Celtic music and culture in northwestern
You better believe it!
A brief history of the Celts
Celtic culture and people known as Protocelts, seem to have originated
in a far Eastern zone, The Kurganes, located in between the European
Continent and India. This is the reason why all these tribes are
identified under the denomination of "Indo-Europeans".
Originally, this area in the Southern part of Russia stretched
over both the mountainous zones of the Caucasian Mountain Range
and lower parts of the extense steppes located at their bottom
(feet) in between the Caspian and the Black Seas. These Indoeuropean
roots of the Celtic Culture are still evident in the oldest Celtic
Music, which carries a distinctive Middle-Eastern flavour.
Allong with other Indoeuropean tribes, and from this zone, the
barbarian Celtic tribes invaded Europe around the 2000 B.C. In
that moment they are still identified as Protocelts (by the current
experts), and will not become the Celts we know until they well
settled in Central Europe. They settled first in the areas of
Eastern Europe now known as Hungary, Bulgaria, Rumania and the
Balkans. During the Bronze Age they continue to spread westward
again. By the Iron Age (around 8th to 5th BC), these tribes were
firm settled in what is now southwest Germany, eastern France
and parts of Switzerland. This is known as the Hallstat period,
and is the point at which historians begin calling these people
"Celts". After that, in the La Tene period, the Celts
spread out into most of Europe, invading much of Germany, France,
the Iberian Peninsula (most of Spain and Portugal), and the British
Islands and Ireland. Later, Celtic branches turned back eastward
again, moving into northern Italy, Bohemia, Silesia, the Balkans
and the Eastern European Countries, into Eastern Asia (the Gaulatians).
Therefore, at the height of their power in the 1st century BC,
the Celts were the dominant ethnic group in much of Europe, and
were even dominating the Germanic tribes.
Some of the Celtic groups were the Gauls that fought long and
hard against the Roman Empire.
The Celtic Culture also spread
over much of the Iberian Peninsula, except for its Southern
and Mediterranean coasts. The main Celtic groups in
this area were the Celtiberians or "Celts of Iberia"
(located in the two plateaus of Central Spain), the
Lusitanians who settled in what we know today as Portugal,
and the Galaicos, the Ástures and the Cántabros
in the Northwest and along the northern coast of Spain.
After its splendour until the 1st century BC, the Celtic
culture gradually experienced its decline under the
pressure of two fronts: from the south, the powerful
Roman Empire and, then, from the north the Germanic
tribes. They began to erode the Celt's hold on their
territory. Hence, the Celts began to lose their independence
and Celtic cultural identity in most of their historic
domains. As the invaders moved into Celtic lands, the
inhabitants were dispersed, or romanised, germanised
or, latter, christianized and vikingized. But in the
more remote or less accessible regions that the invaders
did not reach or could not conquer, the Celts were able
to hold on to their culture and keep it strong.
and Pindy in an Asturian forest.
The people living in those regions,
where many Celtic cultural aspects are still very alive
today, are considered the inheritors of the ancient
Celtic culture. They feel fiercely proud of their Celtic
traditions and heritage. The citizens of Ireland, Scottland,
the Isle of Mann, Wales, Cornwall, Brittany, Asturies,
and Galicia are the Celts of modern Europe. They belong
to what is today known as the "Celtic Atlantic
Arch", and representatives from these eight countries
and regions participate in the "Interceltic Festival
of Lorient" in Brittany every year.
In all these areas, the romanization and germanization
was little or none, and the christianisation was less
intense or more flexible, overlapping with pagan religious
the Roman Empire conquered most of the Iberian Penninsula
(what is now Spain and Portugal), it could never dislodge
two Celtic ethnic groups, the Ástures and the
Cántabros, from their wild and unreachable mountain
stronghold of Northwestern Spain. They were described
by the chronicles of Roman historians as "the most
powerful and wild tribes of Hispania." They were
very little Romanised (only along the coastal areas)
but still christianised some centuries later. Similar
phenomenon happened in some of the other countries that
belonged to the historic "Celtic Civilization."
Fernando in an ancient
"braña" of Celtic tradition in Asturias
There are many ancient
Celtic archeological sites in Asturies today. Many of its
churches and buildings incorporate pre-Christian Celtic designs
and motifs in their architecture, and many many of the rural
folk still hold fast to pagan Celtic beliefs.
Just listen to the stirring music of Asturies to hear its
obvious Celtic roots!
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