Celtic Fortresses: the Hallstatt culture, c.800-450 BC

Aug 2018
368
london
#41
Population density was low north of the alps, so larger settlements developed later than in southern europe. Most people lived in villages or farmsteads, though there were already central fortified settlements and small towns in the Bronze age. The Iron Age, Hallstatt era forts were regional centres where rulers lived and some production and trade took place. They controlled and supplied a surrounding area dotted with villages, farms, some mines, salt production centres etc. So they weren't large urban centres but were still centres of power perhaps similar to a medieval feudal castle with a surrounding settlement. The Glauberg for example apparently controlled the salt production at nearby Bad Neuheim, which would have been a significant source of wealth.

A lot of celtic people did actually migrate to warmer climates: much of northern Italy was settled by them as well as northern Spain and part of Anatolia (Galatia).

Cisalpine Gaul: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cisalpine_Gaul
 
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Aug 2018
368
london
#42
Manching was much more like a city, and was an important centre of production and trade. There was also agricultral activity there though, with a lot of space between many of the buildings. It was maybe like a low-density 'garden city', except in the very centre, however the whole thing was surrounded by a wall. Only parts of it have been excavated to date. Here are some other illustrations of Manching:





And a model of one of the gates:

 
Aug 2018
368
london
#43
Various photos of models, reconstructions photos etc of Hallstatt era houses, burials, farms, villages:



Keltenwelt Frög-Rossegg, Austria:





Burgstallkogel:





Hallstatt museum:









Hochdorf musuem:









Salzwelten Hallein:



 
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Aug 2018
368
london
#46
Probably they had a very little knowledge about democracy, laws, parlamentum. It was power of landlords and marasmic druids

During the Hallstatt period society was apparently ruled by an aristocratic elite. However at the mining town of Hallstatt a lot of miners were buried with notable wealth, indicating that they weren't just working for a lord but were profiting from their own labours (only the cemetary has been excavated, the town itself is buried under the current town which occupies the whole strip between the mountain and the lake). During the later La Tène period, whilst there was still an aristocracy, political organization seems to have got more complex:


Excerpt from 'The Ancient Celts' (Barry Cunliffe, 1997, p.224-232):

"Some reflection of the change in style of power and prestige [in the later La Tene period] is reflected in Caesar’s Commentaries on the Gallic War, which depict Gaulish society in a state of evolution. the situation among the Helvetii is informative. Orgetorix, we are told, was the richest and most distinguished man in the tribe, but he ‘aspired to kingship’ and. according to Caesar, attempted to persuade Casticus, a noble of the Sequani, and Dumnorix of the Aedui to do the same. ‘The three exchanged an oath of loyalty, hoping that when each had seized royal power they would be able to control the whole of Gaul’. However, the conspiracy was discovered and Orgetorix was arrested to stand trial. If he were found guilty, the punishment would be death by burning. To evade the procedure Orgetorix called together his kin and clients (some 10,000 according to Caesar), but the magistrates amassed a force to oppose him, and in the chaos which followed he died, possibly by suicide. The incident is informative in that it shows that among certain tribes government by elected magistrates had replaced kingship, but such was the social instability that to aspire to kingship was regarded as a very serious offence. The point is again made when Caesar mentions in passing that Celtillus, an Avernian and the father of Vercingetorix, had once been the most powerful man in the whole of Gaul and had been killed by his fellow tribesmen because he wished to become king.

The leadership of these more socially evolved tribes was in the hands of an annually elected magistrate, called the Vergobret by the Aedui, who had the power of life and death over his people. During his term of office the magistrate was forbidden to leave his country, and a further rule laid down that two members of the same family could not be appointed magistrates while both were alive or indeed might not be members of the council altogether. These strict controls were evidently designed to prevent an elected representative from leading a raiding force into another territory and to make sure that power did not concentrate in the hands of any one family. Regulations of this kind hint that the change from the old system to the new had only just got underway and that the elected magistracy was still a delicate growth. […]

Elsewhere in Gaul kings were still much in evidence, though the system allowed for war leaders to be appointed to command the troops of more than one tribe when the need arose. Vercingetorix, who led the opposition to Caesar in 52 BC, is the prime example. [...]

[At the town of Bibracte, capital of the Aedui] envoys from other tribes were received by the chief magistrate and most of the tribal councils met during Caesar’s Gallic campaigns, and here in 52 BC, Vercingetorix was confirmed as supreme war leader by Gauls who had gathered from all over the country."

https://www.scribd.com/document/360752864/Barry-Cunliffe-The-Ancient-Celts
 
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Aug 2018
368
london
#47
"The political system of the Aedui was essentially reformed according to indications in the Commentaries on the Gallic War. At the head of the Aedui state sat a senate comprising one member of each Aedui aristrocratic family. What is today called executive power was held by the vergobret, the supreme magistrate, who exercised his functions over the course of a year. He was forbidden from leaving the borders of the territory during this period, which prevented him from commanding the army outside the borders.[21] This measure, along with that which authorized only one voice per aristocratic family in the senate, aimed to prevent any individual or their family from monopolizing the reins of power. The vergobret was publicly elected by a council directed by the druids. Among the Aedui, it seems like the vergobret also exercised a judiciary role, since Caesar reports that he had "the right to life and death over his fellow citizens". Finally, it is thought that the vergobret was responsible for the administration of the territory.[21] Caesar adds that the druids were charged with this: "They believe that religion does not allow them to put the material of their education in writing, while for the rest in general, for public and private administrative acts, they used the Greek alphabet."[22] No excavation has permitted the rediscovery of such acts, the backings of which, being wood covered with wax, are perishable.

Furthermore, it is known that the druids held high functions since Diviciacus came to Rome to plead the case of the Aedui during the Germanic invasion led by Ariovistus on the account of the Sequani.;[23] he also directed the Aedui cavalry during the Gallic War after the death of his brother Dumnorix. Therefore, it is thought that some druids held high military positions."

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bibracte#Politics


Vergobret:

"A vergobret was a person in the society of Ancient Gaul who held the highest office in many Gallic cities, especially among the Aedui. Julius Caesar discusses the role of the vergobret several times in his Commentaries on the Gallic War, referring to the office with the terms princeps civitatis, principatus, and magistratus.[1]

Elected every year under the aegis of the druids,[2] the vergobret had the right of life and death, and that of commanding the army in defensive action. He was however forbidden from leaving the borders of the territory of his people: "The laws of the Aedui forbid those who held the highest office from crossing the borders".[2] He could not therefore command the army outside of the borders. This made it necessary to name a general and prevented the vergobret from seizing power beyond this magistrature.[3]

The vergobret was chosen from among the most powerful people. Coins have been found in the effigies of Aedui and Remi vergobrets (for instance, staters at the effigy of Dumnorix).

One of the rare archaeological traces of the vergobret came from the 1978 excavations of Dr. Allain in the zone of the temples to Argentomagus (Saint-Marcel, Indre), where an olla of terra nigra, engraved after being fired, bears the inscription, "vercobretos readdas". The meaning of the inscription is along the lines of "the vergobret has sacrificed/consecrated/given" (cf. P-Y Lambert 2003 and X. Delamarre 2003).

Several names of vergobrets are currently known: Liscus, Valetiacos, Convictolitavis of the Aedui, and Celtillos of the Arverni.

For the Lemovices, two names are probable: Sedullos, killed at Alesia, was called dux et princeps lemovicum,[4] "military and civil leader", which probably corresponds to the title of vergobret. Furthermore, an inscription in rock in the Galloroman city of Augustoritum has been found, which is a sign of a yet incomplete Romanization: it cites a certain "Postumus, vergobret, son of Dumnorix" (the latter having no relation to the Aedui of the same name).[5]"

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vergobret
 
Aug 2018
368
london
#48
Caesar's description of the Druids, from his Commentaries on the Gallic War, 58 BC:

"The Druids are concerned with divine worship, the due performance of sacrifices, public and private, and the interpretation of ritual questions: a great number of young men gather about them for the sake of instruction and hold them in great honour. In fact, it is they who decide in almost all disputes, public and private; and if any crime has been committed, or murder done, or there is any dispute about succession or boundaries, they also decide it, determining rewards and penalties: if any person or people does not abide by their decision, they ban such from sacrifice, which is their heaviest penalty. Those that are so banned are reckoned as impious and criminal; all men move out of their path and shun their approach and conversation, for fear they may get some harm from their contact, and no justice is done if they seek it, no distinction falls to their share. Of all these Druids one is chief, who has the highest authority among them. At his death, either any other that is pre-eminent in position succeeds, or, if there be several of equal standing, they strive for the primacy by the vote of the Druids, or sometimes even with armed force. These Druids, at a certain time of the year, meet within the borders of the Carnutes, whose territory is reckoned as the centre of all Gaul, and sit in conclave in a consecrated spot. Thither assemble from every side all that have disputes, and they obey the decisions and judgments of the Druids. It is believed that their rule of life was discovered in Britain and transferred thence to Gaul; and to‑day those who would study the subject more accurately journey, as a rule, to Britain to learn it.

The Druids usually hold aloof from war, and do not pay war‑taxes with the rest; they are excused from military service and exempt from all liabilities. Tempted by these great rewards, many young men assemble of their own motion to receive their training; many are sent by parents and relatives. Report says that in the schools of the Druids they learn by heart a great number of verses, and therefore some persons remain twenty years under training. And they do not think it proper to commit these utterances to writing, although in almost all other matters, and in their public and private accounts, they make use of Greek letters. I believe that they have adopted the practice for two reasons — that they do not wish the rule to become common property, nor those who learn the rule to rely on writing and so neglect the cultivation of the memory; and, in fact, it does usually happen that the assistance of writing tends to relax the diligence of the student and the action of the memory. The cardinal doctrine which they seek to teach is that souls do not die, but after death pass from one to another; and this belief, as the fear of death is thereby cast aside, they hold to be the greatest incentive to valour. Besides this, they have many discussions as touching the stars and their movement, the size of the universe and of the earth, the order of nature, the strength and the powers of the immortal gods, and hand down their lore to the young men."

Caesar ? Gallic War ? Book*VI, chs.*11?20
 
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Shtajerc

Ad Honorem
Jul 2014
6,363
Lower Styria, Slovenia
#49
That is all too frequent I'm afraid. Same here in England. Those famous celtic speaking tribes like the Iceni, Trinovantes, Parisii or the Brigantes, no one talks of them after the romans took over. Then they're absent, then we see anglo saxons. It is similar to Hallstatt. You at least have evidence of a distinctive celtic language, Lepontic, and some continuity with the modern Rhaetic descendents of the vulgar latin that replaced lepontic. Around Hallstatt, where Noric appears to have been spoken, we have a handful of celtic words and then that's it.

I was visiting the Saalburg a couple of weeks ago, a roman fort on the Upper German Rhaetian Limes. That is close to the Heidetrank Oppidium but, whilst the roman fort was still visible as a ruin, good enough to be reconstructed, there is very little to see of the celtic oppidium. A shame too because the Chatti lived with the celts in this area. The celtic speakers seem to have had their industries whilst the Chatti were valley farmers who supplied them with food. The limes in that area were overrun by the Alemanni. So roman and alemannic finds are better represented than the celts who were there for the longest period of time.

We only ever get small windows which are only open for short periods of time.
Same problem here. There's a hill in my municipality that was settled from 4000 bc until after the arrival of the Slavs. You have everything mixed in - bronze age, iron age, Romans, Langobardi etc - very little Celtic remains though.


I don't know if Keleia (later Roman Claudia Celeia) was a fortified settlement. They coined Noric money there and the name is supposed to mean something like sanctuary. Would that imply a fort? Also not quite sure how the Taurisks and Noricum go together, but then Celts are far from my strength.
 

authun

Ad Honorem
Aug 2011
4,950
#50
Same problem here. There's a hill in my municipality that was settled from 4000 bc until after the arrival of the Slavs. You have everything mixed in - bronze age, iron age, Romans, Langobardi etc - very little Celtic remains though.


I don't know if Keleia (later Roman Claudia Celeia) was a fortified settlement. They coined Noric money there and the name is supposed to mean something like sanctuary. Would that imply a fort? Also not quite sure how the Taurisks and Noricum go together, but then Celts are far from my strength.
I'm not even too sure where it is but suppose Pannonia? It was a complex and mixed place with Illyrians and Celts. The local roman fort where I live in the UK was garrissoned by the 4th Cohort of the Breuci, who came from Pannonia, but they weren't celtic but were described as illyrian with celtic influence, whatever that means.

Sanctuary could mean a religious or holy place. It doesn't have to be a fort. Roman municipiums though, were large and the production of coins would support that.
 

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