Not just a tribe of Barbarians

Celtic Helmet

Image by Rockman of Zymurgy via Flickr

A 1st century BCE mirror found in Desborough, ...

Image via Wikipedia

The Celts inhabited most of Europe, and were thought by other civilizations, such as Greece and Rome, as complete barbarians. The Celts were, politically and socially, unorganized. They knew no cattle herding or farming, but, the British Celts were very skilled in metalworking, especially silver. In fact, I read that the Greeks learned Iron working from the peoples north of them, which is approximately where the Celts would have dwelt.

Tin was found all over Britain (the reason the Romans conquered the island), and Iron, Silver, and Copper were relatively abundant, so the Celts had plenty of material. Though Gold was mined out much earlier on, so this metal was scarce. The Celts would decorate bowls, plates, and their great weaponry with scenes of their gods and Heroes.

As Christianity spread, Crosses and signs of the Crucifixion replaced the pagan scenes, and trade with the Holy Roman Empire increased, the British Celts became one of (if not the) best silversmiths in Europe.

The Celts normally did their work with several pieces of metal, soldering or riveting the pieces together, instead of doing it with a single piece. For figures or statues, the smith would cast a general shape of the figure in bronze, then shape and etch several plates of metal, which were then riveted on to the pre -cast figure, and polished down. Voila! a beautifully done statue!

 

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