly marked up — for non-Latin words, categories of quotation, etc. — so as to be of maximum use to the lexicographer. But it was always envisaged that, as its construction proceeded, the archive would come to be of value to scholars in other disciplines as well — to the editor of texts, the syntactician, the researcher into geographical or chronological distribution of usages, the historian interested in the transmission of ideas or texts, and to many others. The question was how to make it available to them.

That question is being answered with Brepols’ publication, from the DMLCS database, of a series of three cumulative editions of a full-text Archive of Celtic-Latin Literature. Originally modelled upon Brepols' existing CLCLT (now LLT, the Library of Latin Texts), this was designed to consititute with that corpus the beginnings of a pan-European electronic library of patristic and medieval Latin material. The initiative is proceeding as follows:

● ACLL-1, the first, preliminary edition, was originally released on CD-ROM in 1994 and, in a revised form, on line in 2007. This extensive collection consisted of over four hundred selected texts, representative of the authors, nationalities, periods and genres in the Celtic-Latin domain. As befitted a database designed to encapsulate what was most distinctive in Celtic-Latin literature, the texts in ACLL-1 were largely chosen for their embodiment of that difference.

● ACLL-2, the second, developed and much expanded edition, as completed and published on line in 2010, shifts the emphasis to the fact that Celtic authors of Latin in the period from the fourth century to the fourteenth also contributed to mainstream European Latin culture in ways for which they have not hitherto been accorded sufficient credit. While continuing to present all of the material that was captured for ACLL-1, a principal intention of the second edition is therefore to provide searchable access also to Celtic-Latin material that went on to make its mark across western Europe. More than a hundred significant additional works have been included to this end.

Now that it has been completed, show me what is included in ACLL-2

● ACLL-3. The initiative is planned to culminate in ACLL-3, a third, definitive edition, once the database has reached the maximum feasible size — that is, when all accessible Celtic-Latin texts have been captured and processed to standard. In the meantime, the availability of Brepols’ Cross-Database Searchtool means that even the current release of the Archive is jointly searchable on line both with LLT and, now, with eMGH (the electronic Monumenta Germaniae Historica). Methodology and content have thus already combined to integrate ACLL fully into the digital portfolio available to scholars of the written heritage of a thousand years of Western European history.