We’re quite deep into game development, and we’ve already finished a lot of research that was necessary to create our vision. However, while browsing through the web, and while jumping from page to page, we’ve discovered some quite common misconceptions about ancient Celts. It’s natural to find a lot of conflicting information about a civilization that no longer exists, but some of these misconceptions are creating a really bad image.
As we’ve dug deeper, we realized there are some misconceptions that have no root in logic. We will be trying to break down those misconceptions and show you the real face of Celtic culture. As we’ve learned a lot about this amazing ancient culture, we hope you do too. So, before we can show you our version of the ancient Celtic home, here are some of the biggest misconceptions about Celts and their culture.
One of the most iconic representations of Irish culture is most definitely the Leprechaun. A small elf, or a pixie, dressed in green, with a well-known hat and a red set of hair, Leprechaun is probably one of the most used symbols in Ireland (if we skip the clover, of course). However, what most people don’t know is that mythical creatures known as Leprechauns started gaining popularity somewhere around the 16th century. Before that time period, the iconic little green guys were described differently. They were small, but they were usually supportive characters in the story. The myth about the pot of gold and granting wishes came quite a bit later. By the beginning of the 20th century, Leprechauns were defined as mythical creatures often used and referred to by popular stories and new fairy tales. So, even though ancient Celts invented the story about Leprechauns, those creatures looked quite different in those stories than they do today.
Another pretty common misconception about ancient Celts is that they were bloodthirsty barbarians. One of the main reasons for this depiction is because of old Roman historians. When Romans conquered Great Britain, they’ve encountered resistance along the way. It took quite a lot of time for peace to prevail. During that time, Roman historians watched the behavior of local people and they drew their own conclusions. This has a lot to do with the definition of the term “barbarian” because this term was loosley used in ancient times. Ancient Greeks used it to describe someone who doesn’t know their language. Romans used it to make a distinction between their way of life and anyone else’s. The truth is that Celts had a lot of differences compared to Romans, but they were not angry barbarians. They had a developed civilization, unique style of architecture, a specific way of life, and their differences with Romans weren’t that big. However, they did like to fight each other, especially when it comes to family and blood feuds, but even those fights had very specific rules and regulations. Basically, Celts weren’t that much “beast-like” as modern history tends to say.
A common rule of thumb is to depict an ancient Celtic druid as an wizard or a man with incredible magical and even superhuman powers. According to most of the urban legends you can hear and read nowadays, they've even managed to build Stonehenge. However, the truth about druids is a bit different. Celtic druids were not wizards or mythical mages, however, they were wise. Celtic druids were educators, healers, scholars, historians, even doctors. Sometimes they acted as poets, storytellers, and even war leaders. Tribe leaders always had to consult with druids about serious decisions, and perhaps that’s where the story of their magical powers started. Druids represented an institution on their own. They had to go through quite a lot of learning, as well as to travel all over ancient Ireland. They were always granted safe passage, as they were men of importance. It is believed that Romans attributed druids with supernatural powers because of their involvement in every-day lives of Celtic folk.
When people say Celts, most of us get a specific picture in mind. The famous Celtic Knot. This is probably one of the most recognizable artistic expressions tied to Celtic culture. The Celtic Knot evolved during the time, and you can now find almost countless examples of various types of Celtic Knots all over the world. One of the things that’s a bit harder to find is any evidence of original Celtic Knots made by ancient Celts. One of the reasons why we’re so fascinated by Celtic history is the fact that there isn’t much of it preserved. When there is no material evidence, people tend to fill in the gaps with their own versions of the story. The first real traces of a Celtic Knot don’t happen before 450 AD, and even then, they appeared in early Celtic Christian societies. As Christianity evolved, so did the way people use Celtic Knots as a decoration. However - we can find a lot of written evidence talking about ancient Celtic artwork, specifically the Celtic Knot. Even though there are loads of written materials, we will never know how did those knots look like and if they had any other meaning than simple decoration.
Most of the stories you hear nowadays imply that Celts were dirty and smelly. You can find different descriptions of Celts all around, but most of those are focusing on the fact that Celts were very dirty and quite unhygienic people. Of course, all of this is pure nonsense. Today, we know that (even though quite a lot of people is still arguing about it) Celts invented the soap. Not just a single soap, no, they’ve invented different types of soaps for different washing needs. Celts even had their own hot baths ages before Romans came to Great Britain and brought their inventions with them. Celts were far from being unhygienic, for example, they were probably one of the first civilizations in ancient Europe to connect different illnesses with unhygienic living conditions.
Once the Romans came and conquered, quite a lot of information about Celts, their culture, lifestyle, and history were lost. Partially because Romans knew how to conquer, so they’ve allowed Celts certain freedoms while banning some of their traditions. Little by little Celts were assimilated by numerous different civilizations all over Europe, and today, we don’t know everything there is about them. Perhaps this makes their lost culture more exotic, but nevertheless - these misconceptions about Celtic civilization took root. There are much much more of these misconceptions, but we’ve tried to cover the most popular ones in this blog post. Hopefully, you’ve learned something new today.
Have something to add? Want to talk to us about game development and Celtic myths and legends? Check out our social media and send us a message, we’d love to connect with you. Tell us what you think.
Children of Lir is a turn-based RPG based on ancient Irish and Celtic legends. Our story is placed in medieval Ireland where the darkness has taken hold of the country. Monsters, dark creatures, and foul men took over the land, fear is growing and it seems there is no hope for once beautiful Emerald Island.
Since the death of King Lir centuries ago, things were only becoming worse, but now it seems the human race is at its last stand. The King of Emerald Island called all brave men, women and children to stand together and fight against the magic that devours the land, and this is where our story begins.
Become a medieval hero, gather your allies and form a party to defend your home. Get immersed in the ancient magic and a hero’s journey from despair to salvation. Use your skills to defeat all of the enemies and help our heroes bring joy back to the Emerald Island. Follow the story, make choices and the hope might still return to our lands. Help our heroes save their world, you’re their only hope!
Children of Lir is developed for PC, and will be available on Mobile as well. It’s a single player turn and story based role-playing adventure where the main focus is on the story and players’ choices. Game art style is quite unique and original, as well as the sound design. The game aims to awake specific emotions at specific game points through the clever use of story, sound, and art elements.
Movement and battle mechanics are very intuitive and easy to master. The story of the game will be balanced in such a way so that every player can get immersed as soon as they start their adventure. The game should have around 10 to 12 hours of gameplay, filled with exciting encounters, battles, and unexpected story twists.
For this year, Mad Head’s team really worked hard, and with the help of SGA (Serbian Games Association), they’ve managed to get some of the most important companies in the gaming industry as partners, lecturers, and judges in this year’s Indie Prize competition.
As we’ve dug deeper, we realized there are some misconceptions that have no root in logic. We will be trying to break down those misconceptions and show you the real face of Celtic culture.
We’ve shared a lot about our game through our social media, as well as through our Kickstarter campaign, but we think that the time has come for us to show what we’ve done so far. Probably the best opportunity to do this is through gaming events.