Archiver > GENEALOGY-DNA > 2006-08 > 1156543406

From: Alan R <>
Subject: Re: [DNA] Silly paper talk 'the Irish came from Spain' etc
Date: Fri, 25 Aug 2006 23:03:26 +0100 (BST)
In-Reply-To: <>

I am aware that north, central and west Iberia and
Brittany were part of the overall Celtic world. What
I am saying is that direct links in terms of
identical/ very similar monuments of a very similar
date with very similar archaeological artifacts are
lacking when Ireland is compared to Iberia. For a
famous archaeologist, Cunliffe's book is a very odd
speculative whimsical sojourn into a vague hypothesis
for which he produces almost no concrete evidence.

The best that can be said about Irish-Iberian or
Irish-continental Atlantic contacts in general is that
the archaeological record shows occasional hints of
similarity of restricted aspects of monuments and
objects in the late Neolithic and Bronze Age but the
differences between the two areas are far greater than
the similarities. For example, the art and some
features of the latest Irish passage tombs hint at
limited high status contact along the Atlantic facade
between Orkney, Ireland, Western Britain, Brittany and
Iberia. However, even so, the differences (pottery
types, building style etc) are much larger than the
similarities. Its the same with Bronze Age metalwork
where there are intermittent hints of Atlantic
European contacts in some artifacts but these are
massively outweighed by differences, local aspects and
stronger hints of contacts with other areas of Europe
and Britain.

The evidence for contact is vastly stronger between
Ireland and Atlantic Britain, especially Scotland.
Here, the monuments and artifacts of some periods were
very similar although again with local differences.
The most certain periods of actual significant
population movement between Ireland and Atlantic
Britain (probably Scotland)were the Early Mesolithic
and the Early Neolithic when the resemblance between
Ireland (especially the northern half) and North-West
Britain was very strong indeed and included even
mundane aspects of material culture such as flint
tools and pottery. As noted above there were contacts
between these areas again in late Neolithic (Passage
tombs, grooved ware etc) but the many differences in
the more mundane finds by this period suggest no real
population movement and only high status links. Broad
similarity and parallel development were the rule in
the Bronze Age between the same areas but it was much
more generalistic and frequent contact rather than any
significant settlement is implied.

In short, the archaeological similarities with
Atlantic Britain are often staring you in the face
while those with Atlantic Europe are subtle,
occasional, hard to define and you really need to go
looking for them. In layman's terms, go to the Irish
National Museum in Dublin then go to the Scottish
equivalent in Edinburgh and look through the cases of
each period and compare the two areas. The often
specific and constantly broad resemblance throughout
most of the prehistoric period is staggering. If you
were not looking too closely at the detail, you could
almost swap the two museums artifacts around. Then,
if you go, as I have, to the museums in A Coruna,
Oviedo, Santander etc and compare each period to
Ireland and Britain you will see much that is

In particular, the total difference between the north
Iberian Iron Age on the one hand and that of Ireland
and Britain on the other is absolute. The
archaeological record of the Irish Iron Age has almost
no objects with Iberian affinities but many with
Gaulish or British La Tene roots. In terms of the few
known monuments of the Irish Iron Age, Ireland
resembles nowhere else in Europe or Britain and was
clearly going through a culturally introverted period.
The Irish stone forts have been subject to several
recent excavations and are now firmly dated to either
the Late Bronze Age or the Early Christian period,
while those of Iberia (the Castros) are of Iron Age
date and of a very different character.

Why put an emphasis on the very hard to identify or
define contacts with Iberia when the evidence for
contact with the rest of the continent or Britain is
vastly greater. It just does not stand to reason and
clearly stems either from pre-conceived ideas or still
being influenced by the fabricated Latin
pseudo-histories that connect Ireland and Iberia. As
I stated in a previous e-mail, it is long established
that the roots of the myth that brought the Irish to
Ireland from Spain was just the naive connecting by
Early Christian scholars of two unconnected words:
Iberia (a non-Celtic word which probably comes from
the river Ebro) and Hibernia (from an early Celtic
word meaning the fertile land).

I have had a touring holiday through Galicia, Asturias
and Cantabria (wonderful places) and the countryside
does sometimes resemble Atlantic Britain and Ireland
and there is also a similar general legacy of survival
of older traditions (music etc) but this is due to the
isolation of these areas from the mainstream and
preservation of older ways, NOT to intense direct
contact between them. This is the same reason for
similar high levels of AMH genes in Ireland and
northern Spain: relative isolation and the consequent
lesser dilution of the genes of the earliest settlers
by later settlers from the east.


--- wrote:

> Alan & List.
> There are other noted authorities who have a
> different opinion than you !
> >From my notes:
> "The Ancient Celts" by Barry Cunliffe. Professor of
> European Archaeology.
> Oxford University.
> Iberia and the Celtiberians
> P. 135 "the Atlantic bronze industry received a new
> impetus when the
> Phoenicians established themselves on the island of
> Cadiz. The consuming demand for
> tin, which was to be had in quantities in Galicia,
> Brittany, and Cornwall and
> the accessibility of gold from these regions and
> from Wales and Ireland...."
> In the northwest of the Iberian Peninsula continuous
> development throughout
> the second half of the first millennium led to the
> emergence of a highly
> distinctive Castro culture characterized by defended
> hilltop settlements
> [Portugal, N.W. Spain as well as in Wales] My note.
> P. 166 Castros: "The Oppidum (town) of Citania de
> Sanfins, Paços de
> Ferreira, Portugal." [One of several visited by
> me.]
> P. 142 "....the extent to which the Celtic language
> was spoken is
> demonstrated by the distribution of place names with
> the suffix -briga or the prefix
> Seg-."
> P. 145 "The Celtic language was spoken throughout
> much or most of western
> Europe."
> P. 267 "What is not in doubt, as anyone familiar
> with Galicia, Brittany,
> Ireland or Wales will well know, is the very strong
> emotional appeal which the
> idea of sharing a common Celtic heritage has."
> “Facing the Ocean-The Atlantic and its Peoples”
> by Barry Cunliffe (Oxford
> 2001). The author confirms the ethnic origin of the
> peoples of Northern Spain,
> and the promontories of Brittany, Cornwall, Wales,
> Ireland, and Western
> Scotland.
> For a map showing Celtic territory from the 5th
> century BC until the Roman
> conquest see:
> Map of Pre-Roman Iberia (circa 200 bc) –
> The first township established in Galicia was that
> of Saefes in the 10th
> century BC. The Celts were to conquer the
> Oestrymnio, and this would also
> especially influence religion, political
> organization and the maritime relations
> with Brittany and England. Their distinctive warring
> attitude led Estrabon to
> say that they were the most difficult people in the
> whole of Lusitania
> (Portugal) to defeat." Ref. The History of Galicia.
> "It is widely believed that the Celts sailed to the
> British Isles from
> Galicia; prior to the Roman conquest of Europe.
> Galicia was a center of Celtic
> civilization, much more so then Ireland." Unknown
> source.
> "On another point, ancient traditions in Ireland
> have it that the early
> Celtic invaders were from Iberia (now Spain)....they
> were thought to be Celtic
> seafarers from northern portions of the Iberian
> peninsula. Writer Thomas
> Cahill contends that some of the early Irish Celts
> were from Britain, but the
> dominant Celts were from what is now Spain.
> Portugal has perhaps the very oldest megaliths in
> Europe, some of them quite
> remarkable, and there is much evidence of varied
> Pagan cults and places of
> worship.
> Some natives of the British Isles might be
> surprised by the similarity
> between many of the Portuguese dolmens (several
> megaliths arranged in the form of
> a tomb) and the ones in their own countries. That is
> explained by the fact
> that there are close affinities between the
> megalithic period of Portugal and
> that of France and the British Isles; T.D. Kendrick
> talked about a western
> province comprising Portugal, Spain, western and
> south-western France and
> Britain and Ireland that would have been a single
> cultural entity throughout the
> Bronze Age."
> Material on Galicia, Spain from the BBC, The Celts,
> and articles entitled
> "Spain" in the Encyclopedia Britannica and the
> World Book Encyclopedia.
> The Portuguese for Wales is “Pais de Gales” -
> country of the Galicians,
> those who speak a Celtic tongue. Braga - a fortress
> or a
> defended area ? Briga - to fight
> Lloyd Ellis
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