Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Goidels and Britons

StonehengeThe earliest known name given to this island was Albion. It is uncertain whether the word is of Celtic or of Iberian origin. The later name Britain is derived from a second swarm of Celts called Brythons or Britons, who after a long interval followed the first Celtic immigration. The descendants of these first immigrants are distinguished from the new-comers by the name of Goidels, and it is probable that they were at one time settled in Britain as well as in Ireland, and that they were pushed across the sea into Ireland by the stronger and more civilised Britons. At all events, when history begins Goidels were only to be found in Ireland, though at a later time they colonised a part of what is now known as Scotland, and sent some offshoots into Wales.

At present the languages derived from that of the Goidels are the Gaelic of the Highlands, the Manx of the Isle of Man, and the Erse of Ireland. The only language now spoken in the British Isles which is derived from that of the Britons is the Welsh; but the old Cornish language, which was spoken nearly up to the close of the eighteenth century, came from the same stock. It is therefore likely that the Britons pushed the Goidels northward and westward, as the Goidels had formerly pushed the Iberians in the same directions.

It was most likely that the Britons erected the huge stone circle of Stonehenge on Salisbury Plain, though it is not possible to speak with certainty. That of Avebury is of an earlier date and uncertain origin. Both were probably intended to serve as monuments of the dead, though it is sometimes supposed that they were also used as temples.

No comments:

Post a Comment