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Thread: The Celts as a Proto-Historic People

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    The Celts as a Proto-Historic People

    The Celts as a Proto-Historic People

    The name 'Celt' has been messed about with over the years to the point that the true meaning has all but disappeared. In the first instance the Greeks and the Romans knew of a tribe called Keltoi. From that point, all the people that looked or behaved the same were called 'Keltoi', regardless of the true name of the individual tribal group.

    Over the centuries the name changed with the languages until it was shortened to Kelt ( with a hard 'K'). This name persisted into the 20th century with books in the 1920's-30's calling the people Kelts and the word celt (pronounced selt) being the name for axe-heads of various kinds. With the upsurge in interest of our origins the words merged and now we call the people Celts (pronuonced Kelt).

    The racial group that we now call Celt were in fact an Indo-European people whose culture spread rapidly across the whole of Europe, up into Scandinavia, down into the Spanish peninsula; and modern thought points to a spread over the Asian sub-continent as far as the borders of China.

    This does not mean the people expanded and took over, but that their culture was strong enough to dominate and be adopted by other peoples in the area.

    But for the purpose of simplicity the name Celt is used in the following information.

    This is a resume of the involvment of the Celtic peoples in Europe and the Romans in Britain.

    Note:-The use of the name 'CELT' is to make understanding easier, and refers to the Indo-Europian Peoples.


    • 1200BC Start of the Bronze Age Urnfield Culture in central Europe.

    • 1000-750BC Proto-Celtic people of the Urnfield culture dominate much of Continental Europe. Also start to spread out over northern Asia as far as the frontiers of China. Development of the deliberate smelting of iron in the Middle East and China around the same time. Prompting the title 'The Iron Age' for this period.

    700-500 Hallstatt culture developes in Austria.

    700BC Early Celts in Austria bury iron swords with thier dead.

    600BC Greeks found the colony of Massilia, opening up trade between the Celts of inland Europe and the Mediterranean. First evidence of Britain having a name - Albion - (albino, white - called after the chalk-cliffs of Dover). A major rebuild of old Bronze Age defences, and construction of new hillforts takes place in Britain.

    550-500 A princess in Vix (Burgundy) is buried with a 280 gallon bronze Greek vase, the largest ever made. 60 miles away a prince is buried layed out on bronze chais-lounge in a hugh chamber tomb.

    500 Trade between the Etruscans and the Celts begins. Lá Téne phase of Celtic culture speads through Europe and into mainland Britain. The Greeks record the name of a major tribe - The KELTOI - and this becomes the common name for all of the tribes.

    500 Celts (the Gaels - from Galicia) arrive in Ireland from Spain.

    400-100BC La Tene culture spreads over Europe and into the British Isles.

    400 Celts invade Italy and Cisalpine Gaul.

    400 Celts atack the Etruscan city of Clusium.

    390 Raiding Celtic tribes under the leadership of Brennus ravage Rome and occupy the city for three months. Offended by the dirty conditions of the city (they were country boys at heart) they demand a ransome to leave the Romans alone. Brennus demands his weight in gold and when the Romans complain he throws his sword on the scales to be weighed as well with the cry "VAE VICTUS" - (Woe to the Vanquished).

    335 Alexander recieves envoys from the Celts, and exchange pledges of alliance. Large numbers of Celtic Warriors join the Greeks in a war against the Etruscans.

    323 Alexander dies and the Celts push into Macedonia.

    279 Celtic tribes invade Greece.

    275 Celts establish the state of Galatia (Gauls across the alps) in northern Turkey.

    230 Galatian Celts defeated in battle by Greek forces in Western Turkey.

    225 Roman army routs invading Celtic Gauls at Telamon in central Italy.

    200 The Celts establish permanent fortified settlements (Oppida, or towns).

    191 Cisalpine Gaul is taken by the Romans.

    121 Rome takes Provence.

    100 Belgae tribes migrate to Britain to escape Roman domination.

    70 Druids (a fire cult from the Middle East) arrive in Britain and gain control of the ruling classes.

    58 Julius Caesar is made governor of Provence

    58-51 Caesar's Gallic Wars

    58 Helvettii in Switzerland are attacked by Germanic tribes led by Ariovistus and move to Gaul. Caesar follows them and defeats them at Toulon-sur-Arroux. Dumnorix of the Aedui tries to lead resistance against the Romans and fails.

    57 Caesar then turned his attention to the tribes of the Belgae and lays seige to their territory. By autumn, Caesar claims that all the Gallic tribes are subjects of Rome.

    56 The Veneti of Brittany seize two Roman envoys, and make a stand. After a long sea battle, Caesar executed the leaders and sold the men of the tribe into slavery.

    55 Julius Caesar tries to land in Britain and is pinned down on a beachhead for two months. His cavalry was seasick and was sent back to Gaul. With the aproaching Autumn gales he withdraws from Britain.

    54 Caesar prepares another expedition to Britain and attempts to take Dumnorix as a hostage. Dumnorix refuses and the Romans kill him. As he dies he cries "I am a freeman in a free state". Inspired by his actions, Ambiorix of the Eburones leads an attack against the Roman garrison and massacres them. Ambiorix recruits the Belgic tribes, the Nervii and Aduatuci, and lay seige to the garrison at Namur. The attack is so successful that Caesar himself had to lead the relieving army to drive them off.

    53 The tribes of Gaul unite under the leadership of Indutiomarus of the Treveri. The Celtic army consisted of the Treveri, Senones, Carnutes, Nervii, Aduatuci and Eburones. Indutiomarus attacks Caesar's headquarters at Mouzon and lays seige. After a great fight, the Romans kill Indutiomarus. There then followed a number of uprisings among the tribes and Caesar has to work his way through the tribes putting down revolts. Acco of the Senones and the Carnutes was flogged and then put to death. Ambiorix was trailed by a Roman troop until he disappeared into the Ardennes forest, and was never heard from again.

    52 A war leader called Vercingetorix ( « Read more about him) emerges to take control of the Celtic army. He maintains a running battle from three successive hill forts. The last one was called Aelisia and Ceasar laid siege for three months with no effect and had to defend himself from from constant attack by the Celtic warriors. Vercingetorix finely surrenders.

    45 Caesar ordered that Vercingetorix was to be taken to Rome. He was paraded through the streets then executed as a dangerous enemy of Rome.

    0 Birth of Christ. (Acording to the church of Rome under Constantine)

    AD38 Caligula parades Celtic captives through Rome.

    AD39 The Catevaulauni under the Kingship of Cunobelinus and his sons Caratacus and Togidubnus, expand into the Atrebate (Hampshire) and the Trinovante (Suffolk).

    AD41 Petition put in to Rome for assistance, turned down because of the civil wars in Rome.

    AD43 Verica of the Atrebates petitions Claudius to come to Britain to help against the Catevaulauni.

    AD 43 Claudian invasion with four legions under Aulus Plautius. Defeat of Caratacus and capture of Camulodunum. Expansion into the midlands (XX Valeria Victrix and XIV Gemina) and in the east (IX Hispana). Frontier established west of Fosse Way. Caractacus escapes into the Welsh borders and fights the Romans using guerilla tactics. Once it is safe to do so, Claudius comes to Britain in person to claim it for Rome. He rides an elephant into the new town of Londinium, stays for two weeks, then goes back home.

    47 New governor, Ostorius Scapula, governor, draws a frontier from the Trent to the Severn. Campaigns in the west (Legio II Augusta under Vespasian)

    49 Colonia of Camulodonum (Colchester) founded. And Roman expansion starts into Wales

    49- 50 Foundation of Colonia Victricensis at Camulodunum. Mendip lead mines already in Roman hands. Legionary fortresses at Glevum and Lindum. Invasion of South Wales.

    50 Caratacus, finally defeated in North Wales, flees to Cartamandua, queen of the Brigantes, and is surrendered to the Romans.

    52 New Governor, D. Gallus.

    c.55 Didius Gallus, governor, intervenes on the side of Cartimandua in Brigantian civil war.

    57 New Governor, Q. Veranius

    58 New Governor, S. Paulinus, attack on N. Wales.

    59-60 Suetonius clears Britain totally of the Druids, with a final stand on Anglsea.

    60 Suetonius Paulinus, governor, attacks Anglesey.

    60 Pratagustus of the Iceni dies, and the Romans take his lands away from Boudica.

    60-61 Boudica is elected war leader and leads a revolt agianst the Romans. (Read the story) Icenian revolt under Boudica suppressed after sack of Camulodunum, Londinium and Verulamium

    63 New Governor, T. Maximus.

    65 Preparations for campaigns in Wales.

    66 One legion (XIV Gemina) withdrawn from Britain.

    68 Army in Britain refuses to join the governor, Trebellius Maximus, in revolt against Galba.

    69 Romans fail to prevent the defection of the Brigantes.

    69 Civil Wars, New Governor, V. Bolanus.

    71 New Governor, P. Cerialis. Conquest of Brigantia, capture of Stanwick?

    71-74 Petilius Cerealis, governor, with a new legion (II Adiutrix) conquers the Brigantes. Legionary fortress at Eburacum.

    74-78 Sextus Julius Frontinus, governor, subdues Wales and plants garrisons there. Legionary fortresses at Isca and Deva.

    78 Julius Agricola, governor, completes the conquest of North Wales and Anglesey.

    79 Consolidation of Brigantian conquest.

    80 Advance to the Central Lowlands.

    81 Agricola advances to the Forth Clyde line.

    82 Conquest of south-west Scotland.

    83-84 Agricola advances north and defeats the Caledonians at the battle of Mons Graupius. Roman fleet circumnavigates Britain. Legionary fortress at Inchtuthil.

    84 After the Battle of Mons Graupius, occupation of N.Scotland.

    84-85 Agricola recalled by Domitian.

    86 One legion (II Adiutrix) withdrawn from Britain.

    c.90 Legionary fortress at Inchtuthil evacuated.

    90-96 Foundation of Lindum Colonia at Lincoln.

    96-98 Foundation of Colonia Nervia Glevensis at Gloucester.

    99-100 Legionary fortress at Isca and many auxiliary forts in Wales rebuilt in stone. Scottish forts evacuated.

    c103 Legionary fortress at Deva rebuilt in stone.

    107-108 Legionary fortress at Eburacum rebuilt in stone.

    117 Revolt in north Britain.

    122 Hadrian visits Britain. Legio IX Hispana replaced by VI Victrix. Construction of Hadrian's Wall from Tyne to Solway begun by Aulus Platorius Nepos.

    139-142 Q. Lollius Urbicus, governor under Antoninus Pius, advances into Scotland and builds the Antonine Wall across the Clyde-Forth isthmus.

    155-158 Rebellion in north Britain suppressed by C. Julius Verus. Antonine Wall temporarily evacuated.

    161-165 Forts rebuilt by Calpurnius Agricola.

    180-184 Further revolt in north Britain subdued by Ulpius Marcellus. Antonine Wall broken.

    193 On the assassination of Commodus, Pertinax (lately governor of Britain) is chosen emperor by the Praetorian Guard but quickly killed. Empire auctioned to Didius Julianus, who is defeated by Severus.

    196-197 Clodius Albinus, governor, takes troops from Britain to fight for the throne and is defeated by Severus. Hadrian's Wall, the fortress at Eburacum and many forts over run and destroyed by the Maeatae.

    197 Virius Lupus restores the situation and rebuilds many forts.

    200-208 Rebuilding of Hadrian's Wall by Alfenus Senecio.

    208 Severus, Geld and Caracalla arrive in Britain and prepare for northern campaigning.

    209 Severus and Caracalla campaign in Scotland and receive the surrender of the Caledonians.

    210 Revolt of the Maeatae and second Scottish campaign.

    211 Severus dies at York. Withdrawal to Hadrian's Walland organization of southern Scotland as a protectorate.

    212 Caracalla extends Roman citizenship to all free provincials. Britain divided into two provinces.

    259-214 Britain a part of the Gallic Empire of Postumus and his successors.

    275-287 Saxon pirates in the Channel.

    287 Commander of the British fleet, usurps the title of Emperor in Britain and Carausius, northern Gaul and is temporarily recognised by Diocletian and Maximian.

    293 Carausius' continental possessions. Caesar reconquers Constantius.

    294 Carausius murdered by Allectus, who succeeds him.

    296 Britain restored to the legitimate emperors by Constantius, who crosses the Channel and defeats and kills Allectus. Barbarian inroads in the north. Hadrian's Wall and legionary fortresses at Eburacum and Deva rebuilt. Diocletian's reorganisation divides Britain into four provinces,separates the military from the civil administration and institutes new military offices.

    306 Constantius, now emperor, with his son Constantine campaigns in Caledonia. Death of Constantius at Eburacum.

    313 Edict of Milan grants toleration to the Christian Church.

    314 Three British bishops attend the Council of Aries.

    343 Constantine visits Britain and pacifies the Caledonian tribes.

    360 Julian sends Lupicinus to repel raids of Picts and Scots.

    364 Picts, Scots, Attacotti and Saxons raiding Britain.

    367 Great invasion of Picts, Scots and Attacotti, aided by Saxon pirates and a simultaneous attack on Gaul by Franks.Treachery in the Wall garrison. Nectaridus, Count of the Saxon Shore, killed and Fullofaudes, Duke of Britain, routed.

    369 Count Theodosius, sent by Valentinian I, clears Britain of invaders and restores the Wall. Signal stations built on Yorkshire coast.

    383 Magnus Maximus, a military commander in Britain, revolts and conquers Gaul and Spain from Gratian. Hadrian's Wall swamped by invaders and not rebuilt.

    388 Maximus defeated at Aquileia by Theodosius.

    395 Stilicho improves the defences of Britain.

    406 Constantine III, a usurper, strips Britain of troops for his conquest of Gaul and Spain.

    410 Honorius tells the civitates of Britain to arrange for their own safety. Quote"...look to your own defences..."

    c.446 Last appeal of the British civitates to Aetius.

    From this point on - whether you like it or not - Celtic Britain ends, or to be more precise Romano-British rule is no more. The Celtic peoples had spent 400 years mixing and marrying with the Romans and all the other peoples that came in smaller numbers from the Empire. For the last 100 years the Saxons had settled the south of England with the Roman forces unable to stop them.

    In fact the Romans paid the Saxons to keep the peace. When the Empire collapsed and the troops that remained were recalled, they had to run the gauntlet of the Saxon warriors all the way down to the ships on the coast. Many of them were robbed of their possessions on the way through, and some did not make it at all!

    What was left of the Romano-British in the south of Britain rallied around a military leader for a few years and kept the Saxons at bay. This shadowy figure is what all the Arthurian stories are based on. "

    What do you think?

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    Post Re: An article about Celts

    Ancient greek refferences for Celts: http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/cgi-bin...4%3Aid%3Dcelts

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