• Spain's news in English
 
app_header_v3

Ancient graffiti proves Spain's Irish links

Alex Dunham · 22 Jul 2014, 10:52

Published: 22 Jul 2014 10:52 GMT+02:00

For centuries it has gone unnoticed, weathered by Galicia’s incessant drizzle but still visible to those with an eagle-eye.

On one of the granite walls of Santiago church in the small town of Betanzos, a small previously unintelligible inscription five metres above ground kept historians and epigraphists, or people who study ancient inscriptions, baffled for decades.

Researchers working for a private association called the Gaelaico Project now believe they've finally deciphered what it reads: "An Ghaltacht" or "Gaelic-speaking area".

"If our interpretation is right, the inscription isn't related to religious matters, but rather to the language that was spoken in Galicia at the time," Proxecto Gaelaico head Martín Fernández Maceiras told local daily La Voz de Galicia.

"It seems logical that the inscription was made while the church was being built (in the 14th century)."

Up to now, Galicia, along with Asturias and northern Portugal, have been informally considered part of the ancient Celtic nations (Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Brittany, Isle of Man and Cornwall) due to cultural and historical reasons rather than because of written proof.

Story continues below…

Although researchers are hoping to get a second opinion from expert epigraphists on whether the inscription does indeed read “Gaelic-speaking area”, the chances of it being the first written evidence of Galicia’s Celtic past are high.

Despite the dominance of Latin, there are plenty of Gaelic traits still present in Galicia,” James Duran, academic expert on minority languages at the US's Stanford University, told La Voz de Galicia. 

For more news from Spain, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

Alex Dunham (alex.dunham@thelocal.com)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Princess Cristina stands by her man as fraud trial resumes
Princess Cristina arriving in court on Tuesday. Photo: Jaime Reina/AFP

Princess Cristina stands by her man as fraud trial resumes
28 minutes ago

The King of Spain's sister arrived at court with her husband for a trial into a corruption scandal that has embarrassed the royal family.

Toddler swept off beach by giant wave in northern Spain
A huge wave on Spain's northern coast. Photo: AFP

Toddler swept off beach by giant wave in northern Spain
49 minutes ago

The search for a 20-month-old child who was washed out to sea in northern Spain entered its second day on Tuesday.

Barcelona metro fire causes rush-hour commuter ordeal
Photo: Hector Milla/Flickr

Barcelona metro fire causes rush-hour commuter ordeal
2 hours ago

All trains running through the centre of Barcelona have been stopped because of smoke in the tunnels.

Calls to free puppeteers held over staging satire in Madrid
A file photo of puppets. Photo: Leon Neal/AFP

Calls to free puppeteers held over staging satire in Madrid
3 hours ago

Some are calling the arrest of two puppeteers for "inciting terrorism" in a children's play an outrageous infringement of freedom of expression.

Danger: Early toxic caterpillar plague sweeps across Spain
Photo: Rabiem22 / Flickr

Danger: Early toxic caterpillar plague sweeps across Spain
19 hours ago

Spain is braced for a plague of hairy caterpillars which can be harmful to small children and fatal to dogs.

The Local list
Seven essential tips you need to know to date Spanish men
Photo: Photo: TechNopal/Flickr

Seven essential tips you need to know to date Spanish men
20 hours ago

As Valentine's Day fast approaches, The Local takes a look at the top tips for dating Spanish men.

Father and son seriously gored during bull run carnival
Photo: AFP

Father and son seriously gored during bull run carnival
1 day ago

The pair were spectators at Ciudad Rodrigo's carnival celebrations when bulls charged through protective fencing and gored them both.

Gallery
Wacky and whimsical: Spain goes carnival crazy
Photo: Cesar Manso/AFP.

Wacky and whimsical: Spain goes carnival crazy
1 day ago

Spain's wacky and whimsical traditions were on display across the nation as the carnival season kicked into full gear at the weekend.

He scrubs up well! Firebrand dons tuxedo for film awards
Photo: AFP

He scrubs up well! Firebrand dons tuxedo for film awards
1 day ago

The famously casually-dressed leader of Podemos was almost unrecognizable at the Goya awards on Saturday night.

Giant nine-metre waves set to batter Spain's northern coast
Stock photo of a storm in Galicia. Photo: AFP

Giant nine-metre waves set to batter Spain's northern coast
1 day ago

Spain's northern coast put on red alert as storms hit.

Sponsored Article
US taxes and FATCA: 'The time for hiding is over'
National
UK rallies expats in Spain ahead of referendum on Brexit
National
Secret to long life? Spaniard lived to 107 on 'red wine diet'
National
Ten Spanish corruption scandals that will take your breath away
National
Watch: Gravity-defying stunts at Spain's Wind Tunnel Games
National
10 English words you'd never guess were really Spanish
National
Madrid to rename Francoist streets after terrorism victims
National
Olé? Bullfighter takes five-month-old baby into the ring
National
Watch: Moment south Spain struck by 6.3 magnitude quake
Travel
9 charming Spanish towns to visit before the tourists come
National
Heartbroken parents publish suicide note from bullied son
National
Spain launches new reality TV show: 'I want to be a nun'
National
Eleven very good reasons to be happy you live in Spain
National
Loyal dog waits two months at hospital door for dead owner
Younger, scruffier, and with a babe in arms: This is Spain's new elite
National
Ten adrenaline-fuelled adventures for thrill-seekers in Spain
National
Ten things you need to know about the new president of Catalonia
National
Spain's Princess Cristina: From fairy tale life to national 'baddie'
Politics
Seven reasons why forming a new government is mission impossible
National
Eight essential ways to tackle the winter months like a true Spaniard
National
How to be a mermaid: Swimming academy makes a splash in Spain
Lifestyle
10 resolutions to make the most of life in Spain in 2016
National
Spain’s public holidays in 2016: Official list
2,937
jobs available