Headhunting and the idea that the head is of spiritual importance is a belief that dates back aeons but overtime has become most associated with the ancient Celts, the practice was deeply embedded within their culture and left imprints on all aspects of their society, their art and their mythology.

For the ancient Celts the head symbolised more than just a body part to be disposed of after battle, they believed that the head was the seat of a person’s soul which could be used as a tool to communicate with the Otherworld, and therefore was deeply symbolic and deeply connected to the supernatural world.

To a warrior the head was the ultimate prize to be claimed from victory, it was a badge of honour to be displayed with pride, according to the Greek philosopher Posidonius when Celtic warriors returned from battle they would have the severed head of their enemies hanging from the neck of their horses, they would then be embalmed in cedar oil and put away in chests to then be brought out to display to any visitors.

In terms of archaeological evidence for the ancient Celts veneration for the head much has been discovered across the Celtic lands, in what was once Southern Gaul skulls were discovered that still bore the marks of the spikes they were displayed on and in Britain skulls have been discovered that once marked the entrance of an Iron Age fort.

Weekly article from @history_nerdette


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