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The Silures

The Tribe and extended Family


The Most complete model of this is the Triadic one; the Celts used this in their three fold pattern in all their artistic creations. Whether visual or verbal the three functions of society were but one more manifestation of three-in-one, on the level of the human community. In the polarity between our world and, (Annwfn) Other world, disruptive third element may be called chaos.


The Silures were the tribe of the area that covered the Brecon Beacons and the Valleys of South Wales. Living in the high ground the Silures, unlike their Dobunni relatives offered strong resistance to the Romans. Indeed, between 45–57 CE it is probably fair to say that they led the British opposition to the westwards advance of the Roman Empire. As a result, though we know little of how they lived day to day, many of the leading Roman writers (notably Pliny, Ptolemy and Tacitus) mention them by name. Tacitus describes them as a ‘strong and warlike nation’, but by the early 60s CE they had been occupied by the Romans. However, the Silures’ bitter and concerted resistance may explain why they were only granted self-governing civitasstatus during the early second century CE with the administrative centre being at Venta Silurum(Caerwent).


The Tribe


The priestly ( Derwydd or Druid) caste were the underlying authority because they spoke to the ‘Other world’, and told the tribe through their visions of the coming years needs of the land, and of individuals needs with in the tribal family, because they received messages from the ‘Other world’ they were the glue that kept the family tribe together, their word was law.



The Warriors were the top of the tree, because they defended the tribe, the farmer caste fed the tribe.
The Warrior caste were the heart of the tribe they were admired, they were the fashion setters of their time, and they were the heroes of magical poems.

They tried to out do each other in daring acts, cattle raiding was the wealth of a tribe so rustling was seen as a brave act, but also to fight a warrior from another tribe with a repartition was worthy of a poem by the Bards.
They also defended their territory, from other tribes which they believed was given them by their Land- Goddess and kept out intruders by a show of bravery and determination.

They had no idea about War. Warriors pursued a highly individual career, and were rewarded by the tribe’s admiration. Only when times were hard did they go for other tribe’s territory and cattle.
Being fearless in the fight, would give them a reputation of possessing great prowess, and it was seen as a daring act if the Warrior took the head of his opponent.



The farmersTheir jobs were the third-function people of the tribe, they were never sung about in song or poem, but they were vital to the life of the tribe.They showed the same ingenuity and creativity of all the Celts in their culture, at the height of their of development the free Celts were prosperous and comfort loving.Their achievements’ as fine metal workers, Cartwright’s, masons, cheese-makers, prepared smoked meats, meant there was plenty of wealth to be traded for foreign goods such as expensive bright dyes.


Those out side the protection of the Tribe:

On the edge of the tribes society there existed that was not of the tribal kin, and fell outside their privileges. They were probably bondsman, or maybe slaves.For kinship-true or given, was the only social cement in the Celtic world.
You had to fight for the tribe so allegiance was to the family.The extended family were, one for political reasons, extend kinship through adoption, so the system was flexible.Children were fostered by families unrelated to them in order to create new ties not based on blood ties.Even a bondsman for whatever reason could if they were not criminals or undesirable, be adopted too.An outstanding personal talent for craftsmanship, or music, or any other occupation may be singled out for promotion.


In trying to understand the structure of a tribe I turned to the foremost recognized authority on the subject Alexei Kondratiev, he studied at Columbia University, New York, later at Ecole des Hautes Etudes in Paris. He taught Celtic mythology, early Celtic Christianity, and he perfected his knowledge of the living Celtic languages through prolonged stays in Ireland, Wales and France.


Information from his book: Celtic Rituals.

Compiled by Rhisiart Morgan.

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