• Spain's news in English
 
Ancient graffiti proves Spain's Irish links
The ruins of numerous ancient Celtic settlements known as castros are still present in Galicia today. Photo: Castro de Baroña by Feans/Flickr

Ancient graffiti proves Spain's Irish links

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.

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 stories about Spain, join us on Facebook and Twitter

Alex Dunham (alex.dunham@thelocal.com)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Football hooliganism
Soldier and cop held over Spain football brawl
A man looks at a message reading "Here Francisco J. Romero was murdered. No forgetting no forgiving" on December 1st. Photo: Pierre-Phillipe Marcou/AFP

Soldier and cop held over Spain football brawl

A soldier and a policeman are among 41 people arrested in Spain over a football riot last month in which a Deportivo La Coruña fan died after being thrown into a river, officials said on Wednesday. READ  

Spain hails news stage in US–Cuba relations
People outside the Little Havana restaurant of Versailles in Miami after news of US President Barack Obama's announcement of a change of United States–Cuba policy on Wednesday. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty

Spain hails news stage in US–Cuba relations

Spain's foreign minister on Wednesday hailed the restoration of diplomatic relations between the US and Cuba, saying it opened "a new stage" in ties between the two nations. READ  

Madrid: police seize 220,000 dangerous toys
The toys seized in a joint operation between the national police and Madrid’s local police posed risks including asphyxiation and poisoning. Photo: Policía Nacional

Madrid: police seize 220,000 dangerous toys

Over 220,000 toys have been seized from toy-sellers in Madrid in an operation named Black Toy, with police saying they posed a serious risk to child safety. READ  

'If my husband died for Isis I would accept it'
A general view of El Principe district in Ceuta, home to 87,000 people, 99 percent of whom are Muslim. Photo: Jorge Guerrero/AFP

'If my husband died for Isis I would accept it'

Fears are growing over increased radicalization of women in Spain's north African enclave of Ceuta with local leaders saying a lack of opportunities is exacerbating the problem. READ  

Royal affairs
Princess mocked over bank account mix-up
The error occurred after Princess Cristina mixed up the order of two numbers in a bank account number. Photo: Nicholas Kamm/AFP

Princess mocked over bank account mix-up

Spain's Princess Cristina has paid a civil bond totalling €587,000 ($730,000) owed in a fraud case against her into the wrong bank account, prompting Spaniards to take to Twitter to lampoon the scandal-hit royal. READ  

Rafa Nadal to strip for Tommy Hilfiger ads
In 2011, Rafa Nadal also stripped down in the name of fashion, appearing in campaigns for Emporio Armani Underwear and Armani Jeans. Screen grab: Armani/YouTube

Rafa Nadal to strip for Tommy Hilfiger ads

Spanish tennis star Rafael Nadal has been named the new face of US fashion designer Tommy Hilfiger, a role which will see him stripping for an underwear advertising campaign. READ  

The Local List
Top ten Christmas gifts to take home from Spain

Top ten Christmas gifts to take home from Spain

Still stressing out about what to take home to your family and friends for Christmas this year? Have no fear: the Local has rounded up a dozen of the very best gift ideas from Spain. READ  

Former Catalan ex-leader named in fraud probe
An investigating judge in Barcelona suspects Jordi Pujol of possible tax fraud and money laundering. Photo: AFP

Former Catalan ex-leader named in fraud probe

A judge on Tuesday summoned a powerful political figure in Spain's Catalonia region, Jordi Pujol, as a fraud suspect at a politically sensitive time for the region with breakaway aspirations. READ  

Nativity donkey squashed by fat fan

Nativity donkey squashed by fat fan

Updated: A man described as obese has been arrested after he gatecrashed a live nativity scene in southern Spain and jumped onto the back of young donkey. The animal died two days later. READ  

Environment
Greenpeace fined €25k over nuclear protest
Greenpeace activists outside court during their trial over a demonstration at the Cofrentes nuclear plant, in Valencia on December 4th. Photo: José Jordan/AFP

Greenpeace fined €25k over nuclear protest

A Spanish court on Tuesday fined Greenpeace and 16 of its activists €20,000 ($25,000) for damage caused during a protest at a nuclear plant but acquitted them of other, more serious charges. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Society
Lifting the lid on Spain's mysterious Christmas lottery
National
Why has The Local got a new logo?
What's On
Top 12 things to do in Spain over Christmas
Politics
Spain passes tough new 'anti-protest' law
Business & Money
Google News quits Spain in paid content row
What's On
How to party like a Spaniard: the ultimate guide
Society
Madrid's shocking slum shames Spanish capital
National
Policeman mauled by lions at Barcelona zoo
Business & Money
Uber eyes appeal against Spain ban
Travel
Google offers virtual views of Spain's wonders
Sponsored Article
Top ten gifts for an expat Christmas
Education
Three Spanish business schools makes Europe's top 10
Health
Spain officially free of Ebola: World Health Organization
Travel
Ten Spanish museums you need to know about
National
Can you pass the Spanish citizenship test?
Sponsored Article
Win a €250 voucher for your Christmas list
National
Malaga: mini-tornado causes damage on coast
National
Google Maps 'undeletes' famous Cordoba mosque
National
Riot cops star in Down Syndrome calendar
What's On
What's on in Spain: December 2014
Sponsored Article
Travel & live like a local with Home Exchange
National
'Plane laser' finds Roman gold mines in Spain
National
From the Armada to Orwell: ten great quotes about Spain
National
34 percent of Spain's workers on €645 minimum wage
Sponsored Article
Shop Christmas gifts at Debenhams international store
Society
The Duchess of Alba: eight amazing facts
International
'World's longest railway' links Madrid and China
What's On
What's on in Spain: November 2014
International
MPs call on Spain to recognize Palestine
International
VIDEO: Greenpeace activist injured in Canary Islands oil clash
Education
Spaniards are speaking better English than ever: study
Politics
The Dummies' Guide to Spain's new Podemos Party
National
Ten Spanish dishes to try before you die
Property
Spain's golden visa scheme struggles to take off
National
80 percent of voters say 'yes' to independent Catalonia
Society
Ten things you should never say to a Spaniard
National
Boardgame cashes in on Spain's corruption crisis
Society
Real's Ronaldo world's second richest athlete
National
Priests slam Spain's jacuzzi-loving 'archbishop of bling'
National
Ten shocking corruption cases hurting Spain
National
Seville: Erasmus student dies in selfie fall
Travel
Top ten: brilliant Barcelona restaurants
Society
Dad told to pay child support to 29-year-old daughter
Politics
'We're sorry': Spanish PM apologizes over corruption scandals
Tech
Meet Mr Biceps: Spanish policeman heats up Instagram
National
37 arrested as massive anti-corruption raids rattle Spain
National
Spain's public holidays in 2015: Official list
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

597
jobs available
The Local Spain is hiring!
The Local is seeking a new editor for our site in Spain to join our growing team of internationally-minded, driven, ambitious and clued-up journalists.
Details and how to apply