Werewolves, Magical Hounds, and Dog-Headed Men in Celtic Literature: A Typological Study of Shape-Shifting

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Awarded the D. Simon Evans Prize in Medieval Studies
This book is a typological study of canids and canid imagery in Medieval Celtic cultures. It explores texts ranging from early Irish legal tracts and heroic narrative to exempla from Welsh, Breton, and later Scottish sources.


“Phillip Bernhardt-House has provided an engaging and extremely useful survey of the vast range of material related to canids—dogs, wolves, werewolves, even dog-headed humans—in medieval Celtic traditions.... this work increases our understanding of the broad cultural significance of canids in these diverse Celtic traditions. At the same time, it encourages further study of animal imagery as having the potential to deepen our understanding of how these branches of Celtic culture speak of “self” and “other” through animal characterization, whether direct or metaphorical, realistic or rooted in classical and late classical learned imagination.”
-Prof. Elizabeth A. Gray, Harvard University

From the Foreword-
“striking…a remarkable study… a comprehensive investigation of lycanthropy, cynanthropy, and other canid therioanthropies”
-Prof. John Carey, University College Cork/National University of Ireland

"This book is a gold mine of lore on dog, wolf and werewolf legends in the Celtic sphere. ... this book is well written, carefully produced, and will be extremely valuable to Celticists." -Prof. John Block Friedman, University of Illinois at Urbana

Table of Contents

John Carey


Chapter One
Introduction: The Canid Question
Celtic Canids: The Status Quaestionis
Outline and Methodology

Chapter Two
Celtic Canids: Ordinary, Renowned, and Monstrous
Canids: Ordinary
Canids: Noteworthy
Canids: Monstrous

Chapter Three
Canids in Serial Shapeshifting
Serial Shapeshifting in Wales
Serial Shapeshifting in Ireland
Late Instances of Serial Shapeshifting in Scotland and Brittany

Chapter Four
Celtic Lycanthropy, Cynanthropy, and Other Canid Therioanthropies
Metaphorical Werewolves
Constitutional Werewolves
“The Werewolf’s Tale”
Transformation by Spell or Curse
The “Threat” of Werewolves

Chapter Five
Cynocephali, Cynocephaloids, and Other Mutts

Cynocephali: An Introduction
“Dog’s Heads”

Chapter Six

Appendix One:
Canid Terms and Elements in Personal Names

Appendix Two:
Celtic Canids in Archaeology, Classical Sources and Iconography

Appendix Three:
Celtic Canids in Legal Sources

Appendix Four:
The Hounds of the Fíanna

Appendix Five:
Edition of “Conceand ingi Cathbaidh caim” with Provisional Translation


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