The jump from Pict to some undetermined identity in Gaul was a fairly quick one. I am convinced that the business of my brain is purely meant to torment me, which means when I don’t know a comfortable amount of information about something: I am going to eat it for three meals a day until I do understand it.
The term “celtic” probably makes you think of ancient insular cultures and people such as the Irish. However, “celtic” is used as an umbrella terms that casts it’s shadow over a very large area and number of populations. Academically the jury is still out for a decisive explanation of the term depending on specialization, but my education leads me down the linguistic definition of the term. Which means, rather than limiting the definition to the Irish, Scottish Gaelic, Welsh, Breton, Manx, Cornish and a few other smaller groups, it encompasses the linguistically related tribes in continental Europe as well.
While the Picts hold a dear place in my heart and I absolutely adore them, many books I had and began to acquire touched on other “celtic” populations. As someone who is genetically broken down into Italian, German, Broadly Southern European and Broadly North Western European…I found myself identifying more with the people of the continent under the celtic scope. I could see in my head little details of the persona forming and it simply wasn’t Pictish.
As I read, glanced over images of artifacts, and considered the finer details of a persona it became very evident that: There was limited information on the non-Roman inhabitant of Gaul that are female. I feel as if there is a wealth of information for Hallstatt culture but I wasn’t sure I wanted to go that far back even if the beautiful spiral designs were an easily identifiable feature of the culture. Romans paint a vivid picture but their sources are laced with the agenda of Rome and are only partially a good source. It seemed like these people, especially in Cisalpine Gaul (Roman provinces on the same side of the Alps as Italy) where they adapted rather quickly to Romanization. Transalpine Gaul(other side of the Alps, think France, Switzerland, Belgium, and some areas of Germany) took longer and held onto pieces of their pre-Roman culture a bit longer. Even then, crafting an identity for a female in that world would prove to be a bit of a struggle.
The SCA certainly appreciates an authentic representation of your period and persona, but for those that are new, not a big fan of research, or feel daunted by the task: don’t be. There is a little something called the 10 feet rule. If you made a good attempt that passes at a glance, then you’ve done very well. I would never take a crap on someone’s garb because their tunic uses a cut out of period for them, or because the edges of their clothing are lined in machine stitched banding, hells no, that’s of no issue to me. I am sure I will mention this in it’s own post at some point but “Don’t be a dick.”
For myself? I’m going to drive myself absolutely batty in my desire to address a Gaulish persona. I am going to search for carvings, images, corpses, grave steles, and curse tablets so see if our impression of a woman in Gaul is accurate and if it needs to be addressed and honestly: so far I am finding things that really challenge the image many of us may have for a Gaulish woman. Like a veiled mitre/peck hat. What. preference for pulled back hair rather then free flowing and “wild” barbarian hair in certain provinces. Something the resembles a modern Japanese vest apron…
For the moment I am going for 100 BCE to 100 CE. This is a highly transitional time period in Europe and in moments of not having enough sources for a specific item I can look to Roman items as a stand in. As for location I am dabbling with the idea of the province of Rhaetia/Raetia, south western edges of Gallia and southern Germanica Superior.
The only clear thing I see for my persona is that I would be a woman of mixed heritage (Roman and Celtic) which fits with my own Italian and German heritage. This would put me into a world and culture in transition and would leave me with many questions.
Will I be more Roman or Celtic?
How would a woman identify with the non-Roman heritage of her family and still navigate life in a Roman province successfully?
How can I skirt the edge of Romanization without taking it on fully?