Celtic culture

Celtic culture

People without culture are not spoken about. So the Celts appeared late in last millenium BC. They were of course heirs of peaceful peasants, as far back as there have lived people in Europe. However we have to connect the Celts with the Ionians.

Celtic culture, Stag Cernunnos, Vitlycke, Halstatt culture, winged chape, Irminsul, marriage symbol of fertility, lure-blowers, Celtic neck-ring, riding the Stag, Thor smith and farmer, Apollo with horns, Tarvos Trigarnos,

Bronze Age Pairhood |Age of Wanax | Feudal Age| Anatolian bridge | Age of Aries | Phoenician trade |agriculture | moon year |Watersnake |Celtic influence |Sailors in Spacetime | BA dresses | indexBR | home |

Early Celtic culture was dealing with the Halstatt sphere where as always the forms and symbols give the story. The Celtic culture expanded after the fall of the Hittites and parallel to the Greeks and Phoenicians. Schematically we may say that the Phoenicians took the African coast and Southern Spain with colonies on Sicily and Sardinia and surely trade with the metallurgist in Etruria.

Some found figurines may be of that origin while others are from the Aegean world. The Greeks expanded on the European coast to France and Northern Spain. The Celtic culture had perhaps the Danube trade and reached Phrygia in Anatolia where they had contacts with the Ionians for instance. The texts from Ugarit is an important source for the second hand Sumerian and Egyptian culture.

The Halstatt culture

The Halstatt culture had its heydays between 800 and 450 BC and it was the salt mines and the metallurgy that gave the richness. Their speciality was swords and their signature was the winged chape.

Another symbol was of course Irminsul as the local totem around which the society formed the ring and its symbolism. However this was used in a shape or another in the entire Old World. The neck-ring the sign of the leader and he was responsible with his neck. We have not understood it as they had a leader whole the time. Folk memory tells about leaders only for specific occasions and then may be the chosen leader got the neck-ring as sign of superiority and responsibility.

We connect this to the thing and that the druids and judges had the real power in peacetime. In the Middle Age Vaestergautland we clearly see that the old Celtic-German custom with judges or law-readers still was custom among peasants.

They had several rings and with symbolic meaning as the foot ring was belonging to a master also symbolised as one-legged. They gave the arm ring as gifts and often from the mistress of the house as in Beowulf but also a chosen master. It could also say "I have given away my arm". Finger rings become the symbol of marriage where the two parts are almost free.

Maybe the hammer in his hand has given him the local name "Shoemaker" in Brastad Bohuslaen.

The Celtic touché is in the neck-ring. There may also be a folk memory behind as some traders had a tale about their barefoot queen and they needed skin for shoes to her. Maybe some Northern hunters felt sorry for her and gave some skins for nothing to her help. Note that the wagon may be something else than a carriage.

We see the Maid with Twins in carvings as well as decorations on for instance razors. The motive is very old in Egypt and Sumer and saying it from which trade the figurines come is difficult and some may be of local origin. This carving is from Massleberg Bohuslaen.

We perhaps see the male razor in many carvings and it may be a ritual symbol too. On this carving we see female adorns for the dress as buttons and a "bull catcher". They are found in Greece too and in different shape in the Celtic culture.

As this book is about ideas and rituals, I have not mentioned other pieces for garment or body care if we see no ritual purpose. From the Danish graves are save many examples of highly skilled women's handicraft.

A lady dress from Kaukola Karelia and much alike in rest of the North Europe for thousands of years.

A woman dress with two clasp and perhaps a little knife and some buckle for the belt was developed in time. It became common in the entire Northern Europe until Middle Age in normal households. Jewellery and other handicraft become naturally the gift to a beloved or when arranging a marriage.

Marriage symbol of fertility

I suggest that it always were like in the Middle Age as in our days. In some families marriage was more like they arranged a business agreement and exchanging of gifts that way. That counts especially for the richer people. In other cases it was something about love and agreement and the main symbolic gesture was a "hand take". We see this as early as the Law Rock in Haugsbyn ca 2000 BC. We see marriage with a headmaster of ceremony on the Vitlycke carving.

On this carving from Kalleby Bohuslaen we see clearly the Celtic winged chape.

The shape of the horns gives some doubts whether the male headgear is horns or a half moon symbol, but horns may be the normal. The rock is eroded and we may only guess that this is a normal four to five-icon season carving.

In this carving from Varlaus Bohuslaen are also two couples.

Maybe a spring-couple with youngsters and the mature couple with a big-eater. We see the sitting male in Babylonian symbolism and the Archer is also originally from that sphere and he has a bow with two curves we find in Egypt too.

The sitting in a boat and wing-chaps are fashion of the age about 700 BC. The ship-lifter is a Nordic symbol and very common in carvings especially in last millenium BC. However even the Babylonians had the "traveller" in the mythic gallery and his name was Ea. The Sumerian Enki was first to step on Earth. The Babylonian Assurbanipal 669 to 627 BC began a Neo-Sumerian era found an old Sumerian library and learned something from that. We see clearly that the figures are al archetypes in ritual with no normal head.

During the last millenium BC the Celtic "big broad boys" begin to dominate the carvings.

They are often made over older carvings in deep cuts. It is symptomatic that man has taken the power. Still, the weapons are mostly symbols in some ritual

No visible women here? However, it is still the old ritual.

The Queens of Underworld and Fertility are behind the small tree-symbol and the big cupmark. The twig is the coming child in the old growing ritual. Here at Kalleby Bohuslaen four lure-blowers warn two-legged and four-legged beings "Stay away from the corn fields!"

This is also a relatively big figure. But is it a male or female?

At the neck a pair of marks that may be a Celtic neck-ring. The calves are marked or oversized and no male sword of either kind or no female cupmark. A small cupmark is the female mark and the bigger the Earth-eye.

Riding the Stag

The Stag was sacred and the high game in entire Europe and all places where nature favoured deer. In the Northern Hemisphere the Elk and Reindeer were the high game. In the background we have also the bear, as symbol of male strength but it was seemingly rare.


They perhaps called the goddess of nature Fielding at some places and in Greece Artemis' attribute was the hind.

We have also the sun stag of Apollo. These figures are from S Audsmaal Bohuslaen and Haugsbyn Dal and may be half-year symbols.

They see deer as ritual animals in early cave paintings. One painting shows the fallen stag at the end of moon year. But then the zodiac was 180 degrees opposite of today due to precession. In the night sky they were in the area from Perseus to Aquarius.

The Pegasus horse took that place in the Greek mythology. However it may have been in place of Leo and the foal Equeleus is near the Aquarius. This flying horse is from India.

Thor smith and farmer

This odd figure is surely an archetype we may define by the attributes.

The hammer of Thor and the arder in his hand tell the most. Egyptian Thot may inspire his nose. The horns are very special but associate to the early Spanish Huescar with horns and boomerang and sickle.

The ox or the bull was to the triangle: Mesopotamia, Egypt and Ionia what the stag, elk and reindeer was to the Northern hemisphere ... a symbol of manhood. Gilgamish fought the heavenly bull and the pharaoh was the bull, the defender of the two lands and Crete had Minotaur and Anatolia its bulls. It was the real test of man to tame the bull. Cretan pictures show that they played with the bull and it perhaps loved it too.

My immediate memory is about how I showed up a Danish bull on a fair in my childhood. That was a real piece weighing more than a thousand kilos and was from the bull station in our neighbouring village where they kept bulls for insemination. No one had bull on the farm. No cow could stand to take those big bulls on their back. I suppose some liked to show the contrast between a little boy and that kind big beast and to my knowledge animals like children overall.

Apollo with horns

Those big beasts could not be used in the arena where man shows his superiority with not too much sense of fair play. To that they need smaller and light vigorous bulls and still they do not give it a chance ... of course. It is almost like when a big man has a big fight with a small fish. Then it is much more fun in watching a man, playing and having fun with a horse or why not a bull.

Nevertheless the bull was a main symbol not only in south but as we see also in Northern carvings.

Headgear with horns what not only used on the goddess but here also on Apollo Keraiates from Encomi Cyprus. The Greeks brought it there when they for a while dominated the Island after 1000 BC. The picture is shown here as an example of the Greece ideal of a male body often short with heavy calves. They used perhaps pads to protect the calves or why not accentuate them. We see them in many carvings and decorations on bronze razors for instance and on female calves.

However, our figures have often bird head. Some may see it primitive but I suppose it was as much high culture as when we see bird figures on Greek vases or from the theatre.

Probably the carriage from the Kivik grave 1500 BC at left was mostly for the fun of rich young men playing the Sun god. The other is of course mythic imagination and perhaps connected to the night sky.

Nevertheless Apollo changed from bull to horse in the last millenium BC and perhaps he gave his stag to Artemis. The horse became not only the force for wild riders but also the companion and teacher of young men and equestrians symbolised with the wise Cheiron the centaur. Then he was of course set on the zodiac as Sagittarius.

When I was five, our old cat was the real teacher. It gave me a lesson that one shall be gentle and not hold to hard in a tail ... and it is a good thing to have a hiding place under the blackberry-bushes ... it is good to know when the fun has and end ... in a way it learned me Danish as it had all the time to listen to me when I trained ... and a lot of other things. Of course the horses gave some lessons too.

Our nervous mare taught me to fly when I forgot to give a signal when I came up behind her. Fortunately I had a bucket in my hand in front on me. It took the kick when she sent me away some six metres over a one metre high fence. A broken rib that cured itself is the only physical memory but the psychological are hard to measure.

We easily forget that old tales were a way to teach the coming generation many things. Really to understand the message we need to know the real meaning in the words of all tales.

Cernunnos and other animals.

The entire Europe including Anatolia has the Stag as a ritual symbol. The Celts called the horned man Cernunnos. In Abbots Bromley they still celebrate the Horn Dance in the beginning of September. The roots are surely as old as organised Autumn Game hunting for the winter when the crowned animals are fat.

The pictures from the Lorthet-cave have the symbols for "decision by law".

On Dal we have some place names reminding about the importance of the Stag. "Hjortens Udde" or the Stag's Spit has their opposite the Hinds Reef on the other side of Lake Vaenern.

In my neighbourhood is the little village "Deer kids". English have not spared the word "unge" which means descendants and understood that the place was for a family clan. The use as a suffix is surely the latest remind about the old custom to use animal names for their family clans. However, they used it also for tribes or smaller provinces as the name Heorot or "Hall of the Stag" reminds about. There has been a hall with that name in the nearby county Taussbo.

Tarvos Trigarnos was the Roman name on the trio Three Cranes, the Bull and the Tree of Life.

Once they understood that it was impossible to suppress the German and Celtic old culture they set up stelae with Celtic or German mythic archetypes, sometimes with an enthroning Roman rider. These three are from the Celtic night sky the Bull for Kaitos/Whale, the Tree of Life may be a tree for the same figure as the big man in Evenstorp.

The three birds are Eagle and Swan and some other. On some carvings we see long-legged birds in Bohuslaen.


She was like the Hind 20000 years ago ...

The origins of above animals and others are surely very old and we see some of them in cave painting or on lose artefacts. The Swan as amulet is one of the oldest finds. They are all European heritage and some of it we share with the Near and Far East