PDA

View Full Version : pre-celtic (bronze age) britain...???



StormVixen
June 5th, 2007, 11:13 AM
sooo... im so drawn to the bronze age ive decided to try and recreate the "religion" of the time... im not so convinced that modern celtic beliefes are true as alot of the stuff its based on is fiction (same reason im not a Christian) and the deity system is crazy... i have read a book called "Britain BC" which is an awesome archiological book and im going to do some more reserch of bronze age britain...

anyone know anything?

Faol-chu
June 5th, 2007, 02:58 PM
Look for books by archaeologist Aubrey Burle, and archaeologist Ralph Merrifield.

Also, you may be interested in a book called The Age of Stonehenge, by author Colin Burgess. It's an old one, an not particularly oriented to 'religious aspects', but very good, still.

You are not going to find anything 'proveable' when it comes to bronze age religion, because there is absolutely NOTHING written. And whether or not something is 'religious' is going to be largely up to interpretation.
Also, bronze age culture and iron age (Celtic) culture differ greatly. Since bronze age culture obviously did not speak a ' Celtic' language, they can hardly be considered to be 'Celtic', although Celtic culture there was obviously at least partially built on that culture as it's foundation.

It is very obvious that Celtic culture was quite a bit different (perhaps DELIBERATELY so) from the culture that preceded it (them).

Seren_
June 5th, 2007, 07:26 PM
The problem you're going to have - apart from the fact that there's no written record left by them to give you some more obvious clues - is that the archaeological evidence is so diverse across Britain, we can't be sure that there was any one religion being practised, or if there were more, how much they differed from neighbouring beliefs.

Think of how different the archaeology of Wiltshire (Stonehenge, Silbury Hill etc) is from the Orkneys and Shetland, or Argyll, for example. Can we assume the evidence from Stonehenge is relevant for the rest of the country...? And so on...That's what some archaeologists are wondering, anyway.

Having said that, there are some interesting tidbits kicking around. You might be interested in the following article, about possible evidence of mummification in Bronze Age Britain:

Link (http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/archaeology/excavations_techniques/mummies_cladhhallan_01.shtml)

It's basically about how two bodies may have been mummified by being left in a bog for a short while (after their innards were removed) in order to preserve them. In one case, it looks like the body was kept for up to 600 years before finally being buried, indicating possible ancestor worship. That's another problem - because the evidence is often so ambiguous, we can only guess at the reasoning and purpose behind the Bronze Age people's actions. One of the most obvious issues will be who the gods were/are...On the one hand that gives you a lot of leeway to go with your gut and apply your own UPG and create a path...On the other hand, you might end up feeling that it's as much a fiction as a lot of the Celtic stuff that's out there. I guess it depends on how important you feel a firm historical basis for your practises is.

Sorry if that sounds disparaging...there is information out there that can help you, but at the moment I can't think of any books that would be of help. Francis Pryor is probably the best known author on the subject, so you might try other books by him.

StormVixen
June 9th, 2007, 08:06 AM
meh... i jus wanna live in the bronze age... ill figure something out...

StormVixen
July 9th, 2007, 10:22 AM
im still going with trying to recreate bronze age style religion in my head, i know theres barely any evadence but... at the end of the day its what feels right to me...

BenSt
July 9th, 2007, 10:32 AM
im still going with trying to recreate bronze age style religion in my head, i know theres barely any evadence but... at the end of the day its what feels right to me...

Is it though? I mean if theres barely any evidence, is it not a little disrespectful to put yourself out there to other people as a Bronze-Age reconstructionist?

Im curious, what kinds of things were you interested about the bronze age?

I'd recommend, if you can, getting a hold of the BBC reality show "Return to the Iron Age"...it shows a group of people living in a recreated Iron Age hill fort somewhere in Wales. Although it isn't bronze age, it does have a little information.

ap Dafydd
July 10th, 2007, 07:45 AM
I remember coming across a reference in Miranda Green somewhere about the icons of the sunwheel and the waterfowl as being common in Bronze Age religion, may have been in "The Gods of the Celts"...

gwyn eich byd

Ffred

S_Wodening
July 10th, 2007, 09:17 AM
I think you are going to also have to look at Celtic religion and see what parts of it are possibly not Celtic. This can be done by comparing the Celtic religion of the isles to that of the Gauls on the continent, and to also mention the other Indo-European religons such as the Germanic, Roman, and Slavic. If you eliminate the ideas that these have in common, you may arrive at some legitimately pre-Celtic beliefs.

Swain

Faol-chu
July 10th, 2007, 08:46 PM
I think you are going to also have to look at Celtic religion and see what parts of it are possibly not Celtic. This can be done by comparing the Celtic religion of the isles to that of the Gauls on the continent, and to also mention the other Indo-European religons such as the Germanic, Roman, and Slavic. If you eliminate the ideas that these have in common, you may arrive at some legitimately pre-Celtic beliefs.

Swain

I don't necessarily think that conclusions derived from such a method would be correct...
For the simple fact that the Germanic, Roman, and Slavic people were descended from some of the same GENETIC stock...also, the far-flung (possibly--not necessarily *definitely* non-Indo-European) cultures from which the Germanic, Romans, and Slavs were derived had some apparent similarities, as well.....

S_Wodening
July 11th, 2007, 07:37 AM
I tihnk you are misunderstanding what I am saying. I am saying eliminate the common IE elements from Celtic religion in the isles and one may arrive at the pre-Celtic British beliefs.

Faol-chu
July 11th, 2007, 07:47 AM
I tihnk you are misunderstanding what I am saying. I am saying eliminate the common IE elements from Celtic religion in the isles and one may arrive at the pre-Celtic British beliefs.


No..I'm not misunderstanding you at all...

I'm saying there were apparently some beliefs in common in the areas of the mentioned cultures BEFORE those cultures, per se, existed.

..So eliminating commonalities will not necessarily be helpful.

Also...In the British Isles and elsewhere, "pre-Celtic" does not necessarily mean "pre-Indo-European".

StormVixen
July 11th, 2007, 01:44 PM
literally... dont worry about it... ive just realised that it doesnt matter what people think will be the best way to find out what bronze age people MAY have believed because i am researching it myself scientifically and spiritually (via meditation etc)

i dont see how calling myself a "Bronze Age Reconstructionist" (i wouldnt call myself anything though) would be disrespectful in any way, unless of course all religions based on fully/partly lost religions would be considered disrespectful... which they're not (usually).

i have always been interested in all aspects of the british bronze age so i think its the right path for me to take. recently i feel that being Celtic means very little to me apart from the fact that "Cernunnos" (my patron) is a Celtic god although i believe he existed before the Celts gave him his names.

Seren_
July 11th, 2007, 02:12 PM
Do you have Hutton's Pagan Religions of the British Isles (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Pagan-Religions-Ancient-British-Isles/dp/0631189467/ref=pd_bbs_sr_3/202-1901420-1738206?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1184177996&sr=8-3)? It's a little outdated but it should at least give you a good idea of other sources you could look up.

StormVixen
July 11th, 2007, 02:14 PM
oooh no i dont ill have to take a look at that thanx x

S_Wodening
July 12th, 2007, 09:36 AM
No..I'm not misunderstanding you at all...

I'm saying there were apparently some beliefs in common in the areas of the mentioned cultures BEFORE those cultures, per se, existed.

..So eliminating commonalities will not necessarily be helpful.

Also...In the British Isles and elsewhere, "pre-Celtic" does not necessarily mean "pre-Indo-European".


Well, you are not quite correct. Remember that the IE peoples were not just the peoples of Europe, but also those of India and Persia. They would not hold in common the religious elements derived from say, the megalith builders of the British Isles and Northern Europe. Therefore, those beliefs held in common in that part of Europe would not be elimanated as a "commonality." That is if a belief is held in common by say the Germanic, Roman, and Celtic peoples, but not the Aryans of India, it could be a pre-IE belief.

As to pre-Celtic not necessarily meaning pre-Indo-European, of course it does not. There are some that think the Picts were a IE people for example.

Faol-chu
July 12th, 2007, 01:46 PM
Well, you are not quite correct. Remember that the IE peoples were not just the peoples of Europe, but also those of India and Persia. They would not hold in common the religious elements derived from say, the megalith builders of the British Isles and Northern Europe.

The thing is...Just because something appears in a Hindu Indo-European culture does not mean that it will also appear in a Northern European Indo-European culture, and vice-versa, or that it would take the same form, if it *did*. "Form" is, indeed a difficult thing to nail down....because something can take one form in one place and another in another, and not necessarily be recognized as being 'the same thing'.



As to pre-Celtic not necessarily meaning pre-Indo-European, of course it does not. There are some that think the Picts were a IE people for example.

Actually, the Picts are not necessarily what I'm talking about...although most Celtic reconstructionists are of the mind that the Picts' language WAS Celtic...not necessarily in origin, but due to intense contact WITH the Celts who surrounded them.

The jury is still out on whether the megalith builders of Europe spoke an Indo-European language. We just don't know. It could be that there were several waves.

Tullip Troll
July 12th, 2007, 01:51 PM
yeah ! Picts,

S_Wodening
July 12th, 2007, 06:42 PM
Well, we will have to disagree on the comparison method. I still feel if one compares the earliest myths such as in the Rig Veda to the Eddas and Celtic beliefs one would be able to eliminate enough of the IE beliefs to potentially arrive at something resembling pre-IE beliefs.

As to there being waves of IE peoples, that is a possibility. However, linguistics does not reflect it, nor do I understand does archeology. The Battle Axe people are thought to be the first IE invaders, and do not appear in the British Isles. Not to mention that the IE parts of the Celtic and Germanic languages and their dialects is pretty uniform showing little to no borrowing from an earlier IE people. What they do show is that Celtic has a Basque related substrate in it, while the Germanic languages have a sizable non-IE substrate. These point to contact with pre-IE peoples at some point. Now there is a theory that Germanic had contact with a satem language as it has some peculiarities that can only be explained away if one accepts that. But Celtic, does not show that.

Torulf
August 26th, 2007, 07:11 AM
Just remember that archaeologists is somewhat similar to storytellers, no disrespect to them whatsoever. They find an object and then it's up to them to find out its purpose or such. When finding several items they think up a possible scenario and present this. What I say is that it is not an absolute truth, one should also consider other options if one can get other results out of the items.

As I said, it may be true, but at the same time it may not.

The best of wishes to you =)

erika
February 1st, 2008, 10:15 AM
Just remember that archaeologists is somewhat similar to storytellers, no disrespect to them whatsoever. They find an object and then it's up to them to find out its purpose or such. When finding several items they think up a possible scenario and present this. What I say is that it is not an absolute truth, one should also consider other options if one can get other results out of the items.



Actually.. I'm a university student majoring in archaeology which is simply a subset of anthropology. We aren't storytellers. Archaeology is a very VERY exact science, when it comes to recovering sites/artifacts - at least the professionally trained ones are. There are still a lot of amatuer archaeologists out there, surprisingly, that are frowned upon because they do exactly what you just said, find and artifact and make up a story based on pure conjuncture that is not based on the science or due to poor excavation techniques. Once an artifact is excavated (or looted) from its original site without the careful, tedious techniques used by a trained archaeologist it completely loses its historical context.

What I'm trying to say is that archaeology is based on facts. Hypothesis are generally put out there after a lot of evidence has been found to support it and again - we don't claim these 'stories' to be fact. They are hypothesis that can be changed or evolve as new evidence comes to light. The point here is that we don't pick up an artifact look at it and then come up with some story to give it historical significance, it's all about the facts found through extremely knit-pickity and thorough excavations seen through a trained anthropological view.

Sorry :) it's just.. we are scientists.. not story tellers :) All about facts!

odubhain
February 2nd, 2008, 02:17 PM
What I'm trying to say is that archaeology is based on facts. Hypothesis are generally put out there after a lot of evidence has been found to support it and again - we don't claim these 'stories' to be fact. They are hypothesis that can be changed or evolve as new evidence comes to light. The point here is that we don't pick up an artifact look at it and then come up with some story to give it historical significance, it's all about the facts found through extremely knit-pickity and thorough excavations seen through a trained anthropological view.

Sorry :) it's just.. we are scientists.. not story tellers :) All about facts!
A good story teller and an archaeologist combined is the type of person needed to bring more peopl eto an understanding of the past and its meaning for the present. Please keep at your studies while not losing your sense of wonder and ability to share the story.

Facts are the place where the most professional of the Druids produced and preserved their stories. If they had possessed the tools and techniques of modern science, the world would be a better place. It is my great hope that science and philosophy can havea productive marriage in the modern world as it did during ancient times.

Searles O'Dubhain

Babylon
March 4th, 2008, 04:53 AM
interesting. I have never even read anything about Bronze Age Britain before lol, and I just researched a little bit about the culture today for the first time. So what would these people be called or what would you call them, since they weren't Celts? I have researched Celtic deities in the past, but since the deities we have concepts of are Celtic, how would you go about a pre-Celtic pantheon with such sparse evidence?

It's possible some are of pre-Celtic origin, but how to know? I'm curious as to how one would go about this. If there is religious evidence of other old European pre-IE peoples, especially if they had contact with old Britain, I would compare those and see how it all fits. It will be fascinating to see some results that come about from your path, so please do share your findings!

Babylon
March 4th, 2008, 09:33 PM
well here's an idea.

Perhaps the pre-Celtic deities were the demonized Formorians of the Irish myths, revered by the original inhabitants, but later ousted by the new Celtic gods and peoples that took over. Sure that's Irish but it could also coincide with British and Gaulish right? Some of the Irish deity names are also found in Brittain and Gaul, like Ogma/Ogmios. At least it's *something* that has to do with pre-Celtic deities.

Faol-chu
March 21st, 2008, 07:16 AM
The majority of the genetic stock of what is currently referred to as "Celts" was the same as the people who preceded them. The change from whatever was before to "Celtic" was apparently more of a cultural (linguistic) shift than one of the actual INHABITANTS of the places.

The pre-Celtic inhabitants of these areas are often referred by archaeologists by the blanket term "pre-Celtic". When they start talking about the pre-Celtic people from the various areas, then they are usually called by the name of some of the archaeological finds in those areas. (I.E. "urnfield culture", "beaker people", etc.).

We have absolutely no idea what any of those people would have called themselves.

They were NOT, though, necessarily non IE. They theoretically could have spoken a much older IE language, but we have no way of knowing.

The idea that the older gods of the pre-Celtic peoples eventually came to be the Fomorii is not out of the realm of possibilities.
I have to say, though, that I, personally think that, while this may have been the case with SOME of the 'Fomorian' entities...I do not necessarily think that it's that cut and dry.

Le meas,

Faol-chý



interesting. I have never even read anything about Bronze Age Britain before lol, and I just researched a little bit about the culture today for the first time. So what would these people be called or what would you call them, since they weren't Celts? I have researched Celtic deities in the past, but since the deities we have concepts of are Celtic, how would you go about a pre-Celtic pantheon with such sparse evidence?

It's possible some are of pre-Celtic origin, but how to know? I'm curious as to how one would go about this. If there is religious evidence of other old European pre-IE peoples, especially if they had contact with old Britain, I would compare those and see how it all fits. It will be fascinating to see some results that come about from your path, so please do share your findings!

Gwyddyon
March 21st, 2008, 11:49 AM
erika - VERY well said.:woot:A favorite professor of mine was once asked how, when looking at a lithic dispersal pattern, we might best arrive at an emic perspective (for the non-anthro people out there, "emic perspective" is a cultural anthropology term meaning looking at a culture from its own perspective). His reply? "We use data. Numbers. Without data, you're probably taking an emic perspective, which is the same as making s*** up. What's the point?"

I've been debating broaching this topic for a long time, but it's gotten too hard to keep it internalized. Are any of you familiar with the last ten or fifteen years of Iron Age studies in archaeology? It's been pretty well established that the "Celts" are a Victorian invention whose name was simply borrowed from Caesar's partially-ignorant accounts. In fact, most British archaeologists today refer to it as "the C word" and grimace a bit when it's mentioned.

odubhain
March 21st, 2008, 12:14 PM
In fact, most British archaeologists today refer to it as "the C word" and grimace a bit when it's mentioned.

I'm surprised at their pain. Please give us the word they use to describe the culture and language of this group of people that does not cause facial contortions for them.

Searles O'Dubhain

Gwyddyon
March 21st, 2008, 12:26 PM
I'm surprised at their pain. Please give us the word they use to describe the culture and language of this group of people that does not cause facial contortions for them.That's the issue, actually. Prior to the 18th century, there is no "Celtic culture", and that invention is largely only because at that point the Celtic language family was first delineated. If we're talking about Iron Age Northern Europe, the only time you should use the term "Celtic" is if you're talking about a relatively small set of tribes in what the Romans called Gaul, and even then it is likely that "Celtic" was the Roman term, and that the people it was used to refer to would hardly have recognized it. Archaeologically-speaking, there is certainly no reason to suspect that people in Galatia, Iberia, Gaul, Belgium, Ireland, or Britain saw themselves as related in any way at all beyond perhaps a scattered preference for certain artistic forms (which, it must be highlighted, are hardly universal and not spatially or temporally coherent in distribution). For that matter, almost nobody in Ireland or Scotland would even be familiar with the EXISTANCE of Belgium or Brittany. The best we can say is that neighbouring tribes in what is now England may have shared a language, that neighbouring tribes in what is now Switzerland may have enjoyed the same La Tene decoration, and that elites in what is now Brittany developed a fondness for it as well, probably as a means to highlight their status as elites.

This is not to say Irish, Scottish, and Galician people today are wrong if they refer to themselves as "Celtic". That is their cultural identity, and they are welcome to it. What is largely fantasy is the attribution of this modern term, born largely out of 19th century nationalism, to people living 3000 years ago.

Gwyddyon
March 21st, 2008, 01:16 PM
here is that line from Caesar's BG that says something along the lines of "We call them Galli, they call themselves Celtae", but this may have only been applicable to those people in Southern Gaul.

Caesar also describes a species of German elk that does not have knees - he's best taken with a wagon of salt when he's not discussing Roman politics or military tactics.


There's actually evidence that Bronze and Iron Age Ireland did trade with Britain, Gaul, Belgica, Germania, Celtic-Iberia, and possibly the Mediterranean. They were more than likely to be familiar with foreign states.Yeah, there is. There are also moon rocks in the Smithsonian - doesn't mean I have on in my kitchen. I'm well aware of the trade connections - my undergraduate thesis dealt extensively with pre-historic and early historic trade in Northern Europe, and I'm about to start graduate work along the same lines. BUT, we have to remember that the archaeological record is not necessarily representative of the material record at the time. If we find a Belgian sword in Donegal, that means that at some point there was a connection between a Belgian and a guy from Donegal, or between a Belgian, a Scottish middleman, and a guy from Donegal. That doesn't mean everybody in Donegal has a connection in Belgium, or even that anybody other than that guy does. We've taken far too much for granted based on too few finds in the past.


'Celtic' is more often than not used by anthropologists and archaeologists as a term to describe an Indo-European linguistic group, not a people or race. There is evidence of people speaking and using Celtic languages as far back as 2, 500 years.This is true. That's why I'm only suggesting that the notion of Celtic culture stretching back further than three or four hundred years is erroneous. Linguistically, it's fine.

ancestral_lee
March 27th, 2008, 07:33 AM
hi Storm Vixen,

i would start with archeology. look up what these people did and how they lived. the journal of british archeology is available free onlin - have a look at that for starters... http://www.britarch.ac.uk/BA/ba.html with back issues online too. damn good recoource. franci pryor is another good book to get - one called 'Seahenge'.

i think that as far as some sort of reconstruction goes you will find references to the development of ancestor worship to deity worship during the bronze age.

WarriorZhanna
December 22nd, 2008, 09:50 AM
As far as I know it's quite hard to find any historical sources about pre-Celtic Britain. I'm guessing you meant the period before the Indo-Europeans came to these lands. Scientists are still trying to find out about the people who lived here before. One of the possible candidates are the Picts of Scotland because it is not for certain whether they were Celts or not. Some think they were pre-Celtic, some think they were not and that the real indigenous people of Britain have been wiped out which is quite sad since I'm very interested in this subject.
There is debate going on whether the Stonehenge was built by the Celts or those before the Celts came. I personally believe it was not built by proto-Celts but by some other ancient tribes.

spiral
December 22nd, 2008, 10:19 AM
There is debate going on whether the Stonehenge was built by the Celts or those before the Celts came. I personally believe it was not built by proto-Celts but by some other ancient tribes.

I agree with you, I didn't realise this was still being debated. I've read that construction of Stonehenge was begun around 3000-2500 BC, long before the Celts.

WarriorZhanna
December 22nd, 2008, 10:30 AM
I agree with you, I didn't realise this was still being debated. I've read that construction of Stonehenge was begun around 3000-2500 BC, long before the Celts.

Really? Wow. That indeed is long before the Celts. It's funny when I think of Britain and its mythical places with all those stone circles, megaliths, crops, forests.. it's hard to imagine them without the Celts or Druids. They've just been here for so long and obviously has had a huge impact on this place, almost like becoming one with it. It's almost like a typical stereotype in most fiction too.. like when someone hears the word 'Celt' they automatically become reminded of the Stonehenge or other places, legends etc in Britain. Yet it's so strange to think that it is more likely that the Stonehenge never was built by the Celts.. Do you know what I mean?

I wish there was more historical evidence or some sources on pre-Celtic Britain. It's just so intriguing. I wonder if there are any Pictish people left in the North of Scotland? My bf suggested that there might some traces of a tribe left keeping the whole thing "secret".. (my bf's crazy imagination, lol) and I was quite amused by the idea. He is English himself. He mentioned that the Brits seem to ignore the real roots of Britain or something... yet I've seen some documentaries on BBC and Discovery where British archaeologists try to find evidence or traces. I once watched one stating that the Anglo-Saxons never came from anywhere else but instead had always been here.. which I kind of doubt. But then again you never know. The whole ancient pre-Celtic and even Celtic history of these isles is a bit of a mystery. ;)

spiral
December 22nd, 2008, 10:49 AM
I think those dates are correct, I'm not an expert but most of what I've read suggests that sort of timeframe. Although construction did involve a number of phases over a number of years, it was basically complete before the Celts were around.

I do know what you mean about the word 'Celtic', there's something about the stories and images that just seems to capture the imagination! But I suppose that, even though the Celts didn't construct Stonehenge themselves, they may still have made use of it for their own practices.


I wish there was more historical evidence or some sources on pre-Celtic Britain. It's just so intriguing.

I know how you feel, I'm also very interested in pre-Celtic Britain, and yeah, it's hard to find much information.


The whole ancient pre-Celtic and even Celtic history of these isles is a bit of a mystery. ;)

Maybe this is why we find it so intriguing :smileroll

Seren_
December 22nd, 2008, 11:24 AM
As far as I know it's quite hard to find any historical sources about pre-Celtic Britain. I'm guessing you meant the period before the Indo-Europeans came to these lands. Scientists are still trying to find out about the people who lived here before. One of the possible candidates are the Picts of Scotland because it is not for certain whether they were Celts or not. Some think they were pre-Celtic, some think they were not and that the real indigenous people of Britain have been wiped out which is quite sad since I'm very interested in this subject.
There is debate going on whether the Stonehenge was built by the Celts or those before the Celts came. I personally believe it was not built by proto-Celts but by some other ancient tribes.

It's pretty much accepted these days that the Picts do come under the Celtic umbrella (in that they spoke a Celtic language, from the few bits we have left); the debates mainly range around how influenced their language was by other cultures, especially Scandinavian. The pre-Celtic/non-Indo-European Picts argument has been around for a long time - well over a hundred years, but there's very little actual substance to the argument.

Stonehenge was built long before Celtic culture arrived - it was started around 3000BC, like Spiral said, and went through several phases of construction until around 1600BC (so from the late Neolithic to the mid Bronze Age). The debates concerning Celtic involvement mainly centre around whether or not the Celts (in particular the druids) would have used Stonehenge themselves.

The Celts are usually equated with the Iron Age, which began in Britain around 700BC, so that's quite a long time span from the last phase of construction (but not usage, of course). There's evidence of Iron Age activity at Stonehenge (which would imply druidic activity if it was for ritual purpose), but it's not clear to what extent.

WarriorZhanna
December 22nd, 2008, 11:27 AM
I do know what you mean about the word 'Celtic', there's something about the stories and images that just seems to capture the imagination! But I suppose that, even though the Celts didn't construct Stonehenge themselves, they may still have made use of it for their own practices.

Yeah, that's what I mean by saying that the Celts sort of seem to have fused into "one" with the whole Stonehenge thing (the nature, mythical places of Britain) as in I'm sure they used it for their own practices too. So I've noticed that a lot of people relate this stuff to the Celts because the Celts have just been around for so long that it's hard to tell anybody these stone circles and Celts might be two different things.. as in they are not related (if you think of who built them and everything).... well, you know what I mean. My English is not very clear sometimes, lol.


Maybe this is why we find it so intriguing :smileroll

Yeah, I agree with you. :uhhuhuh: :bigredgri

WarriorZhanna
December 22nd, 2008, 11:32 AM
It's pretty much accepted these days that the Picts do come under the Celtic umbrella (in that they spoke a Celtic language, from the few bits we have left); the debates mainly range around how influenced their language was by other cultures, especially Scandinavian. The pre-Celtic/non-Indo-European Picts argument has been around for a long time - well over a hundred years, but there's very little actual substance to the argument.

Stonehenge was built long before Celtic culture arrived - it was started around 3000BC, like Spiral said, and went through several phases of construction until around 1600BC (so from the late Neolithic to the mid Bronze Age). The debates concerning Celtic involvement mainly centre around whether or not the Celts (in particular the druids) would have used Stonehenge themselves.

The Celts are usually equated with the Iron Age, which began in Britain around 700BC, so that's quite a long time span from the last phase of construction (but not usage, of course). There's evidence of Iron Age activity at Stonehenge (which would imply druidic activity if it was for ritual purpose), but it's not clear to what extent.

Wow, this was an interesting read! Thanks for this info, Seren!

So, it is mainly agreed now that the Picts really were Celtic people after all? I've heard some theories that they might've been Proto-European people or something.. kinda like the Finno-Ugric people if you know what I mean.
I've also seen that ascendants of the Celts seem to support the Pics = proto-Celts idea more than others. Then again I might be wrong. Either way, the Picts are an interesting tribe. I wonder if there are any traces left.. like a few people or something.. or are they really completely and totally wiped out to the point of almost having nothing left of them?
Oh and, has anyone seen King Arthur? They had the Picts in that movie. Not sure how accurate the portrayal of them was but I think they at least got the part/fact about them using blue bodypaint right.

Seren_
December 22nd, 2008, 11:34 AM
I wish there was more historical evidence or some sources on pre-Celtic Britain. It's just so intriguing. I wonder if there are any Pictish people left in the North of Scotland?

My husband would say, "Many are chosen, few are Pict." :p

The history of Scotland is very complicated and because of its Gaelic legacy, which is a little more obvious and better recorded, the Picts do tend to get ignored a lot. There's a Scottish history programme that's been broadcast up here recently, and it's going to be shown in England (on BBC2) at the beginning of next year. The first episode covers a lot of good stuff on the Picts.

WarriorZhanna
December 22nd, 2008, 11:42 AM
My husband would say, "Many are chosen, few are Pict." :p

The history of Scotland is very complicated and because of its Gaelic legacy, which is a little more obvious and better recorded, the Picts do tend to get ignored a lot. There's a Scottish history programme that's been broadcast up here recently, and it's going to be shown in England (on BBC2) at the beginning of next year. The first episode covers a lot of good stuff on the Picts.

Really? Cool! Thanks for telling me! Hope I'll be able to see that then. I'm pretty sure my English bf will be interested too.

I decided to see what Wikipedia says about the Pictish language, lol.


The Pictish language has not survived. Evidence is limited to place names and to the names of people found on monuments and the contemporary records. The evidence of place-names and personal names argue strongly that the Picts spoke Insular Celtic languages related to the more southerly Brythonic languages. A number of inscriptions have been argued to be non-Celtic, and on this basis, it has been suggested that non-Celtic languages were also in use.

The absence of surviving written material in Pictish does not mean a pre-literate society. The church certainly required literacy, and could not function without copyists to produce liturgical documents. Pictish iconography shows books being read, and carried, and its naturalistic style gives every reason to suppose that such images were of real life. Literacy was not widespread, but among the senior clergy, and in monasteries, it would have been common enough.

Place-names often allow us to deduce the existence of historic Pictish settlements in Scotland. Those prefixed with "Aber-", "Lhan-", or "Pit-" indicate regions inhabited by Picts in the past (for example: Aberdeen, Lhanbryde, Pitmedden, Pittodrie etc). Some of these, such as "Pit-" (portion, share), were formed after Pictish times, and may refer to previous "shires" or "thanages".

The evidence of place-names may also reveal the advance of Gaelic into Pictland. As noted, Atholl, meaning New Ireland, is attested in the early 8th century. This may be an indication of the advance of Gaelic. Fortriu also contains place-names suggesting Gaelic settlement, or Gaelic influences.

Hey, didn't the Scots come from Ireland after the Picts (who had been there before)? I read somewhere that their ancestors were the Irish people but that in time they became a separate Celtic tribe and eventually travelled to Scotland.

Seren_
December 22nd, 2008, 11:46 AM
Wow, this was an interesting read! Thanks for this info, Seren!

So, it is mainly agreed now that the Picts really were Celtic people after all? I've heard some theories that they might've been Proto-European people or something.. kinda like the Finno-Ugric people if you know what I mean.
I've also seen that ascendants of the Celts seem to support the Pics = proto-Celts idea more than others. Then again I might be wrong. Either way, the Picts are an interesting tribe. I wonder if there are any traces left.. like a few people or something.. or are they really completely and totally wiped out to the point of almost having nothing left of them?
Oh and, has anyone seen King Arthur? They had the Picts in that movie. Not sure how accurate the portrayal of them was but I think they at least got the part/fact about them using blue bodypaint right.

Yes, it seems they were P-Celtic, which means their language would have been pretty similar to Brythonic, which would have been spoken elsewhere in Britain. Over time Brythonic evolved into more regionalised languages like Cornish, Cumbric and Welsh.

It's unlikely the Picts were wiped out; it's more that Gaelic language and culture became more dominant than Pictish and so everybody began speaking that instead. It's thought that some political offices - like the mormaer (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mormaer) - found in medieval Scotland may have come from the Picts rather than the Gaels. This is heavily debated, though.

King Arthur was about as historically accurate as Braveheart...In other words, they both failed miserably. To be fair, they were supposed to tell a tale, not give history lessons, but do take either of them too literally. And even the body paint's historically debatable.

WarriorZhanna
December 22nd, 2008, 11:54 AM
Here's something I found from this site:
http://www.orkneyjar.com/history/picts/language.htm

Quoting (from the site above):
"As with all things Pictish, however, the lack of concrete evidence has led to a number of opinions and theories as to the form of the spoken language of the inhabitants of Northern Scotland in the early centuries of the first millennium.

These generally fall into one of three camps:

Theory 1: The Picts spoke an ancient language indigenous to area - a language that predated the Celtic languages of the Britons, the Scots and the Irish. This language did not have an Indo-European origin but was instead a survival of the ancient language used by the Bronze Age people of the area.

Theory 2: The Picts spoke a P-Celtic language - that is a Celtic language related to the language of the Ancient Britons. When the Celts arrived in Britain they brought with them an Indo-European language which replaced the existing languages of country. This, say supporters, is clear from the known Pictish placenames in north-east Scotland.

But if this was the case why did Bede regard Pictish as a different language? Was there perhaps a strong regional accent? Just as a visitor to Orkney in past years often struggled with the Orcadian accent, although the islanders were still essentially speaking English.

Theory 3: Along the same lines is the idea that the Picts spoke a P-Celtic language, a version of Ancient British that contained elements of Irish Gaelic - fragments picked up over the years through contact with the Scotti - the invading Irish settlers who claimed territory down the west coast of Scotland. This theory is strengthened by the fact that the writing system known to be used by the Picts – Ogham – actually originated in Ireland."

I didn't know the Ogham originated in Ireland and that it was used by the Picts. O_o

I myself am somewhere inbetween theories 1 & 3. I think that in the end it's either one of the two. Perhaps if linguists, scientists and archaeologists did some serious research... time would reveal the real option (I hope).

Seren_
December 22nd, 2008, 11:55 AM
Hey, didn't the Scots come from Ireland? I read somewhere that their ancestors were the Irish people but that in time they became a separate Celtic tribe and eventually travelled to Scotland.

The Irish Dal Riata settled on the western seaboard of Scotland, roughly covering the modern area of Argyll and the Isles. Whether they arrived en masse and set themselves up in that part of Scotland, or else a few politically influential Dal Riatans came over and then took over the area, isn't certain.

They were the neighbours of the Picts to the east of them, and the Britons to the south of them. They brought Irish Gaelic to Scotland, and eventually the Scottish Dal Riata became politically separate from Ireland. Over time the language evolved and became Scottish Gaelic, but I'm sure when this happened exactly.

WarriorZhanna
December 22nd, 2008, 11:58 AM
The Irish Dal Riata settled on the western seaboard of Scotland, roughly covering the modern area of Argyll and the Isles. Whether they arrived en masse and set themselves up in that part of Scotland, or else a few politically influential Dal Riatans came over and then took over the area, isn't certain.

They were the neighbours of the Picts to the east of them, and the Britons to the south of them. They brought Irish Gaelic to Scotland, and eventually the Scottish Dal Riata became politically separate from Ireland. Over time the language evolved and became Scottish Gaelic, but I'm sure when this happened exactly.

Ah, I see. Thanks for the explanation. I've learnt something new today! :D

Seren_
December 22nd, 2008, 12:08 PM
But if this was the case why did Bede regard Pictish as a different language? Was there perhaps a strong regional accent? Just as a visitor to Orkney in past years often struggled with the Orcadian accent, although the islanders were still essentially speaking English.

Bede himself was a Northumbrian, so was an Anglo-Saxon, but it's possible that Pictish was a regionally distinct relative of Brythonic. ETA: Adomnan (not Bede as I originally put) wrote that the Gaels of Dal Riata (St Columba, I think he was referring to) needed an interpreter to speak to the Picts, showing that they spoke different languages that were quite dissimilar.


Theory 3: Along the same lines is the idea that the Picts spoke a P-Celtic language, a version of Ancient British that contained elements of Irish Gaelic - fragments picked up over the years through contact with the Scotti - the invading Irish settlers who claimed territory down the west coast of Scotland. This theory is strengthened by the fact that the writing system known to be used by the Picts – Ogham – actually originated in Ireland."

I didn't know the Ogham originated in Ireland and that it was used by the Picts. O_o

I myself am somewhere inbetween theories 1 & 3. I think that in the end it's either one of the two.

The 'Pictish ogams' are usually called that because they were considered to unintelligible or gibberish by linguists. Recent work has provided at least one partial translation of a 'Pictish' ogam, and has in fact shown it to be Gaelic - just very obscure. This one was the inscription found at the Dal Riatan capital of Dunadd, and appears to say something about 'Finn the monk'. I think others have also been found to be Gaelic as well, but I can't think of any further examples. However, there's some criticism of previous scholars being overly dismissive of these ogams as being Pictish because they don't conform to preconceived ideas of how they should look in Gaelic. This isn't to say that ogam wasn't used by the Picts, just that it's not always as clearcut as people like to present things...

Kathryn Forsyth gives a good overview of the arguments concerning the Pictish language, and also did the translation on the Dunadd ogam. You can read her booklet about language here:

http://eprints.gla.ac.uk/2081/

WarriorZhanna
December 22nd, 2008, 12:32 PM
This might sound a little crazy for an English-speaking person not familiar with Finno-Ugric history but have you ever considered that maybe the Picts might have some relation to Finno-Ugric people or their languages? I've heard this theory since I'm an Estonian myself.

Quoting (from this website: http://www.paabo.ca/uirala/FinnoUgricbkgd.html):

Furthermore, since archeology indicates trade connections between Norway and northern Britain (ie the Picts), we can extend the Finno-Ugrians even to the Picts, at least those of the east side. The connection between the trader-Picts and the east Baltic is affirmed by the Anglo-Saxon scholar monk Venerable Bede who wrote that the Picts had come in longboats "from Scythia". In that day, "Scythia" was the region from the east Baltic eastward. Clearly traders from Greater Estonia were arriving on the British east coast, and were witnessed to speak a language similar to that of the Picts who recieved them.

A Roman historian, Tacitus, mentioned in his book "Germania" the Aestii tribe:

Turning, therefore, to the right hand shore of the Suebian sea, we find it washing the country of the Aestii, who have the same customs and fashions as the Suebi, but a language more like the British. They worship the Mother of the Gods, and wear, as an emblem of this cult, the device of a wild boar, which stands them in stead of armor or human protection and gives the worshiper a sense of security even among his enemies. They seldom use weapons of iron, but clubs very often. They cultivate grain and other crops with a perseverance unusual among the indolent Germans. They also ransack the sea. they are the only people who collect amber - glaesum is their own word for it - in the shallows or even on the beach. Like true barbarians, they have never asked or discovered what it is or how it is made.
Source: http://www.unrv.com/tacitus/tacitus-germania-12.php

I've heard a lot of amber can also be found near Ireland if I'm not mistaken. I think my bf once mentioned this. Estonian linguists and scientists are trying to make sense out of what Tacitus said about our language sounding like that of the British (Brythonic.. some suggest Pictish). Yet proto-Estonian is a Finno-Ugric language not related to Indo-European languages such as the Celtic languages (IF Pictish is P-Celtic that is). Strange.. but nevertheless it was an interesting thing to discover when I did some research about my ancestry.

_Banbha_
December 22nd, 2008, 12:51 PM
My husband would say, "Many are chosen, few are Pict." :p

:lol: Ouch. :toofless:

Seren_
December 22nd, 2008, 12:52 PM
It's certainly likely that the Picts had contact with Scandinavian traders and probably picked up at least a few words from them. There's really very little evidence to suggest, from the scant evidence that's left, that Pictish was anything other than a primarily Celtic language, though.

The idea of Picts being somehow non-Indo-European at their core comes largely from the modern perception of that area of Scotland being geographically isolated from other parts of Britain; being so isolated, then scholars argued that obviously they're more likely to retain non-Indo-European language and culture, and the Celtic stuff was only a veneer.

Until relatively recently, Celtic scholars and archaeologists have seriously underestimated the Picts and their contact with other cultures. They are now known to have had a strong sea presence and fairly cosmopolitan tradelinks within Britain and people overseas, and with this evidence it's increasingly obvious that they weren't the isolated, backward primitives they were commonly seen to be. So it's highly unlikely that the Picts and the Picts alone, of all the tribes in Britain, retained a pre-Indo-European language or adopted the language of another people, and yet expressed their material culture in a Celtic manner.

Bede, like Tacitus, has his uses but a lot of what he writes shouldn't be taken as being literal. They both had an agenda in how they portrayed other peoples.

WarriorZhanna
December 22nd, 2008, 12:56 PM
Bede, like Tacitus, has his uses but a lot of what he writes shouldn't be taken as being literal. They both had an agenda in how they portrayed other peoples.

Indeed. I just thought the whole theory was interesting. Whatever the case of the Picts, I hope someday we'll find out more.

But in the mean time, my own opinion of the whole thing remains as does yours and everyone elses.

It's been a pleasant discussion to have with you, Seren! Thank you. :)

Seren_
December 22nd, 2008, 01:03 PM
No worries! I've enjoyed it too :D

Maggie
December 30th, 2008, 01:45 AM
W. A. Cummins, The Age of the Picts and The Picts and Their Symbols.

The second book is particularly interesting.

Faol-chu
December 31st, 2008, 11:12 AM
It's certainly likely that the Picts had contact with Scandinavian traders and probably picked up at least a few words from them.

If you follow archaeology and genetic testing into the far reaches of time, you will find that many of the inhabitants of Scotland and Scandinavian countries have a common lineage. (I'm talking about before the vikings, and even before 'Celtic' times.)

This is absolutely a more common lineage than Ireland, or the rest of Britain.

Food for thought!