1st Century Celt...What did they look like?

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1st Century Celt...What did they look like?

Postby Nerva on Thu Sep 11, 2008 11:15 pm

Salvete Omnes!

Can anybody point me in the direction of a text describing what a 1st Century HIBERNIAN Celt might have looked like?
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Re: 1st Century Celt...What did they look like?

Postby Billy on Fri Sep 12, 2008 2:21 am

No, I suspect no one can.

Truth is, we have almost no clue, and have to rely on what was going on elsewhere to fill in the gaps.

Some leather cloaks have been found, and we have indirect evidence for tabby weave linen through its impression on a bronze amulet.
Cloak reproductions can be seen in National Museum in Kildare St.
Same with jewellery and weapons/tools/accessories. One of the bog bodies had a leather braid on is forearm.

After that, we're just guessing.
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Re: 1st Century Celt...What did they look like?

Postby Nerva on Fri Sep 12, 2008 9:55 am

Salve Billy

That's pretty much what I thought. The Celts in our group dress as Britans or Gauls even though our sources for our period are not much better.
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Re: 1st Century Celt...What did they look like?

Postby Billy on Fri Sep 12, 2008 11:09 am

Well you have to rely on Brythonic and Gaulish material for the soft kit, but plenty of the Irish hardware survives, and I have to say, was very idiosyncratic.

Our swords and shields are smaller and distinctive, there are plenty of definitely Irish fibulae, our jewellery in general is of native form, scabbards were different here.

Also, the lack of iron age pottery does suggest a very different situation existing in Ireland during this period.

It is possible to portray an Irish Iron age person with relative individuality from continental and brythonic matrial, just not in the clothing department. Unless you make one of those snazzy leather cloaks I mentioned.
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Re: 1st Century Celt...What did they look like?

Postby Nerva on Fri Sep 12, 2008 11:22 am

Thanks Billy

It's in the area of clothing that I'm interested though. We're buying some new material from Bernie the Bolt and I guess I'm hoping to get direction from someone familliar with this period. Any help appreciated ;)
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Re: 1st Century Celt...What did they look like?

Postby Leinsterman on Fri Sep 12, 2008 2:19 pm

If Ptolomy's map and other sources are to be accepted as some indication of tribes here in the early centuries on the first millenium then using Britons or Gauls as an indication of the general type of clothing is not a bad idea.

It's a very good point that if artifacts of the period exhibit clear differences here, then some elements clothing may also have been unique.

Weather clearly effects clothing styles and composition. There is no doubt we have the wettest climate in Europe, and it was similar then. Our clothing would have been as waterproof as we could have made it.. leather and wool of various kinds with the smelly stuff still in it.... Lanolin? The ubiquitous Brat is a good example.

Little pottery would indicate a pastoral people, leather containers being easier to transport.... if pastoral then horse breeding/ riding. I have always believed that this clmate would have made it almost impossible to spend long periods on horseback without trews is some kind.

Weaving has been around for thousands of years so it is reasonable to assume woven clothing of various types existed here.
Last edited by Leinsterman on Thu Sep 18, 2008 12:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: 1st Century Celt...What did they look like?

Postby Nerva on Fri Sep 12, 2008 8:55 pm

Hi Kevin

Leinsterman wrote: There is no doubt we have the wettest climate in Europe, and it was similar then.


I don't know if this was the case. The pollen records suggest a much dryer climate at the time. The pollen records across the North of England also seem to support this. It's a good point though and worthy of more research because, as you rightly point out, climate has a major affect on clothing.
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Re: 1st Century Celt...What did they look like?

Postby Leinsterman on Thu Sep 18, 2008 12:28 pm

Billy mentioned leather and linen as materials for clothing here in the Ist century. Wool would also have been used, not neccessarily sheeps wool, as the hair from other animals would have been used. - 'bull's wool' etc. Do we know when sheeps wool came to be used?. While the Curragh of Kildare is today famous for the roaming sheep, the excavations on Knock Allinne near Kilcullen in the 1970's turned up mainly cattle and pig bones, little if any sheep.
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Re: 1st Century Celt...What did they look like?

Postby Billy on Thu Sep 18, 2008 4:11 pm

the excavations on Knock Allinne near Kilcullen in the 1970's turned up mainly cattle and pig bones, little if any sheep.


Since it's a ritual site, I don't think it is necessarily representative of the agricultural reality. The impression I got from there is that the animal bones found on site were due to ritual feasting, and were predominantly cattle, with some pig.

Sheep seem not to figure as a primary food source throughout much of the Iron Age and Early Medieval period, but I think it's safe to assume they were widely kept as wool animals. There is ample evidence that wool was worn in Bronze Age Ireland [they found fragemtns of the clothing], and I think it's safe to assume that this tradition continued into the Iron Age. In fact, when reconstructing iron Age clothing, I would suggest the use of more sheep's wool than linen, since it's easier to produce and more useful in the climate and context of the Iron Age. Also, it is more typical in the Iron Age clothing of other countries, where more examples of garments have been found, e.g. Britain, Denmark, Sweden, Holland, etc.

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