Fragments of the rich and complex mythology of the ancient Celts of pre-Roman Europe were preserved in the monasteries of early Christian Ireland and in stories first written down in medieval Wales. The exploits of Cúlchulainn and Fionn mac Cumhaill and of Deirdre and Rhiannon have their roots in the Iron Age and have come down to us from the tales of Celtic bards and storytellers.The myths relate epic stories of heroic ancestors, when the divine and mortal realms were intimately bound up with each other and gods and goddesses inhabited the natural world. The stories are rich with religious symbolism and give an idea of how the Celts perceived the world in which they lived. They also tell of the lives of the people themselves; of kings and queens, husbands and wives, warriors and farmers.Along the Atlantic coast of Western Europe aspects of the oral culture of the Celts persisted against the tide of history and into the modern age. The languages and traditions of Ireland, Scotland, Wales, the Isle of Man, Cornwall and Brittany, together with the surviving myths, provide glimpses back into the Celtic world and are a continuing connection to a culture otherwise known through archaeology and the accounts of classical authors.Recent studies into the genetic make-up of the people of Britain and Ireland indicate a much closer relationship between the peoples of the British Isles, including the English, than had previously been thought, going back further than the Iron Age. This suggests that Celtic mythology could have a resonance with the original Mesolithic inhabitants of the islands and, by extension, with the people who live throughout the archipelago today.