The Celts, I’ve learnt today at the British Museum, are an invented people. We think of them now as the people of Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Cornwall, and Brittany, the people of the edge of Europe, of the Atlantic; wild, red haired, bagpipe-playing people. But these are different peoples bound together only in an artistic and political creation.
The Greeks first talked of Celts around 500 BC, but they were referring to a people from Germany. They produced beautiful abstract art unlike that of the classical world.
When the Romans invaded Britain in 43 AD they pushed the indigenous people to the edges of the country. The never conquered Scotland and Ireland and perhaps couldn’t be bothered to go as far West as Wales or Cornwall. Roman Britain was cosmopolitan, and the people of the edge intermingled with the Romans, trading and learning from each other, including in art.
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