The Quest for the Celtic Key

celtickeyDr Karen Ralls
Department of Celtic,
Univ. of Edinburgh, UK


Mr Ian Robertson
Local Scottish Historian

US paperback (2004)
UK Paperback (2003)




Who were the Picts? The Druids? The Culdees and Celtic saints?
key-bull  What are Scotland’s traditions about King Arthur, Merlin & the Holy Grail?
key-bull  What is the history of Scotland’s Stone of Destiny ?
key-bull Why does Rosslyn Chapel attract so many prominent Freemasons, Knights templar and Rosicrucians…and why was its famed ‘Apprentice’ carving altered?
key-bull  What was the Blue Blanket? And how did it rouse the Guilds to free the King?


Reviews and recommendations

“…This book takes us on a fascinating journey through the mystery and magic of Scotland’s past. Along the way, the authors describe the people, places and traditions associated with Scotland’s legends and history….the Declaration of Arbroath, the Stone of Destiny, the ‘missing library’ of Iona, Arthurian traditions, the Holy Grail, the Picts, the Druids..Celtic saints…Robert the Bruce…Rosslyn Chapel…the Knights Templar, and much more…”
The Watkins Review, London, Autumn/Winter 2002, Issue No. 4

“Anyone who likes to turn over questions and then take the opportunity to visit the many charismatic places mentioned will be entertained by this book. Without resorting to colourful conjecture and wild surmising, it nevertheless adds its own voice to the enduring, and probably unsolvable, mysteries of Scotland’s Celtic heritage.”
Barbara Fraser, Historic Scotland magazine, Winter 2002/03
(the official magazine of the government department responsible for Scotland’s built heritage)

“…in The Quest for the Celtic Key….their sources are well documented and the end of each chapter and the result is an enthralling and informative journey through time which deserves a place on every Scottish bookshelf. Most importantly, the result of bringing together our history, folklore and legends, gives us, I believe, a unique and valuable insight into the nation we are today”
Margaret Graeme, Scots magazine, February 2003, Vol. 158, No. 2

key“Karen Ralls is endowed with that rare jewel of academia; a sharp and inquisitive mind blessed with a refreshing openness. Her stimulating work has the gift of making the academic accessible, and brings a clear and sound basis to the experiential….from ‘Idylls of the King’ to ‘Indiana Jones’, the search for the Holy Grail will never be the same again! This is a ‘must read’ book for all who sense the mystery of our distant past….”
Robert Bauval, bestselling author of ‘The Secret Chamber’; ‘Keeper of Genesis’, etc.

“What they have done is produce a well laid-out, concise and fascinating book which … offers the uninitiated in Scottish history a fresh and clearly laid out path to the past. Commendably, the book is based on information gathered from a wide range of expert sources, both old and new… Never presuming and always questioning their own findings, the two writers have managed to distance their own thoughts and views from the text. The book brings together…myths, folklore and legends from the earliest Scottish history through to the 14th c. and beyond… Complete with illustrations and photographs, The Quest for the Celtic Key is a spellbinding step into the… world of ancient Caledonia and the people who laid the foundations of the country known as Scotland today…”
West Lothian Courier, 27 June 2002
(newspaper based near Edinburgh, Scotland)

“The reader who travels with Karen Ralls and Ian Robertson…will find a travelogue which enriches the mythologies and histories so beautifully told, with many newly wrought connections to places, buildings, stones and other remains which may still be viewed in the landscape and historic monuments of modern Scotland.
Rev. Dr. Michael Northcott, Reader, New College, Faculty of Divinity, University of Edinburgh

“…a refreshing look at Scotland’s past…From the Declaration of Arbroath to the Druids, leading on to stone circles, early Celtic saints and the Culdees, we are presented with such a wealth of information without being overwhelmed. Arthur, the Holy Grail and Masonic and guild traditions….well worth reading.”
(Dalriada magazine, journal of Celtic culture, heritage and traditions, Isle of Arran, 2002) “

….[brings] together many of the disjointed history, folklore and legends of the past…explores the development and impact of freemasonry in Scotland…goes beyond the official documents and records to bring you some of the sidelined aspects of Scottish and Celtic history.”
(The Ashlar, Scotland, 2003)


History is a Quest, or journey, through time. Today, as never before, there is tremendous growing interest in the history of western philosophical and spiritual traditions. Since the beginning of devolution and the new Scottish Parliament, interest in Scotland is also growing tremendously.

In this ground-breaking book, medieval religious historian and Celtic scholar Dr Karen Ralls (author of the bestselling The Templars and the Grail) and local Scottish historian Ian Robertson describe the people, places and traditions associated with Scotland’s past.

The authors explore the history of the origin-myth of the Scots, the Declaration of Arbroath, the Stone of Destiny, the ‘missing library’ of Iona, the Picts, the Druids, stone circles and megalithic sites, the Celtic saints, the Culdees, the Celtic church, the ‘Word’, Scottish Arthurian traditions, the Holy Grail, the Guild traditions of medieval Edinburgh, Robert the Bruce, the battle of Bannockburn, Royal Order of Scotland, William Wallace, Rosslyn Chapel, the Knights Templar, the Blue Blanket, and much more.

In addition to examining historical sources from library, government, and museum archives, or academic and rare antiquarian books, the authors also bring to light some of the lesser known, sidelined, or previously unacknowledged aspects of history from credible sources that for one reason or another, may not have made it into the history books.

The result is a riveting read of historical detective work and a ‘first’ of its kind… seen by some as a real Scottish tour de force.



  • Chapter 1 In the Beginning… the story of Scotland and its origins
  • Chapter 2 The Druids: their history and legacy
  • Chapter 3 Stone Circles, Megaliths, and early sacred sites
  • Chapter 4 Celtic Saints of Scotland
  • Chapter 5 The Culdees: Servants and Companions of God
  • Chapter 6 King Arthur, Merlin, and Guinevere: Scottish traditions
  • Chapter 7 The Holy Grail
  • Chapter 8 Masonic and medieval Guild Traditions
  • Chapter 9 Rosslyn Chapel: An archetypal ‘King Solomon’s Temple’ near Edinburgh?
  • Appendix Map of territories of the Celtic saints
  • Photographs
  • Bibliography
  • ListIndex
Publisher: Luath Press, Edinburgh, Scotland
Hardback, 403 pages:
June 2002 (UK hardback) – ISBN 0 9464 8773 1
June 2002 (US hardback) – ISBN 0 9464 8773 1
Available in UK June 2003 – ISBN 1 84282 031 1
‘Now available in the USA!’ (Dec. 2003) under paperback

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