The Roads Of The Celts

On an old post I have written, I believe it was in 2012, I talked about the possibility that the Celts might have been the first to make a network of roads for comercial purposes and to link important settlements all over Europe, before the Romans made their own roads on top of the already existing ones of the Celts. As you might know, when the Celts started to spread all over Europe, 1000 years before they came to Irland and the others countries of Great Britain, the first place they have settled was the Iberian Peninsula, today Portugal and Spain, and they have settled mostly in the Northern parts of the Iberian Peninsula, but mostly in Northern Portugal and Galicia and Central Portugal between two great rivers, Durius ( today’s Douro ) and Tagus ( today’s Tejo ), and that area was exactly where the tribe of Celts later called Lusitanians by the Romans, have settled and thus the history of Portugal and their national symbols were born. Because the Iberian Peninsula was so important for many cultures, not just the many tribes of Celts, but also to the Greek and the Phoenicians, so trading routes were needed that led to the main land and the eastern parts of Europe to pass through the many regions where the Celts had settlements, because during this time trading was mostly done by sea and little was taken to areas further inland. So the Celts made those road networks that linked the important Hellenic and Semitic Ports to their own settlements all the way from the Iberian Peninsula as far as the Swiss mountains* and beyond probably to nowadays Czech Republic.

By the time the Romans emerged and started their campaigns across Europe, they already knew where to go and which places where the most important for the Celts and especially to the Lusitanians ( the greatest power in the Iberian Peninsula at the time, the most likely to resist and drive the Romans back ) because of the already existing roads, they followed the paths and easily conquered the lands, after that, they built their own roads on top of the already existing ones, as we can see in the case of the the Via Heraklea, an ancient route that runs a thousand miles in a straight line from the tip of the Iberian Peninsula to the Alps, and this also happened in other countries, including the ones in Great Britain, or at least, the parts where the romans could get.

My theory wasn’t far from the truth, because it seems that the straight Roman roads has been exposed by a new book which claims that these extraordinary engineering feats were in fact the work of the Celts. The findings of Graham Robb bring a new enlightenment to this subject and places into question two millennia of thinking about Iron Age Britain and Europe and the stereotyped image of Celts as barbarous, superstitious tribes.
In truth, Druids and other Celt’s scientific and spiritual leaders, have been some of the most intellectually advanced personalities of their time, it is said that they have developed the straight roads in the 4th Century BC, hundreds of years before the Italian armies marched across Europe.
The first theory was around the Via Heraklea, when it was realised that it was plotted along the solstice lines through several Celtic settlements, mapping the positioning of hundreds of other towns and cities in France, Britain and Ireland and found that the Celt’s had organised them to mirror the paths of their Sun God, created a network straight of tracks following the solstice lines across the continent. This suggests that the Druids possessed map-making skills that historians believed were discovered centuries later. Unfortunately as you may know, their scientific and mathematical achievements have been long forgotten as there is no written evidence and their history has been replaced the stereotypes of them as wood-dwelling wildmen, it is a real pity that in the Celtic society it was a rule not to write any document that contained any history of this people, and all kind of knowledge was passed through the teachings trough language, in order to keep all practices within the community and not reasing others, which leaves the entire history of the Celts, shrouded in mystery and that is why nowadays it is hard to believe that such people did amazing and extremely sophisticated things.

*It is important to emphasize these routes between the Iberian Peninsula and in the Swiss Alps, as the Celtic tribe with more power in ancient Iberia, was the tribe of the Lusitanians who were the first European people to form a nation by uniting with other Celtic tribes, and it is thought that the origin of the Portuguese, in this case the Lusitanians, was in the Helvetic Alps in Switzerland, the site chosen by the Celts in their early migrations.

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