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Chronicles of The Celts by Iain Zaczek.
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DESCRIPTION: Oversized softcover: 160 pages. Publisher: Sterling Publishing Company, Inc.; (1999). Dimensions: 10 x 7½ inches; 1¼ pounds. The Celtic world, as it existing in three separate countries with a common spirit and tradition; Ireland, Wales, and Brittany, is brilliantly revealed in these exciting epic chronicles with 120 evocative photographs of artifacts, manuscripts, and landscapes that bring the Celtic world to life as never before. Ireland, land of ancient warriors who value nothing higher than fame and courage as they battle magical forces pitted against them. Ancient warriors whose deeds are as noble and mysterious as the hill forts and standing stones scattered around the landscape. Ancient warriors whose love of exaggeration and boasting compare with the most extravagant blarney. These are the Celts revealed by the early Irish chronicles.
Wales, a land of bands and druids hemmed into a beautiful, mountainous country where King Arthur roamed with his knights. The Welsh warriors saw themselves as defenders of the west, heroes who would one day hurl the foreign oppressors back into the sea. These dramatic chronicles date back to the Middle Ages, but they are truly much older than that. They tell of love and betrayal, of quests and challenges, of supernatural creatures and of murder.
Battling dragons, tyrants, and sorcerers, the warriors of Brittany were people of the sea. Hermits, missionaries, mystics, they passed down their tales of mystery and magic orally through the centuries. They are captured here from a time when the old pagan days were dying out, and the secret, supernatural skeins of the early mystical Celts were quickly attaching themselves to a new religion.
CONDITION: NEW. New oversized softcover. Sterling Publishing Company (1999) 160 pages. Unblemished except for VERY slight edge and corner shelf wear to the covers. Pages are pristine; clean, crisp, unmarked, unmutilated, tightly bound, unambiguously unread. Condition is entirely consistent with new stock from a bookstore environment wherein new books might show minor signs of shelfwear, consequence of simply being shelved and re-shelved. Satisfaction unconditionally guaranteed. In stock, ready to ship. No disappointments, no excuses. PROMPT SHIPPING! HEAVILY PADDED, DAMAGE-FREE PACKAGING! Meticulous and accurate descriptions! Selling rare and out-of-print ancient history books on-line since 1997. We accept returns for any reason within 30 days! #1717.2.
PLEASE SEE IMAGES BELOW FOR SAMPLE PAGES FROM INSIDE OF BOOK.
PLEASE SEE PUBLISHER, PROFESSIONAL, AND READER REVIEWS BELOW.
PUBLISHER REVIEW:
REVIEW: The civilization of the Celts once stretched over much of Europe, but nowhere was it so richly and highly developed as in Ireland, Wales, and Brittany. With new, vivid retellings of the great epic works, Táin Bó Cuailnge of Ireland, Mabinogion and Taliesin of Wales, and the Merlin legends of Brittany’s Barzaz Breiz, you will find yourself inside this magic world of shape-shifting, spell-casting, and spiritual power. Magnificent photographs of sacred sites, manuscripts, and artifacts capture its breathtaking vitality.
PROFESSIONAL REVIEWS:
REVIEW: Exquisite! An excellent introduction to the magnificent legends of the Celts. Over 120 photos and illustrations of relics, manuscripts and landscapes bring alive the mesmerizing stories. Divided into three sections of Ireland, Wales, and Brittany. Each contains a treasure trove of stories that transport you to a mysterious realm alive with invincible heroes, mystic warriors, faerie enchantresses, secret lovers and lost continents. Invites the reader to see how the world of Celtic ideas and traditions influenced later epic literature.
REVIEW: Savor an epic world of ancient warriors, bards and druids, dragons, tyrants, and sorcerers. These marvelous tales reveal the eternal power and spirit of the Celtic universe.
READER REVIEWS:
REVIEW: If you'd like to sample Celtic lore, you will want to read Iain Zaczek's intriguing collection of legends. Besides introducing King Arthur and some of the better-known Irish characters, "Chronicles" also features lesser-known legends, such as the "City of Ys" tale, a captivating story of the wages of sin. Zaczek has done a good job of translating most of the stories to make them not only interesting but exciting, but even suspenseful for first-time readers. The text of the legends is tastefully intertwined with photographs and short lucid essays and notes on historical elements which have
or may have) connections to the stories. The stories are good; not only good plots, but good myths, full of symbolism and half-veiled spiritual messages, and they intermesh well with the book's supplemental features. Also,
Chronicles" is geographically and chronologically balanced: some tales are from Ireland, others from Wales, etc. Some tales are pre-Christian; others are syncretized, etc. About the only thing wrong with this book is that it ends before you want it to.
REVIEW: An ideal book for those who have become interested in Celtic myths after seeing the recent TV series (History Channel), and would like to learn more about them. The book includes abridged translations of many of the principal myths from Ireland, Wales and Scotland, with background information on Celtic culture. The book is beautifully illustrated, with images of Celtic artifacts, and the landscapes where the stories were set. Most of the Irish tales come from the Táin Bó Cuailnge (“The Cattle Raid of Cooley”), and deal with the great hero Cú Chulainn. The Welsh tales are from the Mabinogion, and include Culhwch and Olwen, Pwyll and Rhiannon, and Peredur, an Arthurian story. The less well-known Breton stories include the Drowned City of Ys (a Celtic Atlantis?) and Conomor and Triphine, with similarities to Bluebeard.
REVIEW: I found the book fascinating in its choice of focus. Not only did it reflect what I had experienced myself on my trip to Ireland many years ago, but the sensitivity with which it wove the mystic and factual was impeccable. The pictures reflect a diversity of icons and scenery - shrouded in mystery which tugs at memories. It was the most excellent gift I had received in a long time.
REVIEW: I'm really obsessive when it comes to Celtic lore. I love Morgan Llywelyn's books and I will read almost any type of Arthurian fiction that is not overly rusty. This book caught my attention. The stories are retold rather nicely, but I have to admit the thing that really stimulates your mind in finding that there is page after page of magnificent pictures. Buy it, you will not be disappointed.
ANCIENT CELTIC HISTORY: The Celts were known in the ancient world (as they are today) for their stylized and fantastic plant and animal forms, as well as strong, geometrical, intertwining patterns. Celtic artwork decorated the surfaces of household and ritual vessels, weapons, and body ornaments
jewelry). The principal materials used in the surviving pieces of metalwork, most numerous of the remains, are gold and bronze. Though largely absorbed by the Roman Empire, Celtic art work, especially jewelry, was highly prized both in the Hellenic as well as the Roman world. The Celts were a group of peoples that occupied lands stretching from the British Isles to biblical Galatia in Asia Minor. Though the Celts left no written history of their own, though it is believed they originated in Southern Russia and by around 2,000 B.C. had reached the British Isles.
The Celts were a loosely confederated group of tribes speaking Indo-European dialects. Armed with iron weapons and mounted on horses, they spread rapidly over Europe, fought the Macedonians, and penetrated into Asia Minor, where they raided Hellenistic centers. The Celts lived in semi-fortified villages, with a tribal organization that became increasingly hierarchical as wealth was acquired. Priests, nobles, artisans, and peasants were clearly distinguished, and the powers of the chief became kinglike. The Celts believed in a demonic universe and relied on the ministry of the priests known as druids. Much Western European folklore is derived from the Celts.
History’s first written account of the Celts comes from northern Italy around 400 B.C. The nascent Roman Empire records an encounter between their neighbors, the Etruscans, and a previously unknown group of “barbarians”. These peoples had come down from the Alps and displaced the Etruscans from the fertile Po valley. The Romans sent envoys both to the besieged Etruscans as well as to
study and negotiate with) the Celts. The people who made up these various tribes were called “Galli” (Gaullic) by the Romans and “Keltoi” (Celtic) by the Greeks. The Romans eventually betrayed their diplomatic overtures, and the enraged Celts sacked Rome in 390 B.C. and ransomed the city for 1,000 pounds of gold – a humiliating defeat for the early Roman Empire.
Traditional Western (Graeco-Roman) History emphasizes the evolution of Europe from classical Roman and Greek culture. In reality, Europe throughout most of recorded history was dominated by the powerful and culturally diverse Celts. Through the period of classical Greece to first few centuries A.D, most of Europe was under the shadow of the Celts whom still represented a fairly unified culture. From this great culture arose the Germans and many of the cultural forms, ideas, and values of medieval Europe. Not only did medieval Europe look back to the Celtic world as a golden age of Europe, they also lived with social structures and world views that ultimately owe their origin to the Celts as well as to the Romans and Greeks.
The period of Celtic dominance in Europe began to unravel in the first centuries A.D., with the expansion of Rome, the migrations of the Germans, and later the influx of an Asian immigrant population, the Huns. The Celts were crushed between these forces. By the time Rome fell to Gothic invaders, the Celts had been pushed west and north, to England, Wales and Ireland and later to Scotland and the northern coast of France. The earliest Celts who were major players in the classical world were the Gauls, who controlled an area extending from France to Switzerland. It was the Gauls who sacked Rome and later invaded Greece; it was also the Gauls who migrated to Asia Minor to found their own, independent culture there, that of the Galatians. Through invasion and migration, they spread into Spain and later crossed the Alps into Italy and permanently settled the area south of the Alps which the Romans then named, Cisalpine Gaul. Two Celtic tribes, the Cimbri and the Teutones emigrated east and settled in territory in Germany. The center of Celtic expansion, however, was Gaul, which lay north of the Alps in the region now within the borders of France and Belgium and part of Spain.
Aside from their art work, the Celts were also known for their method of warfare, as depicted in the epic opening scenes of the movie “Gladiator”. The Celtic method of warfare was to stand in front of the opposing army and scream and beat their spears and swords against their shields. They would then run headlong into the opposing army and screamed the entire way. This often had the effect of scaring the opposing soldiers who then broke into a run; and fighting a fleeing army has always been relatively easy work. Throughout history Celtic treasures have been inadvertently discovered by farmers in their fields, uncovered by erosion, and the target of unsystematic searches by treasure seekers. With the introduction of metal detectors and other modern technologies to Eastern Europe in the past three or four decades, an amazing number of new finds are seeing the light of day 2,000 years or more after they were originally hidden by their past owners. [AncientGifts]
THE ANCIENT CELTS: The ancient Celts were various population groups living in several parts of Europe north of the Mediterranean region from the Late Bronze Age onwards. Given the name Celt by ancient writers, these tribes often migrated and so eventually occupied territories from Portugal to Turkey. Although diverse tribes the ancient Celts spoke the same language and maintained the same artistic tradition which is characterised by the use of idiosyncratic flowing lines and forms. Celtic languages are still spoken today in parts of the British Isles and northern France.
Ancient writers gave the name Celts to various population groups living across central Europe inland from the Mediterranean coastal areas. Most scholars agree that the Celtic culture first appeared in the Late Bronze Age in the area of the upper Danube sometime around the 13th century B.C. These early Celts were known as the ‘Urnfield people’ and they probably spoke a proto-Celtic language. By the 8th century B.C., iron had replaced bronze-working and the cultural group is then referred to by scholars as the
Hallstatt culture’. Spain saw a similar development with tribes using iron weapons. The Hallstatt culture declined by the 5th century B.C., perhaps due to internal political tensions and economic difficulties. The next phase of Celtic development was carried out by a group known as the La Tène culture.
The migration of various Celtic tribes in order to flee wars meant that eventually they occupied Territory from the Iberian peninsula to Turkey. The prosperity of the La Tène culture in ancient France, Spain and wider central Europe meant that they were able to challenge the contemporary Mediterranean cultures and so they appear for the first time in Classical history. From then on these peoples were widely referred to as Celts. In antiquity writers did not describe tribes in ancient Britain and Ireland as Celts, although they have acquired that label in modern times and some Celtic languages or their derivatives are still spoken there, as a form of Celtic still is in the Brittany region of northern France. The religion of the Celts, led by a priesthood known as the Druids, is described by ancient writers with some disdain as crude and violent.
The migration of various Celtic tribes in order to flee wars – they were famously attacked in Gaul by Julius Caesar in the 1st century B.C. and by the Germanic tribes - and find new prospects meant that eventually the territory occupied by them ranged from Galicia (the Iberian peninsula) to Romania. Many Celtic tribes spread eastwards, for example, traversing Macedonia in 280 B.C. and crossing the Hellespont in 278 B.C. into Asia Minor. The Galatians, as they were now called, colonised areas of central Asia Minor which brought them into direct conflict with both the Hellenistic kingdoms and Rome.
Celtic armies first came to the attention of historians when the Gauls, led by their king Bran (Brennus), sacked Rome in 390 B.C., and again in 279 B.C. when they looted Delphi as they passed through Greece on their way to Asia. The Celts attacked the Romans again in 225 B.C. and were frequent mercenary allies of Carthage during the Punic Wars. The Celts thus gained a reputation with Latin and Greek writers for being fierce warriors and skilled horsemen who also fielded chariots in battle. Julius Caesar faced them when he invaded Gaul. They were light, pulled by two horses, and had an open front and back with double hoops at the sides. Containing two men they were used to attack enemy cavalry first by throwing javelins and then one man dismounted to fight on foot while the rider drove the chariot to a safe distance to await a retreat if necessary. Caesar describes them as driven with great skill and so were a highly maneuvrable weapon of disruption and attack.
Celtic warriors were known for their long hair and imposing physique. They are depicted in Greek art with their distinctive long shields (wooden panels covered in decorated hide) and long swords. Such was the respect for Celtic warriors that Hellenistic kings who defeated Galatian armies were given the title of soter, meaning ‘savior’. Although Galatian armies were almost always defeated by their more disciplined and better-equipped enemies in single battles, once conquered, they did fight successfully as mercenaries in many Hellenistic and Roman armies.
The Celtic language is a branch of the Indo-European language family. Scholars have divided Celtic languages into two groups: Insular Celtic and Continental Celtic. The latter group was no longer widely spoken after the Roman imperial period, and the only surviving examples of it are mentions in the works of Greek and Roman writers and some epigraphic remains such as pottery graffiti and votive and funerary stelae. The best documented of this group is Gaulish.
The Insular Celtic group of languages are two: British or Brittonic (Breton, Cornish, and Welsh) and Goidelic (Irish and its medieval derivatives, Scots Gaelic and Manx). Brittonic was spoken in all of Britain in the Roman period. From it evolved Cumbrian (extinct since medieval times), Cornish (no longer spoken after the 18th century A.D. but recently revived), Breton (likely introduced by 5th-century CE British settlers and not connected directly to Gaulish), and Welsh, which is still spoken today. The earliest evidence of Goidelic-Irish dates to the 5th century A.D., and it later evolved into Middle Irish (circa 950 – 1200 A.D.) and, thereafter, morphed again into Modern Irish, which is still spoken today. [Ancient History Encyclopedia].
THE ANCIENT CELTS: Most of us are unaware that Celts once dominated the breadth of Europe from the Black Sea to the Atlantic—and for a long time. An early form of Welsh was spoken in Britain 1,500 years before Old English took root. The Celtic languages still spoken in Europe hark back to the Late Bronze Age (1200-800 B.C.) and a civilization of aristocratic warrior tribes. The word
Celtic" comes from the Greek Keltoi, first appearing in the sixth century B.C. to describe "barbarians" living inland from the Mediterranean Sea. Little suggests these people united or called themselves Celts. Yet there is no denying that these far-flung peoples spoke closely related languages and shared beliefs, styles of art and weaponry, and tribal societies. Trade, principally by water, connected them. Calling them Celts makes sense, if only to separate them from what they weren't: Roman or Greek. All this categorizing might easily have become an arid academic debate about a lost people. Beginning in the second century b.c. Roman legions vanquished Celtic armies across Europe. Only the peoples of northern Britain and Ireland remained unconquered.
In the fifth century A.D. the Anglo-Saxons invaded Celtic lands, followed by the Vikings, storming the coasts in their long warships, the Normans, who attacked from France, and finally the colonizing armies of the English and French crowns. From these wars of resistance came many Celtic heroes and martyrs such as the legendary King Arthur, the Irish High King Brian Boru, and Scotland's William Wallace, known as Braveheart. By the end of the Middle Ages, Celtic culture was headed toward extinction, its remnants pushed to the very western edge of Europe. "No one else wanted to live where the Celts did," a Breton man said. "Those places were poor and remote, and no one spoke their languages."
Being ostracized to no-man's-land did not spare the Celts from further depredations. The English and French banned or restricted their languages, their instruments and music, their names, their right to own property, and in the case of the kilt-wearing Scottish Highland clans, even their clothing. It's a bit miraculous Celtic civilization survived in any form. By clinging to the fringes, geographically and culturally, Celts refused to vanish. Now, in one of those delectable backward flips of history, Celts and all things Celtic suddenly seem omnipresent. "Europe's beautiful losers," as one British writer called them, are commanding attention as one of the new century's seductive identities: free-spirited, rebellious, poetic, nature-worshipping, magical, self-sufficient. [National Geographic].
CELTIC DRUIDS: The Druids were an educated class of the Celtic people. The Celtic were a people that originated from beyond the Caspian Sea. The Celtic nations included tribes that were spread across several European locales but not limited to Scotland, Britain, Wales, Ireland, Cornwall, and Isle of Man. The ancient Celtic societies were an intellectual class of philosophers, judges, educators, historians, doctors, astronomers, and astrologers. The Druids studied verse, philosophy, mythology, and astronomy, among many other subjects. Some Druids spent as many as 20 years in training. The Celtic nations included tribes that were spread across several European locales but not limited to Scotland, Britain, Wales, Ireland, Cornwall, and Isle of Man.
There are many modern Druid organizations. It is believed that modern Druid orders began in the eighteenth century in England. The beliefs and practices of the ancient Druids continue to be researched by modern Druids since much information about the ancient Druids had been lost over time. There are several meanings of the word Druid, including "a servant of truth," "an oak," and
all-knowing or wise man." This name probably originated because the ancient Druids spent much of their time in Oak forests meditating and worshiping nature.
Another Celtic calendar, known as the Coligny Calendar, was discovered in eastern France. This calendar was a bronze plate measuring five feet by three and a half feet. The Coligny Calendar also recorded time by lunar months. It showed 62 lunar months, with two additional months added so that the Coligny Calendar would match the solar timekeeping system. Experts believe that the Celtics made this change to the calendar after learning about the solar timekeeping system used by the Roman people.
The Druids recognized only two seasons: winter and summer. By paying close attention to the movement of the moon, sun and stars in the sky, they were able to mark the beginning of one season and the end of the other. The Druids created myths around these events and had elaborate celebrations. Samhain: The rising of the Pleiades constellation in the sky occurred at the end of summer. The Druids believed that this movement of the Pleiades marked the triumph of night over day. It was the beginning of the time of year that was ruled by the moon.
The Druids celebrated this change in season with the Samhain (or Samhuinn) festival on October 31st and November 1st. Samhain means "time of the little sun" or "end of the warm season." According to the ancient Celtic philosophy, a year passed between darkness and light. They believed that earth was in darkness in the beginning and night comes before day just as winter comes before summer. November 1st marked the beginning of winter and the first day of the year. It was like our New Year's Day.
This day was a solemn occasion for the Druids because it was a time when darkness overwhelmed the world. At this time of year, the days became short and the earth became cold and barren. The Druids explained the Samhain celebration through the telling of a myth about a god named Lugh who represented the sun. According to the myth, Lugh was the god of light. At summer's end, he was killed by Tanist, the lord of misrule. Tanist was the god of the moon. Samhain is the time when Lugh passes from the world of life to the world of death and Tanist becomes ruler of the Druids' world.
The long nights of moonlight were explained by the belief that Tanist, the moon, was a cruel and cold ruler. Although he shone brightly in the sky, he did not provide warmth to the land. The Feast of the Dead took place on Samhain Eve. The Feast of the Dead united the past, present and future. It was believed that the spirits of the dead as well as the spirits of those yet unborn walked the earth among the living. This was considered a divine time because it was one of two times of the year when the "veil" between Earth and the Otherworld was at its thinnest.
The ancient Druids also believed that a person's spirit lived in the head. They believed that if they displayed the head of an enemy killed at battle during Samhain, then the enemy could not cause them any harm on the days when the dead walked the earth with the living. In fact, the traditions of carving pumpkins at Halloween in the United States and carving turnips in Europe stem from this ancient Druid activity.
Samhain was also a time when the Druids renewed their commitments to their community. Hilltops were lit with fires at Samhain. All home fires were extinguished and then lighted again from community bonfires. The Druids and cattle left the hills and glens to live in their winter quarters. This was a time to reunite with family and friends and strengthen bonds with those you cared about. Druids spent time during Samhain discussing religious philosophy and telling stories by the fires at home.
Feast of Lugh: On August 1st, the Druids celebrated a feast in honor of the sun that had enabled their crops to grow. This festival was called the Feast of Lugh, for their sun god Lugh. The Feast of Lugh marked the end of growing time and the beginning of the harvest. Warriors returned to begin harvesting crops of corn, wheat, fruits and vegetables at this time. Many feasts and sports competitions were held in honor of Lugh.
Lugh was their sun god who gave them light and warmth. During the Feast of Lugh it was common for the Druids to set a wheel on fire at the top of a hill and then roll it down to the bottom. This tradition symbolized the decline of the sun god and the descent of the sun. The Feast of Lugh was also a time to sacrifice bad habits and remove unwanted things from one's own life.
Many marriages and divorces took place during this festival. A couple could have a trial marriage that lasted only one year until the next Feast of Lugh. At the following festival, the husband and wife would stand back to back in front of their community. If they wished to end the marriage, they walked away in opposite directions. Records tell us that these trial marriages continued well into the 16th century.
According to one Celtic myth about the festival, the sun god Lugh is married to the land, known as Nass. Lugh's death is necessary for rebirth to take place in the land. The sun god sacrifices himself to the land when he is at his hottest but when his light is fading. At this time, days are getting shorter and shadows are getting longer. In a different version of this myth, Lugh requested this annual celebration in honor of his foster mother, Tailltiu. In this myth, Tailltiu is the Goddess of the Land who had died while preparing the fields for planting.
If her memory was not honored, the Druids believed that Lugh would destroy the crops before they could be harvested. With no crops to harvest for food, the community would starve during the coming winter months. [University of Chicago].
CELTIC DRUIDS: After about 650 BC a people called the Celts lived in England. The Celts had priests called Druids. The Druids were very important in Celtic society. As well as being priests they were scholars, judges and advisers to the kings. The Celts were polytheists (they worshiped many gods and goddesses). They did not build temples but instead worshiped at natural sites such as groves of trees, springs, rivers and lakes. Sometimes the Celts sacrificed valuable goods by throwing them into lakes and rivers. In Celtic times the old Bronze Age practice of building barrows to bury the dead in died out. Instead people were interned in individual graves. They were still buried with grave goods showing the Celts had a strong belief in an afterlife. They believed that when you died your spirit went to a place called the Other World.
The Druids did not build Stonehenge. That is a historical myth. In fact that was built long before the Celtic Era. It is sometimes claimed that the Druids practices human sacrifice but is that true? Julius Caesar (100-44 B.C.) conquered the Celts who lived in Gaul (modern France) and he led two expeditions to England. He wrote that the Druids sacrificed human beings by placing them inside a giant wickerwork and thatch effigy of a man then burning it. Caesar claimed that the Druids normally sacrificed criminals but if they could not find enough of them they used innocent people. However Caesar may have written that in order to justify his wars against the Celts (look how barbaric the Celts are they need us Romans to civilize them). In other words it may be propaganda.
Slightly later a Greek called Strabo (c.64 BC-24 AD) again claimed that Druids sacrificed human beings by placing them in giant effigies of men made of wickerwork and thatch and burning them. He also claimed they sacrificed people by impaling them or shooting arrows at them. However historians believe the Celts did not use the bow and arrow! So Strabo's writings are suspect.
The Romans strongly opposed the Druids. They had great social and political influence and the Romans probably saw the Druids as a threat). Therefore anything Greek-Roman writers say about the Druids is likely to be very biased and should be treated with caution. There is actually very little evidence of human sacrifice in Celtic Times. In 1984 the body of a man was found preserved in peat in Northwest England. He had been hit on the head and strangled and his throat was cut. Apparently he was the victim of a ritualistic killing in the 1st century AD. However there is no proof that the Druids killed him. We are not sure who killed this man or why. In summary it is possible the Druids practiced human sacrifice but it seems clear that if they did it was rare.
Another myth is that the modern Halloween custom of trick or treat is derived from a Druid custom. In reality Halloween customs evolved in the late 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries. There is no evidence that trick or treat has anything to do with the Druids! About 650 BC the Celts introduced iron into Britain and they made the first swords. Warfare was common during the iron age and many hill forts (fortified settlements) were built at that time. (Although there were also many open villages and farms). The Celts fought from horses or light wooden chariots. They threw spears and fought with swords. The Celts had wooden shields and some wore chain mail.
Most of the Celts were farmers although were also many skilled craftsmen. Some Celts were blacksmiths (working with iron), bronze smiths, carpenters, leather workers and potters. (The potter’s wheel was introduced into Britain c.150 BC). Celtic craftsmen also made elaborate jewelry of gold and precious stones. Furthermore objects like swords and shields were often finely decorated. The Celts decorated metal goods with enamel. The Celts also knew how to make glass and they made glass beads.
At the top of Celtic society was a class of nobles headed by a king or chieftain. Below them were the craftsmen (of whom metalworkers were the most important). Then came the farmers who provided the food supply and also fought for the chief. However the Celts were divided into tribes. There was no political unity among them and a great deal of fighting. The Celts grew crops in rectangular fields. They raised pigs, sheep and cattle. They stored grain in pits lined with stone or wicker and sealed with clay. The Celts also brewed beer from barley.
Trade with Europe was common. Metals like copper, tin, iron and lead were exported from England. Wool, cloth, skins and grain were also exported. Luxury goods like fine pottery and expensive metal goods were imported from Europe. At first the Celts used iron bars as a form of currency but by about 50 BC they were using gold coins. The Celts lived in round houses. They were built around a central pole with horizontal poles radiating outwards from it. They rested on vertical poles. Walls were of wattle and daub and roofs were thatched. Around the walls inside the huts were benches, which also doubled up as beds. The Celts also used low tables.
Celtic men wore tunics and trousers and women wore long dresses and mantles. They used bronze mirrors. Women wore belts around their dresses made of cloth, leather or bronze rings. Celtic men soaked their hair in lime water to make it stand up straight. They wore mustaches but not beards. Wealthy Celts wore gold ornaments around their necks called torcs or torques. The Celts made dyes from plants, woad, for blue, madder, for red and weld for yellow. For amusement Celts played board games. They were also very fond of music and played flutes and lyres. In good weather they held horse or chariot races. The Celts also enjoyed hunting wild boar on horseback.
The main Celtic festivals were Imbolc at the beginning of February at the start of the lambing season, Beltane at the beginning of May, when cattle were sent out to graze in the fields after being kept indoors and fed on hay during the Winter, Lughasad in August when the crops were growing ripe and Samhain at the beginning of November. That was the time when animals were brought in from the fields for the Winter. The Celts could not grow enough hay to feed them all so those not needed for breeding were slaughtered. Although the Romans regarded the Celts as barbarians they created a sophisticated and advanced society. Women certainly had more freedom than in Roman society and Celtic craftsmen were superb. [LocalHistories.Org].
IRON AGE CELTS IN BRITAIN: The people of Iron Age Britain were physically very similar to many modern Europeans and there is no reason to suppose that all Iron Age Britons had the same hair color, eye color or skin complexion. Iron Age Britons spoke one or more Celtic language, which probably spread to Britain through trade and contacts between people rather than by the invasion of large numbers of Celtic peoples into Britain. Currently, there is no evidence for such an invasion at any time in the Iron Age.
The Romans called the people of Iron Age Britain 'Britons' and the island of Britain 'Britannia', that is, 'land of the Britons'. The Britons had many ways of life in common with other peoples living in western Europe, who the Romans called Celts or Gauls. There was trade between peoples in Britain and western Europe, and also probably marriages. Nevertheless, the peoples who spoke Celtic languages in different parts of Europe at this time were diverse.
From studies of the skeletons of Iron Age Britons we know that the average woman was 1.5 meters (5 foot 2 inches) in height, the smallest known was 1.4 meters (4 foot 9 inches) tall, and the tallest 1.7 meters (5 foot 7 inches). The average man was 1.69 meters (5 foot 6 inches) in height, the smallest known was 1.6 meters (5 foot 2 inches) tall and the tallest was 1.8 meters (5 foot 11 inches). There are few human skeletons from Iron Age Britain, but there is evidence for differences in height and health between people living in different parts of the country. People in East Yorkshire living about 400-100 BC were taller than people from Hampshire. [British Museum].
SHIPPING & RETURNS/REFUNDS: We always ship books domestically (within the USA) via USPSINSURED media mail (“book rate”). Most international orders cost an additional $13.49 to $41.99 for aninsured shipment in a heavily padded mailer. There is also a discount program which can cut postage costs by 50% to 75% if you’re buying about half-a-dozen books or more (5 kilos+). Our postage charges are as reasonable as USPS rates allow.ADDITIONAL PURCHASES do receive a VERY LARGE discount, typically about $5 per book (for each additional book after the first) so as to reward you for the economies of combined shipping/insurance costs.
Your purchase will ordinarily be shipped within 48 hours of payment. We package as well as anyone in the business, with lots of protective padding and containers. All of our shipments are fully insured against loss, and our shipping rates include the cost of this coverage (through stamps.com, Shipsaver.com, the USPS, UPS, or Fed-Ex). International tracking is provided free by the USPS for certain countries, other countries are at additional cost. We do offer U.S. Postal Service Priority Mail, Registered Mail, and Express Mail for both international and domestic shipments, as well United Parcel Service (UPS) and Federal Express (Fed-Ex). Please ask for a rate quotation. We will accept whatever payment method you are most comfortable with.
If upon receipt of the item you are disappointed for any reason whatever, I offer a no questions asked 30-day return policy. Send it back, I will give you a complete refund of the purchase price; 1) less our original shipping/insurance costs, 2) less non-refundable PayPal/eBay payment processing fees. Please note that PayPal does NOT refund fees. Even if you “accidentally” purchase something and then cancel the purchase before it is shipped, PayPal will not refund their fees. So all refunds for any reason, without exception, do not include PayPal/eBay payment processing fees (typically between 3% and 5%) and shipping/insurance costs (if any). If you’re unhappy with PayPal and eBay’s “no fee refund” policy, and we are EXTREMELY unhappy, please voice your displeasure by contacting PayPal and/or eBay. We have no ability to influence, modify or waive PayPal or eBay policies.
ABOUT US: Prior to our retirement we used to travel to Europe and Central Asia several times a year. Most of the items we offer came from acquisitions we made in Eastern Europe, India, and from the Levant (Eastern Mediterranean/Near East) during these years from various institutions and dealers. Much of what we generate on Etsy, Amazon and Ebay goes to support The Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, as well as some other worthy institutions in Europe and Asia connected with Anthropology and Archaeology. Though we have a collection of ancient coins numbering in the tens of thousands, our primary interests are ancient jewelry and gemstones. Prior to our retirement we traveled to Russia every year seeking antique gemstones and jewelry from one of the globe’s most prolific gemstone producing and cutting centers, the area between Chelyabinsk and Yekaterinburg, Russia. From all corners of Siberia, as well as from India, Ceylon, Burma and Siam, gemstones have for centuries gone to Yekaterinburg where they have been cut and incorporated into the fabulous jewelry for which the Czars and the royal families of Europe were famous for.
My wife grew up and received a university education in the Southern Urals of Russia, just a few hours away from the mountains of Siberia, where alexandrite, diamond, emerald, sapphire, chrysoberyl, topaz, demantoid garnet, and many other rare and precious gemstones are produced. Though perhaps difficult to find in the USA, antique gemstones are commonly unmounted from old, broken settings – the gold reused – the gemstones recut and reset. Before these gorgeous antique gemstones are recut, we try to acquire the best of them in their original, antique, hand-finished state – most of them centuries old. We believe that the work created by these long-gone master artisans is worth protecting and preserving rather than destroying this heritage of antique gemstones by recutting the original work out of existence. That by preserving their work, in a sense, we are preserving their lives and the legacy they left for modern times. Far better to appreciate their craft than to destroy it with modern cutting.
Not everyone agrees – fully 95% or more of the antique gemstones which come into these marketplaces are recut, and the heritage of the past lost. But if you agree with us that the past is worth protecting, and that past lives and the produce of those lives still matters today, consider buying an antique, hand cut, natural gemstone rather than one of the mass-produced machine cut
often synthetic or “lab produced”) gemstones which dominate the market today. We can set most any antique gemstone you purchase from us in your choice of styles and metals ranging from rings to pendants to earrings and bracelets; in sterling silver, 14kt solid gold, and 14kt gold fill. When you purchase from us, you can count on quick shipping and careful, secure packaging. We would be happy to provide you with a certificate/guarantee of authenticity for any item you purchase from us. There is a $3 fee for mailing under separate cover. I will always respond to every inquiry whether via email or eBay message, so please feel free to write.

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