Right, in severely truncated form:
Greeks write about keltoi living in the area around Marseilles about
Romans pick up on this and use the often interchangeable celtae and
galatae (gauls and celts) for those in what they defined as gaul.
Some Roman sources mention that the Gauls and Britons share similar
characteristics but that druidism is a British phenomenon (ie nothing
to do with celts)
Celts and Gauls textually disappear in the middle ages, to re-emerge
in some of the more esoteric world histories written in the 15th
century--Annius of Viterbo, etc--as part of the renaissance focus on
the classics. At this time rather interesting
links among the peoples mentioned in the classical sources and
biblical figures emerges in the quest to define lineage during the
renaissance. celts become linked with gomer because it sounds a bit
like cimmerians which sound a bit like cymri.
but it wasn't until the late 17th century, early 18th, that links
among celts, gauls, britons and contemporary populations of the
British isles were made--bound up in the growth of proto-nationalism,
the need then for lineage, certain philosophies developed as part of
contact with new colonies (Noble Savage, etc.), Enlightenment
emphasis on categorisation, etc.
this reached its height in the 19th c. once professional archaeology
took off. once material remains of peoples came to be systematically
ordered they become associated with specific cultures. so one type
of pot would be made by one culture, another pot would belong to
another (this is no longer the case in archaeology by the way). at
the same time (and here anti-colonial movements in Ireland, etc. fed
into this) the celts took off and become a very potent image in wider
That's a very superficial treatment of the history--but if you want
more, just ask.
Good books to read: anything by Stuart Piggot on the subject (it's
dated but still a good resource)/ Sam Smiles IMAGES OF ANTIQUITY (on
the use of images of the Briton and Druid in 18th and 19th C.
Those two should start you on your way.
> Seeing as it's so quiet out there<g> I figured I'd throw out a stupid question
> (for my benefit and for the benefit of all the other newbies on the list). WHEN
> did the Celts become the Celts? Is there a specific time period that covers the
> transition from multiple tribes to *A* people? Did this occur on the continent
> or after they landed in the British Isles?
> Any references joyfully accepted -- and any arguments I'll *lurk*. <G>