The Celts and the Druids

The Celts (pron. KEHLTS) were a race of people who lived in Europe from North of the Alps to the Baltic Sea from 1000 B.C. to 455 A.D. They were descended from the Proto-Celts of 2000 B.C., one of the three tribes of Indo-Europeans that included the Hittites of Turkey and the Mycaneans of Greece; descendents of the Kurgan civilization of Russia.

The Celts were an agrarian society who invented the handsaw, soap, rotary reaper, and rotary mill. They were tall, fair people who wore gold torques and bracelets known as "Ornaments of Gold". The men wore short beards and mustaches and high ranking people wore dyed garments of gold. The Celts had their own money system of golden coins and developed trading centers that accumulated great wealth. These centers, called oppida, were fortified cities.

The Celts lived in tribes or clans. One tribe that migrated to Turkey were the Galatians. They are mentioned in the bible. The Celts that migrated to Ireland and Scotland were the Gaels. (pron. GAY-ls) In Ireland each clan had a chieftan who payed tribute to a high king of the province he lived in. Each chieftan had a priest, called a Druid (pron. DREW-id "To See or Know"), who advised him on all financial, legal, and spiritual matters and his own storyteller and poet called a senchaí (pron seanacie- SHAWN-uh-kee) or bard. The Druids served as teachers, judges, priests and magicians. The Bards traveled extensively, commanded high stature and owned houses, land, cattle, homes and slaves.

The Romans began conquering Europe. The Celtic Gauls burned Rome to ashes in 386 B.C. and received 1000 pounds of gold. The Romans rebuilt their city and exterminated the Senones tribe. By 279 B.C. the Temple at Delphi was destroyed by the Galatians and in 113 B.C. the Cimbris invaded Italy and destroyed four Roman armies. The decisive victory was in 46 B.C. in Alesia, Gaul (modern France) by Julius Caesar. Caesar conquered Gaul for its wealth so he could compete for emperor against rich Roman Marcus Lucinius Crassus and Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus. With the wealth of Gaul he bribed the entire Roman electorate, sponsored gladitorial games, devalued silver and took his place in history. He enslaved the Aduatuci of Gaul, made their religion illegal, and then proceeded to invade Britain for its wealth of tin and pearls.

The Romans under Claudius invaded Britain in A.D. 61 and massacred the Druids on the Isle of Man (Anglesey). They flogged Queen Boudica of Britain; raping her two daughters. She responded by leading the Celtic tribes of Iceni and Trinovantes to massacre the Romans at Colchester and burn their temple. She was defeated at London and poisoned herself rather than be put to death by her enemies. Her battle is a metaphor for the decline of the Celts. The final victory for the Romans came nine years later; when they defeated Julius Civilis of the Germanic Batavi on the Lower Rhine. At the time of Saint Patrick the remaining Celts were living in the Iron Age and wealth was measured in cattle. Although the Celtic culture was destroyed by the Romans, later missionaries in the seventh through fourteenth centuries wrote down some heroic stories of the Celts in Gaelic (pron. GAY-lihk) the language of the Celts of Ireland and Scotland. Unfortunately, Gaelic became one of Europe's most persecuted languages and entire libraries of books were destroyed over the centuries. Surviving texts were translated into English during the nineteenth century and made available to a wider audience. Gaelic is still spoken today: in Scotland, Ireland, and in regions of Canada.

Celtic Place-names

The Romans did not stamp everything out. Many places in Europe have Celtic names:

  • Arras: Atrebates tribe
  • Bordeaux: Burdigala tribe
  • Boulogne: Bononia
  • Limoges: Lemovices tribe
  • Danube: The Goddess Danu
  • Dublin: The Goddess Dubh
  • London: Welsh God Lllud
  • Lyon & Laon: The God Lugh
  • Nantes: Namnetes tribe
  • Paris: From the Parisii tribe
  • Rennes: Redones tribe
  • Rheims: Remi tribe
  • Rouen: Rotomagos
  • Sens: Senones tribe
  • Strasbourg: Germanic translation of the Gallic word "Argentorate" (silver fortress)
  • Toulouse: Tolosa
  • Vannes: Veneti tribe
  • Vienna: Vindobona
  • Iron: Germanic version of the Celtic word iarn.