• Imagining History

Britain Before the Romans: The Celts - A Guide for Key Stage 2

Updated: May 4

The Romans first invaded Britain under the rule of Julius Caesar in 55 BC. Though his first invasion wasn't successful, the Roman Empire conquered Britain soon afterwards and started making it into a "Mini Rome". But what was Britain like before the Romans?

Who Lived in Britain?

The people who lived in Britain before the Romans arrived are known as the Celts. Though they didn't call themselves 'Celts' - this was a name given to them many centuries later. In fact, the Romans called 'Celts' 'Britons'. Talk about confusing!

Where Did They Live?

Britain was split into many different warring tribes, each with their own ruler or chief. These tribes all had their own names, such as the Trinovantes, Silures, Cornovii, Selgovae and more.

What Did They Do?

Most Celts were farmers. They grew their own food and kept animals such as chickens and cows. They were also very skilled warriors as the tribes often had disagreements and fought against each other.

How Did They Live?

The Celt tribes lived in small settlements with round houses made from mud, straw or wood. There were no towns or proper roads. These small settlements were surrounded by ditches and wooden fences to protect themselves and their farm animals from wild animals and enemy tribes. Sometimes the Celts would even share their homes with their farm animals at night as they had no stables for them!

Who Did They Worship?

The Celts worshipped many different gods, though we don't know too much about them! One god, seen on lots of Celtic jewellery and coins, was a Stag with huge antlers. The Celts had priests called Druids who would aid them in their worship, this included animal sacrifices and throwing valuable items in to rivers and ponds.

Did They Fight?

Oh yes, the Celts had many proud warriors and proved formidable foes for the Romans. They even saw off Julius Caesar's first invasion of Britain! Celts rarely fought in disciplined formations like Roman Legionaries. Instead they opted for the charge first, ask questions later, form of military strategy.

Did you know?

The Romans thought of the Celts as savages because they didn't have a government, army or taxes like the Romans did!

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