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The Celts

Updated on November 16, 2009

The Celts were an ancient cultural group, rather than a society. Spread out across large tracts of Europe, loosely bonded by a similar language structure and made up of sizeable tribal factions. Defined as barbarians by ancient scholars, they were as equally happy to farm as they were to wage war upon other nations, people and cultures.

The Celts


The Celts wrote little about themselves. Much of what is known has been unearthed via burial mounds, archaeological findings and ancient text written by long dead scholars from other cultures. For the main, they appeared to be semi-nomadic, preferring to roam across continental Europe without apparent rhyme or reason. Often viewed as barbaric due to their behaviours, they held strong pagan beliefs, worshipping Gods that other cultures neither understood nor believed in.

From around 500BC, they wandered across Europe, conquering other nations, though modern history appears to be a little confused as to which countries were conquered – Spain (or North-West Spain), Italy, France and eventually, the British Isles. Ironically, despite their successful conquering of Italy, they were paid back a hundred fold when the Romans virtually destroyed them, some time around 60 or 61AD.


The Celts

By nature, they were farmers and metal workers, given to creating beautiful charms and jewellery. They prayed to Pagan Gods and never gave up on their principles, despite living under the might – and watchful eye – of the Romans in the last 200 years or so of their decline.

Origin Of The Celts


Celtic Origins

The origin of the Celts is believed to have been somewhere in the North of Germany, the Netherlands, or both - though this is not belief shared by all scholars. More an educated guess, based upon ancient text and archaeological discoveries.

They were almost certainly Indo-European. That simply means that they emerged from one of histories largest melting pots of culture and language - one that included morsels of language structure from hundreds of different cultures. The main ones are known to have been:

  • Iranian
  • Indian
  • European

Bear in mind that of the above three, each one could be diluted over and again by way of dialects, spiritual beliefs and societal behaviours. Add to that the fact that the Celts only began appearing in recorded history around 400BC – which only proves that they appeared in or on another culture’s time line around that period. It can not be taken as read that 400BC is when the Celts began to either exist (as they were) or simply popped into existence.

What is likely is the fact that they began appearing in ancient recordings for one of three reasons:

  • The Celts were a nuisance (waged war for e.g.) of some sort
  • The Celts began trading
  • The culture that wrote about them had gained the ability to write

Therefore it’s likely that the Celts were around long before 400BC.

Celtic Warriors

It’s entirely possible that the Celts began as a small tribal faction (or several) that had broken away or migrated from a larger group, sometime between 1200 and 700BC. At the time, there was a defined leap forward regarding man’s ability to work with and make use of metals – otherwise know as the Iron Age.

Over a period of several hundred years, they will have populated and developed as a separate culture of sorts. And again, going back to the first paragraph, they were never a cohesive culture – unlike the Greeks or Romans (for e.g.). They didn’t inhabit one specific country and appeared to literally range across large swathes of continental Europe.

Ultimately, they remain (in many ways) as much of a mystery in terms of their actual origins as they will have done for those that they existed among several millenniums ago.




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    • frogdropping profile image

      Andria 8 years ago

      habee - I ought to finish the series! Thankyou for coming round and glad you enjoyed :)

    • habee profile image

      Holle Abee 8 years ago from Georgia

      Really enjoyed this. When I was teaching, I touched on the Celtic mythology's influence on other oral literature. Thanks for sharing!

    • frogdropping profile image

      Andria 8 years ago

      James - thankyou :) Glad you enjoyed it. I enjoyed writing it. I have another couple coming up, sooner or later!

    • James A Watkins profile image

      James A Watkins 8 years ago from Chicago

      I very much enjoyed this article about some of my ancestors. You created an excellent presentation with a nice flow of facts. Thank you for the pleasure.

    • frogdropping profile image

      Andria 8 years ago

      keira - thankyou :) I have been by and read your hub, and enjoyed what you'd written. And I know you've the other Celt hubs :)

    • keira7 profile image

      keira7 8 years ago

      Great hub as usual my dear Frogropping. Sorry for the delay.I have finally finish with Quentin and hope you will enjoy it. God Bless my dear good friend.:)

    • frogdropping profile image

      Andria 8 years ago

      Ethel - thankyou :)

      loua - they certainly were interesting. And as mad as a bucket of frogs when it came to keeping what was theres, as well as taking what wasn't ;)

    • loua profile image

      loua 8 years ago from Elsewhere, visiting Earth ~ the segregated community planet

      Fun to read... They were an interesting lot, I've always been drawn to their story... Thanks for sharing...

    • ethel smith profile image

      Eileen Kersey 8 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

      Good reading

    • frogdropping profile image

      Andria 8 years ago

      Justine - thankyou :) I tried to leave out the complexities of the ancient Celts ... there appear to be a few puzzles where our ancestors are concerned.

      As for Geneology, start with names, dates of births and death, marriages etc. From there you can ascertain where people were born, lived and died.

      From that point you can start to trace their movements ... where did they live, did the migrate away from the original birthplaces, settle elsewhere? How many children were born, so on and so forth.

      Google for records - most developed countried have online databases that go back upwards of several hundred years. Shipping lines (don't forget, planes haven't been around for long) are a good source of information, as are customs and excise.

      Start with a name ;)

    • profile image

      Justine76 8 years ago

      Hey there FD, I like this hub, and am looking forward to reading the next ones. Interesting and understandable. I have been interested in Celtic history, culture, beliefs etc since I was little and read a book of Celtic fairy tales. How do you go about looking up your family tree? My mother and her sisters have done extensive work on their mohter's side, but I am wondering about my Grandfather's family.

    • frogdropping profile image

      Andria 8 years ago

      Thankyou taff - and maybe you should. A very interesting pastime ... one I've indulged in on occasion.

    • scarytaff profile image

      Derek James 8 years ago from South Wales

      Very informative, frogdropping. As a celt, you've got me thinking, maybe I should start that family tree.

    • frogdropping profile image

      Andria 8 years ago

      Red - Thankyou. This was going to be one huge HUGE hub. However, it got too huge. So I've decided to break it down. There will be more, in an attempt to cover the Celts as a whole :)

    • RedSonja94 profile image

      RedSonja94 8 years ago from Michigan

      Great hub! I love the Celts and this was some really good information on them.