Scottish mythology is the collection of myths that have emerged throughout the history of Scotland, sometimes being elaborated upon by successive generations, at other times being rejected and replaced by other explanatory narratives. The myths and legends of Scotland have a "local colour" as they tell about the way of life during the olden times, apart from giving a perspective of the nature of the country during various seasons of the year, it was the belief that Beira, the Queen of Winter, had a firm hold on the country by raising storms during January and February thus preventing greenery to emerge. She was considered a tough and brutal old woman who stirred the deadly spiraling action of Corryvreckan, ushering snow, as well as torrents resulting in the overflow of rivers; the creation of lochs and mountains were attributed to her. Scottish mythology is not like the Greek and Roman myths. In this context the most powerful and feared goddess representing winter is Beira who rules winter for its entire duration.
The following season she concedes to Dual Lord and Lady who enjoy equal power during the ensuing season. This myth is akin to the popular myth of the Mayans and deals with female power in the "creation and the cycle of the year". However, Donald Mackenzie in his book Scottish Wonder Tales from Myth and Legend states that the goddesses of the Scottish myths are not glorified much unlike the goddesses of ancient Greece; the rivers in Scotland were considered the dwelling places of goddesses with their characteristic denoting the nature of the river, such as the River Forth being called "deaf or soundless river" on account of its silent flow conditions, the River Clyde called as "the purifying river" as it caused scouring and cleansing, carrying "mud and clay" during the flood season. The Celtic goddesses were authoritative and were associated with female fertility as related to female divinity and earth. In olden times the Celtics land and national societies were both linked with the body of the goddess and her representative on earth was the queen.
Another "ambivalent" character in Scottish myths was the "hag", the Goddess, the Gaelic Cailleach, the Giantess, a divine being, harmful. The hag is considered a "healer" and helpful during childbirth and is divine and said to have "long ancestry and incredible longevity", she is known as "at once creator and destroyer and fierce, mother and nurturer". Several origin legends for the Scots arose during the historical period. One Scottish origin legend, or pseudo-historical account of the foundation of the Scottish people, appears in adapted form in the tenth-century Latin Life of St. Cathróe of Metz, it relates that settlers from Greek Asia Minor sailed the seas and arrived at Cruachan Feli "the mountain of Ireland" for Cruachan Éli, a well-known place in Hiberno-Latin hagiography since Tírechán's Collectanea. As they roamed through Ireland, from Clonmacnoise and Kildare to Cork, to Bangor, they were continually engaged at war with the Pictanei. After some time, they crossed the Irish Sea to invade Caledonia North of Roman Britain, successively capturing Iona, the cities of Rigmhonath and Bellathor in the process.
The latter places are echoed by the appearance of Cinnrígmonaid and Cinnbelathoir in the Chronicle of the Kings of Alba. The territory so conquered was named Scotia after Scota, the Egyptian wife of Spartan commander Nél or Niul, St. Patrick converted the people to Christianity. Once the Picts adopted Gaelic culture and their actual characteristics faded out of memory, folkloric elements filled the gaps of history, their "sudden disappearance" was explained as a slaughter happening at a banquet given by Kenneth MacAlpin and they were ascribed with powers like those of the fairies, brewing heather from secret recipes and living in underground chambers. In the eighteenth century the Picts were co-opted as a "Germanic" race. In the Celtic domains of Scotland known as Gàidhealtachd, there were ancient pre-Christian structures. In the farthest end of northwest Scotland there are standing stones at Callanish on the Island of Lewis, in a vertical position, which are akin to the Stonehenge; because of the movement of people from Ulster to west Scotland, which resulted in close linguistic links between Ulster and the west of Scotland, much of Gaelic mythology was imported to Scotland, some of it was written in Scotland.
The Ulster Cycle, set around the beginning of the Christian era, consists of a group of heroic stories dealing with the lives of Conchobar mac Nessa, king of Ulster, the great hero Cúchulainn, of their friends and enemies. These are the Ulaid, or people of the North-Eastern corner of Ireland and the action of the stories centres round the royal court at Emain Macha, close to the modern city of Armagh; the Ulaid had close links with Gaelic Scotland, where Cúchulainn is said to have learned the arts of war. The cycle consists of stories of the births, early lives and training, battles and deaths of the heroes and reflects a warrior society in which warfare consists of single combats and wealth is measured in cattle; these stories are written for the most part in prose. The centrepiece of the Ulster Cycle is the Táin Bó Cúailnge. Other important Ulster Cycle tales include The Tragic Death of Aife's only Son, Fled Bricrenn "Bricriu's Feast", Togail Bruidne Dá Derga "The Destruction of Da Derga's Hostel".
This cycle is, in some respects, close to the mytho
Celtic coinage was minted by the Celts from the late 4th century BC to the late 1st century BC. Celtic coins were influenced by trade with and the supply of mercenaries to the Greeks, copied Greek designs Macedonian coins from the time of Philip II of Macedon and his son, Alexander the Great, thus Greek motifs and letters can be found on various Celtic coins those of southern France. Greek coinage occurred in three Greek cities of Massalia and Rhoda, was copied throughout southern Gaul. Northern Gaulish coins were influenced by the coinage of Philip II of Macedon and his famous son Alexander the Great. Celtic coins retained Greek subjects, such as the head of Apollo on the obverse and two-horse chariot on the reverse of the gold stater of Philip II, but developed their own style from that basis, allowing for the development of a Graeco-Celtic synthesis. After this first period in which Celtic coins rather faithfully reproduced Greek types, designs started to become more symbolic, as exemplified by the coinage of the Parisii in the Belgic region of northern France.
The Armorican Celtic style in northwestern Gaul developed from Celtic designs from the Rhine valley, themselves derived from earlier Greek prototypes such as the wine scroll and split palmette. The Boii gave their name to Bologna; the images found on Celtic coins include giants trailing severed heads on rope, horsemen charging into battle and goddesses, skulls and chariot wheels and lightning, the sun and the moon. They are miniature masterpieces of surreal art. A tribe of Celts called Eburones minted gold coins with triple spirals on the front, horses on the back; the coins were either'struck' or'cast'. Both methods required a substantial degree of knowledge. Striking a blank coin formed in a clay mould was one way. After forming the blank, it would have been flattened out before striking with a die made from iron or bronze; the tiny details engraved on dies were just a few millimeters in diameter. Casting a coin required a different technique, they were produced by pouring molten alloy into a set of molds which were broken apart when the metal had cooled.
With the Roman invasion of Gaul, Greek-inspired Celtic coinage started to incorporate Roman influence instead, until it disappeared to be replaced by Roman coinage. Traditional historians have tended to overlook the role played by Celtic coinage in the early history of British money. Over 45,000 of the ancient British and Gaulish coins discovered in Britain have been recorded at the Oxford Celtic Coin Index; the Trinovantian tribal oppidum of Camulodunon was minting large numbers of coins in the first centuries BC and AD, which have been found across Southern Britain. Common motifs on the Camulodunon coins included horses and wheat/barley sheafs, with the names of the rulers written in Latin script, more in Greek. Boardman, John The Diffusion of Classical Art in Antiquity, Princeton 1993 ISBN 0-691-03680-2 The Oxford Celtic Coin Index
Gaul was a historical region of Western Europe during the Iron Age, inhabited by Celtic tribes, encompassing present day France, Belgium, most of Switzerland, parts of Northern Italy, as well as the parts of the Netherlands and Germany on the west bank of the Rhine. It covered an area of 494,000 km2. According to the testimony of Julius Caesar, Gaul was divided into three parts: Gallia Celtica and Aquitania. Archaeologically, the Gauls were bearers of the La Tène culture, which extended across all of Gaul, as well as east to Raetia, Noricum and southwestern Germania during the 5th to 1st centuries BC. During the 2nd and 1st centuries BC, Gaul fell under Roman rule: Gallia Cisalpina was conquered in 203 BC and Gallia Narbonensis in 123 BC. Gaul was invaded after 120 BC by the Cimbri and the Teutons, who were in turn defeated by the Romans by 103 BC. Julius Caesar subdued the remaining parts of Gaul in his campaigns of 58 to 51 BC. Roman control of Gaul lasted for five centuries, until the last Roman rump state, the Domain of Soissons, fell to the Franks in AD 486.
While the Celtic Gauls had lost their original identities and language during Late Antiquity, becoming amalgamated into a Gallo-Roman culture, Gallia remained the conventional name of the territory throughout the Early Middle Ages, until it acquired a new identity as the Capetian Kingdom of France in the high medieval period. Gallia remains a name of France in modern modern Latin; the Greek and Latin names Galatia and Gallia are derived from a Celtic ethnic term or clan Gal-to-. The Galli of Gallia Celtica were reported to refer to themselves as Celtae by Caesar. Hellenistic folk etymology connected the name of the Galatians to the "milk-white" skin of the Gauls. Modern researchers say it is related to Welsh gallu, Cornish galloes, "capacity, power", thus meaning "powerful people"; the English Gaul is from French Gaule and is unrelated to Latin Gallia, despite superficial similarity. The name Gaul is derived from the Old Frankish *Walholant "Land of the Foreigners/Romans", in which *Walho- is reflex of Proto-Germanic *walhaz, "foreigner, Romanized person", an exonym applied by Germanic speakers to Celts and Latin-speaking people indiscriminately, making it cognate with the names Wales and Wallachia.
The Germanic w- is rendered as gu- / g- in French, the historic diphthong au is the regular outcome of al before a following consonant. French Gaule or Gaulle cannot be derived from Latin Gallia, since g would become j before a, the diphthong au would be unexplained. Proto-Germanic *walha is derived from the name of the Volcae. Unrelated, in spite of superficial similarity, is the name Gael; the Irish word gall did mean "a Gaul", i.e. an inhabitant of Gaul, but its meaning was widened to "foreigner", to describe the Vikings, still the Normans. The dichotomic words gael and gall are sometimes used together for contrast, for instance in the 12th-century book Cogad Gáedel re Gallaib; as adjectives, English has the two variants: Gallic. The two adjectives are used synonymously, as "pertaining to Gaul or the Gauls", although the Celtic language or languages spoken in Gaul is predominantly known as Gaulish. There is little written information concerning the peoples that inhabited the regions of Gaul, save what can be gleaned from coins.
Therefore, the early history of the Gauls is predominantly a work in archaeology and the relationships between their material culture, genetic relationships and linguistic divisions coincide. Before the rapid spread of the La Tène culture in the 5th to 4th centuries BC, the territory of eastern and southern France participated in the Late Bronze Age Urnfield culture out of which the early iron-working Hallstatt culture would develop. By 500 BC, there is strong Hallstatt influence throughout most of France. Out of this Hallstatt background, during the 7th and 6th century representing an early form of Continental Celtic culture, the La Tène culture arises under Mediterranean influence from the Greek and Etruscan civilizations, spread out in a number of early centers along the Seine, the Middle Rhine and the upper Elbe. By the late 5th century BC, La Tène influence spreads across the entire territory of Gaul; the La Tène culture developed and flourished during the late Iron Age in France, Italy, southwest Germany, Moravia and Hungary.
Farther north extended the contemporary pre-Roman Iron Age culture of northern Germany and Scandinavia. The major source of materials on the Celts of Gaul was Poseidonios of Apamea, whose writings were quoted by Timagenes, Julius Caesar, the Sicilian Greek Diodorus Siculus, the Greek geographer Strabo. In the 4th and early 3rd century BC, Gallic clan confederations expanded far beyond the territory of what would become Roman Gaul, into Pannonia, northern Italy and Asia Minor. By the 2nd century BC, the Romans descr
The Celts are an Indo-European ethnolinguistic group of Europe identified by their use of Celtic languages and cultural similarities. The history of pre-Celtic Europe and the exact relationship between ethnic and cultural factors in the Celtic world remains uncertain and controversial; the exact geographic spread of the ancient Celts is disputed. According to one theory, the common root of the Celtic languages, the Proto-Celtic language, arose in the Late Bronze Age Urnfield culture of Central Europe, which flourished from around 1200 BC. According to a theory proposed in the 19th century, the first people to adopt cultural characteristics regarded as Celtic were the people of the Iron Age Hallstatt culture in central Europe, named for the rich grave finds in Hallstatt, Austria, thus this area is sometimes called the "Celtic homeland". By or during the La Tène period, this Celtic culture was supposed to have expanded by trans-cultural diffusion or migration to the British Isles and the Low Countries, Bohemia and much of Central Europe, the Iberian Peninsula and northern Italy and, following the Celtic settlement of Eastern Europe beginning in 279 BC, as far east as central Anatolia in modern-day Turkey.
The earliest undisputed direct examples of a Celtic language are the Lepontic inscriptions beginning in the 6th century BC. Continental Celtic languages are attested exclusively through inscriptions and place-names. Insular Celtic languages are attested beginning around the 4th century in Ogham inscriptions, although they were being spoken much earlier. Celtic literary tradition begins with Old Irish texts around the 8th century CE. Coherent texts of Early Irish literature, such as the Táin Bó Cúailnge, survive in 12th-century recensions. By the mid-1st millennium, with the expansion of the Roman Empire and migrating Germanic tribes, Celtic culture and Insular Celtic languages had become restricted to Ireland, the western and northern parts of Great Britain, the Isle of Man, Brittany. Between the 5th and 8th centuries, the Celtic-speaking communities in these Atlantic regions emerged as a reasonably cohesive cultural entity, they had a common linguistic and artistic heritage that distinguished them from the culture of the surrounding polities.
By the 6th century, the Continental Celtic languages were no longer in wide use. Insular Celtic culture diversified into that of the Gaels and the Celtic Britons of the medieval and modern periods. A modern Celtic identity was constructed as part of the Romanticist Celtic Revival in Great Britain and other European territories, such as Portugal and Spanish Galicia. Today, Scottish Gaelic and Breton are still spoken in parts of their historical territories, Cornish and Manx are undergoing a revival; the first recorded use of the name of Celts – as Κελτοί – to refer to an ethnic group was by Hecataeus of Miletus, the Greek geographer, in 517 BC, when writing about a people living near Massilia. In the fifth century BC, Herodotus referred to Keltoi living around the head of the Danube and in the far west of Europe; the etymology of the term Keltoi is unclear. Possible roots include Indo-European *kʲel'to hide', IE *kʲel'to heat' or *kel'to impel'. Several authors have supposed it to be Celtic in origin, while others view it as a name coined by Greeks.
Linguist Patrizia De Bernardo Stempel falls in the latter group, suggests the meaning "the tall ones". In the 1st century BC, Julius Caesar reported that the people known to the Romans as Gauls called themselves Celts, which suggests that if the name Keltoi was bestowed by the Greeks, it had been adopted to some extent as a collective name by the tribes of Gaul; the geographer Strabo, writing about Gaul towards the end of the first century BC, refers to the "race, now called both Gallic and Galatic," though he uses the term Celtica as a synonym for Gaul, separated from Iberia by the Pyrenees. Yet he reports Celtic peoples in Iberia, uses the ethnic names Celtiberi and Celtici for peoples there, as distinct from Lusitani and Iberi. Pliny the Elder cited the use of Celtici in Lusitania as a tribal surname, which epigraphic findings have confirmed. Latin Gallus might stem from a Celtic ethnic or tribal name perhaps one borrowed into Latin during the Celtic expansions into Italy during the early fifth century BC.
Its root may be the Proto-Celtic *galno, meaning "power, strength", hence Old Irish gal "boldness, ferocity" and Welsh gallu "to be able, power". The tribal names of Gallaeci and the Greek Γαλάται most have the same origin; the suffix -atai might be an Ancient Greek inflection. Classical writers did not apply the terms Κελτοί or Celtae to the inhabitants of Britain or Ireland, which has led to some scholars preferring not to use the term for the Iron Age inhabitants of those islands. Celt is a modern English word, first attested in 1707, in the writing of Edward Lhuyd, whose work, along with that of other late 17th-century scholars, brought academic attention to the languages and history of the early Celtic inhabitants of Great Britain; the English form Gaul (first recorded in the 17th cent
Brittany is a cultural region in the northwest of France, covering the western part of what was known as Armorica during the period of Roman occupation. It became an independent kingdom and a duchy before being united with the Kingdom of France in 1532 as a province governed as if it were a separate nation under the crown. Brittany has been referred to as Less, Lesser or Little Britain, it is bordered by the English Channel to the north, the Celtic Sea and the Atlantic Ocean to the west, the Bay of Biscay to the south. Its land area is 34,023 km². Brittany is the site of some of the world's oldest standing architecture, home to the Barnenez, the Tumulus Saint-Michel and others, which date to the early 5th millennium BC. Today, the historical province of Brittany is split among five French departments: Finistère in the west, Côtes-d'Armor in the north, Ille-et-Vilaine in the north east, Loire-Atlantique in the south east and Morbihan in the south on the Bay of Biscay. Since reorganisation in 1956, the modern administrative region of Brittany comprises only four of the five Breton departments, or 80% of historical Brittany.
The remaining area of old Brittany, the Loire-Atlantique department around Nantes, now forms part of the Pays de la Loire region. At the 2010 census, the population of historic Brittany was estimated to be 4,475,295. Of these, 71 % lived in the region of Brittany. In 2012, the largest metropolitan areas were Nantes and Brest. Brittany is the traditional homeland of the Breton people and is recognised by the Celtic League as one of the six Celtic nations, retaining a distinct cultural identity that reflects its history. A nationalist movement seeks greater autonomy within the French Republic; the word Brittany, along with its French and Gallo equivalents Bretagne and Bertaèyn, derive from the Latin Britannia, which means "Britons' land". This word had been used by the Romans since the 1st century to refer to Great Britain, more the Roman province of Britain; this word derives from a Greek word, Πρεττανικη or Βρεττανίαι, used by Pytheas, an explorer from Massalia who visited the British Islands around 320 BC.
The Greek word itself comes from the common Brythonic ethnonym reconstructed as *Pritanī, itself from Proto-Celtic *kʷritanoi. The Romans called Brittany Armorica, together with a quite indefinite region that extended along the English Channel coast from the Seine estuary to the Loire estuary, according to several sources, maybe along the Atlantic coast to the Garonne estuary; this term comes from a Gallic word, which means "close to the sea". Another name, was used until the 12th century, it means "wide and flat" or "to expand" and it gave the Welsh name for Brittany: Llydaw. After the fall of the Western Roman Empire, many Britons settled in western Armorica, the region started to be called Britannia, although this name only replaced Armorica in the sixth century or by the end of the fifth. Authors like Geoffrey of Monmouth used the terms Britannia minor and Britannia major to distinguish Brittany from Britain. Breton-speaking people may pronounce the word Breizh in two different ways, according to their region of origin.
Breton can be divided into the dialect of Vannes. KLT speakers pronounce it and would write it Breiz, while the Vannetais speakers pronounce it and would write it Breih; the official spelling is a compromise with a z and an h together. In 1941, efforts to unify the dialects led to the creation of the so-called Breton zh, a standard which has never been accepted. On its side, Gallo language has never had a accepted writing system and several ones coexist. For instance, the name of the region in that language can be written Bertaèyn in ELG script, or Bertègn in MOGA, a couple of other scripts exist. Brittany has been inhabited by humans since the Lower Paleolithic; the first settlers were Neanderthals. This population was scarce and similar to the other Neanderthals found in the whole of Western Europe, their only original feature was a distinct culture, called "Colombanian". One of the oldest hearths in the world has been found in Finistère, it is 450,000 years old. Homo sapiens settled in Brittany around 35,000 years ago.
They replaced or absorbed the Neanderthals and developed local industries, similar to the Châtelperronian or to the Magdalenian. After the last glacial period, the warmer climate allowed the area to become wooded. At that time, Brittany was populated by large communities who started to change their lifestyles from a life of hunting and gathering, to become settled farmers. Agriculture was introduced during the 5th millennium BC by migrants from the east. However, the Neolithic Revolution in Brittany did not happen due to a radical change of population, but by slow immigration and exchange of skills. Neolithic Brittany is characterised by important megalithic production, it is sometimes designated as the "core area" of megalithic culture; the oldest monuments, were followed by princely tombs and stone rows. The Morbihan département, on the southern coast, comprises a large share of these structures, including the Carnac stones and the Broken Menhir of Er Grah in the Locmariaquer megaliths, the largest single stone erected by Neoli
Dál Riata or Dál Riada was a Gaelic overkingdom that included parts of western Scotland and northeastern Ireland, on each side of the North Channel. At its height in the late 6th and early 7th centuries, it encompassed what is now Argyll in Scotland and part of County Antrim in the Irish province of Ulster. In Argyll, it consisted of four main kindreds each with their own chief: Cenél Loairn in north and mid-Argyll, who gave their name to the district of Lorn Cenél nÓengusa based on Islay Cenél nGabráin based in Kintyre Cenél Comgaill based in east Argyll, who gave their name to the district of CowalLatin sources referred to the inhabitants of Dál Riata as Scots, a name used by Roman and Greek writers for the Irish who raided Roman Britain, it came to refer to Gaelic-speakers, whether from Ireland or elsewhere. They are referred to herein as Dál Riatans; the hillfort of Dunadd is believed to have been its capital. Other royal forts included Dunollie and Dunseverick. Within Dál Riata was the important monastery of Iona, which played a key role in the spread of Celtic Christianity throughout northern Britain, in the development of insular art.
Iona produced many important manuscripts. Dál Riata had a large fleet. Dál Riata is said to have been founded by the legendary king Fergus Mór in the 5th century; the kingdom reached its height under Áedán mac Gabráin. During his reign Dál Riata's power and influence grew. However, King Æthelfrith of Bernicia checked its growth at the Battle of Degsastan in 603. Serious defeats in Ireland and Scotland during the reign of Domnall Brecc ended Dál Riata's "golden age", the kingdom became a client of Northumbria for a time. In the 730s the Pictish king Óengus I led campaigns against Dál Riata and brought it under Pictish overlordship by 741. There is disagreement over the fate of the kingdom from the late 8th century onwards; some scholars have seen no revival of Dál Riatan power after the long period of foreign domination, while others have seen a revival under Áed Find. Some claim that the Dál Riata usurped the kingship of Fortriu. From 795 onward there were sporadic Viking raids in Dál Riata. In the following century, there may have been a merger of the Dál Pictish crowns.
Some sources say Cináed mac Ailpín was king of Dál Riata before becoming king of the Picts in 843, following a disastrous defeat of the Picts by Vikings. The kingdom's independence ended sometime after, as it merged with Pictland to form the Kingdom of Alba; the name Dál Riata is derived from Old Irish. Dál, cognate to English dole and deal, German Teil, Latin tāliō and descendants including French taille and Italian taglia, means "portion" or "share". Thus, the name refers to "Riada's portion" of territory in the area; the Dalradian geological series, a term coined by Archibald Geikie in 1891, was named after Dál Riata because its outcrop has a similar geographical reach to that of the former kingdom. Dál Riata included parts of western Scotland and northeastern Ireland. In Scotland, it corresponded to Argyll and grew to include Skye. In Ireland, it took in the northeast of County Antrim corresponding to the baronies of Cary and Glenarm; the modern human landscape of Dál Riata differs a great deal from that of the first millennium.
Most people today live in settlements far larger than anything known in early times, while some areas, such as Kilmartin, many of the islands, such as Islay and Tiree, may well have had as many inhabitants as they do today. Many of the small settlements have now disappeared, so that the countryside is far emptier than was the case, many areas that were farmed are now abandoned; the physical landscape is not as it was: sea-levels have changed, the combination of erosion and silting will have altered the shape of the coast in some places, while the natural accumulation of peat and man-made changes from peat-cutting have altered inland landscapes. As was normal at the time, subsistence farming was the occupation of most people. Oats and barley were the main cereal crops. Pastoralism was important, transhumance was the practice in many places; some areas, most notably Islay, were fertile, good grazing would have been available all year round, just as it was in Ireland. Tiree was famed in times for its oats and barley, while smaller, uninhabited islands were used to keep sheep.
The area, until was notable for its inshore fisheries, for plentiful shellfish, therefore seafood is to have been an important part of the diet. The Senchus fer n-Alban lists three main kin groups in Dál Riata in Scotland, with a fourth being added later: The Cenél nGabráin, in Kintyre the descendants of Gabrán mac Domangairt; the Cenél nÓengusa, in Islay and Jura the descendants of Óengus Mór mac Eirc. The Cenél Loairn, in Lorne also Mull and Ardnamurchan the descendants of Loarn mac Eirc; the Cenél Comgaill, in Cowal and Bute, a addition the descendants of Comgall mac Domangairt. The Senchus does not list any kindreds in Ireland, but does list an
The Celtic brooch, more properly called the penannular brooch, its related type, the pseudo-penannular brooch, are types of brooch clothes fasteners rather large. They are associated with the beginning of the Early Medieval period in the British Isles, although they are found in other times and places—for example, forming part of traditional female dress in areas in modern North Africa. Beginning as utilitarian fasteners in the Iron Age and Roman period, they are associated with the ornate brooches produced in precious metal for the elites of Ireland and Scotland from about 700 to 900, which are popularly known as Celtic brooches or similar terms, they are the most significant objects in high-quality secular metalwork from Early Medieval Celtic art, or Insular art, as art historians prefer to call it. The type continued in simpler forms such as the thistle brooch into the 11th century, during what is known as the Viking Age in Ireland and Scotland. Both penannular and pseudo-penannular brooches feature a long pin attached by its head to a ring.
In the true penannular type, the ring is not closed. In the pseudo-penannular type, the ring is closed, but there are still two separately defined terminals, which are joined by a further element; the penannular type is a simple and efficient way of fastening loosely woven cloth, but the pseudo-penannular type is notably less efficient. The brooches were worn by both men and women singly at the shoulder by men and on the breast by women, with the pin pointing up; the most elaborate examples were significant expressions of status at the top of society, which were worn by clergy, at least in Ireland, though to fasten copes and other vestments rather than as everyday wear. The Senchas Mhor, an early Irish law tract, specified that the sons of major kings, when being fostered, should have "brooches of gold having crystal inserted in them", while the sons of minor kings need wear only silver brooches. "Annular" means formed as a ring and "penannular" formed as an incomplete ring. "Pseudo-penannular" is a coinage restricted to brooches, refers to those brooches where there is no opening in the ring, but the design retains features of a penannular brooch—for example, emphasizing two terminals.
Some pseudo-penannular brooches are similar in design to other penannular brooches, but have a small section joining the two terminals. Others have joined terminals, emphasize in their design the central area where the gap would be—for example the Tara Brooch. Pseudo-penannular brooches may be described as "annular", or as "ring brooches"; the terms "open brooch" or "open ring brooch" are sometimes used for penannular brooches. There is a scheme of classification set out, in relation to earlier types, by Elizabeth Fowler in the 1960s, which has since been extended in various versions to cover types. Brooches of either penannular or annular type, where the pin is large in relation to the ring, so that the ring cannot play any part in the fastening of the brooch, may be called "ring brooches", "pin brooches", or "brooch-pins". In these, the design of the pin head shows that the pin is intended to sit underneath the ring, rather than on top of it as in the larger brooches."Celtic" is a term avoided by specialists in describing objects, artistic styles, of the Early Middle Ages from the British Isles, but is fixed in the popular mind.
The term Insular art is used to describe the distinct style of art originating in the British Isles and combining Germanic, Celtic and Mediterranean elements. Although some simpler and early penannular brooches are found in Anglo-Saxon contexts, some sub-types predominantly so, as far as is known the Anglo-Saxons did not use these brooch styles for prestige elite jewellery. However, there are elements in the style of Irish and Scottish brooches deriving from Anglo-Saxon art, related to Insular work in other media illuminated manuscripts. Fibula is Latin for "brooch" and is used in modern languages to describe the many types of Roman and post-Roman Early Medieval brooches with pins and catches behind the main face of the brooch; the brooches discussed here are sometimes called fibulae, but by English-speaking specialists. With a penannular brooch, the pin is pushed through folds of the cloth, which are pulled back inside the ring; the pin is rotated around the ring by 90 degrees or so, so that as long as the pin is held down by slight pressure it cannot escape over the terminals, the fastening is secure.
With pseudo-penannular brooches, things are not so simple and the manner in which they were used is still debated. One method may have been to pull folds of the cloth through the ring until they could be pierced by the pin, pull the cloth back until the pin rested on the ring; this would work best with brooches with a pin not much longer than the diameter of the ring, which some have, but others do not. The second method might have been to pin the cloth vertically, leaving the ring hanging unattached to t