Ancient Celtic Religion, Druids and Funerary Beliefs

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Kelly Macquire
published on 21 June 2022

The Ancient Celtic religion was a polytheistic one, with numerous gods with sometimes overlapping responsibilities. The ancient Celts, who occupied parts of western and central Europe during the Late Bronze Age and through to the Iron Age, believed in a polytheistic religion for which we are lacking in written sources. What we do know comes from the archaeological remains of the culture, and writings of classical authors which has helped us piece together some key gods, sacred sites, and ritual practices of the Celts.

The burial practices, votive inscriptions, and rituals that we know of tell us that the gods were believed to either control humanity in some way or that they at the very least had a strong influence on the welfare of the Celtic people. The god most commonly depicted though was Cernunnos, the horned god, most famously depicted on the Gundestrup Cauldron. He is a fairly mysterious figure who was often shown seated and wearing horns or antlers. Other major deities included the goddess Epona who was associated with horses, Sequana who was a healing goddess and particularly venerated in central France, Brigantia who the Romans equated with Nike and Victory and who was an important goddess in Britain, Esuss who was perhaps a patron of crafts with his hammer-like staff and Rhenus who was the god of the Rhine river.

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0:00​ Introduction
0:34 Travel with us!
1:12 The Ancient Celtic Religion
3:44 The Ancient Celtic Pantheon
6:25 The Ancient Celtic Druids
8:24 Rituals and Sacrifices
10:35 The Afterlife and Burial
13:00 Outro

The Ancient Celtic Pantheon
Ancient Celtic Religion
Death, Burial & the Afterlife in the Ancient Celtic Religion–the-afterlife-in-the-ancient-celtic/
Sacred Sites & Rituals in the Ancient Celtic Religion–rituals-in-the-ancient-celtic-religi/

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You can find all attribution and credits for images, animations, graphics and music here -

The music used in this recording is the intellectual copyright of Michael Levy, a prolific composer for the recreated lyres of antiquity, and used with the creator's permission. Michael Levy's music is available to stream at all the major digital music platforms. Find out more on:

CC BY 2.0 -
Marie-Lan Nguyen - own work
CC BY 4.0 -

World History Encyclopedia

#ancientcelts #ancientcelticreligion #druids

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About the Author

Kelly Macquire
Kelly is a graduate from Monash University who has completed her BA (Honours) in Ancient History and Archaeology, focussing on iconography and status in Pylos burials. She has a passion for mythology and the Aegean Bronze Age.

Cite This Work

APA Style

Macquire, K. (2022, June 21). Ancient Celtic Religion, Druids and Funerary Beliefs. World History Encyclopedia. Retrieved from

Chicago Style

Macquire, Kelly. "Ancient Celtic Religion, Druids and Funerary Beliefs." World History Encyclopedia. Last modified June 21, 2022.

MLA Style

Macquire, Kelly. "Ancient Celtic Religion, Druids and Funerary Beliefs." World History Encyclopedia. World History Encyclopedia, 21 Jun 2022. Web. 17 Jul 2024.