A Brief History of the Celts

A Brief History of the Celts

Peter Berresford Ellis

Language: English

Pages: 216

ISBN: 1841197904

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


For centuries, the Celts held sway in Europe. Even after their conquest by the Romans, their culture remained vigorous, ensuring that much of it endured to feed an endless fascination with Celtic history and myths, artwork and treasures. A foremost authority on the Celtic peoples and their culture, Peter Berresford Ellis presents an invigoration overview of their world. With his gift for making the scholarly accessible, he discusses the Celts' mysterious origins and early history and investigates their rich and complex society. His use of recently uncovered finds brings fascinating insights into Celtic kings and chieftains, architecture and arts, medicine and religions, myths and legends, making this essential reading for any search for Europe's ancient past.

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Galli. Today we generally identify them as Celts. The ancient Celts have been described as ‘the first Europeans’, the first Transalpine civilisation to emerge into recorded history. At the height of their greatest expansion, by the third century BC, they were spread from Ireland in the west across Europe to the central plain of what is now Turkey in the east; they were settled from Belgium in the north as far south as Cadiz in Spain and across the Alps into the Po valley. They not only spread

rule. He believed that, among the Aedui, kings had been replaced by elected magistrates drawn from the aristocrats. As this was the form of government that Rome had adopted in 510 BC, following the expulsion of their kings, perhaps Caesar misread the situation, especially if these tribes were practising dual kingship and the Celtic electoral form, instead of the autocratic kingship with which Rome was more familiar. He might well have seen in the two kings, whose powers were delineated by law and

survived in Wales as ‘the Washer of the Ford’. In the autumn of 231 BC Agron died from pleurisy. He was succeeded by a woman called Teuta. This comes from the Celtic teutates (people), cognate to the Irish tuath (tribe) and similar to the Gaulish male name or title Toutiorix (King of the People). Teuta may well mean ‘The People’s Queen’. Polybius has little good to say about Teuta, mainly because she decided to extend her kingdom by attacking the neighbouring Greek state of Epiros. Whatever else

twice across the field, seemed a common practice in early European societies for the plough did not entirely turn the sod. However, innovative Celtic technology provided the plough with a coulter, a sharp knife attached to the plough beam which made a vertical cut through the soil at the same time that the share made the horizontal cut and thus the soil was turned over upon itself. The Celts developed iron shares while their neighbours continued to use wooden ones. The iron provided the Celts

He gives as a reason for this expansion the fact that the Celtic heartland had become so populated that the main ruler, Ambicatus, encouraged his nephews to take pioneers with them and move east and south in search of new lands to settle. Perhaps we should not leave this section on Celtic mythology without reference to two comparatively recent developments in the area. To the modern popular mind, the most famous of Celtic mythological figures is Arthur. He was undoubtedly a historical person,

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