Ancient Celts

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The Celts, an ancient Indo-European people, reached the apogee of their influence and territorial expansion during the 4th century bc , extending across the length of Europe from Britain to Asia Minor. In Britain and Ireland this decline moved more slowly, but traditional culture was gradually eroded through the pressures of political subjugation; today the Celtic languages are spoken only on the western periphery of Europe, in restricted areas of Ireland, Scotland, Wales , and Brittany in this last instance largely as a result of immigration from Britain from the 4th to the 7th century ad.

It is not surprising, therefore, that the unsettled and uneven history of the Celts has affected the documentation of their culture and religion.

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Two main types of sources provide information on Celtic religion: the sculptural monuments associated with the Celts of continental Europe and of Roman Britain, and the insular Celtic literatures that have survived in writing from medieval times. Both pose problems of interpretation. Most of the monuments, and their accompanying inscriptions, belong to the Roman period and reflect a considerable degree of syncretism between Celtic and Roman gods; even where figures and motifs appear to derive from pre-Roman tradition, they are difficult to interpret in the absence of a preserved literature on mythology.


Perhaps not coincidentally, ancient sources also say that the Celts detested being overweight and had penalties against this. While the Celts would eventually be Christianized along with much of the Roman Empire in time the Romans would conquer many of their lands ancient sources provide hints at the religious beliefs of the Celts. A poem by Lucan A.

Ancient Celts vs. Romans - Some Things to Consider

It, along with other sources, suggests that human sacrifice was practiced. The Celts were interested in Druidism. Robert Wisniewski of the University of Warsaw notes in an article published in the journal Palemedes that in A. F Romer. Remarkably a number of scholars now believe that the ancient Celts did not live in Britain but were confined to the European continent, with settlements located as far east as Turkey.

Celts in Ptolemaic Egypt

The idea is a modern one; the ancient islanders never described themselves as Celts, a name reserved for some continental neighbours. Brightly colored cloaks, golden torcs and bronze armlets adorned their bodies to express their wealth and high rank. Celtic women wore makeup and styled their hair in plaits. I think what I like about the Celts is they had a more balanced society.

Though they were a warrior society, their gods and goddesses were equal and that was not the case in other religions. There is not a lot of evidence pointing to women warriors among the Celts, but Queen Boudica led an army against the Romans around AD Celtic women were not to be messed with. Celtic warriors: Celtic warriors have been described as resembling the Roman god, Pan, for the way they lime their hair and make it stand up and pull it back to the back of their neck.

This was probably a battle tactic to make themselves look frightening to the enemy.

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They also beat their swords and spears against their leather shields, creating an awful sound meant to scare the enemy. In earlier times, they even fought naked.

Fierce and proud, warriors liked to boast about their feats of great valor on the battlefield. Celtic men: Celtic men wore their hair long and shaggy and the nobles had long mustaches. They painted themselves with blue paint called woad. Some debate as to whether the Picts were Celtic, but I am sure they inter-married.

The Ancient Celts by Barry W. Cunliffe

I like to compare them to modern day rockers or metal heads. They wore colorful dyed tunics and trousers or bracae. Their cloaks were striped and held together with a brooch.

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  5. They took great care in their appearance to impress each other and to alarm their enemies. The men wore just as much jewelry as the women to show off their wealth. Druids: According to Caesar, the Druids were a highly organized intertribal brotherhood, which met annually in the territory of the Carnutes in Gaul to confer and elect a Chief Druid.

    Celtic religion

    It is not known whether each tribe had its own specific group of Druids, but later Irish tales record that kings were served by a personal Druid. Druids believed in the reincarnation of the soul and keeping a balance in the universe. To do this, sometimes it was necessary to sacrifice animals and even humans. When they had to make a human sacrifice, the victims usually warriors of an enemy tribe , were burned to death in a wicker basket that was hung from an oak tree.

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    The victims had to be free of fear to appease the Creator, so they were drugged and usually died of smoke inhalation. The Picts in northern Scotland were known to drown their victims. When the victims died, the Druids would chant, praising them for their courage.