30 апреля 2013

Social structure of the Celts

The Celts did not have a caste society, but there were well-defined classes.

At the top was the noble class. At some periods of Celtic history, the top man was a king.  Kingship was often seen as divine - rulers were men through whom the gods spoke. Kingship was not necessarily inherited, for kings could name their successor. There were also queens, who sometimes ruled in their own right. Among them are the legendary Irish warrior queen, Maeve, and the British Boudicca, who led the rebellious Iceni against Roman rule in AD 61.

But kingship was not the only form of rule. Several tribes abolished kingship. Instead of a king, a magistrate, the Vergobret, elected by the nobility, headed the tribe. But the real power was in the hands of the noble class. 
What is interesting, the landless commoners also had the possiblility of personal advancement by making a fortune through commerce or war. 

Slaves could not fight in times of war. Other men had the right to bear arms and were only permitted to fight when their lives were threatened.

The Celtic Women

The role of women in the Celtic society was dictated by their place in the social hierarchy and the customs which varied according to tribe. Moreover, Celtic society was patriarchal,its political and public life was largely the domain of men. Nevertheless, Celtic women often served as chieftains, druids, poets, healers and warriors; they served as diplomats and judges; and they served as arbitrators, taking role in political and military disputes.

The Celtic women had the right to divorce unlike the Roman women. They also could choose husbands themselves and they could not be persuaded in this matter.

Celtic women had the right to bear arms and this was common practice. Wives often accompanied their husbands into battle. In battle, they made great use of psychological tactics to draw the enemy's attention by  screaming and dancing wildly.
The Greek historian, Ammianus Marcellinus (c.400 AD) describes Celtic women warriors as: 
“usually very strong, and has blue eyes; in rage her neck veins swell, she gnashes her teeth, and brandishes her snow-white robust arms. She begins to strike blows mingled with kicks, as if they were so many missiles sent from the string of a catapult. The voices of these women are formidable, even when they are not angry but being friendly.”

And HERE you can explore the revolt of Boudicca, learn what really happened then, who were the main characters of the story, what were the main events. 

Housing and common activities

The Celts lived in roundhouses. That is known from the archaeological remains that have been excavated and dated to the Iron Age. The size of the roundhouses can be seen from the rain ditches which surround the houses. From those evidences we can know that their houses were very large and could house a lot of people.

 These houses had thatched roofs made with straw and heather. Houses on the South were made from wattle, the construction of woven wood and daub, which was straw and mud. The supplies for their houses could be easily get in the forests at those times. Their houses had no windows. For cooking and heating Celts used to light fire right in the roundhouses, which is why there used to be a lot of smoke that went outside throught the opening in the roof.  The Celts also often kept their animals near them in their houses, and in order to keep warm, often slept with them. Groups of houses were often built on the hill-forts in order to be  more protected and to have better observation.

The Celts brought many new skills to the peoples they conquered. They knew how to smelt iron and forge it into useful things. They decorated their helmets, shields, and arms with artistic metalwork and enameling. The Celts were also adept in such practical matters as curing hams, keeping bees, and making wooden barrels.

The Celts used bronze and gold as well as iron. The heads of the tribe wore beautiful jewellery to show their status.The Celtic craftsmen loved symmetrical designs and patterns. They were especially fond of a three-legged (triskeles) shape, and they liked to use animal shapes and faces in their patterns.

Their skill as metal workers was also important when they were defending themselves from their enemies. They needed sharp objects like spears, as well as shields, to defend themselves from enemy attack.

Also you can FOLLOW THIS LINK to play a funny free game about the Celts. Make the Celtic people work and build the village! This game is old enogh, but still, just for fun! ))