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Jun 17, 2010 2:52 PM CST
Name: Val
It is understandable why people think of human sacrifice in connection with the ancient Celts. Several Romans wrote a lot about it. Caesar, Diodorus, Strabo, Pliney, Lucan, Tacitus. Of course these weren’t unbiased accounts but I don’t think they can be easily discarded either.

Lucan wrote “…and those Gauls who propitiate with human sacrifices the merciless gods Teutates, Esus and Taranis—at whose altars the visitant shudders because they are as awe-inspiring as those of Scythian Diana”
A commentator elaborates that Taranis, the thunder god, was appeased by fire; the victims of Esus were stabbed and were hanged by a tree until they bled to death; and those assigned to Teutates (Toutates) were drowned in a vat.

This is consistent with Land, Sea and Sky concept. And many Celtic scholars believe that a plate of the Gundestrup Cauldron depicts Teutates drowning his victims.

We also have Lindow Man who was discovered in 1984 in Cheshire, England. He had three kinds of “deaths”. He was struck on the head, strangled and his throat was cut. Other indications that he was ritually killed are that he was naked and painted, had mistletoe pollen in his belly, and was well-manicured (indicating high rank).

There are many instances of possible human sacrifice. However, the remains don’t show if a druid killed the individual. Since the druids were the educated class of the Celts (priests, as well as political advisers, judges, teachers, lawyers, etc), it would be safe to say that they were probably involved.

In a 2nd century pit in Hertfordshire, England was found a skull that had been decapitated and skinned. Damage to the base of the skull, missing lower jaw, and lack of weathering are consistent with being displayed indoors. This is consistent with some of the Roman writings about the Celts.

There are two sanctuaries near Marseille, France that indicate head hunting by the Gaulish Celts. Roquepertuse and Entremont.

Both of these temples had niches in which were set human heads. The heads were of males under 40 years old. Many scholars believe that these were the heads of their enemies. This is consistent with the writings of Livy, Diodorus and Strabo.

An interesting article on the subject:

A book that deals with this subject:
The author is a respected professor of archaeology at Cardiff.
I've read a few of her books and loved them. But I haven't read this book yet (someday!).

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