Ancient Celts at the Navan Fort Centre, Co.Armagh, Ireland

Ancient Celts at the Navan Fort Centre, Co.Armagh


Map of the Celtic NationsThe Celtic people had their own languages, different to the Teutonic languages of English, French and German, and to the Romance languages. They are far older than English, and 7 of them survive to this day. They are in 2 distinct groups, the older being Goidelic or Gaelic, which is Irish, Manx and Scots Gaelic. The other group is Brythonic, which is Welsh, Cornish and Breton. The Galician language is one of the four official languages of Spain, spoken by most of the inhabitants of the region.

Gaelic is sometimes called 'Q-Celtic', because it contains a 'C' or 'K' sound, whereas Brythonic, sometimes called 'P-Celtic', contains a "P" sound in its place. For example "head" in Gaelic is "ceann", and in Brythonic is "pen". Another example "son of" in Gaelic is "mac", and in Brythonic is "map". The term 'Brythonic' may have originated from the Picts who lived in what is now Scotland. The name they used for themselves was the "Cruithne", which changed to 'Pruithne' and 'Brythonic', then to 'Breatan' and 'Briton'.

Manx and Cornish died as commonly spoken community languages, but have recently been revived. The last native Manx speaker died in 1974. Breton is still spoken in Brittany, and Welsh in Wales. Irish is quite common, especially in the west, where it is in everyday use. Scots Gaelic is also in everyday use in the Western Isles, and in Nova Scotia on the east coast of Canada. Of the 4 Celtic languages of the U.K. (Manx, Scots, Welsh and Cornish), you might be surprised to know that none of them are recognised as an official U.K. language.

OghamThe ancient Celts had no written records, and their poets and musicians, the Bards, and their wise holy men, the Druids, were in training for many years in their orally learnt crafts. They did however have a system of marks or strokes that equated to letters, called Ogham, normally carved across the edge of an object. The Druids are said to have carved messages or records on sticks. The only examples that survive to our times are on memorial stones and markers, which can still be seen in the Celtic lands today, most commonly in Ireland and Scotland. An Ogham inscription on an upright stone normally reads from the bottom upwards.

Interestingly, the author has himself seen carved Ogham inscriptions, reported to be genuine,in the New England area of the United States, as well as Dolmen (burial stones), and a complicated standing stone monument (and solar calendar) known as "America's Stonehenge". These enigma's were obviously left by Celtic and pre-celtic people from across the ocean, as it is well known, but often disputed, that the Celts travelled to the American continent centuries before Columbus (as did the Vikings and other explorers).


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