Thursday, 18 April 2013

Portions and Horrible Histories

P is for Portion - The Champion's Portion.

I'm continuing my Celtic/ Roman AD 71-84 theme for all posts for the A to Z Challenge.

What was the Champion’s portion - The Celtic Curadmir?

The Celts were described as being noisy boastful people who were fond of quarrelling amongst themselves: feasts being a popular time for this activity.

The feasting might be to celebrate some kind of triumph over a rival tribe, or some major exploit that was ‘feast worthy’ material. Warriors were given the chance at the hearthside of the chief to brag about their prowess and to proclaim their deed the best of all boasts before the meat was cut from the whole roasted animal often a pig or a boar.

Supporters egged on their favourite, Roman and Greek writers having recorded that this was often given inter tribal support. The most extravagant claim would eventually be decided on and that warrior would win the Champion’s Portion. The warrior was given the honour of carving the joint and would be in the position of taking the upper hind leg, the meatiest, tastiest part for himself- literally the Champion’s Portion.

Accounts for this event are given in two famous stories told by the Celts in Ireland – “Bricriu’s Feast” and “the Story of Mac Datho’s Pig”.

Version of the stories can be fairly long but in a nutshell:

Bricriu was an Ulster champion who was famous for being a little bit malicious. It's said he gave a feast for the men of Ulster and Connacht. The boasting of the two tribes was so fierce that Bricriu decided to stir up some further trouble. He persuaded the three most notable warriors to claim the Champion's Portion- the three being Cuchulainn, Conall Cernach, and Laoghaire Buadhach. Sent to Medb/ Maeve for judging she favoured Cuchulainn but the other two refused the judgement. There are different legends around the resultant squabbling and ultimate decision; one being the King of Munster, Cu Roi Mac Dairi ( a sorcerer) subsequently became involved but the resolution was not an easy one when he, too, decided on Cuchulainn to be the winner.   

I went searching the internet to find some nice illustrations for Celtic Curadmir boasting – couldn’t find any but found this wonderful ‘Horrible Histories’ instead. It might poke fun in the way the 'Horrible Histories' do, but as a former teacher I know my class would have got a lot out of viewing this clip. The basics of the Celtic Curadmir (Horrible Histories style) would have been one of the things they'd have remebered from our studies.  

I haven't mentioned the Curadmir in my novel The Beltane Choice, though there is some feasting mentioned. I have, however, mentioned the Curadmir boasting events in my time travel/ Celtic novel for early teens (12-14 years), Dabbling With Time ( as yet unpublished).



  1. And the tradition continues as you can hear in any Glasgow or Dublin pub on a Saturday night haha.
    Thanks so much for the Horrible Histories clip - it has got to be my favourite TV programme although I don't watch much TV I adore that. Great post as usual, Nancy

    1. Thanks, Ailsa. I think you're right about a wee continuation here and there!

  2. oooh I love horrible histories. Also I love your theme will ahve to come back and read more of your posts :)

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