The Real Celtic Warrior: Clarity on Common Celtic Fallacies

With every historical period and people group, myths and misconceptions are guaranteed to arise.  As a result, civilizations get slapped with stuff they shouldn’t or they do not get the credit for their contributions.  And thus, let’s tackle one of these groups, the Celts, to learn a bit more accurately about who they really were.

When people think of the Celts, the typical image is of a group of naked crazies, painted bright blue, with bloodthirsty appetites and war on the mind at all times.  First thing to clear up is that the Celts were not savages and all-out war between tribes did not happen on a regular basis.  Most of the fighting that ensued actually transpired among members of their own tribe.  It is hard to say why this was the case.  Perhaps it was considered training for larger scale battle or due to boredom.  As for the naked truth, the nudity ritual was reserved solely for religious sects and mercenary groups to be closer to the gods they worshipped and to connect with nature.  And last, the Brythonic Celts and Picts were the only ones who wore blue paint.  This practice had died out a while ago.  Basically, Celts, while having some distinguishing factors, were similar to other warrior groups of the time.

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Celtic Battle Sword:

Celtic Battle Sword

Another popular Celtic depiction is that of women as warriors.  In a great deal of literature pertaining to the Celts, women are seen prominent in battle just like their male counterparts.  When separating fact from fiction here, it gets a bit tricky.  The fact is that Celtic women did have a good amount of liberties, more than most in other societies of the day, and this included the option to fight.  However, it was not the norm for them to join the battlefield action.  Yes, some women were warriors, but that group was only a small percentage.  The majority did domestic duties and daily chores while their menfolk did the dirty work.

When it comes to Celtic warfare, there have been a few misleading ideas as well.  For one, Celts are thought to have run wild on the battlefield, using no degree of strategy or structure.  Because a strong Celtic value was bravery, they were encouraged to march forward boldly and fight.  As each warrior was trying to prove themselves, there was a bit of individualized charging.  And while Celtic warriors many not have exactly been the cream of the crop for organization, they did indeed have some unity and planning.  In terms of their weapons, Celts often go under the radar for their weaponry contributions, as they are thought to have constructed weapons that pale in comparison to the Romans.  But you must remember that these guys were forging masters and cranked out some pretty superior iron weapons.  Needless to say, the Celts deserve a round of applause!

Celtic Foot Soldier Sword:

Celtic Foot Soldier Sword

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