S is for Style
Hello there! I’m still continuing my Celtic/Roman Britain AD 71-84 posts.
According to Roman writings the Celts were as fastidious as the Romans about personal hygiene and kept themselves clean on a daily basis. It would not have been such an easy job washing oneself if living in a Celtic roundhouse compared to the spectacular bathhouses the Romans frequented, but accounts indicate regular washing was the norm. As far as I can see there was little, if any, communal aspects to Celtic bathing though evidence does suggest that latrine pits/ areas were likely in the roundhouse villages.
Hot water could only be produced from the fire so it was important to keep that fire going all day long.
The Celts liked bright clothes. Evidence of woven patterns has been found in fragments of woollen cloth, the fibres of which had been dyed with berries and lichens.
The typical Celtic male in Britannia AD 71-84 would be wearing clothing appropriate for the climate. In modern day Scotland, or the borders area between Scotland and England - areas which feature in my historical novels- that would mean wearing warm woollen clothing to ward off the cold and damp, the snow, and the searing winds during the winter months. Little was likely to change during the warmer months- a long sleeved tunic might be replaced by a short sleeved one.
It appeared the well dressed Celt liked to have braies (trousers) in different patterns from the tunic. A bratt (cloak) was worn to ward off the chills and to enwrap themselves, if sleeping rough while travelling. The belt was an important part of the outfit as it could be both decorative, the leather studded with copper or gold embellishments, and also functional as it secured the waist pouches and scabbards for knives and other items. The sword scabbard might also be hung from the belt. Leather footwear was sometimes stuffed with mosses or perhaps wool to warm the feet, thronged crosswise over the bottom of the braies to keep them in place.
Some fantastic jewellery has survived showing that the goldsmiths were excellent craftsmen – bratt pins, gold neck torques and armbands had superb designs and were sometimes enamelled or with precious stones incorporated in the designs.
The hair tended to flow below the shoulders, often cut short at the crown, and with two thin braids hanging at the ears. The shorter hair at the crown appears to have been 'lime' smeared to create spikes. This application of lime paste would also have ligthened the hair and may, perhaps, have given the illusion that they were all light haired.
Female dress was simple. A loose flowing tunic would hang to almost ground length and was tied at the waist with a cord or leather belt. Like the males it was also functional and an array of pouches suspended from it would hold a knife and other small items like a comb. A bratt also enwrapped them to keep out the draughty chills though these may have been a bit shorter than that of a Celtic male.
The woman’s hair was worn in two long braids hanging at the front or the hair might be worn loose. Golden circlets have been unearthed which would have held the hair back from the brow on females of higher status in the tribes; likewise armbands, neck torques and bratt pins.
Footwear was likely to be similar to the men.
Make-up? Wode for war was elaborate and part of the whole ritualistic build up to battle. Whether they always went to war naked or naked from the waist up, their wode decorated bodies were intended to intimidate-along with their hollering and chanting.
I have made no mention of the warriors in THE BELTANE CHOICE taking time to decorate themselves with wode but it just might appear in the sequel!
My internet access is seriously limited at this time of posting or I'd give many references to great sites for viewing Celtic gold and silver and wode decorated warriors. They are out there!