Spelling the Word
Why does The Sceptre use the k spelling, Kelts, instead of the c spelling, Celts?
The ancient Greeks named these tribal people Keltoi, and for ages after, the anglicized form of the word was Kelts. Probably because k nouns aren't as common in English as c nouns, at some point writers in English began respelling the word with a c .
Then a new factor came into play: English spelling and pronunciation rules. One such rule specifies that in words where as c is followed by an e or an i (cereal, cellar, city, circle the letter c stands not for a k sound but an s sound. So the word Celt began taking on the pronunciation "Selt," as in "the Boston Seltics."
Scholars, however, still use the older pronunciation, "Kelt," and often the older spelling as well, viewing these as more accurate historically and certainly more indicative of the original pronunciation as well as spelling of the Greek word Keltoi.
Who Were the Kelts?
Ancients said the Kelts "came out of the darkness." Settlements of Keltic people spread into Europe from the Southeast. The Kelts became the ancestors of the Irish, Scots, and Welsh, but they lived in tribes and villages all over the continent as well. The Greeks and Romans said the Kelts were warlike braggarts but impressive horsemen and warriors, hard drinkers but also literary and poetic.
The Kelts also produced beautiful ironwork and bronze pieces, gold and silver decorations, elegant pottery, ornamental glass and jewelry, and fine swords and helmets. Their designs, unlike those of the contemporary Greeks, feature stylized, fantastic figures with flowing tendrils, intertwined filigrees, and imaginary animals.
Keltic Salt Miner
Salt and Salzburg
Besides producing gorgeous craft work, the ancient Kelts operated many salt mines on the European continent. Why was salt so important? Because it offered the best way to preserve food as well as season it.
The city of Salzburg (its name means "Salt City") is the center of a region rich with Keltic salt mines, which still produce salt, now used industrially. You can visit them yourself. Inside one mine, at the town of Hallstatt, Austria, you can see a museum full of ancient Keltic clothing and mining implements found there. These objects show us how the Kelts lived and worked.
Two Important Eras
When were the Kelts important? Archaeologists and historians tell us that the ancient European Kelts rose to the height of their culture in two main periods, the Hallstatt era, about 600 B.C., and the La Tene era, around 500 B.C. The names of these eras come from the places in Europe where the major cultural artifacts were found, Hallstatt in Austria and La Tene in Switzerland. The Sceptre features two dramatic flashbacks to the tribal adventures of these two periods.
Danu, Real or Myth?
The Kelts celebrated Danu as the true mother goddess, whose tribe was called "The People of Danu" (Tuatha de Danaan, in the Irish language). The river Danube and other geographical sites in Europe are named for her.
The Sceptre presumes that Danu originally lived as a real person, a tribal leader later deified as a goddess, who brings her people safely out of a dangerous location and perilous situation to a new home near a great river (the Danube) and a source of power and wealth: salt.
Kelts in the New World?
In the last decade Dr. Barry Fell of Harvard University discovered in New England many ancient constructions he identified as Keltic, including huts made exclusively of flat rocks and huge carved phallic symbols. Signs or characters etched on the surfaces of these constructions, along with linguistic remnants in the Algonkian language, seem to indicate that the Kelts somehow got to the New World long before either Columbus or Leif Erikson did!
Could a Keltic iron sceptre have been buried in one of these huts and then found centuries later? The Sceptre tells how that could have happened.swords and helmets. Their designs, unlike those of the contemporary Greeks, feature stylized, fantastic figures with flowing tendrils, intertwined filigrees, and imaginary animals.
You and the Kelts
What do the ancient Kelts have to do with you? Well, if you're a descendant of immigrants from any European country, not just from the British Isles, but even from Italy, France, Belgium, Scandinavia, you probably harbor some Keltic genes yourself. Why? Because the Keltic people of the continent, instead of forming Keltic nations, became absorbed into the general population and passed theirs genes down to all of us. That means you may sometimes display Keltic traits whether you think of yourself as having Keltic ancestors or not. This is one way that history repeats itself.