The Celtic warriors who may an art of slaughter


Blackleaf
#1
They were the wild-haired, primitive savages who roamed Britain before the Romans turned up and knocked some civilisation into them. The Celts were never going to defeat the invading Romans with their superior military strength, vast empire and underfloor central heating.

But a new show at the British Museum shows quite how underrated the Celts were, with their exceptionally beautiful craftsmanship in bronze and gold and their highly sophisticated, utterly horrifying weaponry.

Warriors who made an art of slaughter: They're our most fearsome and brutal ancestors. But a thrilling exhibition at the British Museum shows the Celts created weapons as beautiful as they were bloodsoaked


New show at British Museum reveals astonishing array of Celtic weapons

The primitive warriors killed their enemies and then ripped off their heads

Axes, spearheads, shields and other killing machines are all on display

The exhibition Celts: Art And Identity is at the museum until January 31


By Harry Mount for the Daily Mail
2 October 2015
Daily Mail


Most Britons are descended from the Celtic inhabitants of ancient Britain, according to a major genetic study - 83% of the Welsh, 73% of the Scots and even 64% of the supposedly "Germanic, Anglo-Saxon" English

They were the wild-haired, primitive savages who roamed Britain before the Romans turned up and knocked some civilisation into them. The Celts were never going to defeat the invading Romans with their superior military strength, vast empire and underfloor central heating.

But a new show at the British Museum shows quite how underrated the Celts were, with their exceptionally beautiful craftsmanship in bronze and gold and their highly sophisticated, utterly horrifying weaponry.

The Romans gave Celtic rage its own name: Furor Celtica. When their blood was up, the Celts would attack at top speed in a massed charge. Just killing their enemies was not enough, however. They also enjoyed ripping the heads from their dead foes and strapping them to their belts or horses, a symbol of the strength they had taken from those they had vanquished.


Pictured left, one of the stunning bronze helmets on display. Right, a carnyx war horn, with boar's head detail, which was found in Scotland

Listen to the sound of a Celtic carnyx war horn:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V0UVc21Ta34

The British Museum exhibition is packed with objects used for eating and drinking, personal grooming, pagan worship and warfare.

Some of the best Celtic art in Iron Age Britain was used to decorate killing machinery, particularly scabbards, sword hilts and shields.

The ancient British economy was largely given over to the arms trade.


The Eaton Hoard


Take the Eaton Hoard, found on the edges of Norwich, which contains 145 bronze axes and spearheads dating from between 950BC and 750BC. Here was a warring civilisation — and a pretty advanced manufacturing one — that could turn out weapons on a mass production basis.

What a spine-tingling, bowel-chilling sight the Celtic army on the march must have presented. The Greeks and Romans considered the Celts to be a kind of wild barbarian and it is easy to see why; with their horned helmets (it was the Celts, not the Vikings, who wore them) and gleaming, elaborately decorated shields, they fully intended to present as shocking a sight as possible.

Their weapons were not just for killing either, but for glittering display, to put the fear of God (the Celtic god Toutatis, that is) into the enemy, long before their weapons clashed.

The ‘Battersea shield’, found in the Thames at Battersea, South London, and thought to have been made between 350BC and 50BC, would have been a particularly heart-stopping prospect. With its polished bronze, raised decoration and red glass inlay, it is thought to have been a ‘display shield’, raised aloft in flamboyant display to get the enemy quaking.

The same urge to show off your weapons is found in a 300BC iron sword in a bronze scabbard, from Kirkburn, Yorkshire. It has more than 70 components to it, from a pommel of horn to iron glass inlays in the handle.


The Kirkburn sword and scabbard


British Celtic weapons were decorated with haunting symbols, designed, it is thought, to scare your enemy, impress your allies and give you magical protection on the battlefield.


The Chertsey Shield, 300BC


A 300BC shield from Chertsey, Surrey, has a handgrip ending in pairs of serpents. Paired animals were thought to save you on the battlefield and are also found on scabbards and belt hooks.

The Battersea shield is decorated with swirling, S-shaped lines, reminiscent of swans’ necks. Another shield, from 300BC, also found in the Thames at Wandsworth, has a pair of scary birds with hooked beaks and staring eyes, chasing each other around the shield’s edge.

Different parts of Britain developed their own ways of decorating their beloved weapons. In Yorkshire for instance, they favoured delicate scrolling patterns on their scabbards.


Lavish: A torc, worn round the neck, made of twisted gold and silver threads



Pictured is the reverse of the Hunterston Brooch, an intricately carved item made about 700AD. It was found in Hunterston, Ayrshire, in the 1830s

In Ireland, they preferred short swords with bronze hilts carved in human shapes. A 300BC scabbard from Lisnacrogher, County Antrim, is inscribed with double axe heads. These weapons were so revered that they were often buried with the dead, as sacred offerings.

The star of the show is a 200BC helmet, found in the Thames by the site of today’s Waterloo Bridge. It is just the sort of horned helmet you imagine Vikings drinking their enemies’ blood from.

In fact, those horns would have been deeply cumbersome and impractical in battle; they are there purely for expensive, terrifying show.



There are even reports of Celts using lime to make their hair stand in spikes to give themselves a more monstrous look. Others tell how the Celts were a full head taller than their Mediterranean enemies.

The Celtic battlefield was not for the faint of heart. The air rang to the screams of the dying and the clash of sword on shield and the shrieking of the carnyx, the Celtic musical instrument of war.

These were bronze, animal-shaped horns, connected to long tubes through which soldiers bellowed their war cries. One AD75 carnyx, from Deskford, Aberdeen, depicts the head of a wild boar, with wrinkled skin and an upturned snout. At the British Museum show, you can listen to the noise it would make: it sounds like the grating death cries of an animal being slaughtered.

The most impressive of all the Celtic war machines was the lightweight chariot that could zip across the battlefield at top speed. When the Romans took on the British Celts in AD43, they were much impressed by the enemy’s nippy little chariots.


Intimidating: A horned helmet, made around 200BC, found near in the Thames in Waterloo, London



Pictured is a silver ring of Trichtingen found in south west Germany, dated 200-500 BC


The Celtic war queen Boudicca used to terrify Roman soldiers when she charged forward in her chariot in full cry, although reports that she had attached scythes to the wheels to chop off her enemies’ legs are probably overblown.

The Celts were so attached to these chariots that they were often buried with them. In 200BC, a Yorkshireman was buried at Kirkburn under his carefully dismantled chariot and lay there undisturbed until archeologists found the tomb in the Eighties.

It wasn’t just chariots that were so carefully looked after. In Torrs, in Dumfries and Galloway, a 300BC bronze cap for a horse has been discovered. The horse’s ears poked through specially designed holes.

With their long experience of using chariots in battle, British Celts became extremely adept at turning them into killing machines.


Flamboyant: With its polished bronze and glass inlay, the Battersea Shield, found in the Thames in London in 1857, was used to scare the enemy. It dates from 350BC-50BC

First, they hurled javelins at the enemy from their chariots and then they moved in for the kill with swords. Their swordmanship was special, too. Most continental Europeans drew their weapons from scabbards hanging at their waist. Only the British dramatically drew their swords from scabbards hanging off their backs.

Across Europe, it seems, Celts had their own trademark way of killing. In Spain, they delighted in stabbing their enemies close up, with short swords.

In southern Gaul, they were keener on heavy armour and longer swords. In Scotland, the Picts were deft with the light crossbow.


Dunaverney 'flesh-hook', 1,000BC

After the fighting came the feasting. At the British Museum, there is a ‘flesh-hook’, found in Dunaverney, County Antrim. Dating from 1,000BC it is decorated with little swans, cygnets and boiling cauldrons. (The Celts were not so keen on fish however; very few fishbones survive from Celtic settlements.)

They then washed their meat down with wine, ale and mead, poured from huge, iron cauldrons. The show includes an AD40 bronze tankard from Brackley, Northamptonshire. It is so big that it is thought Celts went in for communal drinking from the same cup.


Brackley Tankard, AD40


Included in the show is an iron sword from Hod Hill, Dorset, the site of a battle between the Celts and the Romans in around AD50. The siege of the Celtic hillfort ended in a Roman victory and the Romans proceeded to build a fort on top of the Celtic walls.

The iron sword was probably made for one of those victorious Romans and yet the engraved pattern of trumpets and dots found on its hilt is very reminiscent of the Celtic Iron Age, centuries before the Romans came here.

The same mixture of Celtic art and Roman military prowess can be found on an AD50 helmet from northern England. It is decorated with those familiar swirling, Celtic lines on the neckguard and on its side-plates.

So, just for a moment, you think it must have belonged to a plucky British Celt fighting a losing battle against the Roman invaders. But look a little closer and you will see the inscription, ‘II’, on one side, the Roman numeral for two.

A ‘w’-shaped pattern on the neckguard is a conscious imitation of the carrying handle of a Roman legionary’s traditional helmet.

British Celts and Romans even shared gods. An AD200 plaque from Hertfordshire is dedicated to Mars, Roman god of war, and Toutatis.

So, yes, the Celts lost their military struggle against the Romans, but their legacy of blood-soaked beauty lives on and is still conquering museum visitors to this day.

Celts: Art And Identity is at the British Museum until January 31.

British Museum - Celts




Harry Mount’s book Odyssey - Ancient Greece In The Footsteps Of Odysseus is published by Bloomsbury.


Read more: British Museum's Celts: Art And Identity exhibition reveals array of Celtic weapons | Daily Mail Online
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Last edited by Blackleaf; Oct 12th, 2015 at 10:38 AM..
 
taxslave
#2
COmpared to Romans the celts were a very advanced civilization.
 
DaSleeper
#3
Blackie is now worse than he was before
Didn't lear a thing....

 
AnnaG
#4
Well, I am a bit more courteous (I'm civilised so no oversized font, no huge photos, etc.) than Blackrot, so here you go:
Quote:

The blood in Irish veins is Celtic, right? Well, not exactly. Although the history many Irish people were taught at school is the history of the Irish as a Celtic race, the truth is much more complicated, and much more interesting than that ...

The rest is here: DNA shows Irish people have more complex origins than previously thought -- Secret History -- Sott.net
 
Blackleaf
#5
Quote: Originally Posted by taxslave View Post

COmpared to Romans the celts were a very advanced civilization.


In some scientific and economic aspects the Celts were morw advanced than the Romans. But technologically, politically and military, the Romans were far ahead of the Celts.

Where people of Celtic descent live in Europe today:


 
EagleSmack
+1
#6  Top Rated Post


Quote: Originally Posted by DaSleeper View Post

Blackie is now worse than he was before
Didn't lear a thing....

Thumb in the eye I'd say.
 
Blackleaf
#7
It's it time Boston changed their logo to something less offensive and racist? Its racial stereotyping is just sheer blatant.
 
EagleSmack
#8
Are you offended?
 
Blackleaf
#9
Quote: Originally Posted by EagleSmack View Post

Are you offended?


I bet there are lots of people in Ireland offended by it.

It's racist.
 
captain morgan
#10
Never knew that the Irish were a race.

Learnin' sumptin' new everyday I guess
 
Blackleaf
#11
Quote: Originally Posted by captain morgan View Post

Never knew that the Irish were a race.

Learnin' sumptin' new everyday I guess

Now just imagine had the guy in the logo had brown skin, wore a turban and was flying on a magic carpet.

Or had yellow skin, slitty eyes and was eating raw fish.

Or had red skin and had feathers on his head.

You'd be amongst the group of numpties calling for the logo to be changed.

Why is this racist...




...but this isn't?





Now I'm not bothered about the Boston Celtics' logo or the Cleveland Indians' logo or the Washington Redskins' logo or name. I'm not even bothered aboutt he silly boy sports they play. They're all perfectly fine and acceptable logos and names. It's just the double standards which annoy me with the "Ban The Racist Logos!" brigade.
Last edited by Blackleaf; Oct 13th, 2015 at 09:48 AM..
 
captain morgan
#12
Quote: Originally Posted by Blackleaf View Post

Why is this racist...




...but this isn't?



Because the Irish aren't a race... I thought that my previous sarcastic answer made the point clear
 
Ludlow
#13
Quote: Originally Posted by AnnaG View Post

Well, I am a bit more courteous (I'm civilised so no oversized font, no huge photos, etc.) than Blackrot, so here you go:
The rest is here: DNA shows Irish people have more complex origins than previously thought -- Secret History -- Sott.net

That's an interesting article. Rumor has it that my family on my fathers side came from Ireland but there is nothing to back that up. I have read similar studies indicating that many Sephardic Jews from Spain migrated to Mexico and the southern US in the 15th century.
 
Blackleaf
#14
Quote: Originally Posted by captain morgan View Post

Because the Irish aren't a race... I thought that my previous sarcastic answer made the point clear


You can be "sarcastic" all you like, but neither the Muslims nor Japs nor the Chinks are a race, yet if there was a basketball team called the Boston Chinks showing a Chinaman with slitty eyes and a lampshade on his head, or a team called the Boston Arabians showing a brown-skinned fellow with a turban and a beard and flying on a magic carpet, you'd be amongst the first to start howling "RAAAAYYYYYYCIIIIIIIISSSSSSSST!" and calling for the Boston Chinks to change their name and their logo. And yet the Japs and Muzzies aren't a race.

But because the logo of the Boston Celtics represents a white fellow, who in turns represents a race of mainly white, Christian, ginger-haired folk, you see no problem in the logo whatsoever.

It's just the sheer double standards that we see all the time from the PC Brigade idiots. The silence from the "Everyday Sexism" brigade over the ITV Good Morning Britain presenters swooning and drooling over a photo of a different "rugby hunk" each morning is deafening.

If this is racist and must be banned....



.... then so is this, and must also be banned. And there are NO two ways about it. Either ban them both or ban neither. Banning the former and not the latter would be hypocritical.....

Last edited by Blackleaf; Oct 14th, 2015 at 05:46 AM..
 
taxslave
#15
It is only the PC crowd that finds things racist in every day life. Groupthink is a wonderful thing. If you are Borg or leftard.
 

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