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Spain and Scotland: The Ancient Connections

Galicia Scotland



A Dolmen in Galicia, Spain

The ancient connections between northern Britain and Celtic Spain are strong and supported by many myths and legends. The dolmens, standing stones and the trail of "cup and ring" designs carved on stones by the prehistoric people of Iberia make their way from Spain and Portugal and northern France to Ireland and Scotland and represent the earliest evidence of the movement of prehistoric man from Iberia to the northern islands.



Cup and Rings Markings

Furthermore, the ancients also named the various tribes of northern Britain years before the Romans set foot on Britain and one of the most famous of all were the "Brigantes."

Some scholars believe that the Brigantes were named after a Spanish Celtic king. Breoghan (or Brigus or Bregon) who was king of Galicia, Murcia, Castile, and Portugal, and may have even reigned further south in Andalucia - all of which he conquered during the expansion of Celtic culture into Spain. The name "Obregon" is still quite common in northern Spain.


Burela Celtic Torque from Spain

Of these ancient kingdoms, Galicia, of course, is still one of the seven recognized Celtic nations, and the word itself means "The Land of the Gaelic People." It is from Galicia that Irish origin legends claim that the Irish race sprung towards Ireland.

According the Irish origin myths, King Brigus built Breoghan's Tower or Brigantia in Galicia, and also the city of Brigantia or Braganza in Portugal. He also created the most ancient kingdom of Castile which was then also called after him or "Brigia." The ancient Celtic blood of the Castilians was later the driving force in the creation of the modern Spanish nation as the Kingdoms of Castile and Aragon joined under the crowns of Isabella and Ferdinand in the 15th century.

Some Victorian scholars, such as John O'Hart, submit that "Castile" (or "Castilla" or "Castle Land" in Spanish) itself was so called from the figure of a castle which Brigus bore for his Coat of Arms on his banner. The name of that ancient land, however, can only be historically traced to the Dark Ages. In any event, King Brigus, well used to conquering lands and establishing new kingdoms, sent a colony of his people into Britain. His invaders settled in that territory now known as the counties of Durham, Westmoreland, Lancaster, and perhaps Cumberland. These settlers were named after him and were called "Brigantes" by the Greeks. It was these people who ferociously opposed the Roman invader centuries later.

Of even more interest to Pictophiles, King Brigus' son was named Bile, and he was also a Celtic King of Spain. Several Pictish Kings were also called Bile or Bili, including its most famous King, the destroyer of the Angles at Dunnichen in 685 A.D. The name Bile is of high interest also to students of Celtic mythology. According to the Celtic Encyclopedia

"In British tradition he was called Bel or Belinus, but in Irish he was Bile. In some texts, he is said to come to Ireland from Spain - which is clearly intended to be the Land of the Dead. The fires of Beltaine were lit to mark his recognized feast. Very little is known of his mythos, but he, like Danu who is sometimes named as his consort, was a powerful ancestral deity to the Celtic races. (bil-ay) One of the names of the god of Death (i.e. of the Underworld), father of Miled; equivalent, Cymric god Beli, husband of Don".

Bile's son was Milesius, perhaps the most famous of all the Celtic Kings of Spain and the father of the Irish race. As a youth Milesius, distinguished himself as a warrior in Egypt and was also known as Galamh. According to Hynes:

"The original name of Milesius of Spain was, as already mentioned, "Galamh" (gall : Irish, a stranger; amh, a negative affix), which means, no stranger: meaning that he was no stranger in Egypt, where he was called "Milethea Spaine," which was afterwards contracted to "Miló Spaine" (meaning the Spanish Hero), and finally to "Milesiius" (mileadh: Irish, a hero; Lat. miles, a soldier)".

Celtic Helmet from Spain

Because of his prowess as a warrior, Milesius was given the hand of Scotta, daughter of the Egyptian pharaoh. From her name comes the name of the Scottish people. He took her to Spain and they reigned as King and Queen of that European nation.

As legend has it, it was his uncle (or perhaps brother or even grandfather), Ith, who one clear day saw the outlines of Ireland from a high tower built by King Brigus. King Miled then sent a fleet of warriors to investigate and by the time it was all over and done, Ith was killed trying to solve a dispute between three kings in Ireland and as a result the avenging Sons of Mile conquered Ireland and defeated the Tuatha de Danaan. According to the Celtic Encyclopedia, the Danaan were:

"The people of Dana. They ruled Ireland after Nemed, according to the Book of Invasions, and were descended from one of his great-grandsons. They were supposed to come from the northern isles of Greece where they had learned all the arts of magic. They brought four treasures with them from these parts: the Stone of Fal from Falias, which screamed under the foot of every rightful king; the Spear of Lugh, which came from Gorias; the Sword of Nuada, from Findias; and the Cauldron of the Dagda from Murias. They fought long against the Fomorians and the Firbolgs, but were eventually vanguished by the Milesians, after which they retired to the Otherworld." and the Firbolg people. Again, according to the Celtic Encyclopedia the Firbolg were: "(fir vulag) Nemedian survivors who return to Ireland; name signifies 'Men of the Bags'; the FirBolg, FirDomnan, and Galionin races general-ly designated as the Firbolgs; the Danaan's and the Firbolgs; The first inhabitants of Ireland, according to ancient traditions, were the Firbolgs, who were conquered and driven into the Western Islands by the Tuatha De Danann. The Firbolgs became the first Fairies of Ireland, Giant-like, grotesque creatures. They and the Tuatha De Danann may be compared with the Titans and the Olynpic gods of Greece; They settled in Ireland, fleeing Greece where they had been enslaved and made to carry earth in bags. They afterwards made ships out of these bags and sailed to Spain. They held Ireland after the death of Nemed until the coming of the Tuatha de Danaan." who at that point were the living in Ireland. It is thus that the Irish are known as "the Milesian race."

And thus we now come to the Pictish connection - probably more fable than truth, but present nonetheless: One of King Milesius' sons was Heremon. He and his eldest brother, Heber reigned together in conquered Ireland and were thus the first Milesian Kings of Ireland. After Heber was slain (c. 1698 B.C.) Heremon reigned as sole King of Ireland for fourteen years; during which time a new group of Iberian settlers arrived in Ireland. These new people we called "Cruitnii" by the Irish - or the "People of the Designs," -- these people were the Picts.

Irish legend says that the Picts arrived in Ireland and requested Heremon to assign them a part of the newly-conquered country to settle in, but he refused. Since the Picts had not brought wives with them, the King gave them as wives the widows of the Tuatha de Danaans, whose husbands had been slain in battle by the Spanish, and he sent them with a large party of his own forces to conquer the country to the East then called "Alba," (present day Scotland) with the condition that they and their posterity should be liege to the Kings of Ireland and that all bloodlines should pass through the wives.


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