The Celts had a significant impact on Ireland, among other regions, but what do we know about them? Let’s take a look at Celtic Regions: where the Celts come from and have lived for 3,000+ years.
The actual word Celt, pronounced with a hard ‘c’, comes from the Greek word “Keltoi”, which means barbarian. That’s what they were known as by the Roman Empire. However, they were quite the opposite!
They were very in touch with nature, very traditional, had a common religion and language, and traded with each other.
They had a network of roads too, which enabled them to trade their goods and allowed their people to get around.
They have no doubt had a considerable impact on many regions of Europe, which we will delve into.
IB4UD’s top 5 facts about the Celts
- The Celtic society was organized into tribes and had a complex social structure with high kings, petty kings, warriors, priests, and craftsmen. Women could also become warriors, druids, and political leaders.
- The Celts had a strong warrior culture and were renowned for their skills in battle. They were fierce and fearless fighters and were the first people to invent chainmail.
- The Celts were skilled artisans and produced intricate and beautiful metalwork, including jewellery, weapons, and ornamental objects. Their craftsmanship is characterized by intricate knotwork and spirals.
- The Celtic religion was polytheistic, and they worshipped many different Celtic gods and goddesses.
- The Celts relied on bards and poets to pass down their myths, legends, and historical accounts through storytelling, as writing was not widespread among the Celts.
Where they came from – originating in Austria, Switzerland, France and Spain
The Celts are an ancient Indo-European people, and from 750 BC to 12 BC, they were the most powerful and influential people in central and northern Europe.
They started out in Austria, Switzerland, France, and Spain originally, and over the years they migrated west towards Ireland and Britain.
They eventually stayed there, as it was a safe place to practice their traditions, unlike other places, such as Rome. It was a place to thrive and survive.
The Romans had destroyed the culture of the Celts. They killed them in droves all over the mainland, and this is why the Celtic culture is only prominent in certain areas now.
Celtic regions – where are they?
The Celts settled in various parts of northwest Europe, in particular, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Brittany in France and Galicia in Spain.
When travelling to these places, the similarities, customs, and traditions all become apparent. They have similar structures, such as Newgrange in Ireland, Maeshowe in Orkney, and Bryn Celli Ddu in Wales, purposely built to coincide with the solstices.
The main tribes of the Celts were the Irish, Britons, Gaels, Gauls, and Galicians. In the various regions, you will find similar food, similar music, such as bagpipes, and similar Celtic symbols, such as the Celtic cross or Celtic knots.
By the 10th century AD, the insular Celtic peoples had diversified into several Brittonic-speaking languages.
There are many languages that evolved in these regions because of the Celts, some of which are still spoken today, such as the Welsh language, Breton, Cornish, Irish Gaelic, Manx, and Scots Gaelic.
You may not know, but the famous Hadrian’s Wall, on the border of England and Scotland, was built by the Romans to protect them against the Celts who had fled north.
If the Roman empire did not fail in its invasion of Britain and Ireland, there may not be any Celtic regions, languages, or evidence of a culture that we still see today.
You may wonder why Ireland, Scotland, and Wales are Celtic, but England is not. That is because the Anglo Saxons and Romans were unsuccessful at conquering these regions.
However, the Anglo Saxons took over England in the fifth century, leaving the other Celtic areas that we find today. This introduced Anglo-Saxon England and the Anglo-Saxon Kingdoms as we know them.
Celtic traditions – there are many
The Celts have certainly had an enormous impact on many parts of the world, with lots of traditions still being followed in many regions. To this day, many Celtic cultural holidays are still celebrated, especially in Ireland.
In particular, there are nine holidays that you may never have known had a Celtic history. Four of these are based on astronomy.
The other five are based on the seasons of harvest and farming, which was incredibly pivotal to the survival of many back in the day.
The Celts were extremely in touch with nature, natural rhythms, and timing, much less than we are today, so it’s fascinating to look back and see how advanced they were.
Celtic holidays – solstice, Samhain and more
Based on astronomy, the Celts celebrated four Celtic festivals and holidays, which were, in fact, four distinct changes in nature.
These are the winter solstice on 21 December, the longest night/shortest day of the year, the summer solstice on 21 June 21, the longest day of the year, and the day with the most sunlight.
Then there is the spring equinox on 21 March. This sacred Celtic holiday celebrates the first day of spring. Finally, there’s the autumn equinox on 21 September to mark the first day of autumn.
The other five, based on seasons of harvest and farming, are 1 May (May Day) the first day of summer. Then, there is Samhain (Halloween) on 31 October.
Lughnasa is on 1 August. This is the first day of harvest. St. Brigid’s Day is on 1 February, and St. Patrick’s Day, as we all know, is celebrated on 17 March.
All of these traditional holidays are still widely celebrated. There are lots of different opinions about the Celts. Still, something that can’t be disputed is the art, culture, music, and various languages that they left behind.
Other notable mentions
La Tène: La Tène is the term archaeologists use for the later period of the culture and art of the ancient Celtic people.
Entities composed of people of the same ethnicity and language started to grow by the end of the 19th century. In the 20th century, any findings of La Tène were linked strongly to the Celtic language.
Oral traditions: By the time the continental Celtic languages had disappeared, cultural traits such as oral traditions and practices, like visiting sacred wells and springs, had also largely disappeared.
Carnyces: These were famous war trumpets created by the Celts. They were one of the main Celtic musical instruments used before war to intimidate the enemy.
Galatia: Galatia in central Turkey was also an area of dense Celtic settlement.
Your questions answered about Celtic regions
If you still have some unanswered questions about Celtic regions, we have you covered! Below, we’ve compiled some of our readers’ most popular questions that have been asked about this subject online.
What are the main Celtic regions today?
The six regions widely considered Celtic nations are Brittany, Cornwall, Ireland, the Isle of Man, Scotland and Wales.
Is Celtic Irish or Scottish?
Both Ireland and Scotland are referred to as Celtic regions.
Where did the Celts come from?
From 750 BC to 12 BC, the Celts were the most influential people. They started off as Indo-European people, eventually spreading across Europe.