Celtic Spain

Celtic knot
Celtic knot | Source
Source

Celtiberians

Celtic tribes and culture in the land of the Spanish sun?

Celts have always been associated with the northern European lands and of inhabiting Ireland, Scotland and Wales; but it is true that Celtic tribes did migrate to Spain, known then as the Iberian Peninsula.

Today, it is believed some Celtic tribes migrated, not invaded, the Iberian Peninsula from about 1000 - 300 BC in two migratory waves: 900 BC and 700 - 600 BC.

The first wave of Celts established themselves in Catalonia, the eastern coastal area of the Iberian Peninsula, and entered by way of the Pyrenees Mountains.

The later groups of Celts traveled west through the Pyrenees to inhabit the northern coast of the Iberian Peninsula and south beyond the Ebro and Duero River basins and as far as the Tagus River valley.

Today, it is not known why they remained north and did not continue south to the Mediterranean coast. Was it because of the strong and ferocious Iberian peoples' presence? While we don't know the exact origin of the Iberian people, we do definitely know the Celts reached these areas in what is modern day Spain.

These tribes are known today and called Celtiberians, a name given to them by the Romans who did invade around 45 BC. and encountered them living there.

Borrita Inscription.  Proof of the Celtic language found on the Iberian Peninsula.
Borrita Inscription. Proof of the Celtic language found on the Iberian Peninsula. | Source
Toros de Guisando near Avila, Spain.  These statutes are attributed to the Celts in the Iberian Peninsula.
Toros de Guisando near Avila, Spain. These statutes are attributed to the Celts in the Iberian Peninsula. | Source
Ironworks/metalworks by Celtiberians found on the Iberian Peninsula.
Ironworks/metalworks by Celtiberians found on the Iberian Peninsula. | Source
Round shields used by the Celtic warriors unearthed in Spain.
Round shields used by the Celtic warriors unearthed in Spain. | Source
Archaeological castro and one of the few remaining ruins left from the Celts in the Iberian Peninsula.
Archaeological castro and one of the few remaining ruins left from the Celts in the Iberian Peninsula. | Source

Archaeological finds

Celtiberians were a Celtic speaking people of the Iberian Peninsula in the final BC centuries. They spoke a definite Celtiberian language, as attested by the Celtic text, Botorrita Inscription, found on the Iberian Peninsula. The Celtiberian language was Hispano-Celtic (Iberian Celtic) languages that were spoken pre-Roman and during the early Roman period in the Iberian Peninsula.

The Celts participated in the Hallstatt culture, which was the iron age, in what is now north-central Spain.

Historians and archaeologists, years ago, discovered two settlements in Spain that are identified as originally Celtiberian:

  • Cabezo de Acala
  • Castro de la Coronilla

Both are located in what is today the province of Aragon. The Celtic tribes identified as historically living in Spain are:

  • Lusitanians
  • Cantabrians
  • Asturians
  • Carpethans
  • Arevaccans

They were pastoral by nature and lived in small villages rather than large urban areas. They were into cattle raising on the Iberian plains and hills. They also built hill-forts, called castros, a new permanence with stone walls and protective ditches.

They were protected by an elite Celtic warrior class. The Romans, who found them when they invaded, found the Celt warriors to be independent and courageous in battle and warlike.

In war the Celtiberians favored guerrilla tactics, moving quickly on horeseback, using small round shields for speed, short double edged swords, bows and arrows and double-bladed axes and javelins

Original Celtic sites of some settlements today in Spain are identified by -briga ending to the name of the town or village. What does remain today of Celtic ruins is in the northwestern peninsula especially in Galicia and Asturias.

Archaeologists Martin Almagro Gorbea and Alvarado Lorrio have discovered and confirm the distinguishing iron tools and extended social structure of the development of Celtiberian culture that evolved from the castro culture.

From archaeological digs and the reconstruction of buildings and villages show the Celts built their villages on hills for strategic defense. The houses were circular in construction built with low stone walls and thatched roofs of straw and broom probably without windows.

The buildings housed family and animals together similar to what the Celts did in Scotland, Ireland, and Wales. Outside of the modern city, Santiago de Compostella, the hamlet of O Cebreiro, is a restored village of circular dwellings, called pallozas, that bring back the distant Celtic time.

Also found were Celtiberian tombs discovered here along with metal works, horse trappings and prestige weapons.

Celtic lore of magic, mystery, and with a strong bond to nature practiced in the northern European areas were also practiced by those Celts in Spain. They revered the sun and moon and attached great significance to forests, rivers, wells, and mountains.

They venerated the oak tree and their worship was carried out in natural sites or clearings rather than temples. They practiced similar rituals to those in British Isles and Brittany.

And Celtic legends, myths and tales of their kings and queens were told to establish that the Iberian/Celtic King Melesius was the father of the Irish race.

Little remains today of the Celtic artistic side other than some simple clay pottery. While in the Iberian Peninsula, the Celts did practice metalwork and ironwork and this has been found by archaeologists.

Original dolmen, standing stones from the Celtic culture found in Galicia, Spain.
Original dolmen, standing stones from the Celtic culture found in Galicia, Spain. | Source
Light complexions and eyes of the Spanish living in Galicia, inherited from their Celtic ancestors.
Light complexions and eyes of the Spanish living in Galicia, inherited from their Celtic ancestors. | Source
Bagpipers play throughout Galicia and wear the Scottish kilt, part of their Celtic traditions.
Bagpipers play throughout Galicia and wear the Scottish kilt, part of their Celtic traditions. | Source
Celtic map showing the migration of the Iberians to Ireland, Scotland and Wales and the Celts to Galicia in Spain.
Celtic map showing the migration of the Iberians to Ireland, Scotland and Wales and the Celts to Galicia in Spain. | Source

Galicia

Spain is best known for the dry, hot, dusty plains of La Mancha where Don Quijote 'tilted at windmills.' But in the northwestern corner of Spain is a beautiful, lush, verdant, countryside that resembles Ireland and Scotland so much.

It is here on the plush green hills of Galicia that remains today the strains of Celtic tradition and culture in Spain. The ancient connections between northern Britain and Celtic Spain are strong.

Dolmens, standing stones, and the trail of 'cup and ring' designs carved on stones are the earliest evidence of the movement of Celts to Spain and can be found in Galicia.

Galicia means "Land of the Gaelic People," and it is here that there are Celtic origins in culture and tradition.

Most of the inhabitants today of the Galicia region of Spain are fair skinned with light blue or green eyes. This is due to the intermarriage of Celts with the Iberian people. One only has to walk around Santiago de Compostella, the capital of the region, to see the difference in skin complexion.

They also speak Galician, their own language which is a combination of Spanish and Gaelic/Scottish languages. While Spanish is the official language throughout Spain and is so in Galicia, the natives speak their own Galician language among themselves still to this day. Signs throughout the cities are both in Spanish and Galician.

Also, while walking the streets of Santiago de Compostella, one can hear the distant melodic notes of bagpipes. Suddenly, the sound is closer and in walk bagpipers playing away and wearing their Scottish kilts.

Many of the festivals and games played in this region of Spain are of Celtic and Scottish origin

But, if Galicia means "Land of the Gaelic People," how did Ireland, Scotland and Wales become the main area of inhabitants of the Celts? How did Ireland become the country of the Gaelic people?

Fast forward to the year 2006, and an Oxford University team of researchers, directed by Bryan Sykes, professor of human genetics found changes in scientific understanding of what is Britishness.

This team discovered that the Celts, Britain's indigenous people, are descended from a tribe of Iberian fishermen who sailed across the Bay of Biscay six thousand years ago and landed in what is today the British Isles.

Sykes and his team did a DNA analysis and found almost identical genetic fingerprint to the inhabitants of coastal regions of Spain and that these inhabitants who migrated north of Spain between 4,000 and 5,000 BC.

Therefore, according to Sykes, the majority of people in the British Isles are actually descended from the Spanish.

Sykes spent five years taking DNA samples from 10,000 volunteers in Britain and Ireland and he then produced a map of genetic roots.

In researching the Y chromosome, inherited from the father, Sykes found all but a tiny percentage of the 10,000 volunteers were originally descended from one of six clans who arrived in the UK in several waves of migration prior to the Norman conquest.

Oisin, is the name of the Celtic clan that held the most common genetic fingerprint and it is this clan that Britains are the descendents of the Iberian fishermen who migrated to Britain between 4,000 and 5,000 BC. They are now considered the UK's indigenous inhabitants.

He published his research and findings in his book, Blood of the Isles (2006).

Wow! Which came first, the chicken or the egg? the Celts or the Iberians? According to Sykes, the Iberians came to Ireland, Scotland and Wales, and became known as the Celts and are written up in the historic Irish Book of Kells.

Then, centuries later, the Celts migrated to Spain and intermarried with the Iberian/Spanish peoples. A complete circle in migration. It, therefore, begs the question, are we, as a world humanity, all related in some way or manner? Only the genetic fingerprint knows for sure.


Sources:

www.4uwm/celtic/ekeltoi/volumes/vol6/

www.independent.co.uk./news/uk/this-britain/celts-descended-from-spanish-fishermen-study-finds-416727.html (September 20, 2006)

halfmoon.tripod.com/Spain.html

www.spainthenandnow.com

Spanish Celtic Music

© 2014 Suzette Walker suzettetaos

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Comments 29 comments

ologsinquito profile image

ologsinquito 2 years ago from USA

This was so interesting, and it explains why many Spanish people from Spain have light skin and also look somewhat Irish. Sometimes, you also find Irish people with darker skin and hair.


Ericdierker profile image

Ericdierker 2 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

My father was as black as any Irishman. I am Black Irish and proud of my Basque roots. "let it not be my soul to be lost when I travel away from home"


CMHypno profile image

CMHypno 2 years ago from Other Side of the Sun

Very fascinating hub on the Celts in Spain. Who knew that my ancestors came from Spain! DNA analysis is unravelling a lot of the mysteries of where we came from and the picture that is coming out is a very interesting one.


Rob Lattin profile image

Rob Lattin 2 years ago from Born in Chicago, now I'm in Mostly Michigan

Very interesting hub on a very interesting people. Many are not aware of the link between the Spanish and the Irish. Obviously this all goes back to the Scythians I presume.


suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 2 years ago from Taos, NM Author

CMHypno: Hello. I am so glad you enjoyed reading this. It is interesting what DNA has allowed us to learn about ourselves. Thank you so much for your visit and your comments. Most appreciated.


suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 2 years ago from Taos, NM Author

Rob: So glad you enjoyed reading this and I appreciate your comments. We have learned so much about ourselves through DNA. Thank you so much for your visit.


suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 2 years ago from Taos, NM Author

Thanks ologsinquito. yes, many people do not realize the Gaelic influence in the Galicia region of Spain. And, yes, my brother-in-law is a 'black irish' with the darker skin and black hair. One of his sons' takes after him also. It is interesting how ancient migration went.


CarolynEmerick profile image

CarolynEmerick 2 years ago

Hi Suzette, love this article! It's funny how so many people don't know about Celtic Spain and Portugal. I have shared information on some of the Celtic themed pages I run on FB, and invariably there are always comments that rage back and forth between Portuguese and Spanish people who both claim that the Celtic region belongs to them. In reality, from what I can deduce, is that there is a border region with parts in Portugal and parts in Spain. So, just a tip based on experience, it's good to include BOTH when talking about this region. And, even then they often still will fight about it, haha ;-)

Upvoted and will share this excellent article on HP and FB, great topic! :D


Faith Reaper profile image

Faith Reaper 2 years ago from southern USA

Fascinating read on a great topic here, suzette, as always! You are always so thorough in your research and writing. It is always wonderful to learn something new each day. I learn a lot from reading your hubs.

Up and more and away

Blessings for a lovely long weekend


mylindaelliott profile image

mylindaelliott 2 years ago from Louisiana

Very interesting hub. I didn't know there was any such group of people.


travmaj profile image

travmaj 2 years ago from australia

This is so interesting and quite fascinating. I'm familiar with the Celts in Wales, Scotland, Ireland,Cornwall, Brittany....hadn't read much about the Spanish Celts, so found this a great read. Bryan Sykes does some incredible research. Thank you....


tobusiness profile image

tobusiness 2 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K

Very interesting facts, we tend to think of human migration as a modern phenomenon, but the truth is, it's as old as time. Great article, a fascinating read.


suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 2 years ago from Taos, NM Author

Carolyn: Thanks so much for your comments. I enjoyed writing this. I concentrated on Spain because I have been to Galicia and have experienced the bagpipers there and the Celtic influence first hand. I guess I took for granted that readers would know that the Iberian Peninsula included Portugal as well as Spain, but I probably shouldn't assume the readers would know this. The maps do show the entire peninsula which of course includes Portugal. You are probably right. Someone's nose may be turned but that was not the intention of this hub. The Independent article only made reference to Spain, so I didn't want to change that in any way. I am glad you enjoyed reading this and I find different peoples, and their languages and culture so interesting. I have only become aware of the great Celtic culture because of my Irish brother-in-law. He brings out the best of the Irish!


suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 2 years ago from Taos, NM Author

Hi Faith: I found this so interesting about Spain when I visited Galica in Spain many years ago. It is something many people don't realize about Spain. I am so pleased you enjoyed reading this and thanks again for your comments and support. Most appreciated.


suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 2 years ago from Taos, NM Author

mylindaelliot: Hello and thank you for your visit. I appreciated your comments. Yes, this is an area of Spain that many people are not familiar with and have no idea of the cultural background. Spain is such a country of contrasts and this is what makes it so interesting to me. I am pleased you enjoyed reading this.


suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 2 years ago from Taos, NM Author

travmaj: Thanks so much for reading this and for your comments. Most appreciated. Yes, when I visited Galicia in Spain many years ago, I was so surprised to suddenly hear bagpipe music as I was about to enter the cathedral in Santiago de Compostella. When I inquired as to why bagpipe music in Spain, some of the natives explained about the Celtic influence in the nw corner of Spain. I was flabbergasted and never realized this myself until I visited there. Small world! LOL! I find the languages and cultures of other countries and lands so interesting and between Galicia and the Basque regions of Spain, this can keep me interested for years. LOL!


suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 2 years ago from Taos, NM Author

Hi Jo: Thanks so much for reading and commenting. Most appreciated. Yes, migration has gone one all through time. I guess it is just man's wonderment and wanting to see and experience something different. I know sometimes migration comes by force, but not so with the Celts and Iberians. I think it was just curiosity. So glad you enjoyed reading this.


erorantes profile image

erorantes 2 years ago from Miami Florida

I like the history of the people from Iberia. It is fascinating to read your hub. You did a marvelous job with your article. I enjoy reading your hub. I like the pictures of your article. Spain has good places to visit and create a good article. Thank you for sharing a wonderful information. Miss.suzettenaples.


suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 2 years ago from Taos, NM Author

eroantes: I am so pleased you enjoyed reading this piece. Thank you so much for your kind comments. I have always loved Spain and have visited it many times. On one of my trips I finally got to Galicia and what a wonderful surprise that area of Spain is. I remember the seafood there was unbellieveibly delicious. Thanks so much for your visit and I appreciate your comments.


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 2 years ago from England

That's fascinating suzette! and of course southern England was celtic britons too, our most famous one being boudicca our celtic queen, but the southern england celtics, and part of wales is a different celtic strain. The funniest thing about it is that when you go to spain nearly all the holiday makers are irish! lol! so it seems they get drawn back to their land of birth so to speak! voted up and shared! nell


mckbirdbks profile image

mckbirdbks 2 years ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

Hello suzettenaples, what an interesting history lesson. You have so much knowledge to share. I am looking at a Facebook 'Like' score of 126, that speaks volumes for you and your followers. I hope you enjoyed your Memorial Day celebrations.


DDE profile image

DDE 2 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

Hi suzettenaples, I really enjoyed learning from your interesting hub. Informative and such lovely photos. You know exactly what to write about and how to present an educational lesson.


suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 2 years ago from Taos, NM Author

Hi Nell: I know, summertime in Spain, especially the Costa del Sol region near the Mediterranean, is full of Irish and English. It is funny how peoples have migrated. I will have to look into your Celtic Queen Boudicca. I have never heard of her before and I am amazed at how many different Celtic tribes there were back in the day. Thanks so much for your visit and comments. Most appreciated.


suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 2 years ago from Taos, NM Author

Mike: Isn't this interesting? I learned about the Celtic influence in Spain when I visited Galicia years ago. Spain is such a country of contrasts you cannot imagine. I was floored when I heard bagpipe music in Santiago de Compostella and actually saw the guys in Scottish kilts. Small world! LOL! We are just all one big humanity. Too bad we can't find peace in this world. Thanks so much for your visit and comments. Most appreciated. About the FB thing - you know more about it than I do. I didn't even know anyone liked me! LOL!


suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 2 years ago from Taos, NM Author

DDE: Thank you so much for your kind comments. I am a retired teacher, so I guess it's the 'teacher' in me that comes out in my hubs. I am so pleased you enjoyed reading this and thank you for your visit. Most appreciated.


Easy Exercise profile image

Easy Exercise 2 years ago from United States

Beautiful! I had no idea of the connection let alone the migration rather than the invasion. I learn when I was very small that blue eyes are dominate and brown is very rare. Our family is said to be mainly English but with Moroccan ancestry and sure enough one fella has MY brown eyes. I find all of this fascinating. Well researched and written. The music is not bad either but I had never heard of this before. Thank you!


suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 2 years ago from Taos, NM Author

Easy Exercise: Not many people know the link between Iberia and England. It is quite interesting, I think. See, I learned the opposite on the eyes. Brown were dominate and blue were recessive (or rare) so I don't know what the story is on the eyes. But anyway, the people of Galicia in Spain are fair complected and usually have lighter eyes. That is interesting that you have Moroccan ancestry. How exotic! Thanks so much for your comments and your visit. Most appreciated.


DzyMsLizzy profile image

DzyMsLizzy 2 years ago from Oakley, CA

What an interesting article! I had no idea of all that--and the 'circular migration' is indeed fascinating...and probably unusual...

I learned the same as you: brown eyes are dominant; blue is recessive. But brown-eyed parents CAN have a blue-eyed child, IF they both pass on the recessive blue gene.

LOVED the video--I love bagpipes, as did my mother. There is some Scots/Irish in our lineage (I think they got into everybody at some point--LOL) My mother loved bagpipes so much they would bring her to tears of joy on hearing them. Methinks she was having a bit of a past-life memory there....

Voted up+++


suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 2 years ago from Taos, NM Author

DzyMsLizzy: Thanks so much for reading this and I am glad you enjoyed it. Yes. Two brown-eyed parents can indeed have a blue eyed child with recessive genes. I am so glad you listened to the video and enjoyed it. I love the Celtic music and I am so glad you mom did too. I think you are right. Scotch/Irish is just about in everyone! LOL! thanks again for your visit.

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