The Celts of Scotland

Gaelic Name: Siorrachd Air

Scotland is one of the homes of the people known as the Celts. However, it was not always so; indeed, the term ‘Celts’ was originated by the ancient Greeks who called the mass of loosely associated peoples they encountered in central and south-western Europe Keltoi. They regarded the Celts as barbarians. (Fry, P & F.S., ‘The History of Scotland’, Routledge & Kegan Paul, London, 1982. p12)

There is today a resurgence in interest in the Celts. It is debatable how significant this interest may be to many of the descendants of the Scots; what is undeniable is that the Celts made a lasting impact on the Scotland of today.

In the centuries before the birth of Christ the Celts were in an expansionist phase, spreading through much of north and western Europe, and into the British Isles. These early Celts may be regarded as an ‘intermediate’ civilisation, providing a bridge between the earlier nomadic and semi-nomadic tribes who relied on hunting and gathering for their existence, and the later, more advanced settled peoples who were primarily agriculturalists.

They "enjoyed fighting ... hunted wild animals ..., and looked upon the chase as a kind of war. His life was a hard one and he had to keep fit. On occasions, he played games or took part in sports with his friends. ... He enjoyed music and dancing, singing and dressing up, possibly even acting. By now he had also developed his fondness for reciting poetry ... The Celts loved a feast ... They had some powerful drinks ... But the Celts were not just fun-loving, boisterous exhibitionists. They were extremely hard workers. Most of the men who went to war or hunted for food were also farmers. ... As soon as they could they returned to the land. They cared that their families had enough to eat. They wanted their children, especially the boys, to grow up healthy and strong. ... Those who did not farm may have been skilled craftsmen - blacksmiths, coppersmiths, carpenters, stonemasons, potters, weavers, thatchers and jewellers. ... If the Celt was not a farmer or a skilled craftsman, he might be a trader or merchant, journeying up and down Britain, perhaps even crossing the sea to Europe." (Fry, P & F.S., ‘The History of Scotland’, Routledge & Kegan Paul, London, 1982. p19-20)

"The Scots from Ireland found the Argyll lands and the islands attractive places in which to settle. In the sixth century so many of them came from their kingdom in northern Ireland, called Dalriada, that their new land was also called Dalriada." (Fry, P & F.S., ‘The History of Scotland’, Routledge & Kegan Paul, London, 1982. p 34)