Iron Age, saw much warfare among the Celtic tribes, in this land of ours, requiring the construction of many hill forts. These Celts were true warriors in every sense of the word, for they fought from horses or wooden chariots, and threw spears and fought with swords, and carried wooden shields. Some even wore chain mail for added protection.
The Celts were an accomplished race of people, they were much more than farmers, for they could pick up a weapon and fight for their people. Many of their number were blacksmiths, bronze smiths, carpenters, whilst others worked with leather and made pottery. They also created elaborate jewellery from gold and precious stones.
They took their art further, by adding artistic designs made from metal, leather and precious stones to their swords, daggers and shields.
Celtic society was organised, based on the part you played within your designated tribe. At the head would be the King or Chieftain, and next in line, the nobles, followed by the craftsmen, then the farmers and warriors, last in line would be the Celtic slaves.
Trade with European countries, was an important part of everyday life to them. Copper, tin and iron, along with skins, grain and wool were exported. In turn they imported fine pottery and quality metal goods. Celtic currency started out as iron bars, and by 50 BC they had switched to gold coins.
Celtic houses were round in design, with a central pole, with horizontal poles radiating outwards. Walls made of wattle and daub, with a thatched roof. They made dyes from plants; weld for yellow, woad for blue and madder for red.
The Druids were the priests of the Celtic people, and played an important part in their lives. These druids were scholars and advisors to the Celtic Kings, who worshipped more than one God.
During Celtic times, the old tradition of building barrows for the dead was phased out, and replaced with individual graves. Yet, some parts of tradition still carried on; the practice of burying grave goods with the dead, what was required by him to gain access to the afterlife. (A similar practice to that carried out by the Pharaoh’s in Ancient Egypt).
The main Celtic festivals were:
Imbolc in early February, start of lambing season.
Beltane in early May, cattle let out, after being under cover all winter.
Lughasad in August, crops right for harvesting.
Samhain in November, animals moved undercover for winter.
The Celts were no match for the warriors of Rome, and were defeated by the might of Julius Caesar in 55 BC and again in 54 BC. The Roman’s withdrew from Britain, as the Celts agreed to pay Rome an annual payment.
In 43 AD the Romans invaded Britain under Empereor Claudius with Aulus Plautius their supreme leader. The Romans and Celts faced each other in battle, but resistance to these Roman invaders proved futile. By 47 AD the Romans had control of Britain from the River Humber to the River Severn.
The Celtic Iceni tribe in East Anglia rebelled against these Roman warriors. A deal was struck and their King’s retained their position at head of their tribes, and accepted Roman Rule.
Only one leader refused to accept Roman Rule: Queen Boudicca. For it was upon the death of the Iceni King, the Kingdom was left to his wife Boudicca and Emperor Nero, but Nero wanted it all. Boudicca was appointed leader by the Celts and led an army of 100,000 warriors, and burned Colchester, St.Albans and London to the ground with no survivors. Her army met the Romans in battle, and the Celts were defeated… with their leader dead, the Celts were forced into accepting Roman Rule.