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Tag: History

The mysterious Roman fort of Cae Gaer



Cae-Gir, also known as Cae Gaer, is a 1st century Roman earthwork and timber fort in the Cambrian Mountains, where quartz mining may have taken place.
The earthwork ramparts of an enclosure covering roughly 2.25 acres stand in a forestry plantation in a secluded area of the Wye Valley. The earthworks were probably erected during Emperor Nero’s abortive campaign against the native Welsh tribes in 57 AD.

The normal Roman garrison for a site such as Cae Gaer would have been an auxiliary infantry cohort of a nominal 500 men, a cohors peditata, but this type of unit would have been too large to fit comfortably within the Cae Gaer encampment. It is very likely that the garrison unit was either under-strength, or perhaps split between two small camps; on this basis the site may be better classified as a ‘small fort’, which implies both an under-strength garrison and also the presence of administrative buildings.


Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “Roman fort, wolves and bears lost to time” was written by John Gilbey, for The Guardian on Friday 4th March 2016 05.30 UTC

High in the Cambrian mountains of mid Wales, perched on a slope above the chaotically youthful river Afon Tarenig, the bleak aspect of the Roman fort at Cae Gaer speaks of military expediency and urgent purpose.

In the sunshine of early spring it looks almost serene. But to a newly arrived legionary, in the depths of winter, immersed in an alien landscape still home to wolves and bears, it must have felt like the edge of the world.

Surrounded by steep hills, the location of the fort is an elaborate compromise. Close to fresh water and commanding the junction of two valleys, the site would have forced an enemy to take a long and uncomfortable diversion around it. Every detail of the foe’s military life, however, would be visible to a watcher concealed on the slope above.

A roughly square enclosure, the fort was built from turf ramparts topped by a wooden palisade. Nearly 20 centuries later the banks, densely covered now in heather and coarse tussock grasses, are still surprisingly intact, and the ditches outside them continue to be a significant obstacle to the aspiring visitor. Which, as my companion pointed out, was the whole idea.

Enclosing about a hectare of poor, waterlogged land, the fort is a small, basic structure, perhaps associated with the campaign of Quintus Veranius Nepos in the winter of AD 57. This newly appointed governor of Britain set out to subdue the intransigent Silures tribe, early masters of guerilla tactics, but didn’t survive to complete his task.

I stood close to where the northern gate had been, wondering what it would have been like to stand guard here long ago, perhaps relieved by the news that a mission had been stalled by the death of the governor and that soon we would be pulling back to the new garrison at Viroconium.

Bordered now by bland commercial forestry, the fort endures as a pale pattern in the landscape briefly visible from the fast, twisting trunk road to the coast. Passed by, in every sense, it lingers as a footnote on a footnote of history.

  • This article was amended on 7 March 2016 to correct the link to Cae Gaer

guardian.co.uk © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010

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Lough Neagh - sunken city?

Under Lough Neagh: Sunken Cities of Celtic Legend (Ireland)

Drowned Settlements of Ireland: Lough Neagh

Lough Neagh - sunken city?

Lough Neagh – sunken city?

Lough Neagh (Loch nEachach: the lake of Eochaidh or Eachaidh) is the largest freshwater lake in Ireland, and the United Kingdom.

Folklore has it that Lough Neagh, a 29 km long and 18 km wide lake in county Armagh, Northern Ireland, occupies the site of a drowned city and that buildings may sometimes be seen through the water.

According to an old Irish legend, Lough Neagh was formed when Ireland’s legendary giant Fionn mac Cumhaill (Finn McCool) scooped up a section of the land to throw at a fleeing Scottish rival that was fleeing Ulster by way of the Giants Causeway. He missed, and the chunk of earth landed in the Irish Sea, thus creating the Isle of Man and Lough Neagh.

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Sunken City of Ys

Sunken Cities of Celtic Legend – Ys (Brittany)

Ys

Sunken City of Ys

Drowned city of Brittany: Ker-Ys, the city of Ys

The legend of the wicked and drowned city of “Ys” is perhaps the most famous tale of Brittany’s folklore and popular culture.

There are many regional variations of the story across Brittany, however, the main storyline tells that in the early days of Christianity the city of Ys, orKer-Ys, was the richest trading port in the Atlantic.

Ships and merchants from south and north came to the Bay of Douarnenez in south-west Brittany to buy and sell luxury goods. The city was rich and lively, but it was also too much given to lust and sin as to arouse the ire of Breton Saint Gwenole, who foretold the city’s ruin.

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The Mystical Druid’s Egg: The Glain Neidr


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Druid's Egg

Druid’s Egg

Snakes, and especially the Adder, were very significant to the Druids. They represented the renovation of mankind – a symbolism that probably related to the apparent re-birth of snakes every time they shed their skins.

They were also kept by them and made important divinations and decisions based on their movements. One particular association is the Glain Neidr, which translates variously as ‘glass of the serpents’, snake-stone, adder’s stone or Druid’s egg – it was also known as Maen Magl. This was an amulet sacred to Druids in Wales, worn by them on a chain around the neck, that was supposed to possess many virtues.

It had many healing powers, and especially for ailments of the eye; it could ensure that the owner was victorious over his enemies; it allowed seeing of future events; it could be a powerful poison; in some circumstances it also gave diverse powers such as finding hidden treasure or making the wearer invisible.

Finding a Druid’s Egg

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Earth Goddess

Reigniting the Divine Feminine through Celtic Stories and Traditions


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The Ancient Practice of Marrying the Land

Earth Goddess - Divine Feminine

Earth Goddess

The native pre-Christian mythology of the Celtic nations which stretch along the Western Atlantic seaboard of Europe is highly women – centred. In our oldest stories, the creative, generative essence of the universe was female, not male; the Divine Feminine represented the spiritual and moral axis of the world, and the power of men was predominantly social.

But the Celtic divine female was a long way from the remote, transcendent sky-deities we’ve grown used to in recent centuries here in the West: she had one foot in the Otherworld for sure, but she was firmly grounded and deeply rooted in place, indivisible from her distinctive, haunting landscapes.

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Cherchen Man

The Mysteries of the Chinese Celtic Xinjiang Mummies


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Cherchen Man - from the article about the Xinjiang Mummies

Cherchen Man

Solid as a warrior of the Caledonii tribe, the man’s hair is reddish brown flecked with grey, framing high cheekbones, a long nose, full lips and a ginger beard. When he lived three thousand years ago, he stood six feet tall, and was buried wearing a red twill tunic and tartan leggings. He looks like a Bronze Age European. In fact, he’s every inch a Celt. Even his DNA says so.

But this is no early Celt from central Scotland. This is the mummified corpse of Cherchen Man, unearthed from the scorched sands of the Taklamakan Desert in the far-flung region of Xinjiang in western China, and now housed in a new museum in the provincial capital of Urumqi. In the language spoken by the local Uighur people in Xinjiang, “Taklamakan” means: “You come in and never come out.”

Within a nondescript Bronze Age cemetery first discovered by Swedish archaeologists in 1934 and rediscovered by the Xinjiang Archaeological Institute in 2000, researchers have found the oldest and best-preserved mummies in the Tarim Basin area of China. Their skeletal remains, along with unprecedented artifacts, are helping solve the longstanding question of the origins of human settlement in a politically contested area of China.

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Scotts View: Three Peaks - Eildon Hills from teh article about Michael Scott, the Scottish Wizard

Michael Scott – The Scottish Wizard


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The Borders of Scotland is an area steeped in folklore and fantastic stories of fairies and magical goings-on. One such tale is firmly based around a real historical personage – a remarkable man, whether or not you believe the more incredible stories about him. He is Michael Scott – the infamous Borders Wizard.

Through his studies of arcane books Michael is supposed to have tamed demonic forces to his will. His most famous act of wizardry was the reputed splitting of the Eildon Hills into the three peaks that we see today towering above the town of Melrose.

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Irish Bog Body – 4,000 Year-old Cold Case


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We’ve just re-watched a fascinating Documentary called “4,000 Year-old Cold Case: the Body in the Bog”. The program was originally shown in December 2013 (http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b03js0gf) and documents the discovery of Cashel Man. The new Bog Body, originally thought to date to approx. 300 B.C.E. was later discovered to be about 4,000 years old – which makes it the oldest preserved body of its kind in the world!

In typical ‘Bones’ fashion, they brought in a forensic anthropologist as well as a coroner and tried to determine whether the body had died from natural causes or a violent death, which he had. Ned Kelly of the National Museum of Ireland was brought in to help. Ned is a veteran archaeologist, and has previously investigated some of Ireland’s most famous bog bodies. The interesting thing that the program brought out is that there is a significant difference between the way that the Irish Bog Bodies were killed and those found in Scandinavia and the rest of Europe (with the exception of some parts of England).

Bog Body slain with overkill

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