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The Ancient Celts — Interesting Celtic Facts, Part III

The Ancient Celts — Interesting Celtic Facts, Part III

In this post, Christian author Mark Fisher continues his list with four more interesting Celtic facts about the ancient Celts with Part III. (Click here for Part II.)

In no particular order, they are as follows:

9 – Slavery Was Common Among the Ancient Celts

As in all the ancient world, slavery was pervasive in Celtic society. In a previous post, I wrote:

“At the bottom of the social scale were slaves.  Slavery was very much a part of life in the ancient world. In fact the basic unit of currency in ancient Ireland was the cumal, or woman slave. You could end up a slave if you had overwhelming debts and sold yourself into slavery, or if you were taken in battle. The Irish often raided the coast of Britain, stealing slaves in the night from the rich Roman villas. Indeed, this was how St. Patrick made his first journey to the Emerald Isle—in chains.”

See: http://www.markfisherauthor.com/2016/04/social-classes-early-celtic-ireland/

10 – Bodies of Water Were Sacred

Bodies of Water Were Sacred

In the Celtic world of ancient Ireland, the druids were the means by which the people accessed the spirit world before St. Patrick. In a previous post, I wrote:

“The druids held that bodies of water—lakes, streams, and rivers—held healing properties. Bathing in or drinking from them might heal your ailment. Walking three times around certain wells, but always facing sunward, might also do the trick. As such, druids offered gifts to the gods inhabiting these waterways in hopes of obtaining their pleasure. They might carve wooden models of themselves or the injured part before a healing ritual.

Beyond the waterways, images of injured limbs, including a pair of sculptured breasts, have been found before the shrines of Celtic gods.

Waterfalls were seen as gateways to the Otherworld, where the spirits dwelt, and were to be avoided. A scene from my novel, The Bonfires of Beltane, dramatizes this taboo.”

11 – The Punishment for Crimes Was Often Payment of Property

In a previous post, I wrote:

“For wrongs committed against another person or fine, the offender (or his fine) would most likely have paid his penalty in property. This might include cumala (women slaves), cattle (highly prized), sheep, or pigs. If the person’s crime was indebtedness, with an inability to pay, the penalty might be that the debtor goes into bondage as a slave to pay off his debts. For offenses against the clan itself, the offender might be barred from sacrificial or group ceremonies. Or, if the penalty were severe enough, the criminal himself might be sacrificed in a public ceremony to the gods.”

See also: http://www.markfisherauthor.com/2016/05/druidic-justice-early-celtic-ireland/

12 – Ancient Lifespans Were Short

The dangers of living in the ancient world were legion: warfare, disease, childbirth, childhood itself, starvation and famine,  accidents and hunting, and travel. Given all that, ancient lifespans were short. This is what I wrote in a previous post:

“…what was the average life expectancy of a male child born in the Iron Age, the closest era providing us with statistics? The best guess, per Wikipedia, is 26 years. Childhood was an especially dangerous time. What were the odds you’d live to the age of fifteen? About 60%. But if you made it to fifteen, you might live another 37 years to the ripe old age of 55. There were a few who lived longer, of course.”

See also: http://www.markfisherauthor.com/2016/06/ancientcelticlifespans/

Next time, we’ll continue our list of interesting Celtic facts with Part IV.


Ancient Celtic Ireland is the setting for the Mark’s books of Christian historical fiction—one in publication, The Bonfires of Beltane, and The Amulet, now in the hands of beta readers. The same setting is also the basis for the author’s fictional world in a Christian fantasy trilogy. Book One, The Scepter of Elyon, is now seeking a publisher. Click on the link to learn more about The Bonfires of Beltane.

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