Celtic Gallaecia

Celtic Gallaecia

Gallaecia (comprising modern Galicia and Northern Portugal) has had human settlers since prehistoric times, dating back to the 30th century BC. The Greeks (so told by Strabo) knew the settlers resided on the north of the river Douro by the name of "Kallaikoi", maybe because of the name of the Celtic Goddess Cailleach. Later the name "Kallaikoi" was translated into Latin as "Gallaeci", "Callaeci" or "Gallaicoi". Prior to the Roman conquest of Gallaecia, the main name the tribe received was "Gallaicoi", a local name ("gentilice") based on the word root "gall-", which means Celt or Gaul. This term was applied to all the Celtic-speaking tribes, beginning with the classical Transalpine Gauls. The Polish Galitzia or the reference from Herodotus to the region called "Gallaica", next to the Black Sea, indicates that the same term, rendered variously, was used for all the Eastern populations of Celts.

Mythical narrative from Lebor Gabála Érenn

The Gaedels arrive in Iberia

Following the Leabhar Gabhala, from Egypt and after a brief scale again in Scythia, the Gaedels reached Iberia (called Hispania by the Romans) which they took by “force of the arms”. This journey, carried out mainly by the hero Breogan, Bregon or Bregan, according to versions (also called, otherwise, Golam) culminated with the well-known episode in which Ith, son of Breogan, descried Ireland from the high Tower of Brigantia and marched towards its conquest.

From a historical point of view, it is very little what we can deduce of the clues we can gather on these facts, aside from what is stated in the Leabhar Gabhala. The archaeological testimonies indicate that towards VII to V centuries B.C., cultural influences pertaining to the Hallstatt (old Celtic) began to arrive in Galicia and North of Portugal. Together with other elements identified as coming from Eastern Mediterranean as well as those surviving from the previous culture (known as the Atlantic bronze, surely carried out by Brythonic Celts, Brigantini, Albions was some of their tribal names) dominant in Gallaecia, they all ended up in the creation of a new culture of fusion of these portions, that is known as Castro culture, name that alludes to the main type of towns that were built -the hillforts-, that the Romans denominated castros (dùn, dùin -or don-; in Gallaic language).

The knowledge that we have today about the society of the hillforts is very limited; if we followed what the Roman historians said, the Galicians were a reunion of barbarians who spent the day fighting and the night eating, drinking and dancing to the moon. But today it seems absolutely clear that from the year 500 B.C. to the change of the era, they developed in an aristocratic and even perhaps a feudal social model. The division of the country -in concelhos, concept similar to the counties of the islands or Romania-, seems to be based on this class of social organization. Also, the structure based on hillforts, seems to be associated to a fortified occupation of the territory, resemblance to the one of the Central European classic Celtic habitat. This kind of occupation of the Country was likely associated to the fatal attraction that its mineral wealth provoked that was in a similar way, as a certain class of gold fever. Anyway, it is also clear that the interest of the Romans for this earth was mainly related to its gold mines. When the Muslims came, they also rejected to have no special hunger for this wet corner, very difficult in attracting southern folks.

The Latin sources inform us about the name of the tribes who inhabited Gallaecia when the Romans came. As was said, there was a previous domination of the Brythonic tribes, who were defeated (or had been defeated earlier) by the Gaedels. What it is very difficult here is to exactly determine the dates of the whole process. It seems quite sure for example, that the Egyptian facts (as they are described in the Milesian legends) can introduce an inferior limit of the date of the process in the beginning of the second century B.C. But this can be confusing, because the continuous space of Gaedels could have been uninterrupted for centuries, as other experiences of colonization can suggest us. Think about America, for example; people continue arriving from Europe, 500 years after the conquest and initial colonization. These classes of processes are not instantaneous and cannot be valued this way. What is also sure, on the other hand, is that the absence of materials of La Tène (modern central Celtic culture) eliminates the possibility that recent immigration had come from the islands (that had been put under the influence of the la Tène culture by then) or of Central and Western Europe. On the other hand, there are no signs of this class of culture (culture of the hill forts or Castro as it is called) in the Iberian Peninsula, outside the corner of the Northwest, and this fact eliminates the possibility of a Celtiberian origin. The kind of Celts who took Galicia was, in this way, a handful of peripheral people that came here by sea, from outside the centers of what by then constituted the European Celtic culture.

And, as we can know from archaeological research, the typical Gaedel decorations came to Galicia towards the change of era. These decorations can be related to the tradition of Hallstatt and have also a deep influence of Scythian, Greek and Egyptian adornments. This is extremely interesting as we cannot speak of true Gaedels without these decorations, because their other sign of singularity (their language) cannot be object of analysis by the archaeological finds. Then, the (provisional) conclusion of all this sketch on how and when the Gaedels came is this: there would be a gradual immigration of Celtic people who came from the borders of the Black Sea, and the definitive process received its strongest momentum towards the change of era. Although there are no direct proofs of it, carrying out this type of colonization was not possible without the participation of the Phoenicians, who had the effective monopoly of navigation and lucrative commerce that was related to copper, tin, and bronze (coming from Galicia and the British Islands and destined to the markets of the Mediterranean) until Roman times. The Phoenician findings in Galicia corroborate this assertion, with some installations that, no matter how incredible it could seem, continue being functional after 2500 years after their construction (for example the port of Bares -hills, in Celtic language- in the most Northern point of all Iberian Peninsula). This way, the Gaedels probably came with the Phoenicians in order to assure the bases that they had built in the Galician coast, as the Phoenicians did not have terrestrial troops able to control the territory. The abundance in Galicia of old toponymy that alludes to ports (Ortegal -from portegal, pronounced in old Gallaic mouths-, Ortigueira -similar to the former-, Portugal, etc.) corroborates this assertion. Nevertheless, the (interested?) silence that the Leabhar Gabhala gives to this specific subject seems very strange.

Three battles in Iberia

Continuing with the Leabhar Gabhala narration, we read that once in Iberia, they waged three wars or battles: one against the Tuscans, another against the Langobardi and finally, one third against the Barchu (or Barchunes or Bachra, according to versions). Also, the hero King Breogán constructed a city called Brigantia, where he raised the great tower or castle from where Ith, his son, descried Ireland. The Leabhar Gabhala also requests our attention on the extraordinary demographic productivity of the Gaels; as it is said, the originated amount of children and grandsons was enormous, when they stayed in the Iberian Peninsula.

As the new occupants arrived in Galicia, gaining of space to the original inhabitants became a necessity, and surely this would have not been obtained in a pacific way. The main strategic weapon of conquest and colonization contributed by the Gaedels (aside of their value in combat and the mentioned demographic machine) was the dun (hill-fort, originally pronounced doon, as in Brigadoon): a fortification always constructed around strategic places that allowed them to dominate the surrounding space as with a medieval feudal castle (in fact what could have happened is that the castle was not more but a delayed evolution of dun, in this sense) that in modern Galician is designated with the Latinized expression castro. It seems to be that the Brythonic Celts did not construct duns (at least not in Ireland or Galicia) and this disadvantage played an important role in the defeats that they had to suffer from the Gaedels in Galicia and later in Ireland and Scotland, until they also learned to build them, thus stabilizing partially their situation in Wales and Cornwall, and controlling what had become a true whip for the old inhabitants of the British islands. We must also notice the importance the castles had for Castile, up to the point that they ended up giving name to the whole kingdom, when the old Gaedel strategy was applied against the Arabs, with remarkable success. There are, therefore, many castles painted in the shields of the noble houses of Gaedel origin (for example, in Gaztelu) that refer to this circumstance.

It seems that the first establishments of the Gaedels in Iberia were located in the area that today corresponds to the North of Portugal, between the rivers Minho and Douro (or, even, till the Mondego), according to the archaeological sources that inform us about the progress of the Hill-forts' or Castro culture (of the castros, or duns, or hill-forts). From there they would be extended by the basins of the rivers Minho and Douro to practically occupy the whole Gallaecia. The domination would have to be practically finished except in the points more separated in the peninsular north, when Iberia was involved in the Punic wars between Carthaginians and Romans. Hannibal recruited many Gallegans for the fight who, this way, gave satisfaction to the strategic alliance that they maintained with the Phoenicians (the Carthaginians were of this origin). The abilities of the Galicians were yet perfectly developed, by that time.

As it is well-known, after passing incredible difficulties, the Romans finally managed to defeat Hannibal and undertook the conquest of Iberia. The tribe of the Gallaicoi faced them in 137 B.C. in the battle of river Douro that resulted in a great Roman victory against 60,000 Galicians, by who the Roman general, proconsul Decimus Iunius Brutus, turned to Rome as a hero, receiving the name of Gallaicus, according to what relates the historian Paulus Orosius. The evidences suggest that the resistance of the Gaedels against the Romans ended here; from now on, they would be enlisted massively like auxiliary troops of the Roman legions, fulfilling destinies sometimes completely separated off Galicia, including Thrace and Dacia, for example, where they would be again with its origins in a peculiar phenomenon of return. It has been estimated that of the total of Roman auxiliary troops coming from Iberia, more than 30% would belong to tribes and folks of the peninsular North-West (Galicia and North of Portugal). As a result of it, there are tens of localities in Galicia whose name is known as something-mil, today (mil=military man): Belmil, Vilamil, Vilaframil, Gondomil, etc, etc. Surely that each small city had, this way, its own regiment or small army, to contribute to the glory of the empire. As it's described in the Lebor Gabála Érenn,the Milesian legends describe the fact that the final inhabitants of Ireland were the Milesian or Sons of Míl Espáine (Miles Hispaniae, Soldier of Hispania).

The two wars that we just have mentioned are in our opinion, the ones the Leabhar Gabhala defines as confrontations the Gaedels led in Iberia against the Tuscans and Langobardi. Following this interpretation, the text of the legends would have used these denominations as euphemisms to designate the Romans (langobardi or longobardi were indeed, among other meanings related to the original Germanic tribe, the denomination the Italians received in popular romance languages till the end of the first millennium), thus eluding negative references for them. It is necessary to think that towards the moment in which the texts were transcribed by the Irish monks, the absorption of the Celtic church by the catholic hierarchy was quite recent, and the circumstances were not therefore, too propitious to present the Romans as Irish enemies.

Despite it all, there is a -possibly- much more surprising explanation for the second of such confrontations (the one of the Langobardi), that may not be disregarded a priori, that is based on the possibility that, indeed, the Langobardi really came to Gallaecia, and fought against the Gallaics. The Langobardi or Lombards were a subdivision of the great Swabian or Suevi tribe that, as it is well known, conquered the North of Italy and became extremely well-known by their extreme violent methods. Nevertheless, it is possible that some (or even enough) contingent of Lombards arrived up to Galicia accompanying the Swabian invasion. This could explain, for example, the large amount of Gallaic-Asturian last names that allude to the root Lomb-: Lomba, Lombán, Lombardía, Lombardero, etc. If future explanations confirmed this possibility, it would be necessary to move the line of historical separation of the Milesian legends until 5th century, a lot later than it would have been possible to be conceited at first sight.

The Leabhar Gabhala defines finally a last war (in some versions of the texts, the last is the Langobardi one, nevertheless) or battle that took place in Iberia: the war against the Barchu or Barchunes.

The ultimate battle in Iberia: the war against the Barchu, or Cantabrian Wars. What is now called Galicia was not totally occupied by the Romans until the Cantabrian Wars, in the last decades of the old era. As we see it, these wars marked the future destiny of the Gaedels, and the end of the process of their definitive territorial and political consolidation.

The Cantabrian wars defined in last instance, the final situation of the Gaedels in continental Europe. These confrontations that were led by the emperor Octavius from the year 26 to the 19 B.C., finished the occupation of the rebellious rest that still remained in the Iberian Peninsula and were narrated as extremely wild and cruel by the Roman sources. Conventional interpretations assume that this war was led against the Cantabrian and Asturian assembly of tribes. This affected what corresponds, more or less at present, following the traditional interpretation of Roman texts, with the scope of the provinces of Asturies and Leon (astures), and Cantabria (cantabri).

As the Romans describe the facts, the violence of the war was tremendous, including collective suicides before surrendering, crucified prisoners who sang triumphant hymns before dying, rebellions of enslaved captives who killed their guards and returned home from Gaul, women who killed their children and themselves, etc. What is not said by the Romans in a clear manner is that a lot of this dirty work (and the subsequent benefit) was carried out by the Gaedels. This may be observed, in fact, by the deep intrusion of the Gaedels in the demi-depopulated regions of Northern Iberia, after the war finished. For example, the predominant impression the current historians have on the subject is that there was no apparent Indo-European penetration in Asturias, before the wars. No matter this, Asturias had become later nearly one complete Gallaic colony. As we consider that this one is a critical subject, we will see it with more thoroughness.

The name of Barchu or Barchunes to which the Leabhar Gabhala alludes, evidently, is an orthographic and phonetic variant of Barscunes, which is the denomination the folks that we know as Basque or Euskaro today were called. It seems that the Gaidels were not very fond of pronouncing the consonant group -sc- and made the -s- disappear replacing it by an aspiration (of a similar way as it happens in most of the current Castilian dialects). A very surprising fact is that the name was likely Indo-European and Celtic: according to the linguist Tovar, it is originated by Bahr or Bar (height, mountain; look at Dunbar, for instance) and for the dialects that prefer the fall of the -r- to the one of the -s- (the ones of Eastern Iberia, in general, Basque and Celtiberians) the result is Bascunes or Bascones, meaning literally pertaining to the heights, mountain dwellers or highlanders.

Nevertheless, the reference to the Barchunes of the Leabhar Gabhala seems to be a little bit amazing. On the one hand it is one of the most evident signs of the authenticity of the Galician trip of the Gaedels because it is clear that the editor took the name in the way it was pronounced towards the change of era and not of later references (because the word evolved quickly towards basco or uasco in the Middle Age); it seems quite likely, therefore, that the transcribers of the legend no longer knew, at the moment of the writing, who could be such Barchunes and it motivated that their original name had been preserved in the transcription. But what is not clear, is how the Gaedels could reach the Barchunes, being interposed the ferocious Cantabros and Astures between both folks. It is clear that something does not fit, at least apparently, in the Gaedel narration.

The answer to the apparent enigma responds to the fact that, without a doubt, the text also considers the Astures and Cantabros as members of the ample assembly of folks that entered under the denomination of Barchu. The meaning of Barscunes, mountain dwellers, is also the generic name that the Roman and Greek sources, for example Strabo, gave to the assembly of all the inhabitants of the north of the peninsula, including Galicia, affirming in addition that their way of life was very homogenous among all of them. On the other hand, the denomination of mountain dwellers (Montanheses) continues having much vitality, as alternative to the one of Cantabrians and it is frequently used in mass media as press, radio or television (specially to the football sport commentators when talking about the players of the football club of Santander, to which they often denominate that way: los Montañeses, with the meaning of Cantabrians).

The Barchunes were then in fact the mountain dwellers whom Strabo speaks about, discounting of course, the own narrators of the Leabhar Gabhala (Gaedels), that surely did not consider themselves as so highlanders. The cultural and linguistic penetration of the Gallaics, mainly in Asturias, was impressive. The toponymy (names of the towns, etc.) and linguistic facts seem unquestionable here: the Gallaic toponymy can be found everywhere in Asturias. For example, the name of the capital, Oviedo (before, Ovedo, of an original *Obaid(o), in archaic Gallaic, from ab or ob, meaning bay and/or river) can be related to the place names of Castrove, Landrove, Corrubedo and some small parishes called Ove. The old Galician name of Santiago de Compostela -Libredon- has its corresponding related Asturian in Llibardon. Also, we have Coroña here (as Coruña) and names like Castro (the exclusive Roman translation of the Gallaic dun -nominative-, don -the genitive, the most used case in usual speech-), Canga, only found in Galicia and related lands in addition to Asturies. In the Picos de Europa, for example, the frequency of Gaedelic place names is to the top: Mountain range of Cortegada, Covadonga (of a previous Covadonega -meaning cave of dun type, or fortified-, similar to Viladonga in Galicia), Liébana (this one, in the Cantabrian face, but also Gallaic), etc.

On the other hand, Asturian language is close to Galician-Portuguese in solutions as, for example, the words that are related to the old Celtic gentilices or locatives (composed around the -iego ending: cabraliego, -of Cabrales-, lebaniego, -of Liébana-, naviego, -of Navia-, etc. This Gaedel construction -and Breton- marks a clear difference to the corresponding Celtiberian one based on -(i) asco, as in Kontrebia Belaisca -old Celtiberian city that was related to the tribe of Beli, well-known by its old texts, found in recent excavations- or with many Celtic words found in modern Spanish: carrasco, -of carro-, churrasco, -of churro-, ternasco, -of tierno-, etc., predominant in Aragon and the eastern area of Castile. In modern English the corresponding form is in -ish: Irish, Spanish, etc.). Other Asturian parallels will be analyzed in the section dedicated to the language, where these fundamental questions will be with a little more extended. A very interesting subject, for example, can be related to the personal appeals, because they are inflected conditioned by the sex of the interlocutor: if he is masculine the appeal is by "o" (qué fas, o ?, what are you doing ?, -to a man-) and by "ne" if she is a woman (qué dices, ne ? what are you saying, -to a woman-) and the identification with the Gaelic distribution of the personal articles O/Ni (O'Hara, Ni Mhary) seems very suggestive here.

Despite being sufficient, in our opinion, all these coincidences, the Asturians also share the common Gaedel style of typical decorations of the other countries that share this origin. This way, hexagonal figures with rhombuses, rings, interlaced adornments and corded shapes, Saint Andrew's crosses, etc. can also be found there. It must be emphasized, however, that one of the most typical samples, the triskel, disappears in the late imperial age (even in Galicia), perhaps because of religious reasons, as it would have been considered a dangerous pagan symbol, and even more after the Priscillian's affair (on a tremendously popular bishop that was finally declared heretic and beheaded by the catholic hierarchy). Asturian examples of these decorations can be followed in the architecture (really suggestive, in this sense, are the churches of the denominated preRomanesque style, Santa María del Naranco, San Miguel de Lillo, etc.) in the popular crafts and adornments, and the architectonic decorations.

Finally, the similarities in the popular suits and the customs between both countries are evident. As it is also known, the Asturians have become fond of the music of bagpipes, the rustic and collective meals, and singing and drinking, like their Galician neighbours. The following stage of the Gaedel progress was the colonization of Cantabria and the Basque Country. The tracks in toponymy are not so evident in Cantabria as in Asturies and (surprise !) in the Basque Country. In the scope of the Picos de Europa the gentilices in -iego are still dominant (lebaniego = from Liébana), are some gallaica toponymy (Galizano, of a previous *Galiciano, perhaps) and last names as Gaitán or Gaytán. This one, originally located in Cantabria and the North of Castille (near Burgos), constitutes the most abundant surname of those that come from Gaeth, of all Spain; very usual throughout the country and very extended also. Finally, the denomination of the capital, Santander (Sant-Ander = Saint Andrew, patron saint of Scotland) evokes also an old and strong Gael relation.

In spite of all these evidences, it seems to be clear that the penetration of the Gaedels in the area of Santander was not as deep as in the rest of the Northern coast. Perhaps the resistance of the Cantabrians against the occupation was not as ferocious as the Asturians one (and the Basque's also) and, therefore, the Romans did not allow an important colonisation as the one of Asturies. This is a question that (as many others) future investigations will have to solve. It must be observed, on the other hand, that there are evident samples of gallaic presence near Burgos, in the North of Castile. Aside from the referred last name of Gaitán (also remarkable is Obregon -or *O'Bregon, if you want-), architectonic adornments of that origin can be found in some small and well preserved churches (dating back to the first millennium), as well as the names and toponymy unequivocally related (Castrojeriz, for example. Also Montes de Oca; Oca is a Gallaic last name very extended and popular. The Leabhar Gabhala tells us about Occe -note the cc, evolved in modern times in c and not in g-, that died in the plague after the battle against the Barchu. The related variants are Ocáriz, Oquendo -pronounced Okendo- and, perhaps, O'Kelly in Ireland).

But the most surprising among all the conquests of the Gaedels is the one of the Basque country. By the moment of the related events, the region was mostly called Vardulia. The territory corresponds to what today is called Biscay, Guipúzcoa, Álava, and the partially Rioja (it must be observed, nevertheless, that significant portions of the territory of Basque ethnics, as Navarre and Aquitania, for example, were not included in Vardulia). The tracks of the Gallaic occupation are absolutely evident here. Toponymy and onomastics are full of names related to a Gallaic or Gaedel origin: Gallarta, Portugalete, Gaiztarro, Ga(i)ztelu, Ga(i)ztambide and Orue, Oca (Galician), Ocáriz, Oquendo, Olóriz, Olarriaga, Olavide, Uriz, Oria, Uria or Obregón (this one in Cantabria), Cañedo (from a previous *Ceannaid(o), = Kenneth), Cañas, or even the most Latinized Ovalle, Ocampo (in Galicia), etc., etc., that demonstrate the delayed persistence of the particle “O”, meaning man, Mr. (in fact, and as a direct appeal, this meaning of “O” is alive until today in popular language, in Galician and Asturian, at least) and opposed to “Ni” or “Ne”, meaning woman, lady, Miss (also today alive in popular language, most of all in Asturias). On the other hand, also remarkable are the names that include the Germanic particle riz (= little king), -surely, pronounced as ric in old times- (king, rei in modern Galician and Spanish), that can also be found in many place names, and reflect the social organization based on small kings or chieftains.

Remarkably, we can find here also isolated cases of the Gallaic diminutive in -iño (Treviño, Abadiño -analogous to Abadin in Galicia-), the ending -aga (Olarriaga, for example; from a previous -aiga, as in Gallaic/Gaedel, and the modern Galician ones ?), as well as another sample which could perhaps be another derivative of Gall, and resulting of different phonetic transformations: Galdo, Gadea, Galdacano, Galdeano, Galdiano are perhaps of this origin, and would thus demonstrate to us, the heterogeneous composition and the multiple origins of the throats of ancient Basques and Gaedels.

It must be observed that the penetration was not possible in Navarre, because the Romans had one of their better allies there that gave the name of their capital (Pamplona) to one of the more significant patricians. As the Navarrese used their influences in Rome to advance against the Celtiberians of the Valley of the Ebro, it must be observed as extremely surprising that the Gaedels were authorized to advance up to their own beards and against their close relatives the Vardulians. Perhaps it was simply Roman interest, a compensation of what they had perceived as an excessive penetration against the Celtiberians. Again, more investigation will be able to clarify these intriguing questions in the future.

Finally, it must be stressed that what we know of the results of the archaeological excavations of this period, shows us important improvements in modus vivendi and wealth, mainly in the old Gallaecia Bracarensis (the north of Portugal, center and main core of the population of Gaedels' culture -Sanfins, Briteiros, Monte Mozinho-, although it can also be observed in Southern Galicia: San Cibrao de Las, Santa Trega, etc.). This was likely the reward in payment of the Cantabrian conquest. The decorations of the houses of the hill-forts improved their sophistication and we can find there for the first time unquestionable adornments of gaedelic style: crossed rings, parallel lines that formed graphs with rhombuses, corded and interlaced motifs, Saint Andrew's crosses, linear developments, triskels, hexagonal and kaleidoscope like rings, etc., etc..

The invasion of Ireland

Following the narration of the Leabhar Gabhala, the hero Breogan (or Bregon, or Bregan) also called Golam, who had led many battles against the Hispani, constructed the city of Brigantia (or Braganza) and the Tower that took his name. In the Tower of Breogan, his son Ith described Ireland “... an evening of a day of winter...”. This way, Ith commanded the first expedition to Ireland in which the natives (note that, surprisingly, they also spoke Gaelic, according to the text) killed him treacherously. It all ended in the second and decisive expedition, commanded by Mil, also son of Breogan and brother of Ith, leading to the conquest of the island.

Returning to the historical sources, on the other hand, as result of the battle or waged war of the Gaedels against the Barchu that the Romans and their Gaedel allies tackled against the Barchunes all the Barchu territory was celtized and gaedelized until nearly the river Bidasoa (current French frontier) and, mainly, Asturias was turned into a simple colony. The Roman census of the year 77, mentioned by Plinius, yet included next to the classic conventus (territorial divisions) Bracarensis and Lucensis, the Asturicensis one, as conforming a kind of New Gallaecia. Just by then the Gaedels enjoyed one of their sweeter times ever because, with the victories in hand, their prestige increased to the eyes of the Romans, and it gave them power and wealth. It is by then when they erected the famous statues of the Gaedel soldiers and baptized their hill-forts as if they were the Greek colonies or polis (because in fact, the Greek model of civilization was the one they more envied) that they had left next to the Black Sea. This way we have Vilapol, Buspol and Castropol, with their names so similar to Sevastopol or Simferopol and, also, later, Pola de Allande.

In this conjuncture of triumph, resources and power, is when it seems that the Gaedels undertook the adventure of the conquest of Ireland. Proud of themselves, feeling impelled by the crest of a euphoria wave, it seems that they carried out their new enterprise without excessive problems. Unfortunately, this process is rather unknown to us, there is a lot of stuff to investigate and data to obtain to try an approach towards those facts. The only thing that seems sure, is that on a previous base of La Tène culture type, advanced progressively, from south to north and from west to east, a culture of no La Tène type, constructor of forts (duns, hill-forts in English) similar to the Gallaic castros (denominated dun, don or donga in the old Galician language). Also, by the written references of the Leabhar Gabhala we deduce that the protagonists of the conquest were military (sons of Mil) word that suggests clearly that the responsibility of the facts was on the part of Roman auxiliary troops, Gallaic in this case. As this it is not the central subject of the present Web page, we will not extend ourselves on the subject although, we must remember, it is one other of the crucial facts that happened towards the change of era, that conditions and surprises us a lot when we analyze them nowadays.

On the other hand we insist that in our opinion and in agreement with a coherent interpretation of the archaeological data available, as well as with the narration of the Leabhar Gabhala, there were Gaedel (or Gallaicoi) colonies in Ireland previous to the conquest, likely located there on the part of the Phoenicians, what would explain the absence of archaeological discoveries of La Tène type in this zone, as well as the observation of the milesian text, that the Irish, who received Ith, yet spoke Gaelic too.

Personally we consider as more likely the hypothesis that in fact the Galicians knew perfectly the existence of the Gaedel colony of Ireland (that would act, this way, like a kind of Trojan horse against the inhabitants who dominated the island, that were Brythonic Celts, and belonged to La Tène culture) and mediating pretext or not, they finally decided to completely seize the island, leaning in the military technology, the resources, the experience and, in short, the power that they had acquired in the course of the Cantabrian wars. We repeat that, like all the rest of the matters that are discussed here, it will have to be object of more and more investigations that will allow to explain the true real reach of the facts.

The Gaedels in Iberia after the Irish invasion

What happened next, according to the Leabhar Gabhala, is that the Gaedels continued living in Iberia although the Hispani “...molested them continually...”, being specially bothersome the Gothi (goths) according to some Scottish legends.

The history books relate, on the other hand, what happened next. Gallaecia was integrated in the Roman empire, receiving the favorable treatment that corresponded to the allies. The expansion of the Gallaics from their shelter is testified by the archaeological and linguistic testimonies, according to what we saw in the previous section. Also, as we said, the rejection is perceived whereupon they received the denomination of Gallaicus istead of the one they liked of Gaethel or Gaithan, manoeuvre that as we said, did not obtain more results than very partially in Iberia due to, that Gallaicus was too much implanted by that time; nevertheless the extension and vitality of personal surnames related to the root gaeth- (Gaeta, Gaite, Gaitan, Gaztelu) indicates that this denomination was rather used, at least during the first millennium A.D.

The Roman administration was gathering, on the other hand, under the name of Gallaecia, increasing amounts of territory including all the area of influence that the Gaedels had obtained in the Cantabrian wars. In the provincial division of Dioclecianus, of year 305, the province of Gallaecia will even occupy all the territory from the Cantabrian sea and the Atlantic to river Douro and the Iberian system by the West, partially absorbing Celtiberia too, area of an old Celtic origin, quite different of the Gallaic one.

ee also

*Suebi kingdom of Gallaecia
*Timeline of Portuguese history
**Pre-Roman Western Iberia (Before the 3rd Century BC)
**Roman Lusitania and Gallaecia (3rd Century BC to 4th Century AD)
*Pre-Roman peoples of the Iberian Peninsula


External links

* [http://www.ctv.es/USERS/ocalitro/ Alfonso Carbonell Lombardero, "The Gaels in Gallaecia"]
* [http://www.arqueotavira.com/Mapas/Iberia/Populi.htm Detailed map of the Pre-Roman Peoples of Iberia (around 200 BC)]
* [http://www.eixoatlantico.com/documentos/rutas.pdf Rutas Arqueolóxicas do Eixo Atlántico - Roteiro Arqueológico do Eixo Atlântico]

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