Wales is often referred to as a Celtic country and the Welsh language as one of the Celtic languages. But who were the original Celts?
The Celts were Iron Age people living in central Europe during the first millennium BC. “The Celtic Cradle” is the term used to refer to that area where the early Celts lived; its centre was modern day Austria (red area on map).
They lived in tribes and shared a common culture. They spoke a Celtic language or dialects of a Celtic language.
They did not call themselves Celts; each tribe had its own name. The term “Celt” comes from the Greek word “Keltoi” meaning barbarians.
Over time and under pressure from other people in Europe – mainly the Romans and Germanic tribes – many Celtic tribes moved to the Middle East (Galatia) and to the southern and western parts of Europe (green areas on map).
The language and dialects of the early Celts was an oral tradition; there are no written records. Today, no-one speaks a Celtic language in the Middle East or on mainland Europe, apart from Brittany in north-west France – and those speakers came from Britain originally.