​​​The Celts

By: Abby, Maryann, and Eleena


The main components of the Celtic world were geography, military, and culture. The Celts had a thriving culture and fought fiercely against oppression from the Romans while living in harmony with nature. They were aware of the environment and used it to their advantage while respecting its many forms of life. The Celts were one of the most important civilizations of the ancient world.

Geography


Hallstatt and La Tene culture
Hallstatt and La Tene were one of the two sites with the most artifacts found there between the 7th and 5th centuries B. C.. HalCeltic_Purple_map_for_Wiki.pnglstatt was the older of two sites with most of the artifacts. La Tene is a little newer, it was probably occupied from the middle of the 5th century B.C.. Over 1,000 graves were found at these sites.


Movement
The first Celtic migrations began over 408 B.C. when they first appeared in what is now Austria. At around 300 B.C. the Romans had grown powerful enough to stop expanding the Celts' territory. The Celts continued to migrate in almost all directions. By 358 B.C. some Celts were living as far away as the Carpathian Mountains. In 300 B.C. the Romans had grown powerful enough to prevent the Celts from expanding their Italian territory farther south. In 278 B.C. other Celtic families went to the Asia Minor to help Niconedes, the ruler of Bithynia. At around 277 B.C. around 4,000 Celts traveled to Egypt and fight for the pharoh.
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Impact on culture
The Celtic tribes settled they had to adapt to their environment, they did this by wearing warm clothing, storing food for the winter, and constructing their houses to be well insulated. Celtic tribes wore thick, weaved clothing with many patterns. The women wore a long dress with a shawl, all attached with a brooch( a pin). Another thing the Celts had do was store grain for the cold, long winters.

Interaction with the environment/food sources
The Celts also interacted with their environment, and learned to adapt, they also loved animals. The Celts were also very fond of animals theceltic-fish-1_b.jpgy were used for food, transportation, and companionship. The Celts' food sources were very interesting, they hunted, fished and kept chickens and hens for eggs. Cattle was sometimes used for transport and heavy work on the farm. the Celts also planted crops, crops like wheat barley flax, rye, and oats too. They stored the food in the ground in what was called storage pits. The food was layered and only the top layer fermented. The Celts also mine salt, which was valuable in some countries. The Celts farmed very well, therefore they were able to trade with other countries. Since Celtic climate and region varied, so did their food sources and adaptations.


Culture

By: Abby

Celtic culture is full of diverse beliefs and interesting practices that hugely influenced the day-to-day lives of the Celts. Their artistic, natural art and creative methods of education encompassed the spirit of their society and the heart of this ancient civilization.


Art

Celtic art is an expression of the natural world and what the Celts believed in. The Celtic world was centered on nature and this is very much reflected in their art.They used a myriad of materials in creating their jewelry: gold, silver, amber, bronze, glass, amethyst and other natural metals and gemstones. The Celts were acco
celtic_earring.jpg
Celtic earring from http://uniquecelticjewelry.blogspot.com/
mplished glass-and-metalworkers, contributing to their skill. They were also one of the first civilizations to turn to using iron, which also contributed to theirexpertly-made art. They used geometric patterns such as spirals, and scenes from mythology and nature to create beautiful brooches, torques, bowls, goblets, and other fanciful metal objects. Commonly featured were human heads and humans in general. The head was said to be the place where a person’s spirit dwelled, in Celtic legend, so heads were depicted often. (Lassieur, The Celts)

Religion
The Celts were a pagan civilization who believed that their deities dwelled within nature. There is no religion quite like it, and it is still speculated over today.
The Celts believed in a religion that almost none know today- that is, a pagan religion with multiple gods and goddesses worshipped for different things. They held natural elements sacred, and groves of trees and water were among the things most revered. The Celts did not worship water itself, however; but they did worship and respect the gods and goddesses associated with it.
Several rivers were even named after goddesses- though, strangely, the names of the rivers sound more like the names we know today then the names of the goddesses. For example, the goddess Siannon had the river Shannon named after her.
In the Celtic religion, it was prohibited to commit the legends and teachings to writing, so when Christianity swept across the world, some of the druids-religious leaders- became monks. They recorded the many legends, sometimes changing them or adding Christian aspects. (Lassieur, The Celts)
Though the Celts were very skilled in medicine, they also attached a religious aspect to such things. They believed in rituals for harvesting plants. Mistletoe was not used in herbal mixtures for medicine, but to ward off evil spirits and protect against poisons, becoming a sort of ‘miracle drug’ to the Celts. It was harvested with a golden sickle but the druids on the sixth night after the winter solstice. (De Conceicao)

Education
The way the Celts were able to learn from the world around them and use stories passed down from the ages is incredible and shows just how amazing the people were.
The Celts actually had a very limited education in the terms of schooling today. However, they were a very knowledgeable people and learned things through stories that were passed down through the ages. They were also very resourceful when it came to learning new things in the field of medicine, in which they were very skilled. (Lassieur, The Celts)

When Christian missionaries came, they set up typical schools in the Celtic villages. (Lassieur, The Celts)
mistletoe.jpg
Mistletoe from TLC. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 May 2010. <http://tlc.howstuffworks.com/family/ mistletoe.htm>


Architecture
The Celts were very adept at creating structures that were both simple and convenient. They built hill-forts and lived in villages. These villages varied in size and were scattered throughout Europe. If a village was large enough, it would sometimes grow and become big enough to be called a town. In these villages, the main dwelling of each family was called a roundhouse. (Lassieur, The Celts)


Science
The Celts were masters of making medicine and surgical procedures.
The Celts were skilled in surgery, and developed a brain operation called trephining. A small piece of skull was drilled away and sometimes a small amount of brain tissue was removed. This was done to relieve pressure after a head trauma. Though one might thing that no one could survive such a preposterous operation, there is evidence to the contrary. The Celts were very skilled at this delicate procedure, and skulls show signs of healing, as if the patients not only survived the operation but lived on afterwards. (Lassieur, The Celts)

However, despite much mastery of herbs and surgery, there were some things beyond the Celts. The religiously revered mistletoe, miracle drug and magical protection, is incredibly toxic in it’s natural state and if consumed it will lead to convulsions.(De Conceicao)

Military
Armies~
The Celtic army had fierce warriors that enjoyed fighting; it was almost a sport. When they had no enemy to fight, they fought amongst themselves. The Celtic civilization had separate tribes, so the warriors fought for their tribe, not their country. Sometimes, they fought in other peoples’ army if they shared

an enemy. When they did fight, they fought on foot or chariots and didn’t have an organized army; they relied on speed and fear to defeat their enemies. The Celts fought much larger armies than them most of the time. Uniquely, the Celts usually went into battle wearing nothing but a gold torque.
For most of the Celtic period, they won many battles; but closer to the end of the period, the well-organized Romans defeated them. One of their biggest defeats was in Alesia, where they were fighting against the Romans who had a smaller army than them at the time, but the Celts were still defeated. One of their most victorious fights was also against the Romans, and the Celts humiliated them by winning by a landslide. The Celts hated defeat, and if they did
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celtic warrior with sword and sheath
lose the battle, they would commit suicide rather than be kept prisoner. (Martell, 40)
The Celts had hilltop forts, which were surrounded by strong wooden walls, high ramparts, wooden stakes, and sometimes sharp stones; these were an important part of Celtic defenses. Hilltop forts were on raised sites, so it was easier for defenders to see the enemy. From the forts, warriors hurled deadly spears and pebbles that were powerful against rivals. When there was an attack, they set the ramparts and stones on fire, and the stones would slowly turn into glass, which was very risky to go through for the enemy. Some forts also had mazes around them to confuse their enemies, so the Celtic warriors had time to attack and drive them away.
The Celtic army was very puissant and annihilative, they were strong, but because they weren’t completely organized so their civilization didn’t last very long. But, their army managed to conquer most of Northern Europe, which is amazing. (Macdonald, 27)
Weapons~
The Celts had many deadly weapons. Their primary weapon was the sword. Their swords had long, iron, blades and were used for slashing, not stabbing. Their swords were usually protected by scabbards that were suspended by a chain on the warrior’s belt.
They also used daggers, knives, and spears. Another of the unique weapons the Celts had was the sling-shot. It was used to fire small round stones that could hurt their opponent. Some more of the weapons they used were battle-axes, bows, and arrows.
Their armor sometimes included a batter sea shield which was basically a wooden board that was covered in bronze; on the front it was decorated with red enamel. It was also not very strong and it was kind of flimsy, so they usually used other shields made of wood or thick leather. They also sometimes wore a horned helmet that was made of leather, and it was mainly used to frighten the enemy. Some of the richer warriors were protected by chain-mail tunics. (Martell, 40-41)
Celtic swords were usually fifty-five to eighty centimeters in length. Their long, heavy spears were mainly used for hand-to-hand fighting. Their lighter
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weapon picture
spear was used for throwing, like a javelin.
Their missile weapons were slings, bows, and arrows. The sling was their primary missile weapon.
More aspects of their armor were their usual helmets which were expensive and came in many styles, including: simple, conical, cap with many cheek guards, and a stylized one with metal or lamentation on the cap. Their shields were over a meter long and were wood reinforced with metal and were in an oval shape. Armor was actually quite rare for the Celts, only the wealthiest warriors wore it. Chiefs wore chain mail, but most other warriors went into battle without any type of protection except for a shield and helmet. (McCullough, Suite 101)
Significant Battles~
The Celts didn’t have very many significant battles.
But, one of their most significant battles was in Alesia, where fifty thousand Romans defeated two-hundred fifty thousand Celts.
Their biggest win was also when they were fighting the Romans. It was a humiliating defeat for the Romans because the Celts beat them by a landslide. (Martell, 40)
Decline~
One of the main reasons of Celtic decline was because the Roman Empire’s size and strength was increasing. The Romans managed to conquer Celtic land, so the people adopted Roman lifestyle.
When the Gauls, or Celts, were defeated, the Romans wanted Britain in their empire. Some Celtic tribes accepted this, but others tried to fight against it.
Scotland, Ireland, and most of Wales and Cornwall maintained the old Celtic lifestyle even after they were conquered. But, later, in the Norman Conquest in 1066 A.D., the Celtic lifestyle almost completely died out.
In the fifth century A.D., the Romans left Britain because of other problems in the empire.
The Celts remained in Scotland, Wales, and Southwest Europe, and Irish settlers came to these areas. (Martell, 42)
Celtic power in Europe lasted 800 years, and as it declined, Celtic lands were divided by strong peoples that had enough strength to make their own claims for power.
First, the Romans fought the Celts with well trained, well equipped, soldiers. They managed to drive the Celts out of Northern Italy by 191 B.C. They took control of Spain in 133 B.C. after long campaigns by Caesar. They then took control of France in 51 B.C. They invaded Southern Britain in 43 A.D., but were resisted by the revolt by the Celtic queen, Boudica. In 61 A.D., they took full control of Southern Britain and ruled there until 410 A.D. They never managed to
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celtic decline
conquer all of the British Isles. Parts of Scotland and Ireland were under Celtic rule until 100 B.C. When Roman power weakened, new migrants from the North settled in former Celtic lands.
After the Celts were defeated, the Romans continued to conquer Europe, but other invaders also started to try to conquer Celtic land. These invaders had strong armies and vibrant cultures and included the: Visigoths, Anglo-Saxons, Franks, and the Vikings.
Julius Caesar led the Roman armies that conquered the French Celts. Caesar fought and won many battles in the Gaelic Wars that went from 58-51 B.C. He hoped to conquer Britain and Germany, but a political crisis in Italy made him return to Rome.
Later, after the Romans finally conquered Britain in 45 A.D., a new, mixed, civilization grew that combined Celtic and Roman traditions. But still, some Celtic chieftains rebelled against Roman rule; others cooperated and served as local governors. The Celts built splendid country houses called villas and decorated them with Roman style floors.
The Spain Celts were also conquered, first by the Romans in 133 B.C., then by the Visigoths in 400 A.D. The Franks also invaded Northern France after the Romans and built a strong empire in former Celtic France in 400 A.D.
But, continuing on with the mixed Roman and Celtic civilization, many Celtic skills like fine metalworking were passed down by Visigoths and generations of settlers.

The Celtic civilization was vibrant, huge, and powerful. It hugely impacted much of today’s religion, and lots of other things, too including the tools armies use, and the layout of European land. Their traditions and progress will always be clear in today's society and cultures.





Works cited:
De Conceicao, Peter. "Celtic Origins of Mistletoe." eHow. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 May
2010. http://www.ehow.com/about_6309773_celtic-origins-mistletoe.html.
http://www.kingofswords.com/images/CelticDressSword.jpg celtic picture with sword and sheath with warrior in b
Lassieur, Allison. The Celts. San Diego: Lucent Books Inc, 2001. Print.
Macdonald, Fiona. Find Out About The Celts. New York: Southwater, Anness Publishing, Inc. 2002. Print.
http://www.mackenziefrain.com/images/www.mackenziefrain.com/weapons_on_table.jpg Celtic weapons picture
Martell, Hazel Mary. What Do We Know About The Celts? New York: Macdonald Young Books, 1993. Print.
McCullough, Joseph Allen. “The Celtic Warrior in Britain.” Suite 101. N.D. Print. 21 April 2010.
http://silkomedia.com/skolober/images/celtic.gif celtic decline pic
TLC. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 May 2010. <http://tlc.howstuffworks.com/family/
mistletoe.htm>

Grant Neil Uncovering History Everyday
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