Military Review

Peter Connolly on the Celts and their Arms (Part 3)

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Diodorus paid attention to the great length of Celtic swords, especially when compared with the considerably shorter Greek or Roman swords. At the same time, judging by their findings in 450 - 250. BC, the blades of Celtic swords reached about 60 cm, that is, no longer than those of the Etruscans and Romans at that time. Longer swords appeared only at the end of the 3rd century. BC, they used them until the 1st century. BC.



The Celts were big posers and boasters! Figure by Angus McBride.

Celtic swords are found by archaeologists in large quantities. They are considered in accordance with the adopted system of periodization of the Laten period and are accordingly typologized. Thus, the swords of the laten I phase belong to the period 450 - 250. BC. and they have a blade length from 55 to 65. See. Although there are single samples in 80, see. They are all double-edged, have a pronounced edge and belong to the piercing-cutting type. A characteristic feature of this type of swords is the specific shape of the tip of the scabbard, which has the shape of a stylized letter U. Daggers have blades of different shapes: from broad, almost triangular, to narrow, like a stylet; their length is 25 - 30 cm.

Peter Connolly on the Celts and their Arms (Part 3)

Helmet, swords and spearheads belonging to Celtic warriors. Archaeological Museum Saint-Germain, France.

During the late II phase (ca. 250 - 120 BC), the blades of the swords stretched out. Now it was weapon just for the chopping blow. The tip of the blade acquired a rounded shape, the length began to reach 75 - 80 cm, and the weight of the 1 kg along with the handle. The tip of the scabbard has acquired a different shape. From the lake at the village of La Tennes in Switzerland, these swords get almost hundreds, and although some local differences can be noticed, it is clear that all of them belong to this period. Sheaths (usually from iron) were made of two bands. The front was a little wider than the back, and skirted around the edges. Their mouth was strengthened by a decorative overlay, and the tip strengthened their construction below.

The latex III phase (120 - 50 BC) is distinguished by the fact that the length of the blades increased even more and reached 90 in some swords. See Long swords with a rounded tip and iron sheath of this type are most often found in Britain.


The shank of the Celtic iron sword.

It seemed that the Celtic triumph in Europe would have no end, but the conquest of Gaul by Julius Caesar in 55 BC put an end to him. In Britain, the Celtic subculture existed even 150 years. The blades of the swords of this time (phases of late IV) are shorter than those that were before - 55 - 75, see. The sheath received a forked tip in the form of a very flat inverted letter V.


Celtic warrior with a shield and spears with tips of characteristic shape. Illyrian Sithylum from Vache (fragment). Bronze. Around 500 BC. er National Museum. Ljubljana

Handles of swords were made of wood, covered with leather and therefore they practically have not reached our time. The traditional form of the handle was in the form of the letter X, a kind of memory of the “antenna” swords of the Hallstatt era. Sometimes they were made in the form of a human figure with arms raised upwards. The late influences of latein IV swords were often influenced by Roman influence, as shown by the discovery of a sword in Dorset.



Diodorus wrote that the Celtic swords were worn on the right side, hanging them on an iron or a bronze chain. The length of such a chain ranged from 50 to 60 cm, and on one side there was a ring on it, and on the other a hook. Peter Connolly believes that all this was arranged somewhat wrong, since the description is confusing. In any case, the chain was, the ring was, the hook was, and how we really had to decide in the course of field experiments. Well, the belts themselves were made of leather, and several such belts were again taken from the lake at La Ten.


Celts in battle. Figure by Angus McBride.

It was customary to talk about Celts as warriors who fought, above all, with swords. But Diodorus gives a description of the Celtic copies, and their tips are regularly found in graves. And here, according to Connolly, the question arises: if there are so many tips, then ... it means that the Celts fought not so much with swords, as with spears. Found three spears with a length of 2,5 m and this is clearly not a dart! Darts are also found, but many tips are very large, which are not suitable for them. And Diodorus calls the sizes of the tips of the copies: 45 cm and more, and these were actually found, and one did have the length 65 cm!


Warrior with shield and ax. Illyrian Sithylum from Vache (fragment). Bronze. Around 500 BC. er National Museum. Ljubljana

Their form was rather unusual: at first they expanded at the hub, then gently narrowed to the tip. Wavy tips are also known, about which Diodorus reports that they inflicted especially dangerous wounds. It is also known that the Celts also adopted something from the Romans and, in particular, their famous pilum darts. They are found at the site of the excavations of many Celtic settlements in southern Europe.

At the same time, Connolly believes that Diodorus is very exaggerating when he reports that the Celtic shield was as tall as a man. In La Tennes, the remains of three shields were found approximately at 1,1 m high. Three shields discovered by archaeologists were made from oak wood. In the center, the thickness reached 1,2 cm, and at the edges was smaller. The two preserved traditional vertical rib, characteristic of Celtic shields. Umbon above the recess to accommodate the handle covered his hand from the blow. At the same time, they were of different shapes, ranging from a simple metal rectangular strip nailed onto a shield and its edge at the location of the handle, to umbones resembling butterfly wings or a bow tie with a knot (bulge in the middle). A number of umbons resemble the Roman ones: this is a flat base with holes for rivets and a hemisphere above it.


Rider with a spear. Illyrian Sithylum from Vache (fragment). Bronze. Around 500 BC. er National Museum. Ljubljana

Were the shields covered in skin? A tree covered with nothing would have cracked from the blows of the sword - such is the opinion of Peter Connolly. However, there are also shields without stitching and, in his opinion, they were made specifically for burial. But the shields, which have skinning and leather or metal edge along the entire edge - obviously fighting. Such a shield could have a weight of 6-7 kg - wooden base 4 kg, plus leather 2 kg, plus 250 g Umbon.


The Battersea Shield, found in the Thames, is one of the most famous examples of ancient Celtic art found in the UK. This is a wooden shield, covered with a thin sheet of bronze in the laten style. The shield is kept in the British Museum, and its copy is in the Museum of London. Shield dimensions: length - 77,7 cm, width 34,1 – 35,7 cm. Refer it to 350 - 50's. BC er Well, they lifted it from the bottom of the River Thames in London in 1857, during the excavations at the Chelsea Bridge. The Battersea Shield is made of several pieces held together with rivets hidden under decorative elements. The decor is in typical Celtic Laten style and consists of circles and spirals. The shield is decorated with red enamel and looks very beautiful, but its bronze sheet, as archeologists say, is too thin to provide effective protection in battle, and there are no combat damage on it. Therefore, it is believed that this shield was thrown into the river as a sacrifice.

The obvious similarity between the Roman Scutum and the Celtic Shield suggests that they have a common origin. But Celtic is more ancient and judging by the findings of the same umbons, it is clear how it was improved. Most of the Celtic shields have the shape of an oval, and early Roman scutums have the same shape, and with the same vertical edge. But there are differences. For example, the Roman shields found in Egypt in the Fayum oasis, the dimensions of which almost completely coincide with the dimensions of the Celtic shields (height 1,28 m and width 63,5 cm), were made using a completely different technology. If the Celtic ones are made of a single piece of wood, then the Roman ones are made of three layers of birch plates, 6-10 wide, see. They were glued to each other perpendicularly to each other, and they were also pasted on top from above. The handle is horizontal. Polybius, however, reported that they were glued together from two rows of plates, and were covered with a coarse cloth and then skin on top.


Celt in Waterloo Helmet and with the Battersea Shield. Figure by Angus McBride.

Peter Connolly reports that he made a replica of such a shield, and its weight turned out to be equal to 10 kg. At first it was considered incredible, because it was very difficult to use it. However, then almost the same shield was found in England, and it became obvious that these were not accidental finds, but that “it was so”. And, by the way, it became clear why the same Diodorus believed that the Celtic shields were worse than the Roman ones. After all, even though they were of the same design, it should be noted that the shield made of “plywood” will always be stronger than all-wood.


Another original find found in the Thames at Waterloo Bridge was the helmet, known as the “Waterloo Helmet”, painted today in the British Museum. It was made approximately in 150 - 50. BC. Initially, this helmet had a brilliant golden color and is decorated with red glass rods. It was hardly used in battle, and probably was a ceremonial headdress. Helmet is the only horned helmet in Europe. It was made of sheet bronze in parts, and then they were all joined together with bronze rivets. The decor on the front of the helmet is repeated on the back.

However, the shields of the Celts, judging by their images, could be rectangular, and hexagonal, and round. Diodorus reports that they were decorated with bronze patterns, but most likely they were simply painted with colors, and the bronze shields with a pattern on the surface were most likely ceremonial rather than combat destinations.


The “Battersea Shield” is very popular in England. For example, his image adorns the cover of this calendar for 2015 a year worth 40 pounds sterling.
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  1. parusnik
    parusnik 11 December 2015 06: 45
    +3
    Thanks, very interesting..
  2. Isk1984
    Isk1984 11 December 2015 11: 02
    +3
    So you look at the map and think where the German tribes fit in there, the Celts all around, and along the Rhine and further, and from Elba there are already Slavic tribes (Weneds, from the Baltic Sea to the Carpathians), as everything is condensed ... And yes, according to Slavic tribes can have such articles, it would be informative ...
    1. Chiropractor
      Chiropractor 11 December 2015 12: 51
      +2
      there were picts with stone weapons ...
      the Celts came to Europe - kicked out the Picts ...
      the Romans came - kicked out the Celts ...
      came the vandals - kicked out the Romans ...
      Franks came - kicked out the vandals ..
      ..
      then the forester came ... smile
    2. kumaxa
      kumaxa 11 December 2015 17: 44
      -4
      yyy! Celt ent ax shape! so-shta Moget surrender that ent Slavs were.
      1. Aljavad
        Aljavad 12 December 2015 04: 03
        0
        kumaxa RU Yesterday, 17:44 ↑ New
        yyy! Celt ent ax shape! so-shta Moget surrender that ent Slavs were.


        These were ANCIENT-Ukrainians !!!! They dug the Mediterranean Sea and poured the Alps! fellow
        Threat. Remember this Hochma, incorrectly lengthening the history of the people.
    3. Logos
      Logos 12 December 2015 02: 14
      +1
      Slavic tribes came to the Elbe in the 5-6 century AD after the Hun invasion, and to the shores of the Baltic in general by the 9th century AD But before the beginning of AD (the time described in the article) it was the territory of the Baltic and Germanic tribes. Almost no one then heard about the Slavs, which is not surprising, since they were then still a small tribe on the outskirts of the known world, as evidenced by archeology and linguistic analysis
      The Slavs occupied all these territories during the Great Migration, when the invading Huns cleaned them from Germanic tribes.
      1. branch
        branch 12 December 2015 02: 31
        -1
        Huns cleared? For the Slavs? Here it is! That's how they came to the Germans and said: hey you, damned Germans, get out of good health, the Slavs will come for us right now, we will clear them living space
        1. Logos
          Logos 12 December 2015 09: 30
          +2
          I recommend that you familiarize yourself with the history of your native country and learn the native language. Nomadic tribes in the early Middle Ages often united in alliances with agricultural in order to expand. In the history of the Slavs this happened at least three times. The first time with the Huns, when the Slavs settled in the Dnieper and the Vistula, the second time with the Avars, with whom the Slavs came to the Danube and the third time with the Bulgarians, with whom the Slavs conquered the Balkan Peninsula and created the Bulgarian state
    4. Aljavad
      Aljavad 12 December 2015 03: 58
      -1
      Isk1984 (1) RU Yesterday, 11:02 AM New
      So you look at the map and think where the German tribes fit in there, the Celts all around, and along the Rhine and further, and from Elba there are already Slavic tribes (Weneds, from the Baltic Sea to the Carpathians), as everything is condensed ... And yes, according to Slavic tribes can have such articles, it would be informative ...


      According to one of the reconstructions, the Germans, the Slavs, and the Balts (as we imagine them) were absent then. And there were "forest tribes" who spoke related dialects, who had a close spiritual culture and almost identical - material. Therefore, archaeologically, "Pro-Germans" and "Proto-Slavs" are distinguished from the neighboring tribes by the method of scientific poking - in the area of ​​the hypothetical ancestral home.
      Even for the "historical" barbarians, about whom the Greek-Romans wrote, it is very difficult to establish linguistic affiliation (and easy to dispute). Often the Gauls differ from the Germans in their habitat: to the Rhine - Gaul, which means that Gauls live here. Beyond the Rhine - Germany, so the Germans live there. And if someone lives on both banks ???
      1. kalibr
        12 December 2015 08: 07
        +2
        There will be an article on haplogroups, where who lived and when. Everything is already there, you can not speculate.
      2. Logos
        Logos 12 December 2015 09: 37
        +3
        In 3-4 thousand BC may be. But by the beginning of AD, this is not quite so. In terms of material culture, the Germans were very different from the Slavs, and from the Celts too. Even the dwellings were different for these peoples, the Slavs settled in semi-dugouts with stoves, on the principle of one family, one dugout, and the Germans settled in oblong houses without stoves, but with foci of whole families, several families. Slavs lived in lowlands and river valleys, the Germans preferred to settle in the hills and other places convenient for defense

        And about * on both banks of the Rhine * read Caesar's notes on the Gallic war, the difference between the Germans and the Gauls is very visible there and how they dissociated from each other, incl. and the banks of the Rhine - the natural boundary of two worlds
  3. Bashibuzuk
    Bashibuzuk 11 December 2015 11: 28
    0
    Very interesting.
    I liked the pictures. Pictures, more precisely. Even liked more than the text.
    Painfully formidable, these painted men, and reminiscent of the uprising in the Celtic colony for the ZK of old-time ancient years. "Thief in law" with a helmet "Waterloo raised his painted torpedoes - well, here they are rowdy ... I got such an analogy.
    A joke of course. It was a success, no - they will decide without me.
    .
    Illyrian situ - they say that there is a warrior with an ax and a shield. With a shield, I agree, But instead of an ax, it seems to me that this warrior is armed - with a combat bristle, flail. In short, the gadget on the handle.
    This thing can be traced in two situations, at the beginning of the article a drawing and separately filed.
    And I really liked the "Kolovrat" on the rump of a horse !!!
    All literature assures that the signs of the Kolovrat relate specifically to Slavs, to ancient symbols.
    So it turns out the Celts are related to the Slavs?
    Or is the horse simply related?
    Or sitla from another opera?
    .
    And if suddenly in Egypt they find Celtic shields made by "plywood" technology, BUT attributed to the Romans, then I think that these are CELTIC shields, modernized to the era.
    And some of the Celts, especially violent, simply called themselves Romans, so that the Egyptians did not make claims to the Druids of the Celts and even trampled to Egypt. Run amok.
    Like, we are not Celts, we are the Romans, and there is a demand from them. And where are these Egyptians to look for some Romans, if there is one blot on the map of Europe from these Romans. And that is not impressive.
    Maybe this, huh?
    .
    .
    Thank you, Vyacheslav. Excellent as always.
    1. kalibr
      11 December 2015 12: 18
      +3
      Thank you too! You have interesting thoughts. It's worth a lot. About the swastika on the rump. This is a solar symbol, it was used by ALL PEOPLES OF THE INDO-EUROPEAN culture, and not only among the glorified. And no one hides the fact that the Celts are from the same community. I can't say anything about the brush. Now in the work is material on helmets and just about the spread of ancient cultures. Moreover, I took advantage of your kind permission about "culture ...", only named it more decently. I'll let you know how it comes out.
    2. Kombrig
      Kombrig 12 December 2015 14: 09
      +1
      Quote: Bashibuzuk
      But instead of an ax, as I see it, this warrior is armed - with a combat bristle, flail. In short, the gadget on the handle.


      All the same, the ax, in the hands and flails, the hilt is usually straight, but here it is curved, which is handy for the ax (especially the bronze) .... Respectfully ..
  4. Skifotavr
    Skifotavr 11 December 2015 21: 45
    0
    Celtic weapons and tools are found, for example, throughout Ukraine by both official archaeologists and black (mostly black, of course), so the map given here is, to put it mildly, inaccurate. And the main difference between "Celts" and "Scythians" is age. In principle, the same can be said about the Thracians and Slavs.
    1. Kombrig
      Kombrig 12 December 2015 02: 23
      +1
      Quote: Skifotavr
      Celtic weapons and tools are found, for example, throughout Ukraine by both official archaeologists and black (mostly black, of course), so the map given here is, to put it mildly, inaccurate. And the main difference between "Celts" and "Scythians" is age. In principle, the same can be said about the Thracians and Slavs.


      It's not about the cards, it's just that there was some substitution of concepts, "Celt" -topor, got its name from the nationality, but this does not mean that all "Celts" (axes) are of Celtic origin ...
      1. kalibr
        12 December 2015 08: 08
        0
        That's right!
        1. venaya
          venaya 12 December 2015 09: 05
          +1
          Quote: kalibr
          "Celtic" -topor, got its name from the nationality, but this does not mean that all "Celts" (axes) are of Celtic origin ...
          That's right!

          Where did you get this information? Who told you that this is a people in general, is it a self-name or a nickname, for example, "Sklaveni / Slavs". Where is the evidence for this statement? And in general, what language did they speak? Did they have a written language? There are many questions that almost no one wants to answer.
          1. Kombrig
            Kombrig 12 December 2015 11: 09
            +2
            Quote: venaya
            Where did you get this information? Who told you that this is a people in general, is it a self-name or a nickname, for example, "Sklaveni / Slavs". Where is the evidence for this statement? And in general, what language did they speak? Did they have a written language? There are many questions that almost no one wants to answer.


            All this information is from the history textbook))) It's just that modern classical history calls these peoples a Celtic group, and the self-name, as well as the origin, at this time period, remains a mystery. You will not criticize me for what I call "Trypillians" of representatives Trypillian culture, not knowing their self-name? And with the Celts, as with the "grinder" - the first angle grinders came to the USSR from Bulgaria, receiving the name "grinder" and although they are produced in all countries, but for us they have remained "grinders", somehow ... Yours faithfully...
            1. kalibr
              12 December 2015 11: 55
              +1
              I wanted to answer myself, but you answered better. Thank!
      2. Skifotavr
        Skifotavr 12 December 2015 09: 02
        0
        [
        Quote: Kombrig
        Quote: Skifotavr
        Celtic weapons and tools are found, for example, throughout Ukraine by both official archaeologists and black (mostly black, of course), so the map given here is, to put it mildly, inaccurate. And the main difference between "Celts" and "Scythians" is age. In principle, the same can be said about the Thracians and Slavs.


        It's not about the cards, it's just that there was some substitution of concepts, "Celt" -topor, got its name from the nationality, but this does not mean that all "Celts" (axes) are of Celtic origin ...

        It's not about the axes. World archeology has long been speculating about the so-called Indo-European, or simply Caucasoid peoples and their history. In fact, a single point of view does not exist, and even in what they try to pass off as an official point of view, there are many contradictions. Yes, and even in a single country, every ten years, the maps of the resettlement of peoples are so rewritten that when comparing them, one involuntarily wonders: how much can this be believed at all. I didn’t come up with the fact that we find exactly the so-called Celtic objects in our masses - and this is clearly not imported, it just smoothly flows into the so-called Scythian. Those that are of controversial origin do not count. And in the West, in general, what we call Scythian and Sarmatian is called Celtic, and with the very concept of the Celts they have a complete mess. In the picture, by the way, a man with a naked torso, who is standing between two horses, has a classic Scythian dagger on his pants. Archaeologists themselves admit that the Scythians eventually changed the type of weapons, adopting something from those with whom they fought. For example, I also know that regarding the Cimmerians who lived in Ukraine, the points of view of archaeologists from the USSR / Ukraine and Germany do not completely agree. Ours seem to have found them, but they admit that they are the same Scythians, but at an earlier time, and the Germans deny the very existence of the Cimmerians. Regarding the similarity of the Scythians and the ancient Slavs, it is generally not customary for us to speak, as well as to question that the Scythians were nomads. Although there are also enough contradictions and indirect evidence to the contrary, including among various ancient authors. In the end, it would not hurt to determine: what exactly should be understood by the term nomads in relation to the Caucasian people, who sometimes built just giant mounds, hillforts, various defensive fortifications, the main building material for which was wood, was engaged in agriculture and had advanced metallurgy for its time .
        1. kalibr
          12 December 2015 11: 58
          0
          In England, back in Soviet times, Chernenko’s book about the Scythians was published, and he was a very famous specialist on them. And the book of Gorelik about the soldiers of Eurasia. So they have very high quality information about us.
    2. branch
      branch 12 December 2015 02: 40
      -1
      Well, yes, the whole progressive Ivropa is a kelstka territory judging by the map. There is no way without Ukraine. I willingly believe you. Out of a sense of solidarity with you, I also demand that Ukraine be included in the Celtic Empire !!!
      1. Skifotavr
        Skifotavr 13 December 2015 22: 07
        0
        Quote: Ast
        Well, yes, the whole progressive Ivropa is a kelstka territory judging by the map. There is no way without Ukraine. I willingly believe you. Out of a sense of solidarity with you, I also demand that Ukraine be included in the Celtic Empire !!!

        Romanians, what the hell are you talking about?
    3. Aljavad
      Aljavad 12 December 2015 04: 10
      0
      Skifotavr (2) UA Yesterday, 21:45 PM New
      Celtic weapons and tools are found, for example, throughout Ukraine by both official archaeologists and black (mostly black, of course), so the map given here is, to put it mildly, inaccurate. And the main difference between "Celts" and "Scythians" is age. In principle, the same can be said about the Thracians and Slavs.


      Celtic mercenaries were employed throughout the Mediterranean. Hence the finds of weapons, and images and graves (including in the Bosporus kingdom, up to Tanais). "Empire" - based on the finds of settlements.
      1. Skifotavr
        Skifotavr 12 December 2015 18: 31
        0
        But the ornament, which is in the west, and it is customary to call Celtic here. Someone may find something familiar for themselves ...
  5. branch
    branch 12 December 2015 02: 25
    0
    If it weren’t for the captions to these pictures, by golly, I would have thought that a typical Roman warrior, not a Celt. But no, that's right: Illyrian sieve, 500 g BC.
    I always thought that the Celts were in trousers (as in the McBride drawings). But no, it turns out not so.
    Or maybe women, Celtic women. That on a horse so accurately a woman, I give a tooth. Also drunk. See how she is without armor, without a saddle, nudging the enemy rushes? Her knee-deep sea
    1. kalibr
      12 December 2015 08: 11
      +1
      You know, anything can happen! Who knows, maybe there is an ancient legend here? Then everyone knew, and then they forgot, and in her a brave wife avenges her husband? And everything else is given by "frames", as in a comic book. You can't check it!
  6. Reptiloid
    Reptiloid 13 December 2015 12: 20
    0
    Thanks for the article, Vyacheslav! I was pleased to know that the Celts also had horned helmets! Wonderful photos!
    1. kalibr
      13 December 2015 16: 56
      0
      But this, most likely, judging by the thickness of the walls were ritual helmets! There were no horned helmets!