Celtic studies

Essay by julianC-, March 2003

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The Celts

Celtic Appearance:

The Celts seem to have been a rather striking people, tall, fair skinned and with fair or reddish hair. They were very concerned with their appearance and took special care of their hair, which was usually worn fairly long. They were fond of jewellery and ornaments and the women probably used cosmetics; berry juice to dye their eyebrows and an herb called Ruam to redden their cheeks. Personal hygiene was not neglected; there are references to people washing and bathing, and using oils and sweet herbs to anoint their bodies after a bath.

The Celts wore simple, colourful clothes using linen and woollen materials that they produced themselves. Men and women both wore tunics and long cloaks fastened with pins or brooches. Sometimes the men wore short knee-length trousers under their tunics as well. Shoes and sandals were made out of leather and tied with thongs.

Jewellery was very popular and both men and women wore rings, bracelets and Torcs.

All the evidence we have from the stories indicates that the Celts were particular about their appearance and washed frequently. It was expected that a host would offer visitors a bath; in fact it was probably very necessary if they had walked along muddy roads to reach him. Large wooden bath tubes were used and the water would have been heated by throwing in hot stones. If several people were waiting for a bath they would probably have to use the same water. Ash made by burning bracken and briars was made into cakes and used as soap.

Political Organization

Celtic Ireland was divided into about 150 tiny kingdoms called Tuatha and the people within each Tuatha were divided into four main groups, the king and his family, the nobles, the freemen, and the un-free men.