Celtic Gaul, gold stater from the Ambiani tribe with Celticised horse.

Earlier this month, I wrote about how a girl in Iron Age Britain would have celebrated the harvest time with a holiday called Samhain. What else do we know about what life may have been like for a girl in Iron Age Britain?

Well, the Celts of Iron Age Britain, or Britons, were not really a single group. Some scholars no longer even like to use the term “Celtic” to describe these people at all!

‚ÄúBritons‚Äù is what the Romans called the Celtic people of Iron Age Britain, and they called the island Britannia, or “land of the Britons.” These people had migrated to the British Isles from mainland Europe, and they were related to other Celtic groups still living on the continent of at the time. The Celtic Iron Age in Britain began around 800 AD and came to an end with the Roman invasion of Britain, which began around ¬†43 CE.

Their society was based around the clan, a kind of extended family. Children in Iron Age Britain were raised by foster parents; usually the foster father was a child’s maternal uncle. Individual clans made up tribes, and different tribes had their own traditions and customs that varied geographically. There is a lot we do not know for sure about life in Iron Age Britain because most of the historical records we have were not written by the Celts themselves, but by the invading Romans. Scholars have been able to learn more about the Iron Age Britain from archaeological digs.

From what we do know, girls at the time would usually spend their days helping the clan with the livestock and household chores, such as weaving. A girl might have enjoyed playing games in her leisure time. Glass game pieces have been found in burials from this time period.

When girls in Iron Age Britain grew up, they would be able to own property and choose their own husbands. Women could even be war leaders like the famous Boudica, a queen of the Iceni tribe who led the Celtic Britains in a major uprising against the Romans around 60 CE. War was an important part of their culture. According to British archaeologist Barry Cunliffe, Celtic women and children would accompany men to the battlefield to watch the fighting against Roman forces. As archaeological digs continue, it will be exciting to see what new things scholars in the future can tell us about life for a girl in Iron Age Britain.

-Emily Holm
Junior Girl
Girl Museum Inc.

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