The key here is the validity of the approach given in the Forster and Toth
paper which places the emergence of the various Celtic language branches at
3200 B.C. +/- 1500 years. The previously accepted earliest date is 1200 B.C.
Forster and Toth adapted techniques used in genetics and applied these
techniques to language. Most linguists are apparently skeptical of the Forster
and Toth study.
In the case of Maeshowe, the date in question is circa 3,000 B.C. and is thus
far too early for Stonehenge to have any bearing on the problem whatsoever.
Maeshowe appears to show alignments that reveal the later, Irish, calendrical
dates for Imbolc etc. which, previously have been given to Celtic period
Ireland and are popularly considered to be Celtic festivals. However, the only
continental Celtic calendar is from Coligny in eastern France and this calendar
places the most importance on the lunar aspects, although it reconciles lunar
with solar time. Pliny NH. 16.95 says:
"The mistletoe, however, is but rarely found upon the robur; and when found,
is gathered with rites replete with religious awe. This is done more particularly
on the sixth day of the moon, the day which is the beginning of their months
and years, as also of their ages, which, with them, are but thirty years. This
day they select because the moon, though not yet in the middle of her
course, has already considerable power and influence; and they call her by a
name which signifies, in their language, the all-healing".
Which confirms the importance placed on a lunar calendar by the Celts.
In my own study, I noted that the Armorican La Tène style -- which is
peculiar to coinage involved two roots: the first which strongly involves a
derivation of the split-palmette has a genesis in Rhineland Palatinate/Saarland,
and in particular, a focus on Weisskirchen. I used only exact parallels from
Jacobsthal's corpus. Another Armorican motif, the human-headed horse, has a
focus on the Trier area in Rhineland Palatinate, the state being east and north
of Saarland. The coin evidence shows a migration of peoples from the Trier
area into eastern Armorica where they were known as the Aulerci Cenomani,
and that these coins were the earliest of a number of tribal issues which
stretch westwards to encompass the Armorican massif and are stylistically
The second stylistic influence on Armorican coins comes from megalithic
Ireland and these elements are mostly focused in western Armorica. These
elements do not show up on the coins of the Aulerci Cenomani and other
tribes from eastern Armorica, but are particularly noticeable on the coins of
the Coriosolites from Côtes-d'Armor.
That there is some prior connection between Ireland and the general Rhineland
area is evidenced by the nature of Irish gold artefacts which all belong to a
group of gold metals marked by platinum inclusions which do not exist in Britain
or in Gaul, but have been detected in the coins of the central European Boii,
and in gold deposits in the Rhineland. The other locality for gold with platinum
inclusions is Asia Minor. A possible Celtic source of platinum inclusion gold is
the treasury of Delphi which contained large amounts of coin dedicated there
by Kroesus of Lydia.
There is a report that the composition of the goldwork at Waldalgesheim in
Rhineland Palatinate is from melted Persian darics, the metal for which would
also come from Lydia and have such platinum inclusions. Furthermore, one of
the chariot parts from Waldgallscheid in the Rhineland (Jacobsthal No. 153) is
made from ash with maple pegs, which is paralleled by another chariot part
from Ireland (maple was not native).
Despite these material connections between Ireland and the Rhineland, the
iconographic link between megalithic Ireland and the Rhineland appears not to
exist at all, and while Coligny is further south (being close to Switzerland),
there appears to be no link between that and the Maeshowe/Irish calendar
provision for Imbolc.
That such iconographic links exists only at the fusion of the Saar/Rhineland
with the western Armorican supports the idea that there was no direct
iconographic link between the Rhine and Megalithic Ireland/Orkney and that
the links between the Rhineland and Ireland were material rather than
cosmological and of a much later date.
This leads me to believe that the alignments to Imbolc etc. at Maeshowe in
Orkney are part of a Neolithic cosmology that was adapted by the Celts of the
Atlantic, but was not part of a greater Celtic cosmology further east than the
Armorican massif in Gaul.
Coming again to the Forster and Toth paper, if their estimates of an insular
split in Celtic languages as early as 3200 B.C. is correct, then Imbolc could be
stated to be perhaps a Celtic A development, albeit a localized one. If the
traditional view is maintained that the Celts grew out of the Urnfield cultures
of central Europe no earlier than 1200 B.C., then Imbolc was adapted by Celtic
A peoples from an earlier northwestern Neolithic cosmology, but was never
adapted by Celtic B peoples outside of western Armorica where the only fusion
of Neolithic and Celtic iconography took place.
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