Celtic Houses and Villages

Maiden Castle

The Celts came to Britain before 500 BC.  Once they had arrived in Britain they became known as the Britons of which there were numerous tribes.  The Britons usually lived in small villages or farmsteads with a few larger towns like Camulodunum (now Colchester). Some settlements had workshops of craftsmen such as bronzesmiths, blacksmiths, and goldsmiths. In addition to homes, there were cemeteries, temples, animal pens and storage huts.

Some Iron Age villages were hill forts  They were constructed on the top of hills with wooden fences, earth ramps and ditches, for protection against enemies.  Near Dorchester in the English county of Dorset,  Maiden Castle is one of the best examples of an Iron Age hill fort.  The site had already been occupied for more than a thousand years when the castle was constructed around 600 BC.  The fort covered about 16 acres but was later expanded to 47 acres and ramparts and ditches were added. Around 100 BC habitation at the hill fort went declined but was occupied until at least the Roman period. 

British Celtic Community

The Britons lived in round houses with only one or two rooms about 20 feet (6m) across. Butser Hill which is pictured is a reconstructed village in Hampshire.  The wall at the bottom was made with wattle and daub – a fence of woven sticks was filled in with mud and supported by strong logs. Poles were arranged on top to make a cone, then lashed together at the top, and covered with thatch (thick layers of straw tied to the poles).

Celtic House

The interior walls of the home were daubed with a plaster like substance and could be painted with lime wash and ornamented with artwork painted upon the walls. The beds were built on a platform and consisted of a layer of straw covered by animal skins. A clay oven and a separate fire were used for heating and cooking.  A hole in the roof let smoke out.  The floor was usually clay, covered with straw and animal skins for warmth and comfort. The homes included basic furniture and eating and cooking utensils.

Tomorrow, the homes of the Picts & Scots   Rita Bay

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