Hallstatt Celts


Hallstatt Celts

Hallstatt culture is characterised in 4 stages, according to James(2005: 21): A & B late Bronze Age, from c 1200 to 700 BC; C Early Iron Age, from c700-600 BC; D from c 600 to 475 BC

The Hallstatt culture spanned central Europe, with its centre in the area around Hallstatt in Central Austria. There were two distinct cultural zones – the eastern:including Croatia, Slovenia, Western Hungary, Austria, Moravia, and Slovakia; western: including Northern Italy, Switzerland, Eastern France, Southern Germany, and Bohemia (Wikipedia).

At the start of the period, long distance trade was already well established in copper and tin – the basic requirements for manufacture of bronze. From about 700 BC, trade in iron also became established. The Hallstat area also already controlled the trade in salt, crucial when there were few other means to preserve food. Control of these two crucial trade goods – iron and salt – provided the basis for the accumulation of wealth and influence. From 800 BC, some burials of rich people can be identified,in central Europe, with grave goods such as wheeled wagons and iron swords.

Hallstatt C saw the construction of fortified hilltop settlements to the North of the Alps. These had burial mounds holding very high quality goods, such as vehicles and expensive imported treasures. By the time of the Hallstatt D period, these increasingly extravagant burial mounds were clustered around a few major hillforts to the southwest of the region. This suggests a development and a concentration of wealth of social power, possibly based on the development of Massilia (present-day Marseilles) as a Greek trading port. The expansion of luxury trade brought greater opportunities for profit and helped to create an increasingly stratified society, with the development of a wealthy nobility (James, 2005: 21).

Over the period from 1846 to 1863, a thousand graves were found at Hallstatt, with an astonishing range of artefacts, including clothing and saltmining equipment as well as weapons, jewellery, pottery and imported bronze vessels in the “chieftains'” graves.

The Celts of the Hallstatt period are debatable because of recent studies in Genetics.

The Druids according to Caesar


The Druids according to Caesar

In Caesar’s Gallic Wars, are found the first and fullest account of the Druids. Caesar notes that all men of any rank and dignity in Gaul were included either among the Druids or among the nobles, two separate classes.

The Druids constituted the learned priestly class, and they were guardians of the unwritten ancient customary law and had the power of executing judgment, of which excommunication from society was the most dreaded. Druids were not a hereditary caste, though they enjoyed exemption from service in the field as well as from payment of taxes. The course of training to which a novice had to submit was protracted. All instruction was communicated orally, but for ordinary purposes, Caesar reports, the Gauls had a written language in which they used the Greek characters.

No druidic documents have survived. “The principal point of their doctrine”, says Caesar, “is that the soul does not die and that after death it passes from one body into another”. This led several ancient writers to the unlikely conclusion that the druids must have been influenced by the teachings of the Greek philosopher Pythagoras. Caesar also notes the druidic sense of the guardian spirit of the tribe, whom he translated as Dispater, with a general sense of Father Hades.Writers like Diodorus and Strabo with less firsthand experience than Caesar, were of the opinion that this class included Druids, bards and soothsayers.

Pomponius Mela is the first author who says that their instruction was secret and carried on in caves and forests. We know that certain groves within forests were sacred because Romans and Christians alike cut them down and burned the wood. Human sacrifice is sometimes attributed to Druidism; it was an old inheritance in Europe, (although this might be Roman propaganda). The Gauls were accustomed to offer human sacrifices, usually criminals.

Britain was a headquarters of Druidism, but once every year a general assembly of the order was held within the territories of the Carnutes in Gaul.

Cicero remarks on the existence among the Gauls of augurs or soothsayers, known by the name of Druids; he had made the acquaintance of one Divitiacus, an Aeduan. Diodorus informs us that a sacrifice acceptable to the gods must be attended by a Druid, for they are the intermediaries. Before a battle they often throw themselves between two armies to bring about peace.

Druids were seen as essentially non-Roman: a prescript of Augustus forbade Roman citizens to practise druidical rites. In Strabo we find the Druids still acting as arbiters in public and private matters, but they no longer deal with cases of murder. Under Tiberius the Druids were suppressed by a decree of the Senate, but this had to be renewed by Claudius in 54 CE.

In Pliny their activity is limited to the practice of medicine and sorcery. According to him, the Druids held the mistletoe in the highest veneration. Groves of oak were their chosen retreat. When thus found, the mistletoe was cut with a golden knife by a priest clad in a white robe, two white bulls being sacrificed on the spot.

Tacitus, in describing the attack made on the island of Mona (Anglesey or Ynys Mon in Welsh) by the Romans under Suetonius Paulinus, represents the legionaries as being awestruck on landing by the appearance of a band of Druids, who, with hands uplifted towards heaven, poured forth terrible imprecations on the heads of the invaders. The courage of the Romans, however, soon overcame such fears; the Britons were put to flight; and the sacred groves of Mona were cut down.After the 1st century CE, the continental Druids disappeared entirely, and were only referred to on very rare occasions. Ausonius, for instance, apostrophizes the rhetorician Attius Patera as sprung from a race of Druids.

La Tene Celts


La Tene Celts

La Tene and Celtic Society
These artistic and technological developments were the marks of a sophisticated cultural movement. They point to the rise of the Celtic tribes as European powers. Historical sources record this as the period when Celtic tribes were becoming increasingly warlike, even challenging the burgeoning roman empire by invading and attacking areas of Italy.

At the same time, although the Celts remained as fragmented tribes, they were bound by social and religious customs. Their society was by no means undeveloped. As far as Britain, there are examples of tribal chieftains minting their own coins. The Celts of the La Tene period also practised the organised manufacturing of goods, as indicated by the evidence of a pottery factories in Germany.

La Tene was the period that firmly fixed the legendary figure of the creative Celtic warrior firmly in the imagination.

Read more at Suite101: The La Tene Period: The Pinnacle of Celtic Iron Age Culture | Suite101.com http://natasha-sheldon.suite101.com/the-la-tene-period-a128545#ixzz1uc3kPQWt

Cuchulain and Fand

Now upon this it was discerned by Manannan that Fand the daughter of Aed Abra was engaged in unequal warfare with the women of Ulster, and that she was like to be left by Cuchulain. And thereon Manannan came from the east to seek for the lady, and he was perceived by her, nor was there any other conscious of his presence saving Fand alone. And, when she saw Manannan, the lady was seized by great bitterness of mind and by grief, and being thus, she made this song:

Lo! the Son of the Sea-Folk from plains draws near
    Whence Yeogan, the Stream, is poured;
‘Tis Manannan, of old he to me was dear,
    And above the fair world we soared.

Yet to-day, although excellent sounds his cry,
    No love fills my noble heart,
For the pathways of love may be bent awry,
    Its knowledge in vain depart.

When I dwelt in the bower of the Yeogan Stream,
    At the Son of the Ocean’s side,
Of a life there unending was then our dream,
    Naught seemed could our love divide.

When the comely Manannan to wed me came,
    To me, as a spouse, full meet;
Not in shame was I sold, in no chessmen’s game
    The price of a foe’s defeat.

When the comely Manannan my lord was made,
    When I was his equal spouse,
This armlet of gold that I bear he paid
    As price for my marriage vows.

Through the heather came bride-maids, in garments brave
    Of all colours, two score and ten;
And beside all the maidens my bounty gave
    To my husband a fifty men.

Four times fifty our host; for no frenzied strife
    In our palace was pent that throng,
Where a hundred strong men led a gladsome life,
    One hundred fair dames and strong.

Manannan draws near: over ocean he speeds,
    From all notice of fools is he free;
As a horseman he comes, for no vessel he needs
    Who rides the maned waves of the sea.

He hath passed near us now, though his visage to view
    Is to all, save to fairies, forbid;
Every troop of mankind his keen sight searcheth through,
    Though small, and in secret though hid.

But for me, this resolve in my spirit shall dwell,
    Since weak, being woman’s, my mind;
Since from him whom so dearly I loved, and so well,
    Only danger and insult I find.

I will go! in mine honour unsullied depart,
    Fair Cuchulain! I bid thee good-bye;
I have gained not the wish that was dear to my heart,
    High justice compels me to fly.

It is flight, this alone that befitteth my state,
    Though to some shall this parting be hard:
O thou son of Riangabra! the insult was great:
    Not by Laeg shall my going be barred.

I depart to my spouse; ne’er to strife with a foe
    Shall Manannan his consort expose;
And, that none may complain that in secret I go,
    Behold him! his form I disclose!

Then that lady rose behind Manannan as he passed, and Manannan greeted her: “O lady!” he said, “which wilt thou do? wilt thou depart with me, or abide here until Cuchulain comes to thee?” “By my troth,” answered Fand, “either of the two of ye were a fitting spouse to adhere to; and neither of you two is better than the other; yet, Manannan, it is with thee that I go, nor will I wait for Cuchulain, for he hath betrayed me; and there is another matter, moreover, that weigheth with me, O thou noble prince!” said she, “and that is that thou hast no consort who is of worth equal to thine, but such a one hath Cuchulain already.”

And Cuchulain saw the lady as she went from him to Manannan, and he cried out to Laeg: “What meaneth this that I see?” “‘Tis no hard matter to answer thee,” said Laeg. “Fand goeth away with Manannan the Son of the Sea, since she hath not been pleasing in thy sight!”

Then Cuchulain bounded three times high into the air, and he made three great leaps towards the south, and thus he came to Tara Luachra, and there he abode for a long time, having no meat and no drink, dwelling upon the mountains, and sleeping upon the high-road that runneth through the midst of Luachra.

Then Emer went on to Emain, and there she sought out king Conor, and she told Conor of Cuchulain’s state, and Conor sent out his learned men and the people of skill, and the Druids of Ulster, that they might seek for Cuchulain, and might bind him fast, and bring him with them to Emain. And Cuchulain strove to slay the people of skill, but they chanted wizard and fairy songs against him, and they bound fast his feet and his hands until he came a little to his senses. Then he begged for a drink at their hands, and the Druids gave him a drink of forgetfulness, so that afterwards he had no more remembrance of Fand nor of anything else that he had then done; and they also gave a drink of forgetfulness to Emer that she might forget her jealousy, for her state was in no way better than the state of Cuchulain. And Manannan shook his cloak between Cuchulain and Fand, so that they might never meet together again throughout eternity.