Galicia's Celtic Connection
There are many "claimed" Celtic connections between Spain's Galicia and Northern Britain, especialy Scotland and Ireland. Just how foundered in fact these relationships are is open to question and they are often discredited, not so much by a lack of historic evidence to support them, as by the fairytales and myths upon which they are based. So where do these Galician Celtic roots come from and what evidence is there to back them up - by the way I am not impartial, but a major sceptic!
Where the story started
Firstly, there is no doubt that many artefacts, in the form of structures, art work and engravings are common to the Celtic world and certainly great similarities can be found between some of the rock formations in Galicia and Ireland. Engravings of animals and symbols are also duplicated between the pre-history tribes of Celtic Britain and Northern Spain, but guess what, they also exist in France, Italy, even South America. Was everyone a Celt?
Continuing to play "Devils advocate", Galicia's language of "Gallego" bears no similarity to any of the other ancient Celtic languages. Indeed, it has been established that up to 400 years ago the Galician's spoke Poruguese, Gallego is nothing more than an evolving version, that also borrows from traditional Spanish or "Catillano".
Continuing the "Devils advocate's" approach still further, the Galician's have tales of a "once existing" land mass that connected the north of Spain with Ireland and Scotland. It is nothing short of rubbish and geographical records prove the point. But perhaps most discrediting of all is the simple fact that Galicia's claim to a Celtic heritage is a recent event. It started some time between the 12th and 14th centuries and up to that time the Galicians were happy to be seen as Spanish.
So is the Celtic connection anything more than a myth?
Well that's the way it might appear, but there are some unusual and hard to explain traditions that might make even the sceptic think again.
First of all, visit any festival in Galicia and you will witness a sight very different to that of southern Spain. In fact you could well be excused for thinking you were in Scotland. Firstly you will hear the bagpipes or "galleta galleo" and this will be followed by the appearance of the pipers in outfits not un-similar to that of their counterparts in Britains Celtic strongholds. Listen to the music and watch the dancing and still more similarities start to appear - and these are unique to Galicia, no where else in Spain has similar rituals.
More support for Galicia's Celts
Jumping back to the ruins, artefacts and history of the region, several pre-roman ruins exist which, in geography and design, reflect those of Celtic British settlements.
The Galicians are also a small race, which again ties in with the physical stature of the Celts. Furthermore, the facial features of Galicians are generally different to Spaniards from any other regions. There is however an explanation for this and whether it helps or hinders the argument is hard to determine. Unlike much of central and southern Spain, Galicia resisted countless invasion from the "Moors", and other invaders and their bloodline is consequently cleaner. Perhaps this shows their true Celtic character, or perhaps they represent the only true Hispanics.
More to come
This is only the first part of what will become an on-going exploration in to the "Celtic" history of Galicia. Future features will look at the Physical structures left by the "Celts" as well as examining more of the culture and traditions of Celtic Spain.
The content of both this page and the page entitled, “The Celts in Europe”, have provoked a number of emails, the majority disagreeing with much of what appears above.
In order to keep a balance and to put forward an alternative and more objectively (although possibly more subjectively) researched view of the Galician claim to Celticity, here are some emails and/or responses we have received. The second one has been edited to a degree.
For those wanting further reading (whatever your view), the following was sent by R.S.
- Re: Are Galicians related to Celts.
1. First of all, the Galician language is the precursor to the Portuguese language. "The Spanish Language" by Prof. Entwistle.
2. Second, the geneticist Prof. Stephen Oppenheimer has proven (in 2006) by DNA sampling, testing, and analysis that the original peoples of Ireland and Western Briton came from Spain. (Origin of the British People, by Stephen Oppenheimer, 2006).
If you would like to add your view, support, or deference to any of the arguments put forward, email us with your thoughts.