THE EXPANSION OF THE CELTS IN THE BRITISH ISLES
THE BRITISH ISLES BEFORE THE COMING OF THE CELTS
I N the following chapters we shall consider how the various elements of the Celtic population emigrated in succession and made new Celtic countries. In this respect the British Isles, where we saw the Goidels landing in the last chapter, give a condensed picture of the Celtic world and the clearest picture of it. They must, therefore, be studied separately and before the other Celtic countries. It is, moreover, here, and here alone, except in Brittany, that the Celts survive otherwise than in a diffused condition, for they here form communities, one of which is to-day a nation. Here the two first Celtic groups can be distinguished, not by mere conjecture but by their still living languages. Here the chain of facts is complete. But we shall find in the ethnology of the British Isles other races which I have not yet mentioned, and the Belgæ in particular. All the groups of Celtic peoples which we shall find playing their part on the Continent reappear in the British Isles, and in circumstances which are favourable to study.
Furthermore, we can see here, thanks to data which are lacking for the study of the Continental Celts, the natives whom the Celtic peoples absorbed. Once these were assimilated, they certainly went for much in the making of the Celtic peoples and their civilization. The two strains had for some time remained distinct. They appeared so to foreigners, and the natives were conscious of their different origin.
In relating his first expedition to Britain Cæsar wished to say a few words about its population, and he gives us a first brief account of the races of the country. "The interior of Britain," he writes, "is inhabited by people who, according to their own tradition, are aborigines. The coast is occupied