Not all singing round the camp fireApril 19, 2011
One of the joys of writing fiction about the ancient world is that the huge gaps in the evidence are just ripe for filling with one’s own fond imaginings. And when it comes to the ancient Celts, or Britons, or whatever you choose to call them, those imaginings can be very fond indeed.
While we all know about the Roman penchant for violence, there’s a tendency to dismiss Roman reports of Celtic violence as propaganda. In this fantasy version of the past, Druids float through the woods waving mistletoe and reciting poetry, while the common folk sit around the campfire quaffing the ancient equivalent of Guinness, and fall asleep singing plaintive laments about lost homelands.
Now, I don’t doubt that a certain amount of quaffing and singing went on – indeed, it goes on in my own books. But there’s always been a darker side. We’ve known about the apparent murder of ‘bog bodies’ for some time, but now we have stark evidence of a massacre that apparently pre-dates Roman control.
For anyone who hasn’t seen it, here’s a link to the recent BBC article on an Iron Age mass burial site. Part of the mystery of what the Iron Age did with its dead seems to have been solved.