|It was during the Iron Age
that, in all probability, the people known to us as the Celts established
themselves in Scotland. Their reputation is a considerable one despite
their numbers in the Iron age may have been relatively small. That
reputations is to some degree the result of their opposition to the Romans
whose campaigns against them in Europe were chronicled by Julius Caesar
and then in Scotland by Cornelius Tactitus. The Celts lived in tribes
with an economy based on crops and animal husbandry. But it was for
their fighting qualities that they had first been noted in Europe, with
their invasion of northern Italy and the capture of Rome in 390 BC.
Their westward move had brought them from France to England before they
descended upon Scotland and then Ireland.
The Celts had a complex lifestyle
which included an oral tradition of learning, a well developed legal system,
close-knit family and social obligations and a language which, with regional
variants, allowed the Celtic inhabitants of Scotland to converse with those
of England, Wales, Cornwall, Ireland, and northern France. So tight
was the relationship between the Celts of England and those of France that
it forced Caesar to cross the Channel in two attempts to break it.
Perhaps because of their history as much as because of their changing conditions,
the Celts were conscious of the importance of strong defensive positions.
In Scotland they took part in the building of hill- forts. The larger
may mark tribal capitals, for the majority of the people lived in farmsteads
build not according to defensive criteria, but as fertility of the land
allowed. Hill-forts are common in the Lowlands but rare in the Highlands.
There the fortification was more often the broch, a circular tower of dry
masonry with cavity walls, examples of which have been found in Orkney
and Shetland and on the mainland in Sutherland and Caithness.
Other types of fortification included the ring-fort or the artificial island
of stones and tree-trunks called the crannog. One such crannog has
been discovered at Ardanaiseig on Loch Awe in Argyll. Their efficacy
and the resistance of the native population of Scotland to invasion were
to be tested by the arrival, in the latter part of the first century, AD,
of the most formidable incomers Scotland had yet known, the Romans.
From "A Travelers History of Scotland" by Andrew Fisher, published by Interlink Books, NY
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