A Bardic Storytelling of the ‘Celtic of the West’ Model

I am much impressed by Celtic art and as a result of being so inspired I have summarized the Celts from the West Theory in a ‘Celtic’ artistic style, as a way of Bardic story-telling, in which we aren’t sure what is fact and what is story-telling.

Lady Vix Face.jpg(Reconstruction of the Lady of Vix’s face based on her skeleton)

Allow me to present lady Vix, a highly gifted and deformed woman, born in the ancient Portuguese city Tartessos, in the first millennium BC. She inspires a local artist to chisel her in stone, riding a horse, side-saddled because of her deformities. Later this statute, identified by archaeologists as that of a Celtic Goddess, is found in San Bartolomeu de Messines along with Tartessian letters[1]. About 97 other Tartessian inscriptions on stone convince Koch that Tartassian was a Paleohispanic Celtic language.[2]

Tartessos
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tartessos

Tartessos isn’t big enough for Lady Vix and soon she is on her way to spread her metalworking skills. She, and other traders, use Tartassian as a trading and metal-work related vocational language. Phylogenetic work (Gray and Atkinson, 2003) offers a date of the development of Celtic language, which is about the 4th millennium BC.[3][4]

Lady Vix travels extensively, using Atlantic sea-ways to visit Brittany and the British Isles. Along with spreading metal working fashion, increasing artistic awareness is responsible for establishing ‘a high degree of cultural similarities displayed by maritime communities (Cunliffe, 1999)[5] along the Atlantic coast. Such as upstanding angular stones, Cliff Castles along the entire Atlantic façade, and circularity in domestic architecture. We can’t be sure this is Lady Vix’s and her apprentices influence exclusively but with many women written out of history, one should be mindful of missing women when stumbling upon gaps in our knowledge.

Atlantic-Europe
Atlantic Europe

The bards’ story-telling about the influence of Lady Vix inspire local village heads to adopt Celtic place names. Later linguistic research, by Patrick Simms-Williams (2006), offers maps with high density of Celtic places, resulting in linguistic geographical evidence for the ‘Celtic from the West’ model. It is also thought that Celtic language spreads further ‘as a supra-regional language of Bell Beaker groups[6], as maps of Bell Beaker burials and Celtic language Bronze age maps show remarkable similarities.[7]

The last successor of Lady of Vix is found in a burial mount in Burgundy, France (dating from 500 BC). Next to her remains stands an extraordinary Greek wine mixing vessel that tells us that trade, charisma and metalworking skills have been interrelated for a long time.

Mont Lassois, France
Mont Lassois, France, Lady Vix’s Burial Mount

Vix Vurial

(CGI of Lady Vix’s burial chamber)

Vix Chariot & Krater
Lady Vix’s Wine Krater and Chariot in which she was buried. Lady Vix burial artefacts are magnificent, especially the large Greek wise vessel.

The last known Lady in the Vix tradition is buried away from the Atlantic Celtic language zones as the long line of successors have used thousands of years of trading coastal, riverine and migratory networks from Portugal to the British Isles, from the Atlantic coast to the east of Europe. The Roman Herodotus was right after all that the Celts lived near the Pyrenees, ‘beyond the Pillars of Hercules’[8][9]. Lady Vix and contemporaries have brought their DNA to the British Isles which leads in 2006 to Oppenheimer stating that the ancestors of today’s British and Irish populations arrived from Spain about 16,000 years ago.[10]

From Tartessos, like Lady Vix.

Paula Kuitenbrouwer

2017

P.S. I wrote this story being inspired by my course ‘Who are the Celts’, at Department for Continuing Education University of Oxford. I tried to bring knowledge together on Celtic sea-way trading, Celtic metallurgy, Celtic DNA, and Female Druidism. I hope you have enjoyed my story. Should you feel the ambition to unravel what is fact and what is fiction, I highly recommend the course at Oxford’s Department for Continuing Education. Having said that, the footnotes might be helpful too.

FOOTNOTES

[1] Koch, J. Tartessian, Europe’s newest and oldest Celtic language. Published in Celts: Issue II (Mar/Apr 2009), Prehistory/Archaeology, Vol.17.

[2] More on Celtic inscriptions and identification of Celtic place names: Koch. J. An atlas for Celtic studies (Oxford, 2008).

[3] Gibson, C. & Wodtko D, The background of the Celtic languages: theories from archaeology and linguistics, p. 5

[4] Others suggest it goes back to the 2nd-3rd millennium BC.

[5] Cunliffe, B. Atlantic Sea-ways. Revista de Guimaraes, Volumne Espeiual, I. Guimaraes, 1999, pp. 93-105.

[6] Gibson, C. & Wodtko D, The background of the Celtic languages: theories from archaeology and linguistics, p. 7

[7] Harrison, R.J., Jackson, R. and Napthan, M., 1999 A rich Bell Beaker burial from Wellington Quarry, Marden, Herefordshire, Oxford Journal of Archaeology, vol. 18, no. 1, pp 1–16.   

[8] Beyond the ‘Pillars of Hercules’ refers to the Straits of Gibraltar, what is now southern Portugal, were the ancient city Tartassos was located.

[9] Cunliffe, B. 2003. The Celts, a Very Short Introduction. Oxford; OUP. Chapter 2.

[10] Oppenheimer, S., 2006 Origins of the British: A genetic detective story, Constable & Robinson Ltd.

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