The Celts: Blood, Iron and Sacrifice (Episode One)

The Celts: Blood, Iron and Sacrifice (Episode One)


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This first episode in this BBC series examines the religious, political, economic and social lives of the Celts.


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UPDATE: I forgot to add to my review that 'The Celts The Complete Series' on Amazon Prime is a much better documentary than "The Celts, Blood, Iron and Sacrifice" in my review. I think you will find like I did that it's a much deeper look into the Celts and better organized and presented. It has it's minor faults too, but it's a much better viewing and leaning experience in my opinion. I hope you think so too if you decide to watch it.

THE REVIEW: and Sacrifice" I will try to keep it as short and to the point as I can. The simple truth is that this video is trying to cover way, way too much subject matter in a Three Part Series. There is too much concentration in some areas, and there is too little information in others. I couldn't get over how the narration mentioned the slaughter of the Druids on Anglesey and left out the fact that the Romans burned down the sacred oak groves which were the places of their worship. There was no mention of the human sacrifices that included the constructions of the huge 'wicker man' in which humans were stuffed inside and then set on fire. There was no mention of the fact that the Romans had gone to Anglesey to in the first place to put an end to the Druid's influence over the people to cause the insurgences against the Romans. With the Roman forces out of the way, it was the perfect time for Queen Boudicca to attack and pillage Colchester and burn the Temple down that was housing the frightened Roman citizens barricaded inside against her attack. To me one of the strangest oversights in this video is that there is no mention of why the Romans went on to 'Britannia' in the first place which was to get hold of the vast quantities of mineral deposits such as tin which the Celts in the western part of Britain had been trading to the continent and the meditation people ever since the Bronze Age because they were so short of it! It takes Tin and Copper to make bronze and Rome needed bronze for weapons, statues, jewelry and many other reasons. Rome also wanted control of the fantastic agricultural lands to feed their soldiers and the rest of the Roman world.

I am just touching on a few things, but this video took on far too big a story to tell in such a short time. It would have been better if they
had concentrated on one aspect of the Celts and spent a lot more time giving a better account of it. They spend a lot of time discussing Cesar's conquest of Gaul but didn't bring up the point that this conquest was just the beginning of many more to come the further into the country they went. These campaigns went on after César's death and we fought by his heir and nephew Augustus right up until his
death and beyond. One big issue that I have with the video is that it appears to lead the viewer to think that everybody North of Alps and northern mountain regions separating Rome from the lands North of it were Celts. Archaeologists and Historians have battled this issue out for centuries and now they mostly agree that there were definitely separate 'groups' in these different regions and that the Celts were one of them even though they shared similar customs and aspects of their religions.
It's a big mistake to believe that everyone outside of the Roman Empire were Celts! I have no doubt that I will get criticism over my review, but that is the point I am trying to make. The subject matter is too big for merely a Three Part Series.


The Celts: Blood, Iron and Sacrifice

This historical documentary series carefully examines Celtic archaeological and anthropologist discoveries to retell the story of the Celts – one of the world’s most mysterious ancient people.

Produced by FilmRise Documentaries, the series showcases three different episodes where anthropologist Alice Roberts and archaeologist Neil Oliver guide us through a rich Celtic history.

To gather the archaeological, historical and anthropological data on the Celts, our expert guides travel all across Europe. Here, they carefully document the history behind their religion and origins – both through human remains and Celtic artifacts.

From these ashes a sophisticated society and culture awaken once again, giving us a glimpse of a rich tribal culture. It was culture which influenced vast areas of ancient Europe, one that even went head to head against the once mighty Roman empire.

Episode 1

Episode 1 explains where the Celts originated from and their first meeting with the Romans. In the beginning, war between the two factions led to Roman losses – essentially leaving the Celts with all the plunder and Rome severely weakened.

Episode 2

Episode 2 documents how the influence and armies of the Celts reached from Britain to central Turkey. The Celtic golden age was at it highest until new threats arose by the middle of the first century BC.

Julius Caesar and the Roman Empire is on several military campaigns to ensure an expanding empire. To stop their advance, Gallic warrior Vercingetorix takes on the challenge of halting the Romans. Their war would ensure how Europe was to be shaped for all future generations.

Episode 3

The Roman onslaught continues in episode 3 which takes a look at the end of the Celts. The Roman empire has secured victory in mainland Europe and now set its eyes on an island north of France, Britain.

The island is rich in resources and rife for Roman conquest. To stop the Romans plundering and slaughtering their home, a powerful Celtic leader arise to take the flame where Vercingetorix failed. Her name is Boudicca and history remembers her as a fearless Celtic warrior queen.


The Origins of the Celts

The origins of the Celts and their representation in Roman Britain. The origins of the Celts and their representation in Roman Britain. The origins of the Celts and their representation in Roman Britain. The origins of the Celts and their representation in Roman Britain. The origins of the Celts and their representation in Roman Britain.

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This first episode of THE CELTS had Neil Oliver and Alice Roberts tramping around various areas of Britain and northern Europe in search of the origins of the Celtic race. They visited archaeological sites, fingered various finds and talked to those responsible for discovering them, interviewed historians of varying degrees of reliability, some of whom offered fanciful theories as to the Celtic race, while others inclined towards greater plausibility.

In short, this was a typical BBC documentary of ancient history, relying on the expertise of two youngish presenters (age is important here, to show that archeology is not the preserve of gray-haired boffins) plus interviews with various experts, interspersed with computerized technology. The narrative of the program is straightforward enough, but some of the descriptions offered about the Celtic race could equally well apply to other races - the Saxons, Romans or Norsemen, for example.

In short, what we are offered here is not necessarily a culture- specific history but a transhistorical reconstruction of ancient times, emphasizing a combination of barbarism and civility. Celtic peoples were at once different from yet similar to ourselves through the program we can understand where we came from while feeling quietly complacent that our civilization has developed to such an extent that we do not have to follow their primitive lifestyles.

THE CELTS is a good program of its kind, but left us wishing that the BBC and other television companies could find alternative ways of presenting ancient history.


Contents

Series 1 Edit

  1. "Dawn of a Culture"
  2. "Years of Affluence"
  3. "Secrets of the Gods"
  4. "Heroes in Defeat"

Series 2 Edit

  1. "The Man with the Golden Shoes" covers the archaeological and historical evidence for the Celts and the extent of their civilisation across the European continent, including the two core periods of Celtic Culture (i.e. Hallstatt culture and La Tène culture).
  2. "The Birth of Nations" shows the formation of the modern Celtic nations from the ashes of the Roman conquest and fall.
  3. "A Pagan Trinity" discusses Celtic mythology, legend, and belief, and then the introduction of Christian faith to the Irish and Scots.
  4. "The Open-Ended Curve" presents the distinctive physical art of the Celts, both ancient and modern.
  5. "The Final Conflict" returns to history, presenting the conquest of the modern Celtic nations by neighbouring England and France, with a detailed review of the attempted destruction of the Welsh language, the Irish resistance and revolution, and the immigration of the Irish and others to North America.
  6. "The Legacy" is a discussion on the degree to which modern people may view themselves as Celts, with examples of modern Celtic-inspired practices like military discipline and warfare, the Welsh Eisteddfod, modern Irish music and art, and the efforts of the Bretons and Cape Bretoners to preserve their native languages in the face of societal assimilation by their ruling nations. Some of this episode was filmed in Portmeirion, Wales and makes references to the 1960s series The Prisoner.

The series introduced the music of Irish singer Enya to a wider audience. Enya, formerly a member of the Celtic music group Clannad, was commissioned by David Richardson to compose the score for the series. Each episode of the series begins with the series' theme song, "The Celts". Two episodes include music videos of Enya performing the songs "I Want Tomorrow" and "Aldebaran". The DVD includes an interview and musical performances by Enya.

The soundtrack album for The Celts was first released in 1987 by BBC Records under the title Enya. It reached No.69 in the UK albums chart. [2] It was later reissued in North America by Atlantic Records. In 1992, Reprise Records, the licensees of Enya's later popular recordings such as "Orinoco Flow", obtained the rights to the Enya album and it was remastered and reissued under the title The Celts. This time the album reached No.10 in the UK. [2] Also, Enya appeared in a new music video to promote the title song, and a CD-single of the theme song was released.


The Celts. Iron, Blood and Sacrifice. Episode 1

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The Celts. Iron, Blood and Sacrifice is an outstanding 2015 BBC series on the Celts that goes into the usual finds at Hallstatt and Hochdorf but extends our understandings of the Celtic peoples with explanations of more recent discoveries. But what will really appeal to high school students is the back story of Celtic chieftain, Brennus' invasion of Italy, defeat of the Romans and sack of Rome. This video is a balance of academic content and a great narrative. This worksheet focuses student understandings on the archaeological finds that gives evidence of Celtic society. It is designed for students of the NSW Ancient History Syllabus for the Australian Curriculum.

Preliminary course
Investigating Ancient History – Case Studies
List A: Case studies from Egypt, Greece, Rome, Celtic Europe
A8. The Celts

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The Celts: Blood, Iron, and Sacrifice

The Celts: Blood, Iron, and Sacrifice with Alice Roberts and Neil Oliver Anthropologist Prof. Alice Roberts and archaeologist Neil Oliver go in search of the Celts - one of the world's most mysterious ancient people. In Britain and Ireland, we are never far from our Celtic past but in this series Neil and Alice travel much further afield, discovering the origins and beliefs of these Iron Age people in artefacts and human remains right across Europe, from Turkey to Portugal. What emerges is not a wild people on the western fringes of Europe, but a highly sophisticated tribal culture that influenced vast areas of the ancient world - and even Rome. Rich with vivid drama reconstruction, we recreate this pivotal time and meet some of our most famous ancient leaders - from Queen Boudicca to Julius Caesar - and relive the battles they fought for the heart and soul of Europe. Alice and Neil discover that these key battles between the Celts and the Romans over the best part of 500 years constituted a fight for two very different forms of civilisation - a fight that came to define the world we live in today.

[edit] Part 1

In the first episode, we see the origins of the Celts in the Alps of central Europe and relive the moment of first contact with the Romans in a pitched battle just north of Rome - a battle that the Celts won and that left the imperial city devastated.

[edit] Part 2

In episode two, we discover the golden age of the La Tene Celtic warrior and reveal how their world extended as far as central Turkey. But by the middle of the first century BC, the Celts were under threat from an expanding Roman Empire, and the Gallic warrior Vercingetorix would challenge Julius Caesar in an epic battle that would shape the future of Europe.

[edit] Part 3

The Roman army turns its attention to an island of rich resources, powerful tribes and druids, and advanced military equipment - Britain. This episode tells the story of the Celts' last stand against the Roman army - a revolt led by another great leader, the warrior queen Boudicca.


The Celts: Blood, Iron, and Sacrifice, BBC Two

Not a ray of sunshine illuminated the landscapes that were explored in this stormy programme, the first of a three-part history of the Celts. It aimed not only to show the latest investigations into the Bronze and Iron Age tribes who inhabited Europe from Turkey to Britain but to suggest their culture was richer than the simple cliché of barbarians at the gate.

That last claim though was slightly vitiated by roaring reconstructions of the Battle of Allia near Rome, about 387 BC. The Romans were defeated by the charges of numerically much inferior forces in that encounter, their then amateur army unprepared for the ferocity, skill and strategy of the Celts under their leader Brennus. The sack of Rome was to follow. Cue much snarling from bearded Celts with filthy faces in one of those atmospheric but unbelievable enactments television producers think the viewer needs.

What did come across vividly was the sheer sense of history as a detective story

A novelty was the two-hander narration, with anthropologist Alice Roberts alternating with archaeologist Neil Oliver to present this story of powerful tribal peoples battling for survival against the more sophisticated Romans. The Romans had literature, arts, laws, organised societies and monuments, and left behind an ineradicable legacy and permanent influence of the Celts we know very little, and what little we know is constantly being challenged.

We started with a loving examination of the famous sculpture The Dying Gaul, a Roman copy of an Hellenistic rendering of a young naked man, with a torc, a characteristic Celtic adornment, round his neck, as he gracefully falls on his shield, a bleeding wound in his side the cause of his demise. Here was the “noble savage”, a fine piece of ancient propaganda. The sight of this appealing work of art, however historically inaccurate as a depiction of a Celtic warrior, as well as several visits which took us through some of Rome’s glorious architecture were in striking aesthetic contrast to the narrators’ exploration of the heart of prosperous Celtic culture centred on Hallstatt.

Much of the archaeological evidence came from the Austrian site of Hallstatt, southeast of Salzburg, which in the Iron Age became almost unimaginably rich from the vast salt mines (probably the first in the world) in the area, as well as trade in tin and copper. The salt mines were terrifying – passages and tunnels some 200 metres long and 20 metres high – and evidence extended even to human excrement encrusted on some of the walls which enabled scientists to identify the stomach parasites from which these Iron Age tribes suffered.

Salt was certainly white gold, as we were told, but it was wealth earned with excruciatingly hard labour. Thousands of graves in Hallstatt have been carefully investigated – there are some 1,000 within the vicinity of the settlement, and 5,000 scattered in the surrounding hills – and the skeletons have shoulder bones distorted, clues to the heavy loads both men and women carried from the mines. By their deaths we shall know them: from these graves in Hallstatt some 20,000 artefacts have emerged, adornments and equipment for the afterlife – iron daggers and axes, gold bracelets, intricate brooches and bronze vessels. As the narrators reminded us, the history of the Celts lies under our feet.

Trading routes could lead overland to the Black Sea and the Rhine. Another site is Heuneberg, a fortified hill fort in southern Germany some 250 miles west of Hallstatt: possibly the first city established north of the Alps, it had a population of as many as 5,000 as early as the sixth century BC, and now displays reconstructed Celtic houses of mud brick. It was a hub for sophisticated trading operations: silver from Iberia, wine and pottery from Italy and Greece, amber from the Baltics. Here were the oligarchs of the Iron Age: in one sixth century BC burial mound a bronze couch was discovered on which a prince’s corpse would have rested, alongside a huge cauldron holding 500 litres of mead. (Alice Roberts with a couch leg from the Hochdorf chieftain's grave site, pictured above right.)

The gorgeous artefacts of the Snettisham Hoard found in Norfolk and the fascinating objects on display in the current massive exhibition at the British Museum were not much in evidence here. Instead landscapes were punctuated by lowering skies and endless storms underlined by rather ludicrously portentous music from composer Andy Hopkins which provided overwhelming atmosphere for this foray into Celtic history.

What did come across vividly was the sheer sense of history as a detective story, with academics endlessly searching for clues from the physical remnants that have survived across Europe. New theories emerged, with one scholar, John Cooke, suggesting the Iberian Celts linked tribes along the Atlantic coast. Yet the impression we were left with here was that the Celts – in spite of the survivals of Celtic languages in Brittany, Ireland, Scotland, Wales and Cornwall – remain as mysterious as ever. Two more episodes should enlighten us further.


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The Celts' tribal homelands once ranged from Spain, England and France to Slovenia and Anatolia. Today, new archaeological findings sketch a much more precise portrait of the Celts. For almost a thousand years they broadly determined the history of Europe and kept Rome ever watchful.

In the 1st millennium B.C., Europe was firmly in the hands of the Celts. And when they began to cross the Alps in the 4th century B.C., this was perceived as an affront to the upstart superpower of Rome.

In the 1st century B.C., Caesar marched into Gaul to subjugate all the Celtic tribes. However, the Celt Vercingetorix united the Celts against the Romans in a conflict that lasted seven years. The captivity of the Celtic prince Vercingetorix sealed the fate of the free Celts on the Continent. It was a setback, but not the end of the Celts' "age of blood and iron."

Now available either as a three-part series presented by Alice Roberts and Neil Oliver or as a presenterless version.

Episodes:
1. At the Gates of Rome
2. Fight for Gaul
3. The Revolt of Boudica


The Celts: Blood, Iron, and Sacrifice, BBC Two

Not a ray of sunshine illuminated the landscapes that were explored in this stormy programme, the first of a three-part history of the Celts. It aimed not only to show the latest investigations into the Bronze and Iron Age tribes who inhabited Europe from Turkey to Britain but to suggest their culture was richer than the simple cliché of barbarians at the gate.

That last claim though was slightly vitiated by roaring reconstructions of the Battle of Allia near Rome, about 387 BC. The Romans were defeated by the charges of numerically much inferior forces in that encounter, their then amateur army unprepared for the ferocity, skill and strategy of the Celts under their leader Brennus. The sack of Rome was to follow. Cue much snarling from bearded Celts with filthy faces in one of those atmospheric but unbelievable enactments television producers think the viewer needs.

What did come across vividly was the sheer sense of history as a detective story

A novelty was the two-hander narration, with anthropologist Alice Roberts alternating with archaeologist Neil Oliver to present this story of powerful tribal peoples battling for survival against the more sophisticated Romans. The Romans had literature, arts, laws, organised societies and monuments, and left behind an ineradicable legacy and permanent influence of the Celts we know very little, and what little we know is constantly being challenged.

We started with a loving examination of the famous sculpture The Dying Gaul, a Roman copy of an Hellenistic rendering of a young naked man, with a torc, a characteristic Celtic adornment, round his neck, as he gracefully falls on his shield, a bleeding wound in his side the cause of his demise. Here was the “noble savage”, a fine piece of ancient propaganda. The sight of this appealing work of art, however historically inaccurate as a depiction of a Celtic warrior, as well as several visits which took us through some of Rome’s glorious architecture were in striking aesthetic contrast to the narrators’ exploration of the heart of prosperous Celtic culture centred on Hallstatt.

Much of the archaeological evidence came from the Austrian site of Hallstatt, southeast of Salzburg, which in the Iron Age became almost unimaginably rich from the vast salt mines (probably the first in the world) in the area, as well as trade in tin and copper. The salt mines were terrifying – passages and tunnels some 200 metres long and 20 metres high – and evidence extended even to human excrement encrusted on some of the walls which enabled scientists to identify the stomach parasites from which these Iron Age tribes suffered.

Salt was certainly white gold, as we were told, but it was wealth earned with excruciatingly hard labour. Thousands of graves in Hallstatt have been carefully investigated – there are some 1,000 within the vicinity of the settlement, and 5,000 scattered in the surrounding hills – and the skeletons have shoulder bones distorted, clues to the heavy loads both men and women carried from the mines. By their deaths we shall know them: from these graves in Hallstatt some 20,000 artefacts have emerged, adornments and equipment for the afterlife – iron daggers and axes, gold bracelets, intricate brooches and bronze vessels. As the narrators reminded us, the history of the Celts lies under our feet.

Trading routes could lead overland to the Black Sea and the Rhine. Another site is Heuneberg, a fortified hill fort in southern Germany some 250 miles west of Hallstatt: possibly the first city established north of the Alps, it had a population of as many as 5,000 as early as the sixth century BC, and now displays reconstructed Celtic houses of mud brick. It was a hub for sophisticated trading operations: silver from Iberia, wine and pottery from Italy and Greece, amber from the Baltics. Here were the oligarchs of the Iron Age: in one sixth century BC burial mound a bronze couch was discovered on which a prince’s corpse would have rested, alongside a huge cauldron holding 500 litres of mead. (Alice Roberts with a couch leg from the Hochdorf chieftain's grave site, pictured above right.)

The gorgeous artefacts of the Snettisham Hoard found in Norfolk and the fascinating objects on display in the current massive exhibition at the British Museum were not much in evidence here. Instead landscapes were punctuated by lowering skies and endless storms underlined by rather ludicrously portentous music from composer Andy Hopkins which provided overwhelming atmosphere for this foray into Celtic history.

What did come across vividly was the sheer sense of history as a detective story, with academics endlessly searching for clues from the physical remnants that have survived across Europe. New theories emerged, with one scholar, John Cooke, suggesting the Iberian Celts linked tribes along the Atlantic coast. Yet the impression we were left with here was that the Celts – in spite of the survivals of Celtic languages in Brittany, Ireland, Scotland, Wales and Cornwall – remain as mysterious as ever. Two more episodes should enlighten us further.


Watch the video: The Celts - BBC Series, Episode 5 - Legend and Reality - Full Episode