As you will recall from the last seminar we reached the apogee of The Beaker People ok…got that out of your system now?
We shall now consider The Celts…
The Celts started to make themselves known in Europe somewhere around about 1000 BC. They might have been making themselves known elsewhere before that or just decided then was a good a time as any to assert an identity.
Although there was enough of Mainland Europe for everybody, there are always those who have to go and keep poking about the place (In more generously inclined circles this is known as The Pioneering Spirit). Some Celtic fishermen who wishing to spice up their usual tall tales reckoned on a clear day whereas they could not see forever they certainly had noticed this big bit of land off on the ocean. News got around and in a short space of time less venturesome but more astute Celts had launched several successful enterprises in the boat making industry.
There are no indications much less records of committees, working parties, focus groups or manifest destinies, so it must be assumed individual groups of Celts simply paddled like mad until they bumped into something. The ones who bumped into sharp rocks jumped into the sea; those who bumped into beaches jumped onto land and those who in their enthusiasm to get out tripped made landfall.
Whereas those who on reaching the Channel Isles decided to quit while they were ahead, others looking for wider horizons, more leg room and somewhere away from seabirds strove onwards.
Upon reaching mainland, having walked up off the beach and shaken sand out of their footwear the first problem Celts encountered were The Beaker People; the latter having been so long away from the mainland that all of their forwarding addresses had been quite lost to Time.
At first there was some concern about what to do with unexpected neighbours. The younger Celts were all for inter-marrying and the sooner the better; their mothers were aghast at what other Celts might think while some fathers loudly voiced ‘Over My Dead Body’, not realising there was no shortage of Beaker men ready to oblige. As both cultures were of the Iron Age there was naturally a lot of resulting unpleasantness.
Why the Celts were triumphant is a matter of much conjecture. It is likely that many natives only have beakers to show off against superior ornate and flashy Celtic metalwork became discouraged and retreated to the farther or even further most area of the Isles to mope and having picked up a bit of celtish write long and mournful poems of days of yore and heroes lost. The only ones who would have stood out against this would have been the Beaker folk around Stonehenge who would have tremendous fun standing about the place smirking and pointing over their shoulders with their thumbs at the edifices. It can thus be conjectured that the advancing Celts who had been smashing up all the native utensils they could find as well as desecrating barrows and other gardening implements would have been foiled in all attempts to pull over the stones and so enabled the Beaker folk to carry on with their retirement plans.
The Celts were no doubt much enthused by the variety of green and pleasant lands they came across, and the soft rolling hills which were very useful if you were on your way home from a long day drinking fermented liquids. For those of a more introspective nature there was a sufficiency of brooding crags without the bother of having neighbours. Those who felt the need to fish for a living or an excuse to get out of civic duties had no end of rivers and a few lakes. The more adventurous were delighted if they went north far enough they found they had a choice of Lowlands, Highlands or as many Islelands as you cared to get wrecked on (which brings us back to the fermented liquids); the only drawback would be the occasional beaker being thrown at you from some unseen quarter.
Those who stuck to the principal of the grass being greener over the next pile of discarded beakers were insufferable in their conceit when they discovered another big piece of land even more out in the sea. Despite their best efforts they could not see The Americas so they had to admit this was far as it got for the present and thus Ireland was invented; which was not how the local Beaker People saw it and this presented something of a challenge to the newly arrived Celts.
This issue was confronted and dealt in this inventive manner. The Celts gave the Beaker People who were probably a bit shorter than the average Celt a role in society. The Celts said they would be allowed to cheer up the countryside by dressing in bright green, sitting upon vegetation or rocks of their choice and hail passing Celts with happy comments that made no sense (unless the passing Celt had been drinking fermented liquids). In addition, each one could fill one beaker with gold and mis-lead the less socially responsible Celts into trying to find it through metrological manifestations and so keep the said Celts from bothering everyone else. As this role developed they were also engaged by exasperated parents of troublesome children into threatening to carry the child off if they (the child) did not behave (though parents were still stuck with the problem of teenage daughters). A further extension of this scheme was to be paid by disgruntled subjects of cranky old rulers, to leap out of hiding tread on the said fellow’s feet then scamper off. Thus the term ‘Leap-On-Yer-Corns’ was originated.
So successful was this innovation that it spread to the larger island under various guises and so the colonisation of the Islands by the Celts was completed.
In the next seminar we will look at the culture of the Celts.