Historical section: The Celtic Tribe

This area of the page is devoted to the study of the various Celtic races and how they warred or allied with each other. It also included where possible, details of their general appearance and origins of their ancestors.

The sources of the quoted passages (quoted text is green script) are listed in the Bibliography.


Topic 1 An Ri and the Deribhfhine
Topic 2 The Aos Dana
Topic 3 The Nobles

Topic 1
An Ri and the Deribhfhine. Back to the Index.
The King and court.The Celtic tribe was known as the Tuath. There were roughly 150 such Tuatha in Ireland. Each Tuath was governed over by it's Ri (their King or Chieftain). The King was selected from the Deribhfhine (extended royal family). The Deribhfhine included his cousins, aunts & uncles, grandparents, and his parents and brothers and sisters. Within the Tuath, the Deribhfhine were of great importance. There were strict rules of conduct governing the daily activities of the chief: "Sunday is for drinking ale, for he is not a lawful chief who does not give ale every Sunday. Monday is for judgement, for the good of the people. Tuesday is for chess. Wednesday is for seeing greyhounds coursing. Thursday is for marriage duties. Friday is spent at horse racing. Saturday is for giving judgements." -extract from the ancient Law tracts, duties of a King during peace time.
The Kings duties were to lead his people at all times. During times of war or during the numerous cattle raids on neighbouring Tuatha, the King would lead his warriors into battle and gain glory and fame if the battle went well. In peace time, the King was in charge of the tribal assembly. Here he settled disputes and handed down suitable punishment to criminals.
Because of his great importance within the Tuath and his peoples complete dependence upon him, he had to be physically perfect. No blind or crippled man could become King. If disabled in battle the King had to give up his Kingship (see the story of King Nuada of the silver hand).
Topic 2
The Aos Dana. Back to the Index.
Artishic impression of Celtic druids.The Aos Dana were skilled men of the tribe, trained in their respective professions. They were needed by the tribe and therefore had a high social status and could pass safely through out the country from Tuath to Tuath. They were always well treated by every tribe's King and nobles.
Druids, Druids were multi-purpose professionals: doctors, priests and magicians but all in one person. Mainly though, they were pagan magicians and had knowledge of science and magic, they were skilful in the arts of healing, divination and most importantly, they were adepts in magic. They had to study for a minimum of twenty years before they became true Druids. They conducted many ceremonies such as burial rites or celebration of the coming of a new season (e.g. Summer salstas). In some cases they conclude their King e.g. when Cathbad foretold that Deirdre would bring woe upon the King.


The King his  advisors.Fili, The Fili were poets who had undergone seven years of training. They were employed by Kings to record their great deeds. A File could always expect generous pay from his King and presents from any other King he visited, for if he did not, he composed a Satire. This was a verse which made the King out to be a fool. The Fili were free of fear of Kings (even if the King he visited was warring with his own) and were respected the other Aos Dana and the Nobles.


Craftsmen, They were the Tuath's carpenters and blacksmiths etc. Skilled in their trade, they were responsible for the Tuath's weapons and equipment, they also constructed the tribal buildings.


Topic 3
The Nobles. Back to the Index.
Celtic warrior on his chariot.The Nobles were the warriors of the Tuath and held the same social status as the Aos Dana. In a similar fashion to the feudal system, the Nobles owned cattle herds and much land, yet did not themselves tend to it. Cattle were an indication of a nobleman's power within the Tuath. Therefore, the greater number of cattle in his herd, the more important the noble. Divisions of their land and a part of their cattle herd they gave to poor farmers to harvest and tend, in return for crops and services. It was a nobleman's duty to protect his farmers during war time.