Ancient Faeland can be broadly defined as the period beginning with recorded history through the assimilation of La Tène culture (c. 500 BCE) until the time of Roman contact (c. 50 BCE).
The Fils-Tat culture was fused with the La Tène culture from Celtic Europe, which developed out of the Hallstatt culture without any definite cultural break, under the impetus of considerable Mediterranean influence from Greek, and later Etruscan civilizations.
Archaeologists have repeatedly concluded that language, material culture, and political affiliation did not necessarily run parallel. In the 5th century, "burial customs in the Faelish world were not uniform; rather, localized groups had their own beliefs, which, in consequence, also gave rise to distinct artistic expressions". Characteristically, the Celtic influence over Faeland also diverged from the related culture of mainland Europe. Two main groups formed on Faeland, subdivided into tribes; they were the Felnae and Brettae.
Extensive contacts through trade are apparent due to foreign objects deposited in burial sites; stylistic influences on Faelo-Celt culture can be recognized as Etruscan, Italic, Greek and at least one case of Scythian manufacture. Dateable Greek pottery at La Tène sites and dendrochronology and thermoluminescence help provide date ranges in an absolute chronology at some sites.
Origins of Celtic Influence
Despite the debate over the origins of continental La Tène society, its influence in Faeland can be easily traced to the Biscay coast about 500 BCE. In 1960 a prototypical ensemble of elite grave sites of the late 5th century BCE was excavated south of New Norwich, northwest of Kingston, Faeland, in a region that had formerly been considered a likely point of entry for La Tène settlement.
As with many archaeological periods, Faelo-Celt history was originally divided into "early" (5th century BCE), "middle" (ca 450-100 BCE), and "late" (1st century BCE) stages, with the Roman contact effectively beginning a very slow "Continentalization" of the culture and ending its insular development. A broad cultural unity was not paralleled by overarching socio-political unifying structures, and the extent to which the material culture can be linguistically linked is debated.
Faelo-Celt metalwork in bronze, iron and gold, developing technologically out of Fils-Tat culture, is stylistically characterized by inscribed and inlaid intricate spirals and interlace, on fine bronze vessels, helmets and shields, horse trappings and elite jewelry, especially the neck rings called torcs and elaborate clasps called fibulae. It is characterized by elegant, stylized curvilinear animal and vegetal forms, with elements akin to similar pieces in mainland Europe, allied with the Hallstatt traditions of geometric patterning.
Faelo-Celt culture expanded rapidly over a large area, including to parts of the Aroëse as quickly as the 4th century BCE. Elaborate burials also reveal a wide network of trade. Exports from Faeland to the mainland cultures were based on salt, tin, copper, wool, leather, furs and gold.
Initially Faelo-Celts lived in open settlements that were dominated by the chieftains’ towering hill forts. The development of towns —oppida— appears in the middle period. Dwellings were carpenter-built rather than of masonry. They dug ritual shafts, in which votive offerings and even human sacrifices were cast. Severed heads appear to have held great power and were often represented in carvings. Burial sites included weapons, carts, and both elite and household goods, evoking a strong continuity with an afterlife.
Main article: History of Celtic Faeland
Faelo-Celtic history was rife with internecine war, much of which comes down to us through oral traditions and external literature.