The Celts were a loose grouping of tribes, sharing roughly similar languages and customs, who spread throughout Europe in the late Iron Age. The map below shows how they may have spread through Europe



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The Celts were a loose grouping of tribes, sharing roughly similar languages and customs, who spread throughout Europe in the late Iron Age. The map below shows how they may have spread through Europe.



Dwellings

The Celts lived in defensive structures called ringforts. Sometimes these forts were built on an artificial island on a lake and were called crannogs. The walls were built from earth, and the buildings from a paste of mud and dung spread over a wooden framework. This was called “daub and wattle”. Roofs were thatched with rushes or grass.





Kings and nobles

The Celts were organised into family groups called clans (Irish clann = family). Each clan was ruled by a chieftain, who was elected by the clan after the death of the old chief. A chief was often proposed by the druids after a tarbhfheis (bull-dream) where someone would dream of the new chief after eating the meat and drinking the blood of a freshly killed bull. The warriors were the chief’s supporters, and armed with the best weapons, including expensive iron swords. The Celts fought bravely and furiously, but in a very disorganised way – every man for himself!





Druids

The Druids were the Celtic priesthood – a mix of doctor, teacher, priest and wizard! Druid training could take from 10 – 20 years, and was entirely oral – the Druid had to remember all the spells and lore by heart and not write them down. Very little is known about the Druids – Julius Caesar said that they believed in re-incarnation and practiced human sacrifice, and bog bodies seem to suggest that this may have been the case. The Druids were extremely powerful in pre-Christian Celtic society.






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