Life on the Fringe - 5: Gallic Origins - Ever Wondered, Where the Name 'January' Stems From?
The elusive Ianuaria...
Ialonus and Ianuaria
IALONUS in Gaulish lore was a god linked to cultivated fields as well as to woodland glades. 'Ialo' was the Gaulish term for a glade or clearing (like 'Thwaite' in later English); Two inscriptions for Ialonus, the first found at Nimes in France where his mate is the goddess Fortuna. Another stone to the god, also a Brythonic deity, was found at the Roman fort of Calunum near present-day Lancaster, itself established as a Roman fort/base on the road to Carlisle. The nearby River Lune has an element of his name (in the early Middle Ages Lancaster lay within the Anglian kingdom of Deira, and the city was known as 'Luneceaster').
IANUARIA was a Gaulish goddess worshipped at the sanctuary of Beire-le-chatel in Burgundy. Very little is known of her background or associations. Archaeologists at the sanctuary turned up a small stone figure showing a young girl with curly hair, deemed to be her. The figure is shown in a pleated coat, holding a set of pipes. From this it is considered that she was a goddess associated with music, although her chief skills were in healing - to which the sanctuary was dedicated. It is possible the month of January is named after her, although there will be those who say the Roman god Janus is really the one the worst part of the year was named after. The Romans tended to give their months male names like Janus and Mars or Augustus and Juno. The idea may have appealed to the Celts to name this month after a girl. The Celts had a ten month year, so this is likely to have been early spring.
God-like, or was it a wish to take on bull-like qualities in battle?
Iberia and Iceni
IBERIA: The Celts are thought to have settled Iberia - nowadays Spain and Portugal - as far back as 900 BC. According to Irish lore, the Celts who settled Ireland were from the Iberian Peninsula. The Celts there were embroiled in the long drawn-out war between Carthage and Rome and paid heavily for their initial successes. The Carthaginian general Hamilcar Barca attacked southern Iberia and his son Hannibal launched an invasion on Rome through the Celts' territory. The Celts struck an alliance with Hannibal and the Romans took their revenge on them after the fall of Carthage in 197 BC. The Romans overran Iberia and meted out savage retribution. Servius Sulpicius Galba even slaughtered the Celts after they yielded in 151 BC. War between the Celts and Romans in Iberia went on until the mid-1st Century BC, after when the Celts became gradually assimilated into the Romans' lifestyle and accepted their culture;
ICENI were an ancient British tribe, one of the leading peoples of the area known now as East Anglia. One of their leaders is particularly well-known, Boudicca, wife of Prasutagus. The Iceni were allied with the Trinovantes and launched attacks on the Romans under Boudicca's leadership after she had been whipped by the Romans for insubordination and her daughters raped. Boudicca's husband had been a 'client king' of the Romans. When he died his land and wealth was expected to be handed over. Only a portion was handed over and the Roman governor, Suetonius Paulinus, took matters into his own hands. He advanced on their main settlement (in what is now Norfolk), his men raped Boudicca's daughters and she herself was whipped in front of her people. The Iceni were incensed.
Boudicca sacked Camulodunum (Colchester, Essex), the southern capital of Britannia, destroying the temple where the Roman populace had sheltered, going on to destroy the Roman trading port of Londinium (London - archaeologists have found a charred black level of earth below which had been the original Roman settlement). A Roman legion sent to destroy them was also defeated and Suetonius Paulinus brought his legions from Anglesey, where he had waged war on the Druids and their guards, south-east to the Midlands along Watling Street (the later name for the Roman road from Chester to London and Rochester). Boudicca's alliance was destroyed by the Roman force on June 1st, AD 61, after which she fled with her daughters and they took poison, sooner than be taken again. The Romans would most likely have had her put to death and her daughters sold into slavery.
The Iceni's weapons were taken, their lands confiscated. Roman 'civilisation' was imposed on them for the next three and a half centuries.
At the height of the Iceni attack on Camulodunum
Icovellauna, Idris and Imbolc/Imbolg
ICOVELLAUNA was a Gaulish goddess worshipped in the region of Metz in Alsace-Lorraine in France and Trier in Germany. She is thought to have had links with the healing spring of Sablon at Metz. no images or figurines of her have been so far unearthed.
IDRIS was a giant in Welsh legend, said to have been a skilled poet, astronomer and philosopher. His home is thought to have been on the mountain Cadair Idris in Gwynedd (North Wales).
IMBOLC or IMBOLG was one of the four Celtic festivals, the others being Samhain, Beltane and Lughnasad. Imbolc was celebrated on the first day of of February and linked with the lactation of ewes at or prior to the birth of lambs. Later this pagan festival was adopted by the Christian Church as the feast day of St. Brigid.
Next - 6: From immortality to Italy
A great, detailed overview by leading specialist Miranda Green on the Celts' beliefs. Their gods were almost tangible, their presence felt across Celtic settlement areas of Central and Western Europe
Gods of the Celts, colourful, active, cruel, bloodthirsty for sacrifice. When the Romans came to Britain they spent a lot of time cornering and wiping out the Druids on the island we know as Anglesey (off the coast of Gwynedd, North Wales) at around the time Boudicca led the Iceni and allied tribes into open revolt. Their beliefs led them to literally roasting the Romans and Romano-Britons in their temple at Camulodunum (Colchester) before progressing west to Londinium (London) and doing the same again.
Seat of a god, Idris
Have you a Celtic name?
Do you have a Celtic name, i.e., Welsh, Irish, Scots, Breton, Iberian, Central European?
© 2013 Alan R Lancaster