Celtic Women/Celtic Queens

I like my heroines to be strong and bold and that is why I love to write stories with ancient Celtic warriors, druids, fae women, ancient vampires and gods and goddesses.  To me that was a mysterious time before Christianity when women enjoyed the same independence that modern women do.  

Ancient Celtic women were a feisty bunch and had more rights than their counterparts in Rome or other parts of the country. They were allowed freedom of activity and protection under the law. Celtic women had rights and could own or inherit property much like modern women. In ancient Celtic societies women could choose to be warriors or druids, including priestesses, poets and healers. They could conduct business without the approval or consent of their husbands. They could become diplomats if they chose to. Marriage was viewed in ancient Celtic societies as a partnership between a man and a woman. This was not the case in Rome where women were the property of their husbands. Celtic women could not be married against their will. Within marriage a woman was allowed to own and inherit property independently. Divorce was an easy matter and could be requested by either party. Since marriage was viewed as contractual and not religious there were no societal consequences for a divorced woman and she was free to remarry. Sounds nice, huh?

‘The women of the Gauls are not only like men in their great stature, but they are a match for them in courage as well.’ Quote from Diodorus Siculus

Celtic women had a fierce pride and they enjoyed freedom and power that women in ancient Rome did not have. I think what I like about the Celts is they had a more balanced society. Though they were a patriarchal society, their gods and goddesses were equal and that was not the case in other religions. There is not a lot of evidence pointing to women warriors among the Celts, but women occasionally took up arms and became ruling queens and military leaders. Queen Boudica led an army against the Roman legions around AD60. She lost the battle, but her power to gain thousands of followers to help her fight against the Roman occupiers proved just how much authority a female had among the Celtic people. Celtic women were not to be messed with. I think this is why I enjoy writing about the ancient Celts.

There were other notable queens among the ancient Celts.

In about AD51, Queen Cartimandua ruled the Brigantes, a tribe in northern Britain. She is known for her shrewdness and as a traitor for making an alliance with the Roman leaders. When Caratacus, the leader of the Celtic resistance in the west, came to her for help, she placed him in chains and handed him to the Romans. Most likely she did this for political gain, maintaining her power with the backing of Rome and proved she could be as politically astute as any man.

In ancient Ireland, a well-known legendary female ruler named Medb (or Maeve) was Queen of Connaught. She plays the role of an anarchic goddess of war and fertility and according to Irish mythology, no king could rule in Connaught unless he wed Maeve who it was believed held the key to sovereignty. She is best remembered for the part she played in the famous Cattle Raid of Cooley. Determined to prove herself her husband’s equal, Maeve led a raid into the kingdom of Ulster to steal a bull of the same value as her husband’s prized animal. She is portrayed in a negative light in this legend, but she proved her authority prevailed even over that of her husband.

Another powerful female ruler in ancient Ireland was Queen Macha of Ulster. When her father died, she should have ruled her father’s incomplete term, but her two uncles opposed the young queen. The spirited Macha refused to allow her uncles to thwart her rightful place on the throne and led an army to battle them. One uncle was killed and she convinced the other one to wed her and they ruled together.

A saying on a tank top I purchased at a Celtic festival sums up the nature of a Celtic woman–Celtic woman, a goddess with a temper.


‘Timeless tales of romance, conflict & magic’





4 thoughts on “Celtic Women/Celtic Queens”

  1. Kelley,
    Great article. Even reading your article got me all fired up. I now have a sudden desire to go out and start writting about some pretty fiesty chicks.
    Thanks mate, great job.


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