Nearly all the information and facts about the ancient
inhabitants of the Britain were taken from the “The Gallic War”, manuscript
written by Julius Caesar (100-44 BC) which was perfectly translated by A. and
P. Wiseman (London, 1980) and presented to the readers of the modern science.
Therefore, in classical origins it is possible to encounter different names of
the inhabitants of British Irelands or tribes [1, p. 148], .
words “Celt” and “Celtic” came from Latin and Greek are
used by historians to represent European people who spoke a Celtic language [20,
Greek visions provided different names of the British tribes, including the
Celts – Greeks noted them as “Keltoi”, Romans as “Celtac”. According to the
ancient Greek writer Pausanius “Keltoi” is a term or name that was created or
used before “Galli” which has European origins and means “alien” or “enemy,
rival” [1, p.148].
In a modern
world, the term “Celtic” is commonly used in connection with the
cultures and languages of the “six Celtic nations”, namely Ireland, Brittany,
Scotland, Cornwall, Wales, and the Isle of Man. These nations at the same time
still speak four Celtic languages Irish Gaelic, Breton, Scottish Gaelic, and Welsh. On the other
hand, in ancient times the term “Celt” was used either to mention
generally specific groups of societies in the Gaul and Iberian
Peninsula or barbarians in north-western Europe [20, p. 389].
of the Celts is mainly investigated backing on the references written by
ancient historians. Although, historical facts approve that many British
nations and tribes were known under two or more names, it is possible to note
the Celts among the most ancient names [1, p. 148].
sometimes classify Celtic peoples as “Continental Celts”, representing
those on the continent of Europe, mainly Britain, Ireland and other local Islands
[27, p. 252].
or Celts – the people is called by the Greeks was first found in the records of
geographer Hecataeus, about 500 B.C. He underlined “The city of Liguria in
the land of the Celts”, actually Massalia, and “Nyrax, a Celtic city”.
Herodotus, about half a century later, used the term of the Celts as an area
“beyond the columns of Hercules” (in Spain), and also of the Danube
as growing in their country. Afterwards,
Aristotle knew that they dwelt “far from Spain,” that they had invaded
Rome, and set great store by combative influence. Accounts other than
geographical point of view are occasionally encountered with even in early
writers’ references [12, p. 60]. Hellanicus of Lesbos, a historian of the fifth
century BC, describes the Celts as involved justice and honesty. Ephorus, about
350 BC, wrote three lines of verse about the Celts in which they are described
as using “the same traditions and customs as the Greeks”. Plato, on the other hand, in the
“Laws,” described the Celts among the tribes who are drunken and aggressive,
and much barbarity is recognized to them on the occasion of their irruption
into Greece and the discharge of Delphi in the year 273 BC . One of the
milestones of ancient history consists of their occurrence on Rome and the invasion
of that city by them about a century prior to that event. The history of this
people during the time when they were one of the leading nations in Mid-Europe
has to be discovered or investigated from scattered references and accounts of
episodes in their transactions or dealings with Greece and Rome. Investigators
never have found any chronicles that were written by them or no architectural
remains have survived only a few coins, and a few ornaments and bronze weapons which
were decorated with glaze or with subtle and beautiful designs in chased or
repose work. These artifacts and the names which often adhere in oddly differed
forms to the places where they dwelt, mainly from the Euxine to the British
Islands, are well preserved visible traces which give detailed information
about civilization and dominion of their time. Additionally, from these and
from the manuscripts of classical writers some parts of the information could
be deduced with certainty other parts conjectured with a very fair measure of
probability [12, pp. 61-2].
historical facts about Celtic origins were significantly concealed by the
British 18th century historian William Stukeley (1687-1765). He linked Celtic
Druids with ancient monuments as Avebury and Stonehenge. In fact, these dolmens,
as well as others found at Knowth, Newgrange and Dowth, were built by Neolithic Man approximately
two thousand years before the emergence of the Celt tribes who had never appeared
until about 1000 BCE. At the same time Celtic culture – which merged into a different
form no earlier than 850 BCE was concurrent with militaristic Mycenean art and
culture about 1650-1200 BCE. The Celts absorbed this culture as they passed
through the Black Sea area, Archaic Greek and Etruscan civilizations [9, p.11].
Celts were a highly different but competitive group of Indo-European pagan
tribes. Those tribes began to migrate into Europe from the steppes of southern
Russia, the Crimea and the Kuban starting from about 1000 BCE onwards. Although the
exact details of their progress are imprecise, by 700 BCE Celts were definitely
established important trading routes of the Upper Danube in central Europe [5,
number of population within the Upper Danube Celtic center grew, Celts spread
to the west across Europe in order to search new areas for settlement, notably
into Spain, Gaul and Northern Italy. Spain was an especially attractive
destination which is used to be rich country with minerals and was much
appreciated by Phoenicians from Lebanon, Carthaginians and Greek, and later
also by Romans. This preliminary and relatively peaceful migration led to the
introduction of Celtic language, culture and commerce as far as the shorelines
of the Western Mediterranean and the Atlantic. While they remained active in trade, Celts
step by step migrating from one area to another gravitated in particular to the
main trading routes including the Rhine and Rhone rivers, as well as the
principal trading settlements like and Cadiz and Marseilles.
roughly 450 B.C.E onwards, Celts also began to arrive in Britain and Ireland.
Though the Greek geographer Pytheas (IV century B.C.E) referred to the British
Isles as Northern neighbor of the territory settled by the Celts, signifying
that even as late as 350 B.C.E Britain was on the periphery of Celtic
influence. Some Celtic tribes also spread eastwards along the Silk Road to Asia
and to Minor Asia [8, p. 58].
450 B.C.E, the Celtic heartland had expanded to include eastern France,
Austria, Switzerland, southwest Germany, and some parts of Slovakia, Hungary and
the Czech Republic. During this period a new Celtic culture, called La Tene
after in Switzerland began to appear within their settlement.
period 400-250 B.C.E was followed by the extension of Celtic power into almost
every angle of Europe and the next two centuries witnessed a swift decline of
Celtic influence throughout the same area. In essence, Celts who had been
living east of the Rhine were forced to migrate to the west of the river by prowling
German tribes like Teutonic and Cimbri. In the meantime, Celts living in
Northern Italy, Iberia and Gaul were progressively conquered by the Roman
Empire who started to be one of the leading powers in Europe. By 50 B.C.E, the
Celtic heartlands in Gaul were overwhelmed by Julius Caesar (the great Celtic
tribal leader), and the rest of Celtic Europe by the Roman Emperors Tiberius
and Augustus. By 100 C.E, only Celtic Ireland continued to stay out of reach of
approximately 550 C.E to 1000 C.E, Celtic culture merged with Christian
Biblical spirituality to produce a golden age of illuminated gospel handwritings.