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The six Celtic nations: Scotland (blue), Ireland (green), Isle of Man (gold), Wales (red), Cornwall (yellow), Brittany (black)


Celtic nations is a term used to describe territories in North-West Europe in which that area's own Celtic languages and cultural traits have largely survived. The term "nation" is used in this context to mean a group of people associated with a particular territory who share a common identity, language or culture, and is not synonymous with "country" or "state".

The six territories recognised by the Celtic League and Celtic Congress as Celtic Nations are Brittany (Breizh), Cornwallmarker (Kernow), Irelandmarker (Éire), Isle of Manmarker (Mannin), Scotlandmarker (Alba), and Walesmarker (Cymru). Limitation to these six is sometimes disputed by people from Asturiasmarker, parts of Englandmarker, and Galiciamarker – territories that have also retained some Celtic cultural traits. Until the expansions of the Roman Republic and Germanic tribes, much of Europe was predominantly Celtic.

Terminology

These areas of Europe are sometimes referred to as the "Celt belt" or "Celtic fringe" because of their location generally on the western edges of the continent, and of the nations they inhabit (e.g. Brittany is in the northwest of Francemarker, Walesmarker and Cornwallmarker lie to the west of England, and the Gaelic-speaking parts of Irelandmarker and Scotlandmarker are in the west of those countries). Additionally, this region is known as the "Celtic Crescent" because of the near crescent shaped position of the nations in Europe.

Some claim that "Celtic nations" is a concept of outsider political-pressure groups, specifically groups such as the Celtic League and Celtic Congress, which assert what has been described as Pan-Celticism. Members of such pressure groups assert that there are a distinct, cultural set of "Celtic nations" in modern northwest Europe. Some of these people speak Celtic languages or express a cultural identity to Celticity. The terminology has no official recognition or standing within major political parties or legal institutions.

Linguistics

The Celtic League, Celtic Congress, and other Celtic groups base the criterion of celticity on language — each of the six nations within the concept has its own Celtic language. It should be noted that within these areas, the majority speak English (in Wales, Scotland, Ireland, and The Isle of Man), Scots (In Scotland), or French (In Brittany). Brittany, Ireland, Scotland and Wales contain areas where a Celtic language is still used in a community (see Gaeltacht on Irelandmarker, Gàidhealtachd, and compare also Breizh-Izel and areas by Welsh language known as Y Fro Gymraeg). Generally these communities are in the west of their respective countries, in upland or island areas.
Nation Celtic name Language People Population Native-competent speakers Percentage of population
Irelandmarker Éire Irish

(Gaeilge)
Irish

(Éireannaigh)
6,000,000 Republic: 355,000 (native)

1,660,000 (competent)


Northern: 10.4% (see note )
Republic: 42%

Northern: 10.4% (see note )
Cymru Welsh

(Cymraeg)
Welsh

(Cymry)
3,000,000 611,000 20.8%
Breizh Breton

(Brezhoneg)
Bretons

(Breizhiz)
4,000,000 200,000 3%
Ellan Vannin Manx Gaelic

(Gaelg)
Manx

(Manninagh)
70,000 1,700 2.2%
Alba Scottish Gaelic

(Gàidhlig)
Scots

(Albannaich)
5,000,000 92,400 1.2%
Kernow Cornish

(Kernewek)
Cornish

(Kernowyon)
500,000 300 – 1,000 0.1%


For certain purposes, such as the Festival Interceltique de Lorient, , (including Northern Portugal) and Cape Breton Islandmarker in are considered three of the nine Celtic nations. It should also be remembered that a Welsh-speaking minority is still extant in the Chubut Province of Patagonia in Argentinamarker.

Other claims

[[Image:Celts in Europe2.png|thumb|360px|right|The Celts in Europe, past and present:

]]
In general most countries of Western and Central Europe can be considered to have been influenced by the Celts. In a number of them, there are also 'Celtic' movements, wanting recognition as a Celtic Nation. None of them has a living Celtic language, unlike "the Six", and for those who base claims of Celticity around linguistics, this is a matter of controversy.

Iberian Peninsula

Main language areas in Iberia circa 200BC.
In blue, Celtic languages
The north-western part of the Iberian Peninsulamarker is an area influenced by Celtic culture. In particular this includes the regions of Galiciamarker, Asturiasmarker, central and northern Portugalmarker, Cantabriamarker and Leónmarker.

The Romans gave the name Gallaecia to the northwest part of the Iberian peninsulamarker after the Gallaeci (Greek Kallaikoi) tribe (or Gallaecians). These Gallaeci lived in the Douro Valley with center in Cale in the area that would become the Roman town of Portus Cale, today's Portomarker. However it is not sure that there was a specific tribe called Gallaeci, because the main people between Douro and Lima rivers were the Bracari.

The Celtiberians were the most influential ethnic group in pre-Roman Iberia, but they had their largest impact on history during the Second Punic War, during which they became the (perhaps unwilling) allies of Carthagemarker in its conflict with Romemarker, and crossed the Alps in the mixed forces under Hannibal's command. As a result of the defeat of Carthage, the Celtiberians first submitted to Rome in 195 BC; T. Sempronius Gracchus spent the years 182 to 179 pacifying (as the Romans put it) the Celtiberians; however, conflicts between various semi-independent bands of Celtiberians continued. After the city of Numantiamarker was finally taken and destroyed by Scipio Aemilianus Africanus the younger after a long and brutal siege that ended the Celtic resistance (154 - 133 BC), Roman cultural influences increased; this is the period of the earliest Botorrita inscribed plaque; later plaques, significantly, are inscribed in Latin. The war with Sertorius, 79 - 72 BC, marked the last formal resistance of the Celtiberian cities to Roman domination, which submerged the Celtiberian culture.

The Celtiberian presence remains on the map of Spain in hundreds of Celtic place-names. The archaeological recovery of Celtiberian culture commenced with the excavations of Numantiamarker, published between 1914 and 1931. In none of these regions has a Celtic language survived (although some place names are of Celtic origin), but there are still many words with celtic origin in the Galician language, Portuguese language and in the Asturian language.

England

Principal sites in Roman Britain, with indication of the Celtic tribes.
In Celtic languages, England is usually referred to as "Saxon-land" (Sasana, Pow Saws, Bro-Saoz etc), and in Welsh as Lloegr (though the Welsh translation of English (language) also refers to the Saxon route: Saesneg, with the English people being referred to as "Saeson", or "Saes" in the singular). This is because the Celtic peoples of what is now England succumbed to the invading Saxons and were either driven out of their lands, killed or assimilated into the culture of Englalond. However, spoken Cumbric survived until the 12th century, Cornish until the 18th century, and Welsh within the Welsh Marches, notably in Archenfield, now part of Herefordshiremarker, until around the same time. Both Cumbriamarker and Cornwallmarker were traditionally Brythonic in culture and are considered so by many in England; Anglo-Saxon settlement in these areas was historically small. Cornwall existed as an independent state for some time after the foundation of England, and Cumbria originally retained a great deal of autonomy within the Kingdom of Northumbriamarker. The unification of the Anglian kingdom of Northumbria with the Cumbric kingdom of Cumbria came about due to a political marriage between the Northumbrian King Oswiu and Queen Riemmelth. Though the Anglian settlement in Cumbria was as a whole minor, they settled in the Eden valley and along the north and south coasts. The placename Inglewood attests to the Anglian presence, even if it is, by and large, minor.

Movements of population between different parts of Great Britainmarker over the last two centuries, with industrial development and changes in living patterns such as the growth of second home ownership, have greatly modified the demographics of these areas, including the Isles of Scillymarker off the coast of Cornwall, although Cornwall in particular retains unique cultural features, and a Cornish self-government movement is well established.

Remnants of Brythonic and Cumbric placenames are sometimes seen throughout spots in England but are more common in the West than the East, mainly in the traditionally Celtic areas of Cornwall and Cumbria. Elements such as caer 'fort' as in the Cumbrian city of Carlisle, pen 'hill' as in the Cumvrian town of Penrith and craig 'crag, rock' as in High Crag. The name 'Cumbriamarker' is derived from the same root as Cymru, the Welsh name for Wales, meaning 'the land of comrades'. There is a current attempt to revive Cumbric and about 50 words of a reconstructed, hypothetical "Cumbric" exist.

English Celtic romanticism has tended to relate to the identity of Britain and its role in the world. Henry Purcell's opera King Arthur for example refers back to the British mythology-inspired literature of the Anglo-Normans and to a lesser extent the Welsh writers. Victorian romanticism concentrated again on King Arthur, Celtic fairytales - though Germanic foklore was often grouped with them - and also Boudicca, whose statue stands outside the Palace of Westminster. The inscription on the base is a direct reference to Empire: "Regions Caesar never knew, Thy posterity shall sway" and was commissioned by Prince Albert. Modern romanticism has focused more on music, mythology, the Druids, borrowed Celtic traditions such as the Irish HalloweenSamhain - conflated with existing English traditions - and dialects or language.

Celtic romanticism sometimes includes new age elements associated with ancient sites such as Aveburymarker and Stonehengemarker, although Stonehenge was never used by the Celts in religious rituals and rarely used by them at all, as Stuart Pigott points out, stating that "...should be stressed that there is no evidence for Celtic religious observances having been associated with Stonehenge, nor with any similar monument of the second millennium B.C." . Anglo-Saxons were known to use the site, however, and the poem 'The Ruin' from the Exeter Book may be about the site. A man during the Anglo-Saxon era was ritualistically beheaded and buried at Stonehenge.. This may have had religious significance

Formerly Gaulish regions

of the French people themselves identify actively with the Gauls.The French- and Arpitan-speaking Aosta Valleymarker region in Italymarker also presents a casual claim of Celtic heritage. The Northern League autonomist party often exalts what it claims are the Celtic roots of the entire Northern Italy, or Padania. Reportedly, Friulimarker also has an ephemeral claim to celticity.

Walloons are sometimes characterised as "Celts", mainly opposed to "Teutonic" Flemish and "Latin" French identities; the ethnonym "Walloon" derives from a Germanic word meaning "foreign", cognate with the words "Welsh" and "Vlach". The name of Belgiummarker, home country of the Walloon people, is cognate with the Celtic tribal names Belgae and (possibly) the Irish legendary Fir Bolg.

Central European regions

Celtic tribes inhabited land in what is now southern Germany and Austria. Many scholars have associated the earliest Celtic peoples with the Hallstatt culture. Boii, Scordisci and the Vindelici are some of the tribes that inhabited Central Europe, including what is now Slovakia, Serbia, Croatia, Poland and the Czech Republic as well as Germany and Austria. The Boii gave their name to Bohemia.Celts also founded Singidunummarker present-day Belgrademarker, leaving many words in Serbian language (over 5000).The La Tène culturemarker also covered much of central Europe. The name of the culture is from the location in Switzerland.

Outside Europe

In other regions, people with a heritage from one of the 'Celtic Nations' also associate with the Celtic identity. In these areas, Celtic traditions and languages are significant components of local culture. These include the Permanent North American Gaeltacht in Tamworth, Ontario, Canada which is the only Irish Gaelic Gaeltacht outside of Ireland, the Chubutmarker valley of Patagonia with Welsh-speaking Argentiniansmarker (known as "Y Wladfa"), Cape Breton Islandmarker in Nova Scotiamarker, with Gaelic-speaking Canadiansmarker and southeast Newfoundlandmarker with Irish-speaking Canadians. Also at one point in 1900's there were well over 12,000 Gaelic Scots from the Isle of Lewismarker living in the Eastern Townships of Quebecmarker, Canada, with place names that still exist today recalling those inhabitants.

Large swaths of the United States of Americamarker was subject to migration from Celtic peoples, or people from Celtic nations. Gaelic-speaking Irish Catholics congregated particularly in the East Coast cities of New Yorkmarker, Bostonmarker, and Philadelphiamarker, while Scots and Ulster-Scots were particularly prominent in the Southern United States, including Appalachia.

An area of Pennsylvania known as the Welsh Tract was settled by Welsh Quakers, where the names of several towns still bear Welsh names, such as Bryn Mawrmarker and Bala Cynwydmarker.

In his autobiography, the South African poet Roy Campbell recalled his youth in the Dargle Valley, near the city of Pietermaritzburgmarker, where people spoke only Gaelic and Zulu.

In New Zealandmarker the southern regions of Otago and Southlandmarker were settled by the Free Church of Scotland. Many of the place names in these two regions (such as the main cities of Dunedinmarker and Invercargillmarker and the major river, the Cluthamarker) have Scottish Gaelic names, and Celtic culture is still prominent in this area.

In addition to these, a number of people from the USAmarker, Australia, South Africa and other parts of the former British Empire have formed various Celtic societies over the years.

See also



References

  1. http://www.celticleague.net/index.html
  2. Nathalie Koble, Jeunesse et genèse du royaume arthurien, Paradigme, 2007, ISBN 2868782701, p.145
  3. The term "Celtic Fringe" gained currency in late-Victorian years (Thomas Heyck, A History of the Peoples of the British Isles: From 1870 to Present, Routledge, 2002, ISBN 0415302331, p.43) and is now widely attested, e.g. Michael Hechter, Internal Colonialism: The Celtic Fringe in British National Development, Transaction Publishers, 1999, ISBN 0765804751; Nicholas Hooper and Matthew Bennett, England and the Celtic Fringe: Colonial Warfare in The Cambridge Illustrated Atlas of Warfare, Cambridge University Press, 1996, ISBN 0521440491
  4. Ian Hazlett, The Reformation in Britain and Ireland, Continuum International Publishing Group, 2003, ISBN 0567082806, p.21
  5. CELTS AND CELTIC LANGUAGES by U.S. Branch of the International Committee for the Defence of the Breton Language. Retrieved 2008-10-26
  6. 2006 Census
  7. The figure for Northern Ireland from the 2001 Census is somewhat ambiguous, as it covers people who have "some knowledge of Irish". Out of the 167,487 people who claimed to have "some knowledge", 36,479 of them could only understand it spoken, but couldn't speak it themselves.
  8. Welsh Language Board - How many people speak Welsh?
  9. Main Statistics about Welsh from the Welsh Language Board
  10. The most recent census (2001) shows about 270,000 speakers. The site oui au breton estimates a yearly decline of about 10,000 speakers, suggesting a number of about 200,000 current speakers. Retrieved 2008-09-24.
  11. Données clés sur breton, Ofis ar Brezhoneg
  12. 2006 Official Census, Isle of Man
  13. Gov.im - Culture
  14. BBC News: Mixed report on Gaelic language
  15. http://ec.europa.eu/education/policies/lang/languages/langmin/euromosaic/uk1_en.html
  16. projects.ex.ac.uk - On being a Cornish ‘Celt’: changing Celtic heritage and traditions
  17. Effectively extinct as a spoken language in 1777. Language revived from 1904, though remains a tiny 0.1% percent being able to hold a limited conversion in Cornish.
  18. http://www.celticattic.com/contact_us/the_celts/stonehenge.htm
  19. Piggott, Stuart. The Druids. Thames and Hudson: New York, 1975; repr. 1991. 63.
  20. http://www.pbs.org/wnet/secrets/previous_seasons/case_stonehenge/clues.html
  21. http://www.britarch.ac.uk/ba/ba54/ba54news.html
  22. http://www.archaeology.org/0009/newsbriefs/stonehenge.html
  23. Celts - Hallstatt and La Tene cultures
  24. Celtic Impressions - The Celts
  25. - 27k
  26. Vindelici
  27. Boii - Britannica Online Encyclopedia
  28. The Early Celts
  29. Te Ara: Encyclopedia of New Zealand
  30. [1]
  31. [2]
  32. [3]


Further reading

  • National Geographic, "The Celtic Realm". March, 2006.


External links




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