The Iron Age Celts of Europe and Britain were very superstitious people.
Celtic priests, called Druids, were the link between the supernatural world and the ordinary human one. They were able to predict what would happen in the future by interpreting nature. It is likely that they knew how to read and write, and they certainly had a good grasp of mathematics. They knew something of medicine and law, and they could trace the stars and the planets. The main centre of the druids in Britain was Anglesey, in Wales.
Gods and Goddesses
The Celts believed in many gods and goddesses: over 400 in fact. Among them were:
Sucellos, the sky god, with a hammer that caused lightning,
Nodens, who made clouds and rain.
Many gods had no names, but lived in springs, woods and other places. Offerings to the gods were thrown into lakes, rivers and left by springs and wells.
The Celtic Year
Celtic festivals were held throughout the year. They measured time in Lunar (moon) months, and in order to bring the lunar and solar years into agreement would add an extra month to the year every three or four years.
The Four main Festivals of the Celtic year
Great feasts were held four times during the year - Imbolc, Beltain, Lughnasa and Samhain.
- Imbolc -
- Beltain -
1st May(See May Day)
- Lughnasa - 1st
- Samhain -
The Celts considered their day began at sunset (and not at midnight like we do today), so they began their feasts at sundown on the evening before the holy day.
The Celts made many sculptures of human heads in stone or wood. They believed that the human soul lived inside the head. They believed that capturing someone's soul gave you really powerful magic, which is why they collected the heads of their enemies killed in battles.
Roman historians say the Celts cut off the heads of their ancestors, and even their enemies, and worshipped the skulls. They nailed the heads over the doors of their huts.
|" In exactly the same way as hunters do with their skulls of the animals they have slain, they preserved the heads of their most high-ranking victims in cedar oil, keeping them carefully in wooden boxes."
Written by Diodorus, a Roman historian
The Celts believed that the human soul had an afterlife, so when a person died they were buried with many things they would need for the after life.
Warriors were often buried with a helmet, a sword or dagger, shield and in some cases, even a chariot.