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Subject: Re: Severed head
From: Bill Blank <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:CELTIC-L - The Celtic Culture List.
Date:Sat, 9 Oct 2004 14:17:11 -0500

text/plain (39 lines)

At 9:25 AM -0700 10/9/04, Pamela Highet wrote:
>You're welcome, but that was a SERIOUS question!

Good question. We know the Celts took heads of enemies slain in
battle and perhaps kept those of honored ancestors (I'm not convinced
of this latter).

Why did they do this? To honor a warrior they defeated, to keep them
out of the Otherworld, as mere trophies, to add the power of the
enemy to their prowess, to keep their spirits from wandering, to
garner their advice and wisdom (this could involve talking to the

I know the archeological and numismatic evidence, and that from the
Greek and Roman writers. Is there evidence from the Irish and Welsh
tales that the Celts took heads. If so are there suggestions as to

I have also wondered if and how they preserved the heads. I have
wondered if they used cedarwood oil or other tree sap - or if they
just let them stink?? I suppose salt could also have been used to
desiccate and preserve. It must have taken a long time if they did it
at all. Do any heads survive - or just skulls or artifacts depicting
heads? Are there bog heads?

At 5:56 PM +0000 10/9/04, [log in to unmask] wrote:
>Why should we think that there was some kind of "cult" of severed heads?

I don't think there was a cult (in the modern sense of the word),
separate from the continental culture. It is a semi-poetic expression
I have heard others use.


Bill Blank (Celtic studies and numismatics)
OBOD's Message board:

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