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The Celts by Italeri
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Written by Jakub Mroczkowski   

This time I'd like to have a closer look at Rome's most important enemies - Celts or Gauls as they were widely known. And again I decided to mix sets 6022 and 6029 by Italeri to have a deeper insight into the subject as single sets are too scarce in terms of variety of poses . So it will be about infantry and cavalry as well. Both sets have mistakes but I'm not going to point them out here. I don't claim the right to review or criticize them but use them as a contribution to familiarize those who want with ancient history through my hobby which is collecting and painting figures.

The timeframe of the sets is more or less the same of Roman Infantry and Cavalry by Italeri which is 2nd and 1st BC and it reflects the final stage of so called La Tene culture before the final conquer of Gaul by Julius Caesar . The general Celts' appearance seen by ancients was more or less similar. They were taller than average dweller of Italy or Mediterranean area, light skinned, blue-eyed with long red or fair hair sometimes plaited or lime washed so that it reminded horse hair and made a warrior look taller and ferocious.

So called warrior class was created by the richest and mighty tribesmen that's why the equipment varied from man to man depending on his personal skills and rank in a tribe.
So some fought fully equipped in body and head protection while some bare-chested and not mentioning naked fanatics or so called Gaesati ( however the latest were not present in Caesar's days)

All warriors fought in loose formation however when needed they formed a shield wall (phalanx). They were divided into smaller groups, probably family members, under their own signs - standards, horns, trumpets. Celts were very religious or superstitious people we could say today. They gave praise to animals like boars, horses and birds.

There were numerous horn blowers giving commands through the battle field noise. Carnyx is the most popular form of Celtic horn. This was a long instrument with its mouth in form of an animal's head.

Celtic weapon was adjusted to their height. Their primary weapon was sword and they were known for its usage. It was rather long from 60 up to 90cm. Straight, double edged usually with blunt tip was mainly used for slashing. Sword handles were usually made of wood. The traditional sword handle was in the form of a letter X or was under a roman influence.

Scabbards were made of metal or wood covered with leather. The sword was suspended on the right side by chains of iron or bronze. Belts were usually made of leather.

Although Celts were mainly swordsmen they were also fine spearmen or javelin throwers.

The spear or javelin heads had different shapes and length. Some were leaf shaped with wavy edges.

Some light javelins -tragula- had a special leather strap-belt (amentum) used in order to lengthen the flight distance.

Those who couldn't afford swords or spears used less popular weapon such as bow or sling to weaken enemies from longer distance.

Now let's go on to the protective weaponry.
It is said that all Gauls used shields as a primary protective item. Some scholars say it was Celts who gave Romans future inspiration to make famous scutum. Some disagree and say it was the Oscans who had inspired both Gauls and Romans centuries before. No matter how it was Celtic shields gave warriors good protection. Made of wooden planks covered with a hide they were found in a couple of types. The most popular were oval but could be rectangular, hexagonal or round as well. Some were given an Italian spindle bosses other had typical round ones made of bronze or iron. Shields were decorated with painted symbols, animals or geometric designs.

Diodorus describes Celtic helmets as something outstanding. Made of bronze with large figures of animals or horns. These are not typical however have evidences of ever existing and have representations in the set.

Lots of helmets have been discovered in Italy in the region occupied by Senones and are referred to as Montefortino type. Spherical in shape, made of iron or bronze they had small neck guards, some had cheek pieces and plum holders and were widely spread throughout the Celtic world.
There was another type of helmet similar to Montefortino type but lacked plum holder and it was referred to as the Coolus type. Both kinds of helmets found their way into Roman army. In the Early stages of La Tene culture probably under eastern influence there were conical helmets in use as well. Their name comes from the location Berru by Reims where such helmet was found .

Some say chain mail was invented by Celts other say it was developed somewhere in the East. Maybe it happened in those two places independently. Anyway it became popular among Celtic people around 3rd BC as they were great iron makers and blacksmiths. The use of chain mail, which was very expensive was probably restricted to aristocracy. A typical mail had two forms. Celtic type was with a cape (chain or leather) that hung from the shoulders. Another type had a form of a tunic with shoulder flaps in form of a linen corselet resembling Greek linothorax.

In the Early stages of La Tene culture Celtic people used bronze cylindrical pectorals or, probably under Greek influence, bronze torso cuirasses

Another important feature of a Celtic warrior is his clothing. They wore colorful trousers (braccae, braecci) and shirts made of typical checkered fabric that reminds Scottish tartan. When it was cold they wore woolen cloaks fastened by decorative pins. Their leather shoes were similar to those worn by Scythians. Classical decoration that comes to mind when thinking about Cetls is torc .It was a neck ring made of gold, bronze or iron. They were only worn by high ranking members of the tribe and were a status symbol. Sometimes worn on forearms .

Although numerous infantry which was a main core cavalry in the late La Tene period played an important role in Celtic army especially in times of Vercingetorix. Celtic riders were of the richest tribal aristocracy. They fought with long swords and spears usualy protected by round shields which were more comfortable for fighting from a horsback . The Celts began to use horned type of saddle. They didn't know stirups of course but were very good riders employed by the Romans in the early empire after the Gaul conquer. So soon the most formidable Rome's enemies became her best auxiliary soldiers...