History of the Celts

Source 2: http://www.druidsgrove.com

In general, it is believed by historians that the Celtic people migrated from a common Indo-European homeland somewhere in Eastern Europe and migrated westward. The increasing sophistication, social-stratification, state-building, and so forth, of central Europe gave rise to the periods that that scholars call proto-Celtic and Celtic, or Hallstat 800-500 BCE and La Tene 500-100 BCE. The spread of Celtic culture to the British Isles and to the Atlantic seaboard of Europe took place roughly around 900 BCE. It is safe to assume that there were religious specialists of some kind there at the time, though the notion of "Druids" as a comprehensive religious and intellectual caste doesn't emerge until about 500 BCE or shortly after. 

To correlate that date with other world events, 500 BCE is about the same time that the Buddha is alive in India, Aeschylus and Thespis are writing plays in Greece, Confucius is working for Emperor King-Wang 3rd of China, The Republic of Sicily establishes its first allegiance with Rome, Jeshua is high priest of Palestine, Darius 1st heads the Persian Empire, annually elected archons rule Athens, and Pythagoras is visiting Egypt.

There is good evidence that through their trade routes, and the adoption of customs indigenous to the areas they colonized, that Celtic culture experienced much change and innovation over time. The British Isles may have been visited by humans as early as the retreat of the Ice Age, and has been home to an indigenous neo-lithic (new stone age) culture that contributed much to the development of the Celtic culture at its height of achievement. (Historian Colin Renfrew has, for example, argued that the Celts emerged from an indigenous pre-Celtic Neolithic culture.) 

Here is a brief, and certainly not complete, timeline of the history of the Celtic people, and the islands of Britain and Ireland.

Timeline of Celtic History – Source 2



Events And Notes

Up to 4000 BCE

Mesolithic (Middle Stone Age)

Hunters and gatherers

4000-1800 BCE

Neolithic (New Stone Age)

Construction of Maes Howe, Callanish, and other megalithic monuments. First farmers

3500 BCE


Construction of Newgrange, largest megalithic monument in Europe

1800-1600 BCE

Bronze Age


1000 BCE-Christian Era

Iron Age


900-500 BCE


Rise of the Celts. First emergence of Celtic languages

Circa 600 BCE


Greeks establish trading colony at Messalia (Marseilles) to trade with Gaul

500-15 BCE

La Tene

Heroic Age Celts. Most mythologies take place now.

Circa 450 BCE


Celtic people reach Spain

Circa 400 BCE


Celts cross the Alps into Italy. Within ten years, they sack Rome itself.

279 BCE


Celts invade Greece, through Macedonia, and plunder the Temple of Delphi

270 BCE


Celts establish Galatia in Asia Minor

154 & 125 BCE


Celts sack Massalia, Roman armies raise the siege both times

82 BCE


Romans defeat Celts in Italy

55 & 54 BCE


Julius Caesar attempts to invade Britain twice

52 BCE


Julius Caesar defeats Gaulish chieftain Vercingetorix at Avaricum, and imprisons him.

AD 43-409


Rome dominates Britain and parts of Wales

AD 61


Druid stronghold at Anglesey destroyed by Romans; Boudiccia begins her rebellion

AD 120


Construction of Hadrian's Wall begins


Mid 3rd century


Saxons begin raiding east coast of Britain

Mid 4th century


Cormac Mac Art rules Ireland at Tara

AD 409-600

"Dark Age" Britain

Final Roman withdrawal from Britain

AD 425


Vortigern takes power in Britain and holds off Saxon advances

AD 432


Padraig begins his mission to Ireland

Circa AD 450


Anglo-Saxon invasion; British refugees settle in Armorica and Brittany, France

AD 454


Artorius Roithamus (Arthur) succeeds Vortigern

Circa AD 500


Arthur defeats Saxons at Mount Baden

Circa AD 500


Formation of Dalriada in southwest Scotland

Circa AD. 537


Arthur is killed at the Battle of Camlann.

AD 563


Saint Columba arrives at Isle of Iona.

AD 663

The Middle Ages

Synod of Whitby: The Celtic Church joins the church of mainland Europe

Circa AD 790


Colonization and raiding of British Isles by Vikings begin

AD 843


Kenneth Mac Alpine unites the Scots of Dalriada and the Picts

AD 1014


Battle of Clontarf: Vikings expelled from Ireland by Brian Boru. They withdraw from Celtic nations everywhere soon thereafter


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