Vikings vs Celts
The Vikings and the Celts were two very different peoples with distinct cultures, beliefs, and practices.
Vikings came from Scandinavia while the Celts originated in Ireland, Scotland, Wales, and Brittany.
Their differences can be seen in their art styles, religions, and ways of life.
Despite these differences, there was some interaction between the two groups.
Table of Contents
Who are the Vikings?
Vikings were seafaring men from Scandinavia who, from 800 AD to the 11th century, attempted to build their lives through trading, plundering, and conquering coastal locations. They had a significant impact on Europe, especially Britain, and even reached as far as North America.
The term Viking derives from the Old Norse word víkingr, meaning “pirate” or “raider”, and is used in modern English to refer to the ancient Scandinavian people who were renowned for exploring and colonizing new lands.
Through their travels, they influenced many parts of Europe, including England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Iceland, Greenland, and parts of modern-day Russia.
History of the Vikings and Celts
The history of the Vikings and Celts dates back to the late-ninth century AD, when both of these ethnic communities inhabited Europe. The Celts were primarily a warrior people who lived in large settlements and used cavalry to great effect while the Vikings were nomadic people who raided villages.
The Celts resided in the British Isles from approximately 600 BC to 43 AD (during the Iron Age), while the Viking age was from 800 AD to 1050 AD (during the Bronze Age). During this period, the Celts and Vikings developed a well working trade network that connected them with other cultures around the world.
Both the Celts and Vikings shared many similar cultural practices. They also had similar physical characteristics, with the Celts having long red and blonde hair and wearing bright clothes, while newer DNA evidence suggests that the Vikings had dark hair and eyes, and the women and men had similar face structures.
Were the Vikings celtic?
While both the Celts and the Vikings resided on the British Isles and had a lot of similarities in their polytheistic religions, lifestyle, and art, there is no exact connection between the two cultures. The Vikings were originally from a foreign land and were considered to be uncivilized by the locals, and even after conversion to Christianity, the two cultures were still quite distinct from each other.
The Vikings and Celts did share the same lands for a period of time, but the Celts had a history prior to the Vikings, and the Vikings had their own legacy after the Celts. The Vikings were likely an extension of the Celts, as people with Norse roots settled in Ireland, combining their culture with that of the Celts. However, the two never shared the same space for a long time.
In conclusion, while it is true that both the Celts and the Vikings lived on the British Isles and had many similarities, they were still distinct cultures that should not be confused as one and the same.
Difference between celts and vikings
There are main differences between Vikings and Celts in their origins, periods of living, cultural practices, and even physical features.
- The Celts lived in Britain, Ireland, France, Spain, and Scotland while the Vikings lived in Norway, Scandinavia, Denmark, Iceland, and Ireland.
- The Celts lived during the Bronze Age and focused on settling and developing their cultures, while the Vikings lived during the Iron Age, moving around and invading other cultures.
- The Celts were known for their long red or blonde hair and bright clothing, whereas the Vikings tended to have dark hair and eyes.
- The Celts had a strong influence on ancient art and their techniques are still evident, whereas the influence of the Vikings is not as strong.
- The Celts have a lasting influence on today’s culture as many consider themselves modern-day Celts, whereas it is rare to find a modern-day Viking.
Cultural similarities and differences between Vikings and Celts
The Vikings used the Norse language, which is a highly inflected language with complex case endings and strong verbs. Celtic was the language of the Celts, which is believed to have diverged from Proto-Indo-European around 4500 BC.
Celtic and Norse are not the same. Both Norse and Celtic are Indo-European languages and share many similarities, but have some distinct differences.
- Norse is more akin to modern English and is heavily influenced by Latin, while Celtic has distinct grammatical structures and vocabulary.
- The Celtic language also has a strong oral tradition, emphasizing storytelling and storytelling elements.
Ultimately, Norse and Celtic are very different languages, but both are important to the history of the English language.
The Vikings and the Celts had a distinct set of beliefs around religion. Both the Vikings and Celts were polytheists, with different gods for different aspects of life.
The Celts had a more detailed mythology and were famous for their ancient places of worship, huge statues with ornaments on them and descriptive engravings. The gods and goddesses venerated by the Celts included Dagda, the father figure, king, and druid; Morrigan, the goddess of battle and war; and Lugh, the god of arts and crafts.
The Celts also had a druid-structured community, where druids or priests handled religious and spiritual matters, as well as political and judicial matters. The celtic druids were also known for their knowledge of trees, plants and animals, which were highly important to the Celts.
The Norse mythology of the Vikings focused on Yggdrasil, Ragnarok, and Valhalla, and their gods included Odin, Thor, Loki, Heimdallr, and Freya. Aesir gods, with Odin as their leader, and the Vanir gods, with Freyr as their leader. They believed in a cycle of death and rebirth, as well as in a world-ending, followed by a new world beginning.
Both the Vikings and Celts believed in an afterlife, in which those who died bravely in battle were given a place in the afterlife. They also believed in the power of magic and many rituals and superstitions to protect them and bring them luck.
Vikings and Celts both wore colourful clothing to show status and importance within their respective tribes. The usual Celtic attire included a tunic and belt, along with a long cloak and trousers which were fastened by a ’fibuale’. Vikings were also known for their colourful wool clothing and famous Tartan patterns. Roman literature also notes that Celts used blue dye from the woad plant to paint patterns on their bodies.
The Vikings and the Celts shared many of the same decorative designs, such as repeating patterns, spirals, knots, flora, and animal shapes. Both cultures also employed ornamental and applied art, with Celtic art being distinctive for its flowing shapes and abstract patterns while Viking art was characterized by its chaotic, asymmetric, and zoomorphic nature.
Despite their differences, the two styles were heavily influenced by each other, with Celtic and European influences impacting the Viking heritage and style, and the two eventually merging in medieval Britain.
The Vikings and the Celts shared some common architectural styles. Both cultures were known for their megalithic structures, such as burial mounds and cairns, as well as for their wooden longhouses. Both cultures also decorated their buildings with intricate carvings and intricate patterns.
However, the Vikings had a strong tradition of shipbuilding, while the Celts were known for their distinctive roundhouses.
A fight between a viking and a celtic warrior would have looked like this:
The Celt began by drawing a huge claymore sword, while the Viking drew out his ulfberht sword. The Viking then charged towards the Celt and attempted to swing his sword first. The Celt acted quickly, though, and managed to skirt around the Viking’s attack, knocking the ulfberht out of his hands. The Celt then reached for his own weapon, a broadsword, and clashed it against the Viking’s battle axe.
Both warriors fought fiercely, blocking and dodging each others attacks. In the end, the Celt found an opening and managed to stab his broadsword through the Viking’s stomach, penetrating through his armor.
7. Farming Techniques
The Celts and the Vikings had different farming techniques.
- The Celts were mainly agrarian people and their livelihoods revolved around farming. They tended crops and animals, grew their own plants, and hunted for wild game.
- The Vikings also farmed, but were more diversified in their pursuits. They hunted, fished, and manufactured and sold goods.
- Additionally, the Vikings were more mobile than the Celts, and their lifestyle as seafarers led them to expand their territories more quickly and aggressively.
- In terms of technology, the Celts had chariots and wood horsemen, whereas the Vikings had Berserkers and more advanced sailing capabilities. Both cultures had access to similar types of food, such as grains, vegetables, wild game, and fish.
8. Seaborne Raids
The seaborne raids were a fearsome sight. The Viking warriors were equipped with metal, fur and horns and could be seen sailing in their longships, which were capable of travelling up rivers as well as across the sea. The Vikings would target vulnerable coastal locations, plundering, trading and seizing land. They rarely ventured more than 20 miles inland, preferring to hit the target and disappear quickly.
The Vikings would ravage churches, sanctuaries and books, kill kings and champion warriors, and enslave women. As the raids continued, the Celts and Saxons began to fight back, with notable successes such as the Ulaid obliterating their Viking opponents in 811 and the men of Umail and Locha Leinand defeating the Norse invaders in 812.
The Vikings were eventually driven out of Dublin in 902, but the legacy of the Viking raids still remains in many areas of Britain and Europe today.
9. Skaldic Poetry
Skaldic poetry is often associated with Viking mythology and sagas, and is usually composed in the First and Third Person perspectives. Skalds often composed their works in praise of chieftains or gods, and they were often used as a form of entertainment during feasts, ceremonies and battles.
What is the history of the Viking Age?
The Viking Age is distinct from the period of the Celts, who lived in the Iron Age. Viking culture was highly advanced and sophisticated, and it left an indelible mark on world history. Archaeological discoveries such as the Viking ship burials, and artefacts found from sites in the Northern Isles and the Southern Isles, help to bring the history of the Vikings to life.
During this period, the Vikings became known as fierce warriors with a strong seafaring culture. They originated from what is now modern-day Denmark, Sweden, and Norway, and during the following centuries, they established settlements and colonies in England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Iceland, Greenland, and even parts of North America.
How did the Vikings and Celts interact?
The Vikings and Celts had been living in close proximity to each other in the British Isles for centuries. Despite their close proximity, there were notable differences between the two cultures.
Interestingly, sometimes the different Celtic clans would pay Viking factions to fight against other Celtic factions. The Vikings were paid well for their services and never backed down from a fight.
Overall, while there were some interactions between the two groups, there are no records of a major battle between them.
What evidence is there of the interaction between Vikings and Celts?
Evidence of the interaction between Vikings and Celts can be seen through a number of archaeological sites on the Isle of Man, Orkney and Shetland, Ireland and Wales, which have yielded a variety of artefacts.
There are also written records from monasteries and later sources such as the Orkneyinga Saga, written by an Icelandic scholar, and the Chronicles of Mann written at Rushen Abbey. Irish Annals of Ulster and Annals of Tigernach, which record events from previous centuries and handed down in oral tradition, also provide evidence of Viking-Celtic interaction.
Additionally, various museums, such as the Shetland Museum and Archives, Orkney Museum, and Dublinia (Viking and Medieval Dublin) provide reconstructions, exhibitions, and artefacts illuminating the history of the Vikings and Celts.
How did the Vikings and Celts influence each other’s culture?
The Celts were known to have adopted certain Viking customs and practices, such as their hairstyle and clothing. The Vikings, on the other hand, adopted some of the Celtic’s religious beliefs, such as their polytheism. They also adopted chariots and wood horsemen from the Celts.
Ultimately, the Vikings and Celts had a profound influence on each other’s culture and history, leaving a lasting legacy that is still remembered today.
Are the Irish Celts or Vikings?
The Irish are a combination of both Celts and Vikings. They are descended from the Anglo-Saxons and have adopted similar cultural practices. Furthermore, they have a mix of both Celtic and Viking roots that make up their unique culture. This is largely because of the Vikings’ adoption of Gaelic culture and language, and their eventual marriage to the Gaels. The Celts and the Vikings have just as many similarities as they have differences, and both resided on the British Isles.
Who Came First, Celts or Vikings?
The Celts and the Vikings both had a presence in Europe during the late-ninth century AD. However, the Celts had existed in the region for centuries before the Vikings arrived, with their first known presence recorded in the 7th or 8th centuries B.C.
The Vikings, on the other hand, didn’t appear until 790s AD. Overall, the Celts came first, with their presence in the region being recorded centuries before the Vikings arrived. The Celts and the Vikings had many similarities, however, their ways of life and beliefs were very distinct.