Welcome to Everything you want to know about The Celts

Hello there! We are a modern day Northern European Style tribe called Maers Khohias. We are of both Norse and Celtic decent here. Come sit. Warm yourself by our fire!! We want you to feel at home as we share some of our Celtic tribe's hospitality. Come. Join in our sitting circle, round the central cauldron and have something to eat, in our Celtic round house. Once fed, sit back, relax, read and listen to some of our stories. Here you will find great information, taking you back in time to meet the ancestors.

If you have the opportunity to come in person to Crawford Bay, BC and take in our courses taught at our school, you'll hear more information, on the Celts and the Vikings, not shared here, as well as live music. We'd love to hear your stories too!!

In no time, you'll be dancing, sharing some good mead or ale and adding to the rooms boasts and toasts.
We Northern European Celts and Vikings are waiting for you.

Having and event? We offer lots of props to choose from as well as great musicians and entertainers. This will be the icing for your Celtic or Viking medieval style event. Need some costumes or warrior gear? We shall help you there too. ... Or Maybe you are the studious type and want to study Celtic ritual, dance, music and beliefs, or have a you have a gift. If so you might want to take a course from our Druid/Bard schools. See here.


Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Ancient Celtic Clothing

Ancient Celtic Clothing

Above is a reconstruction of a Celtic warrior's garments in the museum Kelten-Keller, Rodheim-Bieber, Germany.  Please remember that all tribes were unique and wore their own style and had their own Gods.

Celtic art has survived even to modern day and is a popular choice when it comes to choosing Celtic clothing.  Many today wear Celtic Clothing in order to honour their ancestors.  The ancient Celts were superior at making woven textiles for their Celtic clothing, turning the heads of other cultures.  Weaving was considered advanced knowledge in its time and one item could take over a month to make.  Celtic clothing was well cared for.

Celtic clothing for both women and men was wrap around skirts, tunics, or long one piece dresses or robes and wool was the material most often used.   Other popular materials for Celtic Clothing were linen, silk, hemp, leather and fur.  They also used feathers in both clothes and hair.   Besides the birched coned hats found, hats are not mentioned often, but headbands of cloth or gold are  spoken about.  Charioteers, for example are described as wearing gold ones.  Wealthy indeed was the Charioteer.  The Celts loved to wear bright colours and used dyes made from natural items like berries, plants, stale urine and copper to make their often plaid or striped cloths left frequently with fringed edges.  There were also rules about which days of the month or week was okay for dyeing as were with many other tasks they did. 

Celtic clothing wasn't the same for all tribes, it varied depending on each tribe's influence. One tribe may favour baggy Celtic clothing, while another liked them form fitting.  The oldest depictions  of Celtic Clothing I've found come from around 500 BCE from the area of modern Austria.  Examples below;  

Celtic clothing on Scythian borders - From the drawings it looks like they wore tight fitting pants or tights, and a tunic that actually looks like a suit jacket.  It's a long shirt with the front bottom that curved back to the tails.  Their shoes had upturned toes.   The women seem to be wearing highly decorated skirts or long tunics, hard to tell.  Celtic Clothing from grave sites tell us a Chieftain, found at Hochdorf, shows the same style as above but with it an unusual preserved conical hat with fine punched patterns, made of birch-bark. Salt miners wore the same type of Celtic clothing with lower quality cloth and less colour with the same conical hats made of animal fur.

Celt-Iberic Celtic Clothing  - men wore tunics of mid-thigh length with a wide decorated belt at the waist. Women are wearing elaborate Celtic headdresses and tunics with checkered trim, and sometimes a very wide ruffle at the bottom of a hem or skirt called a flounce about 4 - 5" wide.  Belts worn by the Celt-Iberians of early Christian period were wide and decorated with metal plaques.


I could not find any depictions of dress in Ireland before the Christian period, so the following is from Spanish mythology "the Book of Leinster" written out by the Spanish monks in 9th century, is the major source of Irish descriptions.   Celts said they came from the Spain before spreading out to the isles. There are documents and songs to state this fact.  So Irish Celtic clothing is the following;

Irish Celtic clothing -  Irish Celts of any ages or sex wore usually, a white linen leine (tunic).  Other tunics were dark gray, gold, yellow and brown in the stories.  The word 'leine' actually means linen.  Some tunics had sleeves, and some actually had hoods, like our pull over hoodies today!  (SOLD OUT) Some were knee-length, and some calf-length but the most common of course was mid-thigh for men.  We also read that some had red/gold embroidery, lace or fringes as trim.  One is described with a gold hem, some had gold seams or red embroidery.  The interlace was very simple twist.  Don't make the mistake of put intricate interlace on an early Celtic clothing, for this was not done until the 5th century possibly later. 

Medieval tunic

British, French = (Gauls), Germananic, mixed French and German = (Franks) Celtic clothing - On mainland European continent wore the same Celtic clothing.  The Romans could tell them apart by their language only.  Celtic Cloaks of course.  The men wore three forms of trousers, described below under warriors, tight fitting that extended just over the knee, loose fitting trousers with feet in them, or pants secured at the ankles by the straps from their shoes. The trousers either had a tie at the waist or were furnished with belt loops.  No evidence exists that the Irish tribes ever used cross-gartering on their hose as did the Germanic tribes.  Shirts were mostly sleeveless tunics here with fringed hems.   The tight fitting above the knee style was adopted by the Roman legions, not the other way around as most persons assume.  More and more evidence  is surfacing shows this.  Romans even adopted "chainmaille" from the Celts. Some Roman depictions show Celtic men wearing caps and hats similar to a Shriner's fez but rounded on top instead of flat.


Celtic Clothing and Status

Tunics - In Celtic clothing, most tunics are known to have been made of linen, unless one was of noble birth, which then it was silk.  

Celtic Cloaks - A Mantle, or fur cape, was an essential necessity and not a luxury as today.  It was the color and length of the Celtic cloak that showed the status of the individual.  Celtic Cloaks were rectangular or ovoid; the oval ones being shaped on the loom.  A Celtic cloak, called a Brat, was the rectangular type was pinned with a brooch.  For the brat - the longer the brat, the higher the status. The brat of kings and heroes was often referred to as being 'five-folded'.  This means that only the Chieftains, honoured warriors, Royalty and Druid were allowed over 5 colors.  We know of a mantle which  some of the colors were purple, green, reddish-gray, black, and gray streaked, yellow, red, dun, or purple edged, patchworked and one re-brown. This important piece of Celtic clothing was usually the four-cornered or oval brat, pinned at the breast with a pin or brooch.  Irish Celtic cloaks resembled bear skins or fur or curly wool.  A piece of a cloak from around 200CE period with inserted tuftings of wool has been found in an Irish bog.

Shoes, Sandals, and Belts

Celtic Clothing shoes were  made of leather, straw or linen.  It seems that shoes were  worn only by women and male Druids, definitely not warriors unless they wore linen shoes that rotted away.  Interesting one piece shoes have been found in the Irish bogs and they are of the same type worn by figures in the Book of Kells.  Remember since the Celts loved bright colours, and some of these shoes have even been described in the literature as purple and yellow.  The shoe was a sandal type usually but was sometimes a full boot  shoe with fur wrapped around the leg, held together with strings of leather.  The boot shoes varied but for the most part were made with one piece of leather. Gaulish sandals and shoes constructed of straw have been found. 

Celtic Clothing Belts - Celts loved to wear belt buckles and belts which we have here in the store. A belt of leather or wool called the oriss was sometimes worn over the leine, although the Tain only mentions belts in connections with swords or armor. Belts were made by card weaving so that complex patterns could be made. Card weaving was also used to make fringes for Celtic clothing.


Druidess Celtic Clothing - wore green speckled cloak with a round, heavy headed brooch above the breast is described.

Prophetesses Celtic Clothing - wore snug long tunics with long hoods that covered her head, stiff and glossy with green silk beneath red layer, with gold embroidery and is clasped over her breasts with a brooch of silver and gold.  They wore a purple cloak with this. The hood mentioned may not have been a true hood but rather a fold of material at the top of the tunic as seen on early Greek chitons.

Free women Celtic Clothing - Celtic clothing worn by women was the narrow tunic or chiton., some Tribes are described as wearing white ones with purple embroidery.  Others wore the short tunic tucked into a long skirt.  Seems to have been the costume of the Ostrogothic women.  The dresses are described as being "tight-fitting" which the early Greek chitons were.  Interestingly, ancient authors mention the wearing of bells on the hems and skirts of the dresses which is linked to the bells dance of the the 1st Nations women of today. Scottish woman & sometimes men wore the Arisaidh, which was like a skirt shawl.  


Warriors of a certain Celtic cults went naked into battle covered only with designs drawn on their bodies in blue dye made from woad and Celtic jewelry.

Medieval Celtic Clothing

By the 800 CE, soldiers and lower class males wore a jacket and pants, or hose.   The tunics, in the Book of Kells, are all ankle length except for those worn by warriors.  Upper class warriors and younger men stuck to their traditional older dress forms.  The upper classes, beyond the English Celts influence, (Scottish-Picts) continued to wear the linen leine until well past 1485 - 1700's. The leine became much fuller and developed long full sleeves in these times.  Other period sources show knee length chitons with long sleeved tunics or ankle length chitons underneath. The Mater figures in northern Germany show over-dresses fastened at the breast with a pin.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

very Good blog for information on Clothing and Footwear