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Thread: What do we know about Celtic pre-Christian religion?

  1. #41
    Member SonoftheWaters's Avatar
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    Re: What do we know about Celtic pre-Christian religion?

    Quote Originally Posted by thalassa View Post
    DNA indicates that the first settlers of the British Isles were Basque...there are a couple of studies for this, but the best compilation of data and historical/archaeological/linguistic info that I've found is the book Britain Begins, which I mentioned *somewhere* in this thread or another one.

    Quote Originally Posted by sionnach View Post
    That is a very tempting idea given the Irish tales of the milesians and their origin from the Iberian peninsula but I do not think we can conclude this any more that anything else about the Celts. I remember S. Oppenheimer discussing that there is a very high percentage of the R1b haplotypes in common with the Irish, welsh, and Basque people but there are sub types that are not. I have read recently an alternative view on the genetics of R1b in Europe with the people carrying this haplotype migrating from around the alps and then down to Spain and over to Britain and Ireland. The other possibilities on why they share many of the same genetic markers may have been social (closer clan affiliation/language/other social aspects) or due to isolation of geographic barriers after the spread of the Rib haplotypes had established in the area. There is a recent survey "People of the British Isles" printed in nature that did show an interesting division of Wales into two groups by north and south suggesting two separate migrations to Wales and the influence of the Anglo/Saxon genetics compare to little of the Roman or Viking genetic influence.


    ..

    Interesting that they DNA shows Spain as a point of origin. In the 5th century the Greek historian Herodotus said the Celts were "Those who lived beyond the pillars of Hercules" (Spain) and had their rising was from Danube. Wonder how much the DNA from the Danube area matches that of the Isles.

  2. #42
    Supporter Jembru's Avatar
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    Re: What do we know about Celtic pre-Christian religion?

    Quote Originally Posted by SonoftheWaters View Post
    Interesting that they DNA shows Spain as a point of origin. In the 5th century the Greek historian Herodotus said the Celts were "Those who lived beyond the pillars of Hercules" (Spain) and had their rising was from Danube. Wonder how much the DNA from the Danube area matches that of the Isles.
    I saw a really cool documentary on what we've learnt about our (the English and our neighbours), heritage from the DNA evidence. I don't remember the name, but I posted about it at the time in the 'what I learnt today' thread.. to a decidedly underwhelmed reception... So it's nice to see I'm not the only person who was surprised, or bothered. I had been fed the 'we're Anglo-saxons' tripe in school, so I was really interested to learn the typical Englishman is around 70% Celt!
    夕方に急なにわか雨は「夕立」と呼ばれるなら、なぜ朝ににわか雨は「朝立ち」と呼ばれないの? ^^If a sudden rain shower in the evening is referred to as an 'evening stand', then why isn't a shower in the morning called 'morning stand'?

  3. #43
    Silver Member Tylluan Penry's Avatar
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    Re: What do we know about Celtic pre-Christian religion?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jembru View Post
    I saw a really cool documentary on what we've learnt about our (the English and our neighbours), heritage from the DNA evidence. I don't remember the name, but I posted about it at the time in the 'what I learnt today' thread.. to a decidedly underwhelmed reception... So it's nice to see I'm not the only person who was surprised, or bothered. I had been fed the 'we're Anglo-saxons' tripe in school, so I was really interested to learn the typical Englishman is around 70% Celt!
    I agree. As a great fan of the Anglo-Saxon period of history, I think it's quite wrong to think that's all there ever was. There were huge chunks of the country where they really never had a foothold (Wales, for example) and there was massive interaction in various ways between them and the others. Nor were the rest of the country entirely Celtic. There were a number of different races, some from the Roman occupation (and I don't mean they were Roman. There is epigraphic evidence of many different races who came over as traders, soldiers, slaves etc.)

    And the Anglo-Saxons didn't actually want to wipe out everyone. There is good evidence of fusion between the various cultures and also that they managed to co-exist in many areas. The problem is with some of the headline grabbing early writers, who portrayed them entirely as savages. Even now I find myself grinding my teeth when I read about 'barbarian Anglo-Saxons' or 'civilised Romans.' It was never that simple.

    Though - when asked - Mr Penry claims to be Cheddar Man.
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  4. #44
    Supporter Jembru's Avatar
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    Re: What do we know about Celtic pre-Christian religion?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tylluan Penry View Post
    I agree. As a great fan of the Anglo-Saxon period of history, I think it's quite wrong to think that's all there ever was. There were huge chunks of the country where they really never had a foothold (Wales, for example) and there was massive interaction in various ways between them and the others. Nor were the rest of the country entirely Celtic. There were a number of different races, some from the Roman occupation (and I don't mean they were Roman. There is epigraphic evidence of many different races who came over as traders, soldiers, slaves etc.)

    And the Anglo-Saxons didn't actually want to wipe out everyone. There is good evidence of fusion between the various cultures and also that they managed to co-exist in many areas. The problem is with some of the headline grabbing early writers, who portrayed them entirely as savages. Even now I find myself grinding my teeth when I read about 'barbarian Anglo-Saxons' or 'civilised Romans.' It was never that simple.

    Though - when asked - Mr Penry claims to be Cheddar Man.
    I know there are different listings in Wales, but did you happen to see the Horizon, 'First Britons' on BBC2 earlier (or last night actually, as it's gone 3:30 here now)? It was fascinating. I was really surprised to see just how much we can learn about a society, who left so little behind. One thing that peaked my interest was that they said farming spread (and quite rapidly too), from the Middle East into what is now Europe, and eventually England. If societies were sharing such sophisticated information as how to farm, then it makes me all the more convinced that religious practices could have been shared too. The Celts may have been widely spread about, but I don't think they lived in bubbles, suspicious and fearful of their neighbours. Otherwise, they wouldn't have been so quick to adopt the technologies used by other tribes. It all makes me less quick to accept that clues left by, say, people in Wales, have no relation to the lives of those in Northumberland around the same time. Sure, it's not concrete evidence either, but, for lack of anything better, I wouldn't be too quick to disregard it now.
    夕方に急なにわか雨は「夕立」と呼ばれるなら、なぜ朝ににわか雨は「朝立ち」と呼ばれないの? ^^If a sudden rain shower in the evening is referred to as an 'evening stand', then why isn't a shower in the morning called 'morning stand'?

  5. #45
    Silver Member Tylluan Penry's Avatar
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    Re: What do we know about Celtic pre-Christian religion?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jembru View Post
    I know there are different listings in Wales, but did you happen to see the Horizon, 'First Britons' on BBC2 earlier (or last night actually, as it's gone 3:30 here now)? It was fascinating. I was really surprised to see just how much we can learn about a society, who left so little behind. One thing that peaked my interest was that they said farming spread (and quite rapidly too), from the Middle East into what is now Europe, and eventually England. If societies were sharing such sophisticated information as how to farm, then it makes me all the more convinced that religious practices could have been shared too. The Celts may have been widely spread about, but I don't think they lived in bubbles, suspicious and fearful of their neighbours. Otherwise, they wouldn't have been so quick to adopt the technologies used by other tribes. It all makes me less quick to accept that clues left by, say, people in Wales, have no relation to the lives of those in Northumberland around the same time. Sure, it's not concrete evidence either, but, for lack of anything better, I wouldn't be too quick to disregard it now.
    Unfortunately I missed the program, but I have alwaysx been interested in the very ancient past - hence my book Sacred Shadows, which tries to uncover spirituality from the Ice Age. It was mind blowing research! I also did a podcast on Doggerland (which I think was covered in the same program). You can find it here : http://tylluanpenry.podbean.com/e/lo...sunken-cities/

    The missing or magical islands around Britain are another fascination of mine, particular since a distant family member was actually named after one of them!
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    Phantom Turnips never die.... they just get stewed occasionally....

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    Re: What do we know about Celtic pre-Christian religion?

    How much different were the Saxon's from the Celtic people of the British Isles? I ask this in reference to a book I read 'Pagan Goddesses in the Early Germanic World' by Philip Shaw. The recent genetic profile of Great Britain showed how the Saxons blended with the Celtic population whereas Roman and later Viking did not remain as a significant population. In his book he looks at the goddesses Eostre and Hreda using linguistic research. In his conclusions he warns of pan-Germanism in worship of the gods and goddesses. His research pointed towards the tribal, the local, and perhaps the familial/personal worship of deities. He argues that the notion of common religious patters across the entire northern Europe may have been similar but the gods and goddesses were more local in nature. There may have been less differential between what has often been seen as a division of the Celtic an Germanic beliefs.
    What I remember from reading in the past on the Conversion of the Saxons to Christianity was that one of the greatest issues in the conversion was the concern of abandoning their ancestors or the ways of their ancestors. In Germany Charlemagne murdered thousands of Saxons because they did not want to abandon their ancestors n favor of the new religions. I also remember that their was less concern about the names of Gods and Goddesses that there was about other pagan beliefs and rituals which is why the days of the week in England were named after Germanic gods and goddesses. Ancestor worship/respect was probably important in both groups and there were enough similarities for the blending of the two cultures. There seems to have been less force used in the Christian transformation of the Irish which resulted in the translation of many more of the pagan beliefs, rituals and important places into the local Christian practice. At least that is what I have read from some sources. Thus Brigid is translated to St. Brigid.

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    Silver Member Tylluan Penry's Avatar
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    Re: What do we know about Celtic pre-Christian religion?

    It's an interesting idea, sionnach. I think there is probably quite a bit of truth in it too, since places we think of as Germanic, are often also thought of as Celtic - the La Tene culture being a good example. And that's without taking into account any theories of an indo-european link between them.

    One of the most interesting things about the Anglo-Saxon conversion is that it was never totally complete. There was a lot of mind-changing. And in the early Christian missionary period, it was a lot more anti-heathen than in the later period. Which is why prominent church leaders blamed the much later Viking invasions on clergy listening to heroic heathen sagas (I kid you not!)

    I too, believe that Hreda and Eostre were regarded as goddesses, and see no real reason to doubt Bede's account of them. He would have known older monks who would certainly have known about them, and since he Bede is regarded as accurate for many other things, it seems strange to single out these two goddesses and say he made them up. When we think about it it would have been easier for him to have disregarded them altogether.
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    Phantom Turnips never die.... they just get stewed occasionally....

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