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Celtic Notes for 4th period

The Celts

Dalriadans from Ulster, King Colla ola Crioch and 350 of his people (Scottis) are banished from Ireland (Eriu) in 327 A.D. (A.C.E.). They travel to Pictland (Alba, present-day Scotland) and settle on the West Coast. The Northeastern and Southeastern coasts are controlled by the Picts.
In 367 A.D. (A.C.E.), the Celts move southward into what is present-day Europe where they pillage the lands and the peoples of this area (including Rome). Eventually, the Celts lose control of these areas due to their loose tribal networks and plagues.


The Celts would usually shave off all of their body hair, except for that on their upper lip and on their heads. Many of them had long, blond hair which they would wash with limestone in order to give it a course appearance. Needless to say this was very effective in creating a look that would terrify their enemies. The Celts also came to use a special blue dye called woad that they would use to paint their faces and bodies. This also served to make an even more horrific look.

Social Status

Social standing among the Celts was a very interesting concept. Leaders were quite often determined at banquets where a warrior who believed himself to be the most powerful would take for himself the largest piece of meat and would then lay himself, since the Celts ate on the ground, in the most prominent position. If no one challenge the warrior, he was considered to have the right to this honor, however, if a warrior's position was challenged it often ended in a battle to the death among two warriors or even among entire tribes.


Morrigan is the "Earth Mother" and is also known as the "great queen". She is able to change her form and quite often takes the form of a raven. She is known as the "Raven of Battle". She is the goddess of evil, panic, uncertainty, fear, and irrationality.

Dagda is the "Tribal Father". He is the god of certainty, bravery, rationality.

These two together represent the balance of the world, or life as it involves both good and evil.


There are a number of heroes of the Celtic people but definitely one of the most famous is Cu Chulainn.

Another famous Celt is the "warrior queen", Bodicea

The Picts

The Picts were believed to have used many of the same devices for enhancing their fierce appearance as the Celts. It may even be that the Celts learned many of these methods from the Picts. Be that as it may, the Picts wore tattoos all over their bodies drawn from woad. Since it was difficult to wash the woad from the skin, it often had to wear off, thus giving the appearance of a perminent tatoo. The Picts spoke a dialect known as P-Celtic which is believed today to be the basis for the Welsh language. The society of the Picts was matrilineal, which means that all power was passed down through the family of the mother.

The Decline

The Picts were able to keep control of the Pictland until around the year 850 A. D. (A.C.E) when Kenneth MacAlpin became the ruler. How Kenneth came to rule Scotland is rooted in the belief among some scholars that Kenneth was the son of Scotsman and of a Pictish mother. Since he was next in line in both ways to be King, he combined the kingdom of these two peoples into one and called it, "SCOTLAND". Under Kenneth (whose last name MacAlpin means, "son of (mac) Alpin") the Scottis finally gained control of the country.