The Green Man
The Sun and the Moon
Dragons and Serpents
Whales and Dolphins
The Knight's Templar
The Celts used their artistic skills to decorate all manner of objects, including their weapons, household items, religious statues and jewellery. Items of jewellery included the torc, which was a metal ring worn on the neck with two open ends decorated with stylised animal heads. The wearing of the torc, usually by men, may have carried both social and religious significance. They also made carved objects of wood and stone depicting gods and monsters. But perhaps the most stunning artistic achievement of all performed by the Celts, or indeed any ancient culture, was the giant Uffington White Horse, measuring a stunning 109m in length, carved into the chalk Downs in Berkshire, England.
In the 1st century AD, the Celtic way of life was to face a huge turning point, when the British Isles were conquered by the Romans. However, the Romans did not, as a whole, try to prevent the Celts from practising Druidism, or forcibly convert them to their religion. When they arrived at the Celtic lands, they realised that their beliefs were very similar to the old Roman religion; the belief in formless, vague spirits known as the "numina." This aided the Romans in their understanding of the Celtic culture.
When the Romans made an alliance with the ancient Greeks, they took a considerable liking in the Greek religion, with its powerful gods including Zeus, Aphrodite and Hermes. But instead of completely rejecting the belief in numina, they combined the two beliefs, identifying the Greek Gods with Roman spirits: Zeus was identified the Roman spirit Jupiter, Aphrodite with Venus and Hermes with Mercury. This was one factor which helped unify the Ancient Greeks and Romans, and the Romans knew that they could use this strategy to help win favour of the Celtic tribes.
One of the most largest projects of this kind was the building of a Roman bath at the river Avon - today known as Bath. The Romans identified the Celtic goddess Sulis, worshipped by the Celts at this site, with their own goddess Minerva. Thus, the shrine to the deity Sulis-Minerva was built upon the Avon, in an effort to merge the two cultures, which lead to the development of the city of Aquae Sulis. But the unification between Celtic and Roman cultures was not the only motive behind the creation of the great city. The Romans greatly publicised the reputed healing powers of the river Avon, and it became a prominent place of pilgrimage. Romans from all over the empire came to Aquae Sulis in order to be healed of sickness or injury by bathing in the mystical waters of the Avon - now made into the Roman equivalent of a spa with the building of heated baths. The sick would also prey to the goddess Sulis-Minerva in desperate hope of a cure, at the shrine of Aquae Sulis. This in turn lead to the growth of shops and stalls around the shrine, where merchants would sell all manners of charms and offerings to pilgrims. The once sacred area pilgrimage had become something of a commercial site of tourism.
Not all Celtic tribes accepted Roman rule, and indeed many opposed them vehemently for invading their land and culture by attacking them whenever possible. However, there were tribes which formed partnership with the Romans, in order to yield the benefits of their highly developed civilisation and to keep the peace between Britons and Romans.
Celtic Designer torc bracelet, available at the Spiral Online Shop
To Page 4 of "The Celts"