The Celtic Art & Culture Project

The Celtic Art & Cultures project is a joint effort by Dr. Dorothy Verkerk, Mr. Gary Geisler and Ms. Karin Breiwitz. Dr. Verkerk is an Assistant Professor of of Art History at The University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Mr. Geisler is a Software Engineer for IBM and a student in the PhD program in the the UNC School of Information and Library Science. Ms. Breitwitz received her MSLS from the UNC School of Information and Library Science in 1998 and is currently employed by the Center for Teaching and Learning, UNC. Each of us brought our own skills, interests, and enthusiasms to the project to create what we believe is an ambitious and educational contribution to Celtic studies.

Working collaboratively and bringing together disparate areas of expertise, our goal for this project is to create a course Web site around a rich multimedia database of Celtic-related images, maps, timelines, interactive voculary aids, and animations, that students enrolled in Art 111 (Fall, 1998) will explore and study. Ultimately, students will be empowered to research, design, and write a "virtual" exhibition catalogue.

This multimedia database is not designed to replace the instructor of the course, but instead will serve as central focus of the course, providing the instructor with a context for weekly lectures and providing students with the means to develop a richer understanding of the course topic through interaction with the multimedia materials.

We would like to thank Richard Spinks of IBM for donating his time and expertise in assisting on the design pages. Caroline Trippe for her meticulous database, which made an image database possible. Scott Patrick and Holly Johnson, graduate students in English, and Benjamin Harvey, a graduate student in Art History, gave their time and vocal skills to make the vocabulary pages a success.

The Celtic Art & Culture project is one of the proposals selected by Chancellor Michael Hooker to receive an instructional technology grant for 1997-98. Please contact us for more information about the project.

Celtic Art and Cultures (Art 111) will be taught in the Fall of 1998. The class consists of undergraduates and graduates who will be working individually and collaboratively on a virtual exhibition. The course syllabus provides the basic resources for the students with links to discussion forums, web sites, weekly readings and assignments, and a list of upcoming work.

Course Materials in Progress

The goal of this project is not simply to create a course Web page or to put images on the Web, although these are worthwhile things to do and will be part of the project. Instead, we intend to use technology to provide students with a means to understand the course material that is not possible in a traditional lecture or seminar course. By providing students with a large and varied database of multimedia materials -- not only the traditional static images, but also animations, reconstructions, and interactive exercises -- and creating course assignments that require students to explore the database to develop and share their views on course topics, we hope to enable students to become more fully immersed in the subject than is otherwise possible.

Much of the work of this project, then, is to create a varied selection of multimedia materials that will help students gain a better understanding and appreciation of Celtic Art & Culture. We anticipate creating the following types of multimedia information:

We also have a page with links to other web resources related to Celtic art and culture.

The sections below contain works in progress for each of these types of multimedia. Keep in mind that much of the material is still in the experimental stages and may or may not be used as part of the course.

Topic Explorations

Topic explorations are guided tours that will enable the student to examine a specific topic in a structured way. The guided tour consists of explanatory text and supporting images that take the student through the topic. Whenever possible, the guided tour will allow the student the flexibility to explore elements of the topic in his or her own way.

Burial Site Exploration

Start with an aerial view of the Hallstatt burial site and progress to more detailed views of the burial chamber and items that were buried with the chieftain.


We'll have several examples of Celtic design, using animation and image manipulation to show specific design elements and how these elements were used in finished designs.

A common design element in Celtic art is punning and metamorphosis.

The construction of an intricate design can be understood by looking at how it might have been put together with repeating, geometrical elements.

The design of the Aston Mirror.

Details of the running dog pattern.

Variations of the swirl pattern.


QuickTimeVR Images

Our goal is to provide a few QuickTimeVR object movies and panoramas, enabling users to directly manipulate views of Celtic high crosses (900K file) and possibly a couple of other things. These images are ones we took ourselves on a trip to Ireland in March.

Animated Reconstructions

The Celts constructed elaborate structures and created intricate designs. The processes by which these structures and designs were created are difficult to teach in the classroom, but can be made much more clear by illustrated the design processes step-by-step. We will use computer technology to provide examples of how Celtic structures and designs were created, and enable the student to examine the processes in detail.

Animated Maps

Maps will help students put all the other multimedia materials in the database in a geographical context. Maps will show where in the Celtic world the art and artifacts in the database were discovered, which parts of the world the Celts occupied over time, and where the major excavations of Celtic artifacts are.

Vocabulary Terms

Significant vocabulary terms will be provided with related information, such as an illustrative image, pronunciation, and links to related terms.

Interactive Timelines

The time period covered in this course is 800 B.C. to 800 A.D. To help students associate artifacts and events in Celtic history with the time in which they occurred, timelines will provided. By selecting a specific range of time on the timeline, the student can isolate the materials in the database that are associated with that time period.

Still Images

A substantial part of the multimedia database we are developing will be hundreds of images of Celtic art objects, artifacts from Celtic culture, and reconstructions of significant aspects of Celtic culture, such as a cross-section of a Celtic burial mound. These images are scans from slides owned by the Art Department at UNC.