‘Celtic’ is broadly defined by language, and by the art, artefacts and human remains of Iron Age peoples. ‘Celtic Scotland’ saw the native population of the Later Bronze Age adopt new technologies and aspects of culture from the peoples that they traded with. The Iron Age in Scotland began c 700 BC and continued to around AD 500.
Native craftspeople mastered iron smelting and decorated their metal work with exquisite designs; they loved intricate decoration and ornament. Celtic decoration often included complex woven patterns of ‘knotworks’. The people of the Iron Age tribes wore colourful dyed and patterned clothes; warriors wore golden torcs round their necks and fought from war chariots drawn by horses.
Warrior bands were skilled horsemen and hunters; fierce fighters and charioteers who were famed for their feasting, boasting and storytelling. Their battles echoed with the sound of the war horn; the Carnyx. Iron objects, including cauldrons and swords, were thrown into water - in lochs, rivers and bogs - as ‘votive’ offerings to pre-Christian gods and goddesses.