Denise A. Ryan wrote: (and I hope she doesn't mind me posting part
of what was a private message to me)
>... the celts couldn't >have been the original aboriginal people in
greater britian or >ireland--somebody built all those megalithic
monuments, henges and >passage graves/barrows, and it wasn't the
You cannot say it definitely wasn't "the Celts", or rather,
I will reiterate, and I have seen no evidence to the contrary: as far
back as we can possibly go, the earliest peoples of Britain and
Ireland that we have any evidence of as far as language, and hence
culture, are concerned, are CELTIC peoples. To all intents and
purposes, I call these people indigenous. The earliest peoples, ie the
megalithic builders, have left us no clues as to their identity, but
many archaeologists use the term "proto-Celtic" to describe them,
which is about as close as you get.
The megaliths, henges etc. were not simply erected and then abandoned.
They were in continuous use for centuries; parts were even destroyed
then rebuilt, expanded etc. etc. So, even if "the Celts" were not the
first people to erect the first menhir, they certainly made use of
them at some later date, and absorbed them into their culture, and
"Celticised" them, if you like. I have spoken to a friend here on
Arran about this, who has a PhD in archaeology, and he also sees this
as a continuum, rather than a cut and dry "here's where the Celts
start and finish" concept.
There is another point I want to make. It is not concrete evidence
(what is?) but it concerns the religious beliefs and practises. We know
that the Celts celebrated Samhain as the festival of the ancestors, and
we know that these ancestors (and tribal ancestor deities) came to be
associated with mounds, usually burial mounds...which were seen as
entrances to the Otherworld, and also as places to which great
reverence and respect had to be shown...if we look at the Irish
legends, for example, just about all the Sidhe mounds that Manannan
found for the Tuatha De Danann after their defeat were/are sites of
burial mounds or barrows etc.
There is, quite obviously, a continuity of tradition. This idea of "the
Celts" coming in successive waves of "invasions" from the Continent,
and only in the post-La Tene period, is getting very outdated.
Similarly, I would argue the same for the coming of the Dalriads from
Ireland to Scotland, which I think took place over a much longer period
than historians would have us believe, and certainly they must have
been pretty well established and entrenched long before Fergus Mor
arrived c. 500 AD.
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