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Celtic Tribes

The word 'Celts' comes from the Greek word 'keltoi' meaning 'barbarians'.

The Celts were the the most powerful group of people living in Europe during the Iron Age. 

Celts in Europe2

They lived in extended family groups called tribes, each with its own chieftain/king or queen and laws.

The people living in Britain during the Iron Age are often called Iron Age Celts, but they were known just as the 'Britons' at the time.

The Romans compared different tribes of Celts in Britain with those living in Europe:
  • the Caledones living in modern-day Scotland had similarities with people from Germany;
  • the Silures of south Wales had similarities with people from Iberia (modern-day Spain and Portugal);
  • the Belgaes in south-east Britain had similarities with people from Gaul (modern-day France and Belgium).
Many historians believe that the Celtic people arrived in Britain following large invasions from Europe, however, recent theories say that languages can be transported much more easily than people can and so such big invasions might not have happened.