We know that Celts from the Balkans went to Asia minor and formed Galatia. What most people don’t know is that maps of Celtic Europe are seriously out of date, and that Celts lived permanently and for a long time much further down south covering the whole territory of Serbia. Strabo in his book on Getae says:
The Amphilochians are Epirotae, as also are those nations who inhabit a rugged country situated above and close to the Illyrian mountains, the Molotti, Athamanes, Aethiceas, Tymphaei, Orestae Paroraei, and Atintanes, some of whom approach nearer to Macedonia, others to the Ionian Gulf. It is said that Orestes possessed the territory Orestias at the time of his flight, after the murder of his mother, and left the country bearing his name, where also he had built a city called Orestic Argos. With these people are intermixed Illyrian nations, some of whom are situated on the southern part of the mountainous district, and others above the Ionian Gulf. For above Epidamnus and Apollonia, as far as the Ceraunian mountains, live the Bulliones, Taulantii, Parthini, and Brygi…
Somewhere near are the silver mines of Damnstium.
…The Molotti also were Epirotae, and were subjects of Pyrrhus Neoptolemus, the son of Achilles, and of his descendants who were Thessalians. The rest were governed by native princes. Some tribes were continually endeavouring to obtain the mastery over the others, but all were finally defeated by the Macedonians, except a few situated above the Ionian Gulf. They gave the name of Upper Macedonia to the country about Lyncestis, Pelagonia, Orestias, and Elimia. Later writers called it Macedonia the Free, and some extend the name of Macedonia to all the country as far as Corcyra, at the same time assigning as their reasons, the mode of cutting their hair, their language, the use of the chlamys, and similar things in which they resemble the Macedonians; some of them, however, speak two languages. On the dissolution of the Macedonia empire, they fell under the power of the Romans.
Damnstium has been found near town of Vranje in southern Serbia, 10 miles from where i come from and where people still use “Celtic” crosses.
Strabo never mentions Celts, he Talks about Ilyrians, but the archeological finds show Celtic, Maceodian and Greek presence living together in the same locality.
Here is amended map of “Celtic” lands:
Brennus (or Brennos) is the name of two Gaulish chieftains famous in ancient history:
Brennus (4th century BC), chieftain of the Senones, a Gallic tribe originating from the modern areas of France known as Seine-et-Marne, Loiret, and Yonne; in 387 BC, in the Battle of the Allia, he led an army of Cisalpine Gauls in their attack on Rome.
Brennus (3rd century BC), one of the leaders of the army of Gauls who invaded Macedon and central Greece and defeated the assembled Greeks at Thermopylae.
The recurrence of the name Brennus makes it possible that it was a title rather than a proper name. Some 19th century scholars connected the name with the modern Welsh word “breenhín”, and Irish words “branán, braine, braineach” meaning “a prince, a chief, leader”. There is also an Irish name “Bran” with the same meaning. As early as the 12th century AD, authors such as Geoffrey of Monmouth (in his Historia Regum Britanniae were connecting the name Brennus with the Welsh personal name Bran (spelt Vran, Uran, Fran in old Welsh) meaning “Crow”.
There is a very interesting story about roman military commander Marcus Valerius Corvus Calenus:
Marcus Valerius Corvus Calenus (c. 370 – c. 270 BC) was an important military commander and politician from the early-to-middle period of the Roman Republic. A member of the Patrician gens Valeria, Valerius first came to prominence in 349 BC when he served as a Military tribune under the consul Lucius Furius Camillus who was on campaign against the Gauls of northern Italy. According to legend, prior to one battle a gigantic Gallic warrior challenged any Roman to single combat, and Valerius, who asked for and gained the consul’s permission, accepted. As they approached each other, a raven settled on Valerius’ helmet and it distracted the enemy’s attention by flying at his face, allowing Valerius to kill the enemy Gaul. The two armies then fought, resulting in the Gallic forces being comprehensively routed, and ending in a decisive Roman victory. As a reward for his courage, Valerius was apparently given a gift of ten oxen and a golden crown, and he was eventually given the agnomen Corvus, which is the Latin term for a raven.
It is very interesting that Galls actually used helmets with raven totems standing on top of them.
In Breton word Bran means Raven and Crow. There is also word marcʼhvran which means raven.
In Welsh, word frân mean crow and word gigfran means raven. Fran is in old Welsh also spelt Bran, Vran and Uran.
In Irish, word bran means raven.
In Serbian we have these two words:
Bran – defend, protect, be a barrier
Vran – black, Crow
In Bulgarian Vrana means both crow and raven.
Here are the Bran (defend) and Vran (crow, black) word clusters from Serbian:
Bran, brani – defend, protect, be a barrier
Braniti – defend, protect, watch over. From bran(i) + ti = defend + you
Brana – dam, wall, fence, defence, barrier, defender
Branik – border, fence, defence
Branan, Branjan, Branjanj, Branitelj – Defender. This is the exact equivalent of the
Welsh word “breenhín”, and the Irish word “branán”.
Zabraniti – to dam, to forbid, to put the wall or fence around something
Zabran – holly forest in which religious ceremonies are held and in which it is forbidden to cut trees, anything walled. In Serbia in even today fields are not walled, but marked with standing stones. In the past, only sacred places were walled, fenced off.
Derived personal names:
Brana, Branča – both male and female name meaning defender
Branko – male name meaning defender or defend it, in which case it was given to children to protect them from evil. From bran(i) + go = defend + it, him
Branislav, Branislava – male and female names meaning defender of faith. From bran(i) + slav = defend + faith
Branimir – male name meaning defender of peace. From bran(i) + mir = defend + peace
Branivoj – male name meaning defender soldier, border guard. From bran(i) + voj = defend + soldier
Branibor – male name meaning defender of god. From bran(i) + bor = defend + god
Branan, branjan, branjanj – defender, protector, maintainer. The name of fire part in Serbian Triglav Sun-Thunder-Fire triade. The equivalent of Brahma from Vedic Trimurti. The fire was in the prehistory the protector of human race, from both wild animals and cold. From Bran(i) + on = defend + he.
Toponyms: Branič, Brangović, Brankovina, Brančić, Braničevo, Branešci, Branetići, Branica, Branik, Branovo, Branoslavci…
Mountains: Branište, Branojevac, Branova glava (Bran’s head)
Vran – Black.
Linguist Derek Bickerton, building on the work of Bernd Heinrich, has recently argued that ravens are one of only four known animals (the others being bees, ants, and humans) who have demonstrated displacement, the capacity to communicate about objects or events that are distant in space or time from the communication. Young, unmated Common Ravens roost together at night, but usually forage alone during the day. However, when one discovers a large carcass guarded by a pair of adult ravens, he will return to the roost and communicate his find. The next day, a flock of young ravens will fly to the carcass, and chase off the adults. Bickerton argues that the advent of linguistic displacement was perhaps the most important event in the evolution of human language, and that ravens are the only other vertebrate to share this with humans.
Vranac – Black horse
Vranja – black sheep
Vrana kosa, Vrane oči – black hair, black eyes
Surnames derived from Vran: Vran, Vrana, Vraneš, Vranješević
Place names derived from Vran: Vrana, Vranje, Vranovci, Vranić, Vranče, Vrančići, Vraneši, Vraneštica, Vraneši, Vranište, Vranpotok, Vranjače, Vranjevići, Vranke…
Mountains: Vran, Vranica, Vranji Vrh, Vranj, Vranjevina, Vrana Stena, Gavran, Vranjača, Vranija…
We can see from the spelling of word for crow in Breton, Welsh, Irish and Serbian (Bran, Vran, Fran, Uran) that B, F, V, W (which later turned to U) are basically interchangeable sounds which depend on accent and dialect.
The name of Gaulish leader Brennus, Brennos could therefore be a personal name derived from a word “bran” meaning to defend: Brannas = bran + nas = defends + us = our defender.
Irish word for chief “branán, braine, braineach” as well as the Welsh word for chief “breenhín” are all derived from “bran” meaning to defend. The main role of a tribal chief was to defend its people. It is the same with Irish Surnames O’Branáin, O’Branagáin, O’Brannie.
Words “bran” meaning to defend and “vran” meaning crow, black are actually related and are both derived from the sound that crows make. The sound that crow makes is something that sounds like craaw, graaw, wraaw, raaw.
I believe that people originally used characteristic sounds of animals as their names and that onomatopoeic animal names are some of the oldest words in human languages. The number of preserved onomatopoeic animal names in one language tells us how conservative and how old the language is. I talk about language development here.
Early people needed to be able to communicate and tell other people that they see or hear a particular animal. This ability to communicate a presence of a particular animal, was extremely important for hunter gatherers. They needed to coordinate their actions and either escape or defend themselves from predators, or attack and kill pray for food.
But at that stage in the language development there were no words, no grammar, no language that could be used to describe the animal and draw other people’s attention to it.
How would you tell other people from your group that you see an animal without an ability to describe it using complex language? The easiest way is to use the characteristic animal sound. Everyone in the group shared common experience and they all saw and heard the same animals before. So the link between the animal sound and the animal already existed in their brains. If they heard a animal making its characteristic sound, the picture of the animal would pop into their mind and they would “recognise” what animal was making that sound. Imitating the sound of the animal would have the same effect.
For instance, if you see a crow, and if you want to say to the other members of the group: Look there is a crow! How are you going to do it if there is no word for a crow? Even if you decide to invent word “crow”, you have no way of explaining to the others what crow is, because there is no language yet. But everyone from your group have seen a crow, and have heard a crow. So if you imitate the sound of a crow, everyone knows what you are talking about. So “craaw, graaw, wraa, raa” conveys the message: “look there is a crow” perfectly and simply. Later on people invented other words for crows, but that was much later when they had a language as means to associate these “crow” words with “crow” meaning.
Why do we have so many similar but different words for crow in European languages, like Vran, Bran, Crow, hræfn, crú, corvus, κόραξ (kórax)? Because different people hear the same thing differently and are able to reproduce it differently. You can read more about language development and how it is dependant on our ability to hear and reproduce sounds here. If members of one family hear “craaw” while watching crows, and one of them points at the crows and says “craaw”, everyone from that family will know from then on that “craaw” means crow. Members of another family hear “wraa” while watching crows, and one of them points at the crows and says “wraa, vraa”, everyone from that family will know from then on that “wraa, vraa” means crow. Later on, as language develops, you get Vra + On = vra + it, he = vran = the thing that says vra…Or you just continue using Craa (Crow) as the name of the bird. It is interesting that Raven is an onomatopoeic name as well, as characteristic sound of the ravens is “raw”.
The important thing to understand about how animal names were created from animal sounds is that the name only needs to “sound like” the animal sounds. The imitation of the animal sound (the name) and the actual animal sound are not and can not be identical, because the animal sounds are built in such a way that human sound apparatus can’t replicate them completely. But humans can produce something that “sounds like” the animal they are trying to imitate, describe. As long as human imitation of a particular animal sound is clearly different from other human made sounds imitating other animal sounds, it will clearly and uniquely identify the animal in question to other humans.
Here is the sound of crows:
And the title and the name these Gaulish chieftains had was Brannos, Brannus, Bran nas = defends us, our defender. How is this possible?
I believe that there is a very strong link Between Slavic and Celtic languages and cultures which has been so far overlooked.