> Very fascinating analysis. Reading this made me recall a
> discussion I found on a web site about two different types of
> Celtic populations which I had not read about in Cunliffe's works:
> lowland Celts, and mountain Celts.
> The above link includes this discussion further down the page
> ("The Celts of the Plains"), as the page itself is a discussion on
> Celtic religion in ancient times and distinguishes two types of
> religion among the Celts, and says that these two different
> religions come from two sets of Celts, that the lowland Celts came
> first throughout the range of Celtic settlement, and the mountain
> Celts came afterward.
The archaeological side of this book is rather outdated now. There is, I
think, more of an agreement for a central European emergence of Celts,
growing gradually out of the Urnfield culture. This period is way out of
my specialty so I will have to defer with those with more experience of
the area at this early period, long before the La Tene.
The Golasecca culture is very interesting, though, as it forms the Celtic
gateway to the Mediterranean cultures. All of northern Italy is a pastiche
of very varied cultures of diverse origins, some grown locally, some from
far distant places. Golasecca seems to be "home grown", while the
Etruscans appear to be from Asia Minor. The influences on areas north of
the Alps of the Golasecca culture and their neighbours is nothing short of
profound and these influences took place over many centuries.
Before Celts from what is now France set up their military bases in
northern Italy, others had travelled as settlers to stay there -- married
partners of different races and became involved in what turned out to be
quite a cosmopolitan life. It is an ideal situation for great religoius
transformations as different ideas meet.
> I have often thought that the La Tene style originated from a kind
> of philosophical revolution among a certain caste or elite group,
> maybe the Druids, that gradually filtered out among the Celtic
> tribes by trade and the opportunities at which Celtic leaders
> commonly met. It is known that Druids occasionally met at the
> Isle of Mon (Anglesey) in Wales, and that is one example of how
> this communication of artistic style may have occurred.
With the Druids, we might have a chicken or the egg situation. Did they
exist before the La Tene period or were they an expression of it? Perhaps
they started (in the form described by the Classical authors) as a
necessity after the rise of Rome when the Celts had to return from their
lucrative expeditions in the Mediterranean. I believe that this is the
case. Yet, of course, all religions evolve out of earlier religions and
social structures change to meet new demands. The boundaries cannot be
anything other than blurry!
Anglesey might well have been the last major Druid centre in Britain
because of its remote location (as far as Roman interference), other
centres certainly existed that I know of (including one reported but yet
to be "officially" excavated and published Dobunnic centre) that were all
perhaps more localized tribal centres (although that Dobunnic centre has a
number of Thurrock-type potin coins in it, which are more at home in Essex
and Kent, in addition to the large numbers of Dobunnic coins there!).
Common features of the this class of site in the coin-using parts of
England (early 1st century A.D.) appear to be large numbers of cattle
bones and silver coins sometimes spread over a wider area than in a
typical hoard. You might find a spring in the vicinity and it will be away
from any Roman settlement or fort if it is post conquest.
We might yet discover an early major British centre that will turn out to
be the equivalent of the Gaulish site of the Pan-Gallic Council spoken of
by Caesar "in the centre of Gaul".
John's home page:
Celtic Improvisations (the on line book):
Celtic Coin Index On Line: