The earliest writings about the Celts dates from around 2500 years ago. These sources are non Celtic, though, mainly Greek and Roman. Archaeological evidence, however, indicates that the Celtic culture started to evolve circa 1200 B.C. Julius Caesar later referred to them Celts as “Galli,” which had come to mean barbarians (although it originally referred to the Phrygian priestly class of Eunuchs devoted to Cybele). However, where the Celts actually barbarians? And does anything remains of Celtic culture today?
For many years, historians put great stock in Julius Caesar’s words, which have since been proved to be military propaganda. According to Caesar, The Britons "live on milk and flesh, and are clad with skins…dye themselves with woad…and thereby have a more terrible appearance in fight. They wear their hair long, and have every part of their body shaved except their head and upper lip." Their ancestors had actually been farming for hundreds of years and they were not clad in skins. Bronze Age sewing implements meant they made their clothing (they wore tartan trousers before kilts were invented) and not every Britain covered themselves in woad. Archaeological discoveries show that they were skilled craftsman, wearing ornate jewellery, such as torcs.
Prior to Caesar’s Gallic Wars, the Romans both respected and feared the Gallic tribes. The Gauls were both civilized and wealthy. Many had contact with Roman merchants and some had stable political alliances with Rome in the past.. The Gallic Wars were a series of military campaigns waged by Julius Caesar against the Gauls. They lasted from 58 BC to 50 BC and resulted in the decisive Battle of Alesia in 52 BC. The Roman victory was both genocidal and brutal. Although Caesar stated the invasion as being a pre-emptive and defensive, historians agree that the wars were fought to boost Caesar's political career and to pay off his massive debts. His invasion of Britain, however, was unsuccessful and he withdrew.
A second Roman invasion nearly a century later was successful, but large areas were unconquered. As a result, many Celtic cultural traditions remain in present-day Ireland, Scotland and Wales to this day. They have even influenced Christian celebrations and saints. The Galatians, in Northern Spain also successfully fought off invasions by both Romans and Moors and their descendants still stage ancient outdoor dances, accompanied by bagpipes, an instrument that more commonly associated with more well-known Celtic regions like Scotland and Ireland. Celtic tradition also continued in Brittany, which was geographically isolated from the rest of France. Many Bretons wear traditional Celtic lace hats called coiffes and one-quarter speak Breton, a language similar to Welsh.
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