Category: celtic

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Bronze strap union (part of a chariot) from Nant-y-cafn in southern Wales (mid 1st century CE). This replica, based on an archaeological find, approximates what it would initially have looked like before it spent nearly 2,000 years in the dirt.

CELTIC WARFARE: THE Celts were a linguistic gr…

CELTIC WARFARE: 

THE Celts were a linguistic group which spanned across a wide geographic area and included numerous cultures and ethnicities. Because of this fact, the traditions, practices, and lifestyles of Celtic-speaking peoples varied considerably. The importance of warfare and the traditions surrounding war were one common thread of similarities throughout Celtic societies and cultures, from the earliest emergence of the Hallstatt culture (12th-6th century BCE) to the La Tene culture (5th-1st Century BCE).

Warfare was interwoven into Celtic social structures, art, religion, and lifestyle, and the Celts acquired a warrior reputation among their neighbours in the ancient world. While Celtic societies tended to be less well-organized than their Mediterranean counterparts, Celtic craftsmen worked iron, bronze, and gold with tremendous skill, and many technological innovations related to metalworking originated with the Celts.

Relatively little is known about Celtic society due to the bias of Classical sources describing the Celts and the ambiguity of archaeological evidence. It is even apparent that the structure of Celtic societies was quite diverse, with sacral kingship, tribal coalitions, and even republican political structures existing in different times and places.

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Beautiful, Deadly Spirals

Celtic bronze sword, from between the 400s and 100s BCE. Found at the La Osera necropolis in Spain.

Two Bog Bodies, Found Within Months of Each Ot…

Not far from Dublin in the town of Clonycavan, County Meath, and near Croghan Hill, County Offaly, two bog bodies were found within three months of each other in 2003. Clonycavan Man had been severed in half by a peat-cutting machine, but scientists were able to recover his body from the torso up. He had crooked teeth and a small beard. He was also likely murdered. His skull had been split open, likely by a stone ax, and the bridge of his nose was also struck, probably with the same weapon.

Twenty-five miles away, peat workers found Old Croghan Man, who similarly is just a torso with arms. And Old Croghan Man shows evidence of what can only be described as overkill.

 He had a defensive wound on his upper left arm where he may have tried to protect himself. He was bound by a hazel branches which had been threaded through holes in his upper arms. He was stabbed in the chest, struck in the neck, decapitated, and finally cut in half.

Radiocarbon dating showed that Clonycavan Man lived between 392 and 201 BCE and Old Croghan Man between 362 and 175 BCE, the height of the Celtic Iron Age. Both men were young, showed few signs of physical labor during their lives, and were healthy at the time of their deaths.

There is some evidence that they were failed kings. Or perhaps claimants to kingship who failed to win the throne. Both Clonycavan and Old Croghan men’s nipples were pinched and cut. Sucking a king’s nipples was a gesture of submission in ancient Ireland. Cutting off their nipples would have made them ineligible to be kings, even in the afterlife. Their place of burial, in bogs that formed important tribal boundaries, also suggests the killings were political as well as ritual.

THE BOOK OF KELLS: THE Book of Kells (c. 800 C…

THE BOOK OF KELLS: 

THE Book of Kells (c. 800 CE) is an illuminated manuscript of the four gospels of the Christian New Testament, currently housed at Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland. The work is the most famous of the medieval illuminated manuscripts for the intricacy, detail, and majesty of the illustrations. It is thought the book was created as a showpiece for the altar, not for daily use, because more attention was obviously given to the artwork than the text.

The beauty of the lettering, portraits of the evangelists, and other images, often framed by intricate Celtic knotwork motifs, has been praised by writers through the centuries. Scholar Thomas Cahill notes that, “as late as the twelfth century, Geraldus Cambrensis was forced to conclude that the Book of Kells was “the work of an angel, not of a man” owing to its majestic illustrations and that, in the present day, the letters illustrating the Chi-Rho (the monogram of Christ) are regarded as “more [living] presences than letters” on the page for their beauty (165). Unlike other illuminated manuscripts, where text was written and illustration and illumination added afterwards, the creators of the Book of Kells focused on the impression the work would have visually and so the artwork was the focus of the piece.

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Two Irish Army Officers dressed in traditional Celtic dress,…

Two Irish Army Officers dressed in traditional Celtic dress, accompanied by Irish wolfhounds at the Tailteann Games – a sporting and Gaelic revival festival and Ireland’s attempt to outdo the Olympic Games, 1924

via reddit