Celtic women in battle

I’m reading a fascinating book of my great-grandfather’s called, The Scottish Gael or Celtic Manners as preserved among the Highlanders. It was published in 1833. It was written by James Logan and our copy is very very old. It even has the address in it my great-grandparents were living at when they came in 1901. They were living over the bakery on Vermont Ave. Never knew that before. It’s one of the most peculiarly organized books I’ve ever read. Its chapters are broad topics and the only indication that the subject has changed is a few words at the top of the page.

That being said, I was trying to do some research on Highland holidays which turned out not to be there and got lost in the chapter on women in war that starts with Roman times and then goes forward.

At one point he is talking about how many could be raised as an army and states that Boudicca had 230,000 people in her army. The Romans only had 40,000 which might explain how they lost so badly to her.

He talks about Veleda, Aurinia, and Boudicca as being regarded as bearers of divine will and were venerated and followed into battle because they were touched by the divine. The Romans described the women as “the women attacked them with swords and axes and making a hideous outcry, fell upon all those who fled, as well as their pursuers, the former as traitors and the latter as enemies; mixing with the soldiers, with their bare arms, pulled away the shields of the Romans and laid hold of their swords, enduring the wounding and slashing of their bodies to the very last with undaunted resolution. It talks about them screaming and yelling at the men to excite them before going into battle. It also says they did the same when the Romans attacked the Druid’s sacred isle of Anglesea.

He says: “The great respect which Celts paid to their women was due to many amiable qualities and the estimation in which military acquirements were held by these people gave an incredible weight to the authority of the heroine…. Such women were regarded as having supernatural gifts and in the name of the deity they governed the people.”

From there he goes on to talk about the role of Bards and Druids in battle.

Love old books!

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