The Celts are a group of tribes originating in central Europe who shared similar traditions and cultures. In early 1200 B.C., their culture started progressing all over Western Europe. They started spreading throughout Britain, Ireland, France, and Spain.
Even in the modern days, their hereditament can be seen most in Great Britain and Ireland. Their language and culture are still noticeable in those places. However, the Anglo-Saxons came from northern Europe and settled in England in the 5th and 6th centuries.
They started spreading in small groups in the different kingdoms and later came together in a single political territory during the reign of King Arthur Athelstan. They inhabited the North Sea coast of the Netherlands, Denmark, and Germany. The Anglo-Saxon period ended when they lost the battle of Hastings in 1066 with the Normans. Let’s get to know about Celts vs Saxons.
Celts Vs Saxons – Culture, Similarities And History
The rivalry between the Celts and Saxons has shaped their cultures and is steeped in history. Both societies were warrior-based, valuing bravery and honour. They shared a love for storytelling and passed down their history through epic tales and songs. However, they differed in political structure, with the Celts having tribal leaders ruling smaller territories while the Saxons had kings and larger kingdoms. Religion also set them apart, with the Celts practising polytheism and the Saxons leaning towards paganism. This conflict has left a lasting impact on European history, fascinating scholars and enthusiasts to this day.
History Of Celtic
The Celtic history is a rich and fascinating tapestry of ancient cultures, traditions, and beliefs. Overall, Celtic history is an important part of European heritage and continues to captivate English people with its unique customs and mystical allure. The Celts were a group of tribal societies that originated in Central Europe and spread across much of Western Europe during the Iron Age. They were known as skilled warriors, celebrated for their bravery and ferocity in battle.
The Celts had a strong connection to nature and believed in the presence of spirits and deities in the natural world. They had a complex social structure with kings, nobles, warriors, druids, and commoners. Intricate patterns, geometric designs, and animal motifs characterized Celtic art. The Celts had a rich oral tradition and passed down their genetic history, legends, and myths through storytelling and poetry.
The Celtic Language
The Celtic languages are a group of correlated languages that came from Porto-Celtic. Edward Lhuyd first described this language group as “Celtic” in 1707. Later, Paul Yves Pezron first made this apparent link between the Celts, defined by classical writers. Most of Europe and Anatolia used to speak the Celtic ancestry language during the first millennium B.C. Now, this language is limited to the northwestern area of Europe and few migrated groups of people.
The official language of Wales is Welsh, and the official language of Ireland and the European Union is Irish. The only Celtic language not considered endangered by UNESCO is the Welsh language. In modern times, the Cornic and Manx languages went extinct. Linguists divide the Celtic languages into the Goidelic and the Brythonic subfamilies.
Celtic people mainly farmed, and some of them possessed skilled craftsmanship. Some were forgers (working with iron), carpenters, and potters. They could make gorgeous jewellery with gold and exquisite stones. They were also masters of making glass and used to make glass rosary. Nobles-headed chieftains used to be the class of Celt society. Since metalworkers influenced their community, the chieftain considered the craftsmen’s position below. After that, they considered the position of farmers.
As they also fought for their chieftain. There was no political agreement in Celtic society. The Celts used to live in small tribes. They used to raise cattle and pigs. For their rationing, they grew crops in rectangular fields. The Celts initially used metal bars as their currency, and later, by about 50 B.C., they started using gold coins. Europe was their trading market. They were handy to export metals such as copper, iron, and tin from England.
The ancient sources hint that the Celts were Christian along with the Romans. A poet named Lucan (A.D. 39-65) wrote about a forest or garden that was sacred to the Celts. Other sources confirm that human sacrifice used to be practised in their time. St. Patrick helped spread Christianity in Ireland in 432 A.D., and many Celtic traditions were combined into the new religion.
Celts also show genetic evidence of their interest in Druidism. Some historians say that Catholicism took over their land by killing the Druids and their religious leaders of the Gaels and became the main religion in their land. Even with Christianity’s new dominance, the precedent of Celtic culture remains. The Shamrock is Ireland’s national symbol, which indicates the Holy Trinity of Catholic tradition. The father, son, and the Holy Spirit.
There is no written history of Celtic people by themselves. But in other’s history, they were described as brutal. They fought against the Greeks and later with the Romans. The Greeks mention the Celts’ name in their history as Keltoi. They grew a reputation in Greece as heavy-drinking and hard-fighting savages. The Romans mentioned them as Galli or Gallia. Often, they used to have clashed with the Celtic tribes. The Celts invaded the Roman outpost in Northern Italy. One of the most dangerous warlords of the Celts was Brennus.
He sealed the vicious reputation of the Celts by brutally killing the Rome senate with the sword. The Celts intentionally choose not to write down their histories, stories, and laws to prevent their information from leaking to the enemies. For example, the Celtic priests called Druids were the only ones who knew this occult knowledge of sacrificing animals and humans to the gods. The Celtic people orally carried this sacred information for generations.
The End Of The Celtic Era
The Celtic supremacy lasted only for a few centuries in Western Europe. When the Roman attack took over most of the Celtic land, later Germanic tribes compressed the Celtic culture. It continued throughout the migration period around 300 to 600 A.C. In Spain, the Carthaginians took over the Celts, and the German tribes repulsed the Celts out of the Rhine Valley. After the Romans, the Anglo-Saxon incursion wiped out the Celts’ cultures from England. They only manage to keep their entity of traits and language on the fringes of Europe. Their presence remains in folklore and Scottish Gaelic, Irish and Welsh languages.
History Of Saxons
The Saxons were Germanic people living in what is now Germany and Denmark during the Early Middle Ages. They were popular for their fierce warrior Brittonic culture and played a significant role in shaping European history. The Saxons originated from the region of modern-day Germany and Denmark. They were skilled seafarers and traders with a strong presence along the North Sea coast. The Saxons frequently clashed with the Roman Empire, particularly during Migration. They eventually formed several Brittonic kingdoms, including Wessex, Mercia, and East Anglia.
The Saxons converted to Christianity in the 7th century under the influence of missionaries like St. Augustine of Canterbury. Their conflicts with Charlemagne’s Franks led to their eventual defeat and incorporation into the Carolingian Empire.
People can still see the Saxon influence in place names, language, and cultural traditions in regions like England and Germany. Overall, the Saxons left a lasting impact on European history through their military prowess, trade networks, and cultural contributions.
The Anglo-Saxons Language
The Anglo-Saxons were the people who settled in England after the Romans left. The Anglo-Saxon language, Old English, was written and spoken in England before 1100. It is the primary origin of Middle and modern English in the 5th and 6th centuries, when the Angles, Saxons, and other tribes started occupying and invading England.
They were dialects of West German. From there, the English language started developing. The old English or Anglo-Saxon language was considerably different from modern English. When the Norman conquest happened in 1066, the English language was replaced by the people of upper classes Anglo-Norman. Linguists noted this incident as the end era of the old English language. In this period, the Anglo-Norman heavily influenced the English language and developed into a new phase called middle English in England and Scotland.
The Anglo-Saxon Society
Almost every society has some form of hierarchy, including Anglo-Saxon society. At the bottom were slaves, comprising about 10% of the population and treated as property. They received less severe punishments for crimes, as their labour was valuable. The Anglo-Normans considered slave ownership barbaric, but for Anglo-Saxons, it was normal.
The above slaves were peasant farmers who rented land from lords and had to work for them to maintain their rights. Moving up, we have Thegns, local lords who had to meet certain requirements like owning more than five hides of land. These distinct levels of hierarchy characterized the social structure in Anglo-Saxon society.
The Anglo-Saxon Religion
When the Anglo-Saxons first came to Britain, they were pagans. But as time changed, they deliberately converted to Christianity. In the pagans’ religions, they used to pray to a different kind of god for their different types of needs. Every god controlled a particular part of their everyday life. More than 1400 years ago, the Pope from Rome sent a preacher to the Anglo-Saxon society to persuade them to convert to Christianity.
The End Of The Anglo-Saxon Era
1066 A.D. was a momentous year in British history, starting with a king’s death. The battle of Hastings and the Normans’ invasion of Britain closed the book of the Anglo-Saxon era forever and began a new chapter in the formation of England as we know it today.
After winning the battle of Hastings, William went to London and received a warm welcome from the city. He was crowned the first Norman king of England. The English history of the Anglo-Saxon chapter came to an end. After that, French became the primary language of the king’s court, slowly mixed up with the Anglo-Saxon tongue, and gave birth to modern English.
The conflict between the Celts and Saxons is a fascinating chapter in history that highlights the clash of cultures and the complexities of human interactions. Despite their differences, both groups shared some similarities and influenced each other in various ways. The Celts’ rich cultural heritage and artistic expressions left a lasting impact on the Saxons, while the Saxons’ military prowess and organizational skills shaped the course of Celtic history.
By exploring the intricate dynamics between these two groups, we gain a deeper understanding of our shared past and the forces that have shaped our present. To delve further into this captivating topic, check out more articles and resources on our website.
Who Came First, The Celts Or The Anglo-Saxons?
The Celts came before the Anglo-Saxons. The Celts were a group of ancient tribes that inhabited parts of Europe, including the British people’s Isles, before the Roman conquest. The Anglo-Saxons, on the other hand, arrived in Britain after the fall of the Roman Empire, around the 5th and 6th centuries A.D.
Is Anglo-Saxon The Same As Celtic?
No, Anglo-Saxon and Celtic are not the same. Anglo-Saxon refers to a group of Germanic tribes that migrated to England in the 5th and 6th centuries. In contrast, Celtic refers to a group of ancient Indo-European cultures that inhabited various parts of Europe, including parts of Britain, before the arrival of the Anglo-Saxons.
Why Is England Not Considered Celtic?
Most of its population and cultural heritage are not Celtic, so England does not consider itself Celtic primarily. While Celtic tribes inhabited parts of England in ancient times, the dominant cultural influences in England today are predominantly Germanic and Anglo-Saxon.
Is The Royal Family Norman Or Anglo-Saxon?
The British Isles royal family is a mixture of Norman and Anglo-Saxon origins. The Norman influence can be traced back to William the Conqueror, a Norman who became the King of England in 1066.
Which Country Has The Most Celtic DNA?
Many people widely consider Ireland to have the highest proportion of Celtic DNA, as it is believed that the Celts migrated to Ireland around 500 BCE.
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