By Mike Haseler

Thanks go to David Petts whose questions I will try to answer in this article.

This is a third article in a series. The first two article were:

What languages at the eve of the Roman Invasion

Gaelic (Green), Welsh (Red),
Pictish (Blue) Wikipedia

Let's start by looking at the typical idea of the languages of the UK prior to the Roman invasion as shows to the left. This show the typical unsubstantiated assertion that we get. This is really just a "nationalist" wish list: Ireland is Irish, Scotland is Pictish and England is Welsh. The English are nowhere to be see.

Grey areas of Welsh like language
around 6th century
(Wikipedia)

The next stage in the classic idea of the evolution of British languages is that of the genocidal Anglo Saxons who ethnically cleansed all of England in the 6th/7th century. But strangely without leaving a sign in the archaeological record. After this event the map now looks more like the one to the right with the "Welsh" who Nationalists call "Britons" pushed to the West.

But notice how well the area occupied by the Welsh fits in with the Historia Brittonum description for the Picts:

After an interval of not less than eight hundred years, came the Picts, and occupied the Orkney Islands: whence they laid waste many regions, and seized those on the left hand side of Britain, where they still remain, keeping possession of a third part of Britain to this day. (Historia Brittonum 12)

And there is some support for the idea that the "Welsh" were invaders because the word used for them did not refer to a place. Instead the English "Welsh" derives from the Old English Wilisc, Wylisc (West Saxon), Welisc, Wælisc (Anglian and Kentish), from Wealh, Walh: non-Germanic foreigner. However that could result from Welsh invasion from Wales to a Germanic area as much as any idea that the Welsh invaded Britain.

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By Mike Haseler

After a bit of discussion on the last article (The Scots are Not Kelts) I've taken those discussions and added further information. But first I have to say I cannot accept the mindset of some people that seems to suggest it is OK to create myths when that evidence is so unequivocally against the "Celtic" myth. As I and Oppenheimer have both found quite independely by looking at the recorded history of the Kelts, it is very clearly recorded that they were a group in Southern France who are a subgroup of the Gauls. This is about as close as we can get to an undeniable historical fact.

But to show how ridiculous this Celtic language myth is, let us suppose for the sake of argument that this "Celtic" Myth were true. According to this myth the reason the French do not speak a "Celtic" language is because their language was Latinised by the Romans leading to Old French.

However, if as the Celtic Myth goes, the Welsh were "the" race in Roman Britain, we would likewise find their language has been Latinised in a similar way so that Old Welsh would like Old French. It hardly needs a language expert to know that French and Welsh are very different, and whilst the claims of Celticists are many and bizarre, I have not seen any attempt to claim French as being "Celtic" (although no doubt they would if it were not so obviously a Romance language). So, Latinisation cannot explain the difference between the French spoken in the area identified by Caesar as Celtic and the area Celticists falsely assert to be Celtic. Obviously the Romans were in Gaul longer, and we also see "Romance" languages in a broad spread from Spain to Italy which were all invaded by Romans, however like Welsh, Basque did not become a Romance language it did not become: "Roman-cised".

So, how can we explain this? There really are only two possible explanations that make sense:

  1. That Latin did heavily influence French, Spanish, etc. - but Welsh & Basque escaped this ... this strongly suggest they are Post-Roman introductions and so very little influenced by Latin. In other words the Celtic Myth is false because Welsh came after the Roman occupation (which is not a good fit with evidence).

  2. That Latin had very little influence on native languages like Welsh and Basque AND OTHER native languages like Spanish and French. We must therefore conclude that Old Spanish, Old French, etc. were always distinct languages of the Romance group of languages. Therefore as Latin did not heavily impact local languages, the "Celtic" language itself would still be a major influence on the language spoken in the modern area of "Gaul". Add a comment

By Mike Haseler

A few years ago I spent perhaps as much as a whole year researching the identity of the "Kelts". I came to a very clear conclusion. There was no way on earth that the Irish, Welsh or Scots were "Celts". It was simply absurd nonsense from the same stable as the "Aryan" origins of the German Nazi race.

However whilst the evidence that the fringes of Britain were not Keltic is very clear, I had hoped to give a fuller explanation. Almost a decade has passed since I started looking and even a two year archaeology course did not tease out the last areas of doubt - but if anything I am now very clear about what I do not know.

But worse, I felt I had to really create a concrete case before going public, because either it would have holes and I would be ignored, or it would stand the test of time and would upset virtually every archaeologist.

However, that excuse disappeared when I found a book "The origins of the British" by Stephen Oppenheimer, that has many of the same ideas. (derived completely independently) The book is mainly about the DNA evidence of peoples in Britain but it has a good introduction chapter on the "Celts" which I will try to summarise below.

"The origins of the British" by Stephen Oppenheimer

Most people in Britain believe the original inhabitants of Britain were the "Celts". But this picture has been built up over the years.The 1913 Webster Dictionary defined Celt thus:

Celt ... One of an ancient race of people, who formerly inhabited a great part of Central and Western Europe, and whose descendants at the present day occupy Ireland, Wales, the Highlands of Scotland and the Northern Shores of France.

But this is different from the previous dictionary which described them as "One of the primitive inhabitants of the South of Europe". But note the interesting change in European territory reflecting a 19th century move in concept toward a homeland in central Europe.

The Greeks and Romans used the words Keltoi and Celtae but they never mentioned any connection with the British Isles. [There are many references to the tribes and peoples of Britain. None of them refer to a Celtic origin].

Language is seen as extremely important in modern perceptions of a celtic identity and ethnicity. By Celtic they mean the group of languages modern linguists refer to as "Celtic". [A nice circular argument]. The languages are so called "Q-Celtic" Irish and Scots Gaelic and so called "P-Celtic" Welsh, Breton, Cornish. But this view of a Celtic language is at odds with the classical view.

As Oppernheimer puts it there is "potential doubt" that modern celtic languages have anything to do with the Kelts.

There is clear evidence [from classical accounts] of the Celtic language [whatever it is] being spoken in parts of France, Northern Italy and Spain. There is no such evidence for the Celtic tongue being spoken in either the assumed homeland in central Europe nor in the present day "Celtic" areas on the fringes of Britain. "So if prehistorians and linguists of the last 150 years wanted to find a convincing homeland for Celtic languages, why on earth were they looking in central Europe, rather than south west Europe?" The answer is that Herodotus when locating the area of the Kelts, mistakenly thought the Danube arose near the Pyrenees and when the origin was correctly located in Germany, the (supposed) homeland of the Kelts was also transposed to this region.

"Debunking the myth of the Central European Celtic linguistic and cultural homeland is a long overdue task"

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By Mike Haseler

Summary:

Three out of the five lives of St.Patrick locate his birthplace near Alt Clud or Dumbarton Rock on the Clyde Estuary that flows through Glasgow. Using this information we can identify the other name associated with his birthplace “Nemthur”  as the Roman Fort of Nemeton or Old Kilpatrick at the western end of the Antonine wall. This is both the key to identifying the main forts along the Antonine Wall and confirmation that St.Patrick was born in or near Old Kilpatrick.

A note to Nennius tell us there were severn principle forts along the Roman Antonine wall. The first at Carriden is already known to be VELUNIA. The Ravenna Cosmography lists six up to MEDIO NEMETON. But if this is considered as two names “MEDIO” & “NEMETON” it gives seven making NEMETON, the last fort at Old Kilpatrick. Fiacc's hymn tells us Patrick was born in Nemthur. This is linguistically close enough that a translation or copy error can readily explain the difference between Nemthur and NEMETON.

The name Dumbarton provides further confirmation as the next location listed in the Ravenna Cosmography after NEMETON is "SUBDOBIADON" . Dumbarton (or "Dunbarton", the form in the earliest records) is linguistically close to “SUBDOBIADON” . If we assume a copy mistake such that R→A and perhaps an omitted 'n' then the original form of Dunbarton would be: “SUB-DOnBIRDON” . Together with evidence that there was an early Christian community & late Roman occupation in and around Old Kilpatrick/Glasgow this appears to be conclusive evidence confirming Old Kilpatrick (or nearby) as the Birthplace of St.Patrick.

Having identifed the last fort we can then identify many of the principle forts along the Antonine wall using a number of criteria such as size and late finds. This gives the Latin names of the principle forts (running East to West) as: Carriden (VELUNIA), Mumrills (VOLITANIO), Castlecary (PEXA), Barhill (BEGESSE), the two next principle forts (COLANIA & MEDIO) are less certain but can be tentatively identified as Balmuildy (MEDIO) and Kirkintilloch (COLANIA), leaving the final Fort of Old Kilpatrick as NEMETON.

The Antonine Wall

The Antonine wall is a world heritage site. It was built by the Romans and stretches some 39 miles from Old Kilpatrick on the Firth of Clyde to Bo'ness on the Firth of Forth. Although called a wall, the Romans built most of it and many of the forts of stacked turf. Today all that can be seen of the turf wall is a slight rise in a few places. However, the ditch that lay to its northern defensive side still marks the landscape in places such as Croy where cuts across the landscape. 24 sites have been located spaced along the wall from the small fortlet of Kinneil to the extensive fort of Mumrills.

The names of the forts has long been a topic of speculation. We have a list of ten places in the Ravenna Cosmography from about 700AD. But whilst most agree the first fort in this list will be the most easterly fort on the wall (Carriden) previous attempts to match these to the many places along the wall have failed. This is because whilst there are ten names on the list from the Ravenna Cosmography, there are not ten obvious candidates for principal forts along the wall. Nor was there any linguistic or other rational proposal to link names to places.

As other attempts have failed, this proposal assumes that the text must be corrupt in some way. This is common in such early texts like the Ravenna Cosmography which have been copied from other sources which in turn were also copied by hand many times over the centuries. So there is a high probability of errors creeping into the list. Two obvious ways would be if a scribe were detailing places using a map showing the Roman wall, then they may have considered forts along the Clyde to also be part of the forts "along the line that crosses" from east to west. Another is that names in a list could be combined or separated by the mere addition or loss of a small punctuation mark.

As the Romans tended to be fairly regimented in their approach to life and e.g. we find regularly spaced forts along the Antonine wall, it is to be expected that the principal forts may also follow a regular patter. So, if we could identify even one additional place along the wall, then we have a good chance to identify most if not all the remaining principal forts. Where could we find such a place?

St.Patrick's Birthplace

It is recorded by the church in Rome, that St.Patrick was born some time in the fifth century. We are told his family home was in Banauem Taberniae (MacNeill 1926). His father Calpurnius was a deacon and his grandfather Potitus a priest (prestbyter). Patrick tells us his father was also a "decurio" which probably means that he was a member of the local governing body of their home-village. When he was about 16 he was captured and carried off as a slave to Ireland, he escaped and then returned to Ireland as a missionary. There is no modern sign of his birthplace, however as many assume that a “decurio” requires a Roman civic present, they assert that as the Romans left Scotland:

The only point about the birthplace of St. Patrick on which there is real certainty is that he was born in Roman Britain” (Needham 1963)

Fig 1: Dumbarton Rock
(Stoddart 1800)

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