Тhe Celts in Wales

Life of the Celts: the first Celts in Wales, farmling, celtic family life, housing, welsh gold, fortification, language, religion, society, women. The role of Druids in celtic society. The celts at war. Celtic appearance and art. Welsh mythology.

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Министерство образования Республики Беларусь

Учреждение образования «Гродненский государственный университет имени Янки Купалы»

Филологический факультет

Курсовая работа

Тhe Celts in Wales

Выполнил студент 2 курса, 281 группы,

Специальность «Современные иностранные языки»

Бернат Владислав Марьянович

Научный руководитель:

Старший преподаватель

Ларина Ольга Владимировна

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«___» ____________ 2013 г.

Курсовая работа защищена

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Гродно 2013

  • Contents:
  • Introduction
  • Part I. Life of the Celts
  • 1.1 The first Celts in Wales
  • 1.2 Farmling
  • 1.3 Celtic family life
  • 1.4 Housing
  • 1.5 Welsh gold
  • 1.6 Fortification
  • 1.7 Language
  • 1.8 Religion
  • 1.9 Society
  • 1.10 Women
  • 1.11 Druids
  • 1.12 The celts at war
  • 1.13 Celtic appearance and art
  • Summary
  • Part II. Welsh mythology
  • Part III. Modern Celts
  • Summary
  • Conclusion
  • Appendix I
  • Appendix II
  • Literature
  • Introduction
  • druids celts wales
  • The actuality of the work is subject to the growing interest to Celtic culture. But the Welsh celts are shown not so much attention because they are not known so much about as Irish or Scottish Celts.
  • The research done in this work shows the diversity of cultures of Celts in different countries and describes Celtic way if life.
  • The method used in course paper is comparison with other Celtic cultures.
  • The subject of the study is Celtic history and culture, the difference between Welsh Celts and the Celts in other countries.
  • The main purpose of the course paper is to develop the reader's interest to Celtic history and culture; to give necessary information on modern Celts.
  • The course paper consists of three parts.
  • First part tells about the history of Celts and their culture.
  • Second part is devoted to the Celtic mythology.
  • Third part deals with modern Celts and their culture.
  • Appendix one is the list of Welsh Celtic female names.
  • Appendix two is the list of Welsh gods by Jennifer Emick.
  • The work is based on works of many researchers as David Ross, Jennifer Emick and many others.
  • Part I. Life of the Celts
  • Who Were The Celts?
  • The regions of Wales were developing along tribal lines by the time the advent of iron ushered in a new cultural change. The Ordovices in the north east and the Silures in the south east are but two of these early tribes, the names of which are not their own but those given them by late Roman invaders.
  • The earliest iron artefact in Wales is a sword dating to about 600 BCE, but by 400 BCE iron was being smelted and crafted into tools all over the British Isles.
  • The tribes of Wales developed regional styles of working iron, gold, and other metals, following the exquisite western European style known as La Tene (after the village of La Tene in Switzerland). At the same time as iron was introduced to Britain a new crop of settlers arrived from northern Europe.
  • These were the Celts, whose cultural influence cannot be overstated. Traditional history has viewed the Celts as fierce conquerors who swept away the vestiges of earlier cultures and took complete control of Welsh society.
  • A more balanced and likely theory is that the actual number of Celtic newcomers was low, and though they managed to dominate the culture of the earlier inhabitants of Wales, they did so without changing the overall physical or racial characteristics. So the Welsh of today are more likely to owe their physiognomy, if not their culture, to the Beaker People rather than the later Celts.
  • The Iron Age is the age of the Celt in Britain. Over the 500 or so years leading up to the first Roman invasion a Celtic culture established itself throughout the British Isles. Who were these Celts? The Celts as we know them today exist largely in the magnificence of their art and the words of the Romans who fought them.
  • The trouble with the reports of the Romans is that they were a mix of reportage and political propaganda. It was politically expedient for the Celtic peoples to be coloured as barbarians and the Romans as a great civilizing force. And history written by the winners is always suspect.
  • Caesar's conquest of Gaul took place in the period 58 to 50 BC. His notes on the Gallic War give us occasional glimpses of the ancient Celtic people and their culture. Roman Gaul comprised France, part of Holland, Belgium and the greater part of Switzerland. These lands, together with Britain had long been settled by warlike Celts, a people from central Europe. Soon after 500 BC, the Celts wandered east and west in their search for fertile farming land. Around 390 BC, the Celts had even invaded Rome and sacked the city. It was to take two hundred years for the Celts to be driven from Italy and by Ceasar's time Rome already controlled southern Gaul.
  • Where did they come from? What we do know is that the people we call Celts gradually infiltrated England and Wales over the course of the centuries between about 500 and 100 B.C. There was probably never an organized Celtic invasion; for one thing the Celts were so fragmented and given to fighting among themselves that the idea of a concerted invasion would have been ludicrous.
  • The Celts were a group of peoples loosely tied by similar language, religion, and cultural expression. They were not centrally governed, and quite as happy to fight each other as any non-Celt. They were warriors, living for the glories of battle and plunder.
  • 1.1 The first Celts in Wales
  • The inhabitants of Wales were of course on the periphery of this thousand-year flourishing of Celtic language and Celtic art within the heart of Europe. Not only that, after about 600 BC, there is very little evidence of the kind of links that had been kept up earlier. This has been related to a period of severe climatic deterioration which reduced populations and limited any sort of contact with the wider world. This was again particularly serious in Ireland, and these centuries of relative isolation have been linked to the preservation there of a more archaic form of Celtic language than that of continental Europe and of Britain. What language or languages were spoken by the inhabitants of Wales before they adopted a Celtic form, we do not know, any more than we can be certain of the process by which the Celtic form spread through the population. We can surmise that this happened first with the upper levels of society and was gradually picked up, generation by generation, by the rest. It is notable, though, that in the first century the Romans found essentially the same language was spoken throughout the whole of Britain south of the Forth-Clyde line in Scotland. The process was not limited to Wales. Such uniformity of speech suggests close connections between the tribal groups of Wales, as they emerge from prehistory, and those of south Britain. This pre-Welsh language has been labelled Brittonic or Brythonic. It stems from the 'Common Celtic' that also evolved into the Gaulish language. Both share the linguistic changes that Irish Gaelic never adopted, notably the change of the fe- or q- sound into p- . Thus 'four' in Welsh became pedwar, whilst in Gaelic it was ceithir, closer to the Latin form quattuori 'head' in Welsh became pen, whilst in Gaelic it was the often-found references to the languages as being p-Celtic and -Celtic respectively.
  • It is important to bear in mind that Brittonic came to be spoken by the same people whose ancestors had lived in Wales for many generations previously. Any admixture of colonists from Europe was likely to be so small as to be of imperceptible influence. Incomers from Ireland - unless, as is possible, there were groups in Ireland who spoke a p-Celtic language - are also unlikely. To what degree Brittonic spread into Wales from the tribes of south Britain is harder to gauge. The inhabitants of Kent and Sussex were much closer and more immediately accessible to the coast of Gaul than were those of Wales. On the other hand, in the first century ec, transport into Britain seems to have been virtually the monopoly of the Veneti tribe, living on the coast of what is now Brittany. To them, Cornwall and Wales would have been readily accessible, and there was a long-established trade route by sea down to the mouth of the Garonne and inland from there. [7, p. 16]
  • 1.2 Farming
  • The Celts were farmers when they weren't fighting. One of the interesting innovations that they brought to Britain was the iron plough. Earlier ploughs had been awkward affairs, basically a stick with a pointed end harnessed behind two oxen. They were suitable only for ploughing the light upland soils. [1, p.17]
  • The heavier iron ploughs constituted an agricultural revolution all by themselves, for they made it possible for the first time to cultivate the rich valley and lowland soils. They came with a price, though. It generally required a team of eight oxen to pull the plough, so to avoid the difficulty of turning that large a team, Celtic fields tended to be long and narrow, a pattern that can still be seen in some parts of the country today.
  • 1.3. Celtic family life
  • The basic unit of Celtic life was the clan, a sort of extended family. The term "family" is a bit misleading, for by all accounts the Celts practiced a peculiar form of child rearing; they didn't rear them, they farmed them out. Children were actually raised by foster parents. The foster father was often the brother of the birth-mother. Clans were bound together very loosely with other clans into tribes, each of which had its own social structure and customs, and possibly its own local gods.
  • 1.4. Housing
  • The Celts lived in huts of arched timber with walls of wicker and roofs of thatch. The huts were generally gathered in loose hamlets. In several places each tribe had its own coinage system.
  • 1.5 Welsh Gold
  • One of the reasons for the invasion by the Romans was gold. Even then Welsh gold had a reputation for its quality and look. Even today gold for the Royal wedding rings still traditionally comes from Welsh gold.
  • Welsh gold is mined by hand and is found in an area stretching from Barmouth, past Dolgellau and up towards Snowdonia. Welsh gold-bearing rock lies in seams, like coal, and has been known to yield up to thirty ounces per tonne. There is only one operational gold mine left in Wales today at Dolaucothi, near Pumpsaint, Carmarthenshire. This mine was producing gold before the invasion of the Romans who continued to extract gold from it. After their departure it lay abandoned for centuries, although it was briefly reopened in the 19th century but with the mine finally closing in 1938.
  • 1.6 Fortification
  • Among the concepts imported into south Britain from the Hallstatt culture was that of fortification. Prior to the seventh century, it is likely that the inhabitants were more concerned to protect their settlements from the attacks of wild ifnimals than from the attacks of other communities. Wood was the chief, probably the only, building material, apart from daub, straw and leaves. No stone dwelling from before the Iron Age (around 500 BC) has been identified in Wales. A simple palisade of stakes is likely to have been the protection of most homes. In central Europe, however, where riches and rivalries were at a far higher level, protection from one another became more important. Hill-forts, surrounded by massive ramparts, were established, often with whole 'towns' inside for the population to reside, or seek protection, in. Hill-forts had already been established in Wales, perhaps as early as 1000 BC, but in the middle of the millennium, their numbers increased rapidly [7, p. 16]. Of the more than five hundred hill-forts identified, many are relatively small, the majority being of less than five hectares in extent, and some two hundred being under half a hectare: refuges for an extended family group and their animals rather than true forts. The builders of these forts were principally pastoralists, though they also cultivated wheat, barley and flax in small fields where shelter allowed. Evidence of metalworking has also been found at some fort sites, such as Dinorben in Denbighshire and Breidden in Powys; at these forts the patronage and protection of a local chief or king allowed the bronze- and tin-smiths to practise their craft in security. Many forts were used only on particular occasions, such as special assemblies for trade or ritual, apart from serving as refuges. Over the centuries they were often rebuilt, extended or reduced.
  • Hill-forts were built throughout Wales, though they are fewest in the most mountainous regions. Their concentration is greatest in the south-west, though the majority here are small. Often they are coastal features, utilising the ridges running seawards by having a wall placed across the neck of the resulting promontory. Anyone walking the Pembroke coastal path will come across 'cliff casdes1 of this type. Larger forts are more common on the eastern side, where a sequence follows the line of the Black Mountains and the Berwyns, overlooking the Wye and Severn Valleys. Among the largest is Llanymynech, in a district where copper was mined. In the same region, Oswestry Old Fort is one of the best preserved in site and outline, its rampart walls and ditches still sharp and steep in profile. The huts within the forts, ranging in number from one or two to 150 or more, were round houses. A thick wall of stones and turf, with a single entrance, provided a base for a pitched roof of thatch, with a central smoke-hole for the fire. The building of hill-forts effectively came to an end with the Roman occupation.
  • Until recently, historians linked the introduction of ironworking into Wales with the arrival of a `Celtic' people, whose iron weapons and tools were an important factor in their achieving domination over the inhabitants who were still practising a Bronze Age technology. The notion of the sudden importation of iron has been abandoned in favour of that of a much more gradual process, similar to that which also transmitted changes of language and culture. The oldest iron artefact found in Wales is a sword, from Llyn Fawr, that is situated in the mountains above the Rhondda, dating from about 600 BC. At such a time, it would have been among the first of its kind. This remarkably preserved weapon, probably made in Britain, is of Hallstatt style in such details as the chape, or base-plate, of the scabbard. An iron sickle, made on the model of an older bronze one, was also found, as well as bronze spearhead and axeheads, and two bronze cauldrons. It is believed that the Llyn Fawr items were thrown there for hiding, by raiders caught with their booty; but they may also have been placed as sacrificial offerings. [3, p. 35]
  • For a long time, iron remained a prestige metal, and bronze, stone and bone also remained very much in use. From this era grew the legend of the smith-god Gofannon, incorporated into old Welsh mythology as a son of the mother-goddess Don, and who in the Mabinogi sharpens the plough of Amaethon for Culhwch.
  • During World War II, when the runways at RAF Valley were being extended in connection with the defence of the Western Approaches, a remarkable hoard of ancient weapons and other artefacts was discovered at Llyn Cerrig Bach. This was almost certainly a cult area, where these items, including many iron pieces of harness, were offered to the gods. Some may have been made locally - clearly Anglesey was a rich and heavily populated island in the early Iron Age - but others have been traced to workshops in Ireland and different parts of south Britain. Many of them show clear influence of the La Tene style in their design and decoration.

1.7 Language

There was a written Celtic language, but it developed well into Christian times, so for much of Celtic history they relied on oral transmission of culture, primarily through the efforts of bards and poets. These arts were tremendously important to the Celts, and much of what we know of their traditions comes to us today through the old tales and poems that were handed down for generations before eventually being written down. The Celts of Gaul (roughly modern day France) settled in Britain in the centuries after 600 BC. By the time that Gaul and Britain were brought into the Roman Empire (most of Britain was conquered by 85 AD) these lands shared a language which linguists call Gallo-Brittonic. This was an Indo-European language, just one of nine different branches. From Gallo Brittonic descended Welsh, Cornish and Breton, the so-called P Celtic languages. (The Indo-European kw sound had developed into p). The Celtic spoken in Ireland and the Isle of Man became known as Q Celtic (the kw sound had been retained and was written first as q and later as c). The Brittonic language survived Roman rule in Britain but the Anglo Saxon invasions which followed the departure of the Roman garrisons around 400 AD led to the language being largely supplanted by Old English. Wales is the only part of Britain where a version of the old Brittonic language has survived. The language developed over the ages becoming Welsh in the period between 400 and 700 AD. It became threatened after the Norman conquest in 1066 when Anglo-Norman incursions pushed back the language frontier. The 19th century industrialisation of South Wales and associated immigration from other areas of Britain led to a further decline but these days there is a feeling that the tide has turned. Recent years have seen the establishment of new Welsh medium schools and an increasing awareness that Welsh represents more than just a means of communication. [7, p. 17]

1.8 Religion

From what we know of the Celts from Roman commentators, who are, remember, witnesses with an axe to grind, they held many of their religious ceremonies in woodland groves and near sacred water, such as wells and springs. The Romans speak of human sacrifice as being a part of Celtic religion.

One thing we do know, the Celts revered human heads. Celtic warriors would cut off the heads of their enemies in battle and display them as trophies. They mounted heads in doorposts and hung them from their belts. This might seem barbaric to us, but to the Celt the seat of spiritual power was the head, so by taking the head of a vanquished foe they were appropriating that power for themselves. It was a kind of bloody religious observance. The Romans were generally quite tolerant of foreign religions but made an exception in the case of Celtic Druidism. The Roman governor of Britain in AD 59 was one Suetonius Paulinus. He became aware that, especially in Wales, resistance to Roman rule was fired by the Druids. The Druids seem to have had a pervasive influence in Britain and the governor felt obliged to invade the Isle of Anglesey which was especially sacred to the Druids. The island was attacked, Druids were killed and the sacred groves were destroyed. The Romans complained that the cult was responsible for human sacrifices but it may be that they simply resented the power that the Druids exercised. Soon after Druidism was forbidden in Britain, the Romans tried to introduce the cult of emperor worship but this (and its associated financial demands) was much resented. Caesar, writing of the Celts of Gaul, says that they revered the Roman gods. He tells us that in his day the Gauls worshipped the gods Mercury, Apollo, Mars, Jupiter and Minerva. Mercury was considered to be the most important of these and images of him were plentiful. We know, however, that the Celts worshipped their own local gods alongside the Roman imports. They worshipped a goddess called Epona and a god of war called Esus as well as many minor gods and godesses associated with natural features like rivers and springs. A stone relief at Rhiems in France depicts the horned god Cernunnos wearing a neck torque. Temples were not generally thought necessary but sometimes appeared at particularly important sites. The wild boar seems to have had a religious significance and was sometimes used in the form of a war helmet crest. The Druids taught that the soul does not die. The soul of a man who died in battle would pass to another body and Caesar thought that this belief partly explained the bravery of the Celts in war. When they were not busy learning their verses, the Druids would "hold long discussions about the heavenly bodies and their movements, the size of the universe and of the earth, the physical constitution of the world, and the power and properties of the gods ...". They would instruct pupils in these subjects.

1.9 Society

It is normal to say that Celtic society in Wales was aristocratically organized. The leading parts of it were warriors and priests (druids). A king or chief could be chosen due to his abilities. It was necessary for him to be of royal descent - son, nephew, grandson or great-grandson of a king. The chief ability was that of being able to impose or enforce his own ambitions above those of other claimants. Following a very ancient tradition, the king would unite the warrior and the priestly aspects of the tribe's life in his own person. He would play an important part in many of the rites performed by the druids. He would also lead the warriors in battle. An important function of later kings - the making of law - may not have been part of his role, although the maintenance of established law and practice would have been. Amongst the upper class, but also forming a group of somewhat lower status, was a range of professionals, including law men, doctors, carpenters, smiths, boatwrights, and, not least, scholars and poets. Such functions were probably largely hereditary, though promising boys from the lower orders may have been brought in, particularly if there was a shortage of talent. [7, p. 17 - 18]

Although by the last century BC some of the tribes of Britain were using coinage, this does not seem to have been true of the tribes of Wales. Gold objects were highly prized, but the true measure of wealth was in cows. This reflects both the importance of the by now long-established tradition of stock-rearing, and also the ultimate significance of the land itself. It was the land that sustained the herds. In return the people did much to express their gratitude, anxiety and devotion to the life-giving soil. Seasonal rituals, sacrifice and ceremony were practised for many centuries before the mundane effectiveness of manuring - another contribution from the cow - was also found to be helpful, The landworkers formed another segment of society. Probably as bondmen to members of the warrior class, they tilled the soil and cared for the animals. They were not required to fight, although from this group may have come chariot drivers - in the era up to around ad 100 when war chariots were still in use -and other supporters required by a noble warrior on the battlefield, such as spear-carriers. All these groups participated to a degree in the life of the tribe, sharing its traditions, its sense of identity and its aspirations, if any. [4, p. 21] Even in the hierarchic structure, a strong sense of kinship is possible, as seen in the Scottish clans up to the eighteenth century. Below the landworkers was a group with no rights or involvement - the slaves. Prisoners of war or victims of raids, they no doubt accounted for much of the hard work, like stone-carrying and earth-moving. Their numbers are impossible to assess. Mortality among them is likely to have been higher than among the regular tribespeople, though successful raiding could always increase the numbers. Apart from times of outside invasion, as when the Romans came to Wales in the first century BC - it is not at all clear that the ancient Celts waged war among themselves in the same way that European nations have done from the medieval period onwards. Although not much of the evidence comes directly from ancient Wales, it would appear that war between, or even within, tribes was a largely ritualised affair. Large armies are mentioned in ancient Irish literature, yet much of the fighting is done by individual champions, or small groups of champions, belonging to the warrior class. Such combats probably had a set form. Closely involved was the well-attested cult of the head. They were headhunters, not in an indiscriminate way, but prizing the decapitated skull of a noble and worthy enemy above almost any other possession. The gates to a fort or the doorway of a house might be decorated by such trophies; the best ones were decorated with gold and kept in ornamental chests. The 'common people' of the tribe may scarcely have been involved in such activities, other than in religious rites before and after such contests.

Feasting, gift-giving, and opulent display played an important part in the lives of the leaders of these tribal groups. Both within the tribe, and among the irTbes, it was important, and expected, for a king or champion to display his nches. It was however a society in which wealth basically flowed upwards: the distribution of gifts did not represent a distribution of wealth through the tribe. Rather, the efforts of the lower echelons enhanced the 'capacity-for-display' of the upper one without altering their own lot by very much.

It has often been speculated that the warrior-priest class may have been a different people to the others; that they - rather as the Normans were to do later - were able to establish dominance over larger groups of earlier inhabitants. This in turn has been related to the 'Celtification' of Wales, on the supposition that such small groups may have imported the language and its attendant traditions. There is insufficient evidence either to prove or disprove such a theory; on the whole, scholars are sceptical of it. It is quite possible for the aristocratic society, forms of which are found also among the Gaels of Ireland and the Picts of Caledonia, to have developed rather than to have been imposed. [7, p. 18]

Thus we can look, at the beginning of the Common Era, at a society long-established in the land, with ancient traditions and a strong conservative strain. Apart from Pictland, it was in essentials the same throughout the island, from western Wales up into the southern uplands of Scotland, across to the Wash and down to Cornwall. Their world for long had been a settled one, with no one to molest them but one another. At this time, however, there were signs of change. In the south-eastern part of south Britain, for a hundred years or more, large numbers of new arrivals had been coming in from northern Europe, settling, and disputing land and borders with the old-established tribes. These were Belgic tribesfolk, speakers of a Gaulish language quite similar to Brittonic.

1.10 Women

Women had few rights but enjoyed a certain degree of security. If a woman were to marry, the husband would match her dowry with property of an equal value. If one of the partners were to die, the survivor would inherit this property and any profits earned. Funerals were considered a great event, the dead were cremated on a funeral pyre together with their favourite objects and at some time in the past, slaves and retainers had been burnt with their masters.

1.11 Druids

Another area where oral traditions were important was in the training of Druids. There has been a lot of nonsense written about Druids, but they were a curious lot; a sort of super-class of priests, political advisors, teachers, healers, and arbitrators. They had their own universities, where traditional knowledge was passed on by rote. They had the right to speak ahead of the king in council, and may have held more authority than the king. The Druids officiated at religious ceremonies and were consulted on all aspects of the worship of the gods. They normally elected a chief Druid but sometimes rival factions fought for their preferred candidate. They met every year to decide legal disputes and were held in high regard. Caesar reported that Druidism had its roots in Britain and that students would travel there for instruction. He heard that their religion forbade them from writing about it and that it was transmitted in verse. There were so many verses that Druids might have to spend twenty years learning them. They acted as ambassadors in time of war, they composed verse and upheld the law. They were a sort of glue holding together Celtic culture. The Isle of Anglesey seems to have been held in special esteem by the Celtic-Welsh druids.

1.12 The Celts at War

The Celts loved war. If one wasn't happening they'd be sure to start one. They were scrappers from the word go. They arrayed themselves as fiercely as possible, sometimes charging into battle fully naked, dyed blue from head to toe, and screaming like banshees to terrify their enemies.

They took tremendous pride in their appearance in battle, if we can judge by the elaborately embellished weapons and paraphernalia they used. In war, the Celts used the sword and the spear. They carried an oval shield and their armies often made use of light chariots. From this chariot, drawn by two horses, they would throw spears at an enemy before dismounting to have a go with heavy slashing swords. They are known to have used a particular style of war trumpet, an instrument which curved upward from the mouthpiece and terminated several feet above the user's head. The harsh sounds issued from the mouth of a grotesque animal head design fixed at the top. .

They also had a habit of dragging families and baggage along to their battles, forming a great milling mass of encumbrances, which sometimes cost them a victory, as Queen Boudicca would later discover to her dismay. As mentioned, they beheaded their opponents in battle and it was considered a sign of prowess and social standing to have a goodly number of heads to display.

The main problem with the Celts was that they couldn't stop fighting among themselves long enough to put up a unified front. Each tribe was out for itself, and in the long run this cost them control of Britain.

1.13 Celtic appearance and art

We know from ancient writers and the evidence of portraits like the one above that the Celts wore their hair long and that men grew beards and moustaches.

Roman stone reliefs show Celts wearing tunics or tabard style garments made of animal skins. Farmers are depicted wearing a knee length hooded cloak. The statue below is that of a Celtic warrior clad in a tunic of animal skins. Little is known about the clothing of Celtic women since they do not appear in Roman carving which typically features Celtic prisoners taken in battle.

Celtic art reflects the way Iron Age people interpreted the world around them. The designs they used help us understand how they viewed themselves, their environment and their gods.

The Celtic art found in Wales is part of a much wider tradition in Britain and Europe, often called La Tиne art, which developed during the Iron Age from about 500BC.

The earliest example from Wales is the Cerrig-y-Drudion bowl which was found in 1924 in a stone-lined grave in the county of Conwy. It is one of the few decorated artefacts from Britain to date to the 4th century BC and was probably made by British craftsmen influenced by Continental traditions.

Many more decorated objects are known from about 200BC by which time Britain had developed its own distinctive style. British craftsmen continued to produce swords, daggers, spears, brooches and horse equipment, but also other objects such as tankards, mirrors and spoons.

Particular motifs and designs are introduced and often repeated, reinforcing their meaning. Archaeologists interpret these as symbolic and powerful with religious connotations. For example the three-fold character of the triskele (a three-legged design radiating from a centre) may represent the relationships between the living, the dead and the gods or the ongoing cycle of birth, life and death.

The crescentic plaque from Llyn Cerrig Bach (pictured) is decorated with an elaborate triskele, each limb ending with a trumpet and raised circle that suggests a stylised bird head. [8]

Stylised representations of people and animals become more common after 100BC with faces often hidden within complex patterns. Human heads surrounded by a flowing plant-like design can be seen on plaques from the Tal-y-Llyn hoard while a variety of cows, horses, boars and birds adorn a wide range of other artefacts. Ox head escutcheons (bucket-fittings) have been found in Wales (pictured - the Little Orme (Conwy) hoard also contained two Roman trumpet brooches, indicating that this Celtic style continued in use after the Roman conquest), showing the stylised characteristics and flowing lines of native British artistic styles. Mythical beasts are also hinted at, for example in the imaginatively constructed horse-cow heads that ornament the Capel Garmon firedog.

Celtic designs did not disappear with the Roman conquest, but continued to influence art. A bronze trulleus (saucepan) from Coygan Camp in Carmarthenshire was repaired with a sheet of metal sometime in the 3rd century AD. It was not decorated with a typical Roman design, but with a triskele motif, showing a continuing appreciation of Celtic art. [8]


500 -100 BC was the time that the Celtic languages arrived in Britain, probably introduced by small groups of migrants who became culturally dominant in their new homelands, and whose culture formed part of a great unified Celtic "empire" encompassing many different peoples all over Northern Europe. The Greeks called these people, with their organized culture and developed social structure Keltoi, the Romans called them Celtai.

In spite of the fact that they were perhaps the most powerful people in much of Europe in 300 BC, with lands stretching from Anatolia in the East to Ireland in the West, the Celts were unable to prevent intertribal warfare. Their total lack of political unity, despite their fierceness in battle, ultimately led to their defeat and subjugation by the much better disciplined armies of Rome. Even the Celtic languages on Continental Europe eventually gave way to those stemming from Latin. But in Britain, at least for a few hundred years after the Roman victories on mainland Europe, the Celts held on to much of their customs and especially to their distinctive language which has survived today as Welsh.

The language of most of Britain was derived from a branch of Celtic known as Brythonic: it later gave rise to Welsh, Cornish and Breton (these differ from the Celtic languages derived from Goidelic, namely Irish, Scots Gaelic and Manx). Along with the new languages, new religions entered Britain, particularly that of the Druids, the guardians of traditions and learning. The Druids glorified the pursuits of war, feasting and horsemanship. They controlled the calendar and the planting of crops, and they presided over the religious festivals and rituals that honored local deities. Thus they constituted the first target for the invading Roman legions. But in Britain, at least for a few hundred years after the Roman victories on mainland Europe, the Celts held on to much of their customs and especially to their distinctive language which has survived today as Welsh.

The language of most of Britain was derived from a branch of Celtic known as Brythonic: it later gave rise to Welsh, Cornish and Breton (these differ from the Celtic languages derived from Goidelic, namely Irish, Scots Gaelic and Manx). Along with the new languages, new religions entered Britain, particularly that of the Druids, the guardians of traditions and learning. The Druids glorified the pursuits of war, feasting and horsemanship. They controlled the calendar and the planting of crops, and they presided over the religious festivals and rituals that honored local deities. Thus they constituted the first target for the invading Roman legions.

From Roman literature and archaeological evidence we know that the Celts were a warlike people, lovers of personal finery and ostentatious display. This is reflected in finds of elaborate jewellery, weapons and the remains of chariots. Iron Age warriors were equipped with a large shield, a spear or a sword. The shield was made of wood which was strengthened with a metal rim, a longitudinal rib and casing for the wooden boss which protected the hand grip. They fought on foot or from their chariots which were lightly made of wood and wicker and pulled by a strong, small horse or pony. The chariots were driven by a charioteer. The warrior fought either standing in the chariot or was driven into the battle where he jumped to the ground and fought his enemy in single combat. The chariot remained nearby so he could leap onto it and escape if he was hard pressed. Fighting rarely involved large numbers of men but was probably more often small skirmishes between tribes which sometimes involved stealing your neighbours cattle. Cattle were an important symbol of wealth in the Iron Age when there was very little money in coins and people had few possessions compared to today.

Archaeological investigation of settlements shows that many people in the Iron Age lived in hilltop enclosures or hillforts defended by one or more banks and ditches. The inner bank would have been topped by a wooden palisade or occasionally a stone wall.

Part II. Welsh mythology

Many of the Welsh myths and legends refer to the the fairies or little people or in Welsh Ellyllon (the plural of ellyll).The Ellyllon are the Welsh faeries who haunt the groves and valleys, and correspond pretty closely with the English elves. Ellyllon have three passions: Toadstool mushrooms, silk, and human children. They are said to live on tiny islands and in the hilly parts of Wales, and are cattle-herders. But yes, they are tiny like one would think a faerie would be; they also have tiny cows! Unlike a lot of faeries that are said to steal children, ellyllon simply find them fascinating, and though they may steal children just because they like them so much, they don't do it to be mean or to steal their souls. Others believe that they are the souls of the ancient Druids, which, being too good for hell, and not good enough for heaven, are permitted to wander upon earth till the judgment day, when they will be admitted to a higher state of being.....Coming very soon is our directory of Welsh fairy tales...

Some of Celtic myths have been Christianized, especially those recorded in Wales. However, a particular feature of Celtic myths may have prevented this from happening more often: namely, the way in which deities have been euhemerized (given human form), so that, unlike the Greek myths, they are not obviously of a religious nature. We can see this `euhemerization' clearly in the case of the god Lugh, who gives his name to the Irish summer festival of Lughnasadh. In the earliest Irish myths he is clearly a deity. As such, he offers himself as the saviour of the Tuatha dй Danann, the predecessors of the Milesians or Gaels. Seeking entry at the palace of King Nuada of the Silver Hand, at Tara, he announces each of his skills in turn - `Blacksmith, warrior, musician, poet, scholar …'. Each time he is refused entry, until he points out that no one else combines all these skills in one person, as he does.

In the Mabinogion, the main source of British myths, Lugh has become the much more human Lleu Llaw Gyfes, nephew (and possibly son) of the magician Gwydion. He is skilled, and protected by charms, but he is not obviously a god: in fact at one point he appears to be mortal.

Powerful though the gods were, the Celtic goddesses were perhaps even more so. They were closely associated with the land, and in this identification they sometimes seem to be aspects of a single all-embracing Goddess. Their link to the seasonal cycles, to fertility and death, may partly account for the fact that a single goddess often takes three forms, or aspects - usually maiden, mother and crone.

Celtic goddesses could be life-giving and sustaining, but were also, in their dark aspect, associated with sex and death, which in Celtic terms are part of the round of life. The most powerful Irish example is the red-haired shape-shifting Morrigan, said to have coupled with the Dagda.

Important reflexes of British mythology appear in the Four Branches of The Mabinogi, especially in the names of several characters, such as Rhiannon (`the Divine Queen'), Teyrnon (`the Divine King'), andBendigeidfran (`Bran [Crow] the Blessed'). Other characters, in all likelihood, derive from mythological sources, and various episodes, such as the appearance of Arawn, a king of the Otherworld seeking the aid of a mortal in his own feuds, and the tale of the hero who cannot be killed except under seemingly contradictory circumstances, can be traced throughout Indo-European myth and legend. The children of Llyr (`Sea' = Irish Lir) in the Second and Third Branches, and the children of Dфn (Danu in Irish and earlier Indo-European tradition) in the Fourth Branch are major figures, but the tales themselves are not primary mythology.

While further mythological names and references appear elsewhere in Welsh narrative and tradition, especially in the tale of Culhwch and Olwen, where we find, for example, Mabon ap Modron (`the Divine Son of the Divine Mother'), and in the collected Triads of the Island of Britain, not enough is known of the British mythological background to reconstruct either a narrative of creation or a coherent pantheon of British deities. Indeed, though there is much in common with Irish myth, there may have been no unified British mythological tradition per se. Whatever its ultimate origins, the surviving material has been put to good use in the service of literary masterpieces that address the cultural concerns of Wales in the early and later Middle Ages.

Part III. Modern Celts

Modern Celts are those peoples who are speakers of Celtic languages, or who consider themselves, or have been considered by others, to participate in a Celtic culture deriving from communities that have formerly been Celtic-speaking.

The term is generally used for a number of peoples in Western Europe sharing various cultural traits, including those speaking languages with a common Insular Celtic origin, ultimately descending from the Celts of antiquity.

Since the Enlightenment, the term "Celtic" has been applied to a wide variety of peoples and cultural traits present and past. Today, Celtic is often used in order to describe the people, and their respective cultures and languages:i.e. the Bretons, the Cornish, the Irish(especially the Gaeltacht), the Manx people, the Scots (Gаidhealtachd) and the Welsh (Cymry), i.e. the members of the modern "Celtic nations". Except for the Bretons, all groups mentioned have been subject to strong Anglicization since the Early Modern period, and are hence are also described as participating in an Anglo-Celtic macro-culture. By the same token, the Bretons have been subject to strong Frenchification since the Early Modern period, and can similarly be described as participating in an Franco-Celtic macro-culture.

Less common is the assumption of "Celticity" for European cultures deriving from Continental Celtic roots (Gauls and Celtiberians), since these have been either Romanized or Germanized much earlier, before the Early Middle Ages. Nevertheless, "Celtic" origins are sometimes implied for continental groups such as the Asturians, Galicians, French, Swiss or Austrians. The names of Belgium and theAquitaine hark back to "Gallia Belgica" and "Gallia Aquitania", respectively, in turn named for the Belgae and the Aquitani. The Latin name of the Swiss Confederacy, "Confoederatio Helvetica", harks back to the Helvetii. The name of Galicia to the Gallaeci. The name "Britain"itself derives from that of the Priteni.

History of 'Celticity'

'Celt' has been adopted as a label of self-identification by a variety of peoples at different times. 'Celticity' can refer to the inferred links between them.

During the 19th century, French nationalists gave a privileged significance to their descent from the Gauls. The struggles of Vercingetorixwere portrayed as a forerunner of the 19th-century struggles in defence of French nationalism, including the wars of both Napoleons (Napoleon I of France and Napoleon III of France). Basic French history textbooks could begin with the famous words "Nos ancкtres les Gaulois..." ("Our ancestors the Gauls..."). A similar use of "celticity" for 19th century nationalism was made in Switzerland, when the Swiss were seen to originate in the Celtic tribe of the Helvetii, a link still found in the official Latin name of Switzerland, "Confњderatio Helvetica", the source of the nation code CH.

Before the advance of Indo-European studies, philologists established that there was a relationship between the Goidelic and Brythoniclanguages, as well as a relationship between these languages and the extinct Celtic languages such as Gaulish, spoken in classical times. The term "Celtic" therefore came to be widely applied in the 18th century (for the first time) to the Goidelic and Brythoniclanguages, and by extension to the peoples that spoke them.

At the same time, there was also a tendency to play up alternative heritages in the British Isles at certain times. For example, in the Isle of Man, in the Victorian era, the "Viking" heritage was emphasised, and in Scotland, both Norse and Anglo-Saxon heritage was played up.

A romantic image of the Celt as noble savage was cultivated by the early William Butler Yeats, Lady Gregory, Lady Charlotte Guest, Lady Llanover, James Macpherson, Chateaubriand, Thйodore Hersart de la Villemarquй and the many others influenced by them. This image coloured not only the English perception of their neighbours on the so-called "Celtic fringe" (compare the stage Irishman), but also Irish nationalism and its analogues in the other Celtic-speaking countries. Among the enduring products of this resurgence of interest in a romantic, pre-industrial, brooding, mystical Celticity are Gorseddau, the revival of the Cornish language, and the revival of the Gaelic games.

3.1 Modern 'Celticity'

After World War II, "race" went out of fashion and "culture" took its place. Many of the same stereotypes and caricatures of Celticity once attributed to the Celtic or Alpine race, were thus recycled under the label of culture. But since the 1960s, Celticity has been put to a somewhat different use. The peoples of the "Celtic fringe" found in Celticity an explanation for their peripheral "otherness", as well as a source of pride which could galvanize them into demands for development and regeneration. Nationalists in Northern Ireland sought an end to endemic discrimination with the Civil Rights Movement. Breton regionalists participated in the May 1968 revolt under Breton flags and with the slogan "Bretagne=Colonie".

The "modern Celtic" groups' distinctiveness as "national", as opposed to regional, minorities has been periodically recognised by major British papers. For example, a "Guardian" editorial in 1990 pointed to these differences, and said that they should be constitutionally recognised::"Smaller minorities also have equally proud visions of themselves as irreducibly Welsh, Irish, Manx or Cornish. These identities are "distinctly national" in ways which "proud people from Yorkshire", much less proud people from Berkshire will never know. Any new constitutional settlement "which ignores these factors" will be built on uneven ground." ["The Guardian", editorial, 8 May 1990]

The Republic of Ireland, on surpassing Britain's GDP per capita in the 1990s for the first time in centuries, was given the moniker "Celtic tiger". Thanks in part to agitation on the part of Cornish regionalists, Cornwall was able to obtain Objective One funding from the European Union. Scotland and Wales obtained agencies like the Welsh Development Agency, and Scottish and Welsh Nationalists have recently supported the institution of the Scottish Parliament and National Assembly for Wales. More broadly, a distinct identity in opposition to that of the metropolitan capitals has been forged and taken strong root.

These latter evolutions have proceeded hand in hand with the growth of a pan-Celtic or inter-Celtic dimension, seen in many organizations and festivals operating across various Celtic countries. Celtic studies departments at many universities in Europe and beyond, have studied the various ancient and modern Celtic languages and associated history and folklore under one roof.

The Celtic link is also claimed to come mainly from:

* language

* music

* art

* sport

The roots revival, applied to Celtic music, has brought much inter-Celtic cross-fertilization, as, for instance, Welsh musicians have revived the use of the mediaeval Welsh bagpipe under the influence of the Breton "binioщ", Irish "uillean" pipes and famous Scottish pipes, or the Scots have revived the "bodhran" from Irish influence. Sports such as Hurling and Shinty are seen as being 'Celtic', whilst the Scottishmod and Irish fleadh are seen as an equivalent to the Breton fest noz.

The USA has also taken part in discussions of modern Celticity. For example, recently elected Virginia Senator James H. Webb, in his 2004 book "Born Fighting – How the Scots-Irish Shaped America", controversially asserts that the early "pioneering" immigrants toNorth America were of Scots-Irish origins. He goes on to argue that their distinct "Celtic traits" (loyalty to kin, mistrust of governmental authority, and military readiness), in contrast to the "Anglo-Saxon" settlers, helped construct the modern "American identity". Irish Americans also played an important role in the shaping of 19th-century Irish republicanism through the Fenian movement, the development of a discourse of the Great Hunger as a British atrocity, and so on.

The 'Six Nations' (Brittany, Wales, Scotland, Ireland, Cornwall, The Isle of Man) that (alone) are considered Celtic by the Celtic League and the Celtic Congress amongst others. These organizations ascribe to a definition of Celticity based mainly upon language. In the aforementioned six regions, Celtic languages have survived and continue to be used to varying degrees in Ireland, Scotland, Wales, and Brittany. [12]


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