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Whether this was due to contacts with Celtic immigrants during the Iron Age, or in earlier periods of prehistory is not known. The earliest Neolithic settlers in Ireland appear to have originated from Scotland, so these too might have been people of a more ancient quasi-Celtic culture. Returning to the wheel of history, if the period BCE had seen the extension of Celtic power into almost every corner of Europe, the following two centuries witnessed a rapid decline of Celtic influence throughout the same area.

In essence, Celts living east of the Rhine were forced to move west of the river by marauding German tribes like Cimbri and Teutoni. Irish Celts: Survival and Renaissance. During roughly four centuries of Pax Romana , Celtic craftwork on the Continent managed to combine with Roman art to form a Celtic-Roman art style.


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But overall, Celtic culture ceased to exist in an independent form except in the British Isles, particularly Ireland, while Celtic languages virtually disappeared on the Continent by about CE. Fortunately for European civilization, and for early Christian art , the insular Celtic culture of Ireland remained largely intact. So, when the Roman Empire finally collapsed in the fifth century CE, triggering the anarchy and cultural stagnation of the Dark Ages c.

This came about when the country was effectively chosen by the Papal authority in Rome to be its principal outpost of Western Christianity while the pagan tribes from the East were pillaging the rest of continental Europe. In due course, thanks to the pioneering work of St Patrick and his followers, pagan gaelic Ireland transformed itself into the leading centre of Christian learning, and developed a unique monastic irish art which kept alive the traditions of classical scholarship until Europe recovered under King Charlemagne.

From roughly to CE, Celtic culture fused with Christian Biblical theology to produce a golden age of illuminated gospel manuscripts. The most renowned texts included the Cathach of St. Columba early 7th century , the Book of Durrow c.

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Other types of medieval art practised in Ireland were monumental stonework, Celtic metalwork and high cross sculpture. It was during this period of the early Christian era also known as Hiberno-Saxon Insular art that Ireland earned its nickname "land of saints and scholars", an achievement based in part upon the cultural traditions of its Celtic heritage. Celtic Language: History and Influence. Although not as advanced in either pictographic or written languages as the regions around the Mediterranean basin and the Middle East, Neolithic Europe did develop a number of its own languages, such as Basque, Etruscan, Finnish and Hungarian.

However, from BCE onwards, the wide-ranging Celts introduced their Indo-European language to a wide variety of peoples throughout the continent. As a result, the Celtic tongue was understood if not adopted as a common language of convenience: not unlike the English language is today. This alone was an important contribution to European culture of the day. There were two basic forms of the Celtic language: one version now known as Q-Celtic, Goidelic, or Irish Gaelic , possibly originating in Neolithic times along the Atlantic regions of Western Europe, spoken in Ireland and the Isle of Man; and another version known as P-Celtic, Brythonic or "Gaulish" , which was spoken in Gaul, England and Scotland until Roman times.

As it was however, the Celtic tongue continued in general use for less than a millenium, and disappeared for two reasons. First, Celtic culture was oral rather than written. The Celts had no great tradition of a written language: indeed most were illiterate until the advent of Christianity with its introduction of written latin. Their use of the Celtic Ogham alphabet - comprising some twenty letters in shapes designed for easy carving on wood or stone - was confined solely to formal inscriptions on tombstones etc.


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This reliance by the Celts on the spoken rather than the written word, proved fatal when Latin was introduced into Europe by Roman governors and administrators, and hastened the process of Romanisation. Second, Romanisation itself installed Latin as the new lingua franca, not least through Roman control of education, civil administration and trade. By the time Rome collapsed, the Celtic language had been extinguished as a living force on the European mainland, and survived only in Ireland and the Isle of Man, or among isolated Celts in Brittany, Scotland, Wales and Cornwall.

In addition to a "warrior aristocracy", which functioned as their basic leadership cadre, Celtic tribes also had an intellectual elite of Druids, not unlike today's Orthodox Jews in Israel, or the Departments of Ideology under the old Communist systems of Eastern Europe. Celtic society was not theocratic, like today's Islamic states - nor was it even semi-theocratic, like Egypt - but it had a huge respect for learning eg.

Who Were Celts

All these matters were supervised and interpreted by the members of the Druidic caste. Moreover, as we have seen, there were no written sources, which meant that everything needed to be learned by rote, requiring even greater mental discipline. Much has been written about the sacrificial rites of these druids, and their importance to Celtic society, but it's possible that their enduring cultural contribution did not occur until Ireland converted to Christianity.

For example, the monastic tradition of learning and scholarship, based on a severe regime of abstemious self-discipline and intellectual dedication, was the foundation for the great renaissance of Celtic art c. Would this monastic regime have been embraced by the newly converted Celts as enthusiastically and successfully as it was, without the earlier tradition of Druidic learning? Another interesting parallel between the druids and the later Christian era in Ireland concerns their role as advisors.

The Druidic system furnished tribal chieftains with advice on religion, law, finance and diplomacy; not unlike the Irish Christian monastic system provided advisors to royal courts across Europe from to CE. Celtic Religion: Its Cultural Impact. Historians have no clear picture of the unique features of the Celts' religious behaviour, nor its contribution to European habits of worship. Like many agricultural peoples including the Romans they worshipped gods and spirits associated with natural phenomena sun, moon, thunder, lightning and the annual cycle of nature, and these habits appear to have varied according to region: suggesting that Celts absorbed a good deal of local religious tradition.

Moreover, judging by the astronomical alignment of megalithic structures such as Stonehenge, Newgrange et al, it seems that even the druids had little to teach earlier Neolithic Man about megalithic art or the cultural significance of religious or ceremonial structures. At any rate, there are no known religious buildings of Celtic antiquity to compare with Greek shrines or Roman temples, and as a consequence, no great tradition of religious art in the form of mural painting, figurative sculpture or decoration mosaics.

In the absence of any noteworthy architecture during the Celtic era, one can readily comprehend the awe inspired by the magnificent Romanesqe and Gothic cathedrals with their sculptures, stained glass windows and other decorative artworks, which emerged out of the Dark Ages CE. For more, see: History and Styles of Architecture. Two of the few religiously-inspired Celtic practices known in Ireland, were the offerings made to the gods in the form of weapons or other metalwork buried in the ground; and decorated pagan stone sculptures such as the Turoe Stone Galway , Castlestrange Stone Co Roscommon , Killycluggin Stone Co Cavan , Mullaghmast Stone Co Kildare and Derrykeighan Stone Co Antrim.

The Celts - BBC Series Ep 1 - " In the Beginning"

Although Celts had no need for temples, they did follow the custom of burying their chieftains and other leaders, complete with numerous weapons, ornaments, tools, drinking horns, pitchers, food bowls and other artifacts to assist them in the after-life. Indeed much of our knowledge about Celtic culture and art eg. The Celts had a formidable reputation as fighters, being noted for their use of body painting and face painting , as well as their excellent iron-made weaponry. In addition, their warrior caste took tremendous pride in their appearance in battle, which led to considerable expertise in Celtic metalwork - in the form of elaborately embellished swords, shields, helmets and trumpets.

Personal ornaments of special recognition, not unlike modern military medals, were also crafted from gold, silver, bronze, electrum and other materials. This demand for high quality military and personal decorative metalwork, allied to the Celts general skills in blacksmithery in the making of agricultural and equestrian items and goldsmithing , not only resulted in Celtic Iron Age masterpieces like the Broighter Collar , the Petrie Crown and the Bronze trumpet from Loughnashade, it also laid the foundations for the great Christian metalwork of Ireland, as exemplified by the Ardagh Chalice , the Derrynaflan Chalice , the Moylough Belt Shrine , the Tully Lough Cross and the fabulous Cross of Cong as well as the secular Tara Brooch.

Questions and Answers About Celtic Culture.

Ancient Celtic genomes reveal ancestral roots of modern Irish people | Daily Mail Online

Celts only appeared in Europe from BCE onwards. The truth is, a good part of Celtic art and design notably spirals, lozenge and other abstract art was absorbed from this earlier Irish heritage. It appeared in Europe from BCE. Hallstatt styles emerged about BCE, followed some two and half centuries later by the La Tene style.

With some exceptions, the cultural traditions and languages of European Celts declined to almost nothing under the Roman Empire. Insular Celtic culture survived longer in Britain - particularly the remote parts of Wales, Cornwall and Scotland, although we still don't know the essential relationship or difference between Pictish and Celtic culture.

In Ireland, one might say that Celtic culture has never been extinguished, although from Norman occupation times c. In the 19th century, the discovery of ancient artifacts like the Petrie Crown, the Ardagh Chalice and the Tara Brooch, combined with a growing sense of national cultural identity, led to a Celtic Revival movement , led by William Butler Yeats, Lady Gregory, and "AE" Russell , which drew on Celtic literature, art and traditions.

Today, one might say that this increased awareness of Celtic culture has become an integral part of Ireland's national identity - witness the expression "The Celtic Tiger". The introduction of the iron plough and iron tools including weapons , was a major contribution to European development. So too was Celtic Metalwork, involving both Hallstatt and La Tene designs which has rarely been exceeded in design or execution.

Also, in a wider sense, Celtic cultural traditions helped to keep Iron Age Europe in touch with developments occurring in other parts of the known world, notably the Mediterranean basin, and thus contributed to the general cultural progress of the era. But in Ireland, the highpoint of Irish Celtic culture arose during the early Christian period, when the rest of Europe was plunged into the Dark Ages.

Fighting in the buff?

When it was reconstructed, it was finally revealed to be a calendar which covered 5 years divided into 12 months per year with an extra month once every third year which functioned in the same way as a leap year. The calendar was extremely complex, and even accounted for the different times the sun and moon took to circle the earth which meant it kept time accurately, unlike the Julian calendar which sometimes resulted in the Romans celebrating the start of Spring in August. The calendar was probably created and used by druids and functioned partly to help with the timing of festivals and rituals.

The Celts were known for their prowess in battle and in particular for their skills on horseback. They had a special kind of sword called a Spatha, worshipped a horse goddess called Epona and were even recruited into the cavalry of the Roman armies after their regions had been conquered. They would also use horse drawn carriages in battle and were very skilled in this technique.

They were known to decorate their horses and chariots with the heads of their enemies to show how many people they had killed in battle and so intimidate the enemy. Celtic Horsemen. There were hundreds of gods and goddesses in the Celtic pantheon, and some of them were so niche that only a single tribe or even family worshipped them.

The druids, who led religious ceremonies, were in charge of rituals which included sacrifice. These ceremonies would usually take place at shrines in natural locations such as hilltops and streams, but there were some secret ceremonies which would be conducted in hidden sacred groves. The druids were very important in Celtic society as they served as judges, teachers, and lore-keepers. Unlike many ancient civilizations, there are many accounts of women who were warriors in the Celtic society.

One such female warrior is Boudicca who infamously fought to prevent the Romans from invading her territory. When she was eventually defeated, she committed suicide by drinking poison rather than submitting to the Romans. There are many other contemporary accounts of women participating in and even leading battles. The Romans found the idea of female warriors particularly shocking, and the writers Posidonius and Strabo both described an island of Celtic women where men could not venture for fear of death.

Celtic woman warrior woman ready to attack. Many of the Roman accounts of the Celts are propaganda designed to provoke an image of wild savages, both to excuse their failures against a people who fought like wild animals and to make their victories over them even more glorious. But despite this propaganda and fearmongering there are some elements of truth — the Celts were fearsome in battle, and the practice of headhunting in particular was something which must have helped to cultivate the image of a barbaric people who acted like wild animals. It should be remembered in the case of the Celts that history is written by the victors.

It was easy for the Romans to erase the accomplishments of this complex society, particularly when they themselves had been trying to avoid the headhunters! Celtic Life. Top Ten Facts About the Celts.

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Date Unknown. The Celts: Origins, Myths and Inventions. Date unknown. Celtic Culture: a historical encyclopedia. Santa Barbara.


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The Elements of the Celtic Tradition. Element Books ltd. Sarah P Young is undertaking her masters in archaeology, specializing in early human behavior and in particular evidence of interaction between humans and Neanderthals. She hopes to continue her studies further and complete a doctorate.

And there are still 6 Celtic Nations some of which not recognised as nations, those not being nations conveniently ignored by historians when any mention of Celts arises. Thanks for that info, I'll look it up. Yeah the Asiatic, Siberian, ainu, etc didn't seem to bring much or any metalwork knowledge, the most anyone did was a little copper work in the pnw and gold in central America.

I'm interested in the oldest Celtic history such as mummies of urumchi, Scythians, mining culture found in the Alps, the origin of the Celts in the urasian steppe, the years they spent domesticating the horse and learning to use the wheel, etc. The clothing, burial practices and iron smelters attributed to that culture is almost identical to those found in Europe.

Ancient Origins has been quoted by:. By bringing together top experts and authors, this archaeology website explores lost civilizations, examines sacred writings, tours ancient places, investigates ancient discoveries and questions mysterious happenings. Our open community is dedicated to digging into the origins of our species on planet earth, and question wherever the discoveries might take us. We seek to retell the story of our beginnings. Skip to main content. References Celtic Life. Login or Register in order to comment. Vincent Hammersley wrote on 8 March, - Permalink. Another cracking read from Sarah.

Mkj wrote on 19 March, - Permalink. Gary Moran wrote on 7 March, - Permalink. IJ wrote on 7 March, - Permalink. L21 subclade of R1b and moderator Simplify your systems. Related Articles on Ancient-Origins. We British are used to women commanders in war; I am descended from mighty men! But I am not fighting for my kingdom and wealth now. I am fighting as an ordinary person for my lost freedom, my Archaeologists in England have announced the findings from their study of an ancient shield that was made from tree bark.

The shield was unearthed in and is around 2, years old. The experts All around the world many of the oldest ceremonial megalithic sites are associated with women shamans and oracular tradition and prophecy.