The initial idea of a recurrent Celtic Conference in Classics, which would rotate between countries and regions within Britain, France and Ireland, was conceived in 1998, in Wales. The intention, then as now, was to combine the virtues of the small, precisely-focused conference of specialists, perhaps aiming to generate a collective volume, with the openness of a grand occasion for classicists and ancient historians with widely-varying specialisms. Separate panels were to run in parallel, with members encouraged to migrate freely between them. Venues are chosen for their agreeable settings. Evenings are left free for informal contacts, which we believe are important for creating the mutual trust, and liking, which underpin enduring collaboration between scholars from widely-separated places.
The choice of panel-subjects and of speakers is made partly by the host campus, partly by volunteer specialists from countries abroad: in short from orbis as well as urbes. In recent years, scholars from outside the home countries have provided increasing initiative in the design, chairing and recruitment of panels, and this is warmly welcomed by the organisers.
Celtic Conferences in Classics to date have been held at the following universities:
2000 Maynooth (Ireland)
2002 Glasgow (Scotland)
2004 Rennes II (France)
2006 Lampeter (Wales)
2008 Cork (Ireland)
2010 Edinburgh (Scotland)
2012 Bordeaux III (France)
2014 Edinburgh (Scotland)
2016 University College Dublin (Ireland)
2017 Université de Montréal and McGill University (Québec, Canada)
2018 St Andrews (Scotland)
2019 Coimbra (Portugal)
2022 Lyon (France)
Average numbers at the Conference were of some 70-80 at each of the first two events, rose to 100 in 2008, to 150 by 2012 and to some 250 in 2014. The `Celtique' is thus one of the largest conferences of classicists in northern Europe, and is perhaps the only such event to be structured largely around the aim of collective publication.
Numerous edited volumes have been published, over this period, of papers arising from the CCC, mostly in English but some in French. French and English have been from the start the official languages of the Conference.
The first seven conferences were organised, or co-organised, by the founder of the CCC, Anton Powell, in two instances (at Glasgow and Edinburgh) in co-operation with Douglas Cairns. The 2014 conference at Edinburgh was organised principally by Cairns, in co-operation with Powell. The French organisers at Rennes (2004) and Bordeaux (2012) were, respectively, Pierre Brulé and Jean Yvonneau. Elsa Bouchard and Bill Gladhill were the organisers in Montréal (2017), Sian Lewis was organiser at St Andrews (2018) and at Coimbra the organisers were Delfim Leão and Carmen Soares.
Participation in the Celtic Conference, whether as panel-organisers, speakers or simply as interested specialists, is open to those from any country.