seems quite normal to me to identify with an ancient
Celtic warrior society that so terrified Rome in
400BC that the Emperor bribed them with 1,000 lbs. of
Celts ("Kelts") left no written records of
their passing, but they other people throughout
Europe who wrote of experiences with the barbarian
cultures they met.
of the fledgling Roman Empire recorded the first
encounter with Celts around 400 BC. A previously
unknown tribe of barbarians settled the Po Valley of
native Etruscans sent a plea to Rome for help. The
Emperor heard about the invaders and dispatched
envoys to interview their Chiefs. The Roman envoys
told the Celt Chiefs that they were unknown to Rome
and asked them what they were doing in the Po Valley.
Celts acknowledged that they were new to Rome, but
Rome was not new to them. "We know the Romans
are courageous people because the Etruscans had asked
them for help. Since the Romans had offered an
embassy instead of arms, they would not reject an
offer of peace in exchange for farmland.
Roman envoy asked the Chief whether it was right to
demand land from it's owners on pain of war. The
Chief defiantly retorted, "Our rights lay in our
arms. All things belong to the brave."
envoys decided to help the Etruscans with a show of
force. One envoy named "Quintas
Fabius" drew his sword and
killed a Celtic Chief. The Celts dispatched envoys to
Rome to demand that the entire Fabius family be
handed over to them.
law would not permit Roman citizens to be turned over
to their enemies as justice would have required. The
Roman Senate, passed adjudication of the matter over
to the Assembly, which like a supreme court, was the
highest legal authority.
guilty envoys who should have been punished were
instead promoted to the rank of Roman Tribunes with
consular powers. Tribunes were the highest ranking
officers in the Roman Military. It was a decision
that Rome would soon regret.
Celtic Chiefs took the promotion as an insult and
marched south to Rome. On the way they destroyed
several Roman divisions, then besieged Rome for seven
months. Further negotiations produced a peace treaty
that provided for the Celts to receive one thousand
pounds of gold to leave Rome in peace.
difficult for Rome to muster that much gold in all
the country. While gold was being weighed, one Roman
claimed that the Celts were cheating with faulty
weights. The Celt Chief, Brennus,
added the weight of his sword to the gold and growled
those famous words." vae
victis,", "Woe to the
Their countenance was terrifying, very tall in stature,
with rippling muscles under white skin. Their hair is
blond, artificially bleached with lime, then combed
back to their foreheads. They look like wood-demons,
hair thick and shaggy like a horse's mane. Some are clean-shaven, but others, those of high rank, shave
their cheeks, but leave a moustache that covers the
dress is astonishing: they wear brightly colored and
embroidered shirts, with trousers called "bracae"
and cloaks fastened at the shoulder with a heavy
brooch. Cloaks are striped or checkered in design,
stripes close together and displayed in numerous
battle they wear bronze helmets with figures drawn on
them, even horns, which made them appear even taller.
Some covered their breasts with chain mail armor.
Others used the weapons nature gave them: they go
naked into battle, sounding discordant horns and
shouting in chorus with their deep voices, while
beating their swords rhythmically against their
the battle was over, the barbarians severed the heads
of the vanquished and mounted them over the doors of
their houses. They preserved the heads of legion
officers in cedar oil and stored them carefully in
We do not
know if that particular tribe went to the British Isles,
but we know that the first Celts to arrive in Britain spoke a dialect similar to
a very early version of Latin, and
similar to the language spoke by the sackers of Rome.
Though historians disagree, it seems that Celts started crossing
the channel about 1,000 to 2500 BC. Each wave was
identified by language groups, p-Celts, q-Celts, etc.
Some researchers think the Celts introduced up to six
dialects to Britain, only three of which survived.
Celts in the British Isles spoke "Goidelic"
and were classified q-Celts.
was similar to the language spoken by the Celtic tribes
that attacked Rome in 400 BC. The label "q-Celtic"
was based upon the linguistic differences between "Goidelic"
and "Italic." The
alphabet contains no "p" and the "Italic"
alphabet substitutes an
"a" wherever "an" is found in "Geodelic".
wave of Celts spoke "Brythonic"
and were known as "p-Celts".
The "Goidelic" dialect
took hold first and was the catalyst to consolidate the
first of three Gaelic languages to arrive in Britain.
split into the two British dialects, Welsh and Cornish. A
third Celtic language, "Breton"
is still spoken in some parts of
There is no
credible historical evidence to indicate that the Celts
stormed into Britain the same way the did into Rome. Like
those ancient warrior invaders of Rome, those British
Celts seemed more interested in farming then fighting.
generations they spread to Wales, up Britain into
Scotland and across the Irish Sea to Ireland. They pretty
well blanketed all of the British Isles. Little is known
about whether the Celts settled vacant land, or seized
farms from native farmers.
that the Celtic cultures impacted native cultures to a
far greater degree than did subsequent invasions by
Romans, Anglos, Saxons and Normans. We will review the
relative impact upon native cultures at the end of each