The Celts and the Vikings were two of the largest European ethnic groups to exist from the Medieval era towards the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. The Celtic and Viking cultures, while non-existent as modern cultures, are very well-known and have a significant role in today’s world. “Vikings” is a very popular Netflix show that covers a Viking story.
Vikings are also major components of several other books and movies. The Celts, too, have impacted the world today – their culture remains engrained in today’s British and Irish cultures.
In this article, I will introduce each of the two groups and study the differences between them. There is a lot of history that lies with the Celts and the Vikings, and several other similar cultures that were also present around that time that we will discuss.
What is the Main Difference between the Celts and the Vikings?
The two ethnic groups have several differences from multiple aspects. In the following table, I present detailed differences in the origins and background, the way of life, the civilization, the art and influences, and the disappearance of each. Thus, this table summarizes a wide timeline of events.
|Origins and Background
Dominated most of southern Europe
|Seaborn pirates from Scandinavia
Invaded north-western villages in Europe
|Way of Life
|Rural and agricultural activities
Worshipped multiple gods
Their kingdoms became republics
Had chariots and wood horsemen
|Had a history of sailing
Always on the move and ready to invade new territory
Had a mundane, routine lifestyle
Buried the dead in boats
Built up cities
Developed a solid trading system
Possessed sophisticated harvesting equipment
|More savage and barbaric
Traded with other nations
Had a spirit of exploration
Poorer people than the Celts
Christianized much after the Celts
|Art and Influences
Patterns, knots, plants, animal shapes
Flowing shapes, whirling and interconnecting lines
Both realistic and abstract
Asymmetric and chaotic
|Resulted from invasions and inventions
Merged with indigenous people
|Cessation of Northmen raids
Due to pastoral economy and the environmental harm they caused
Breaking of social ties with Europe
We can see that while the Vikings were more on the move, the Celtics really wanted to settle, develop, and grow. That can be attributed to the mindset of pirates which revolves around robbing and invading with a hunger for riches.
These two peoples were actual civilizations that had their own lifestyles and creations; they contributed a lot to ancient art we find today, and their techniques are still evident.
Despite some traits of the Vikings that are not very favored in today’s mindset, like the fact that they were active in the slave trade and got rich off human trafficking, it is worthy to mention that even in such ancient times, Viking women enjoyed basic rights.
Did the Vikings Fight the Celts?
While the Vikings and Celts lived close to each other and had their differences, there are no records of a major battle between them. However, interestingly enough, the different Celtic clans had frequent clashes and would actually pay some Viking clans to back them against people of their own culture. The Vikings, almost innate warriors who were also paid well for it, never backed down from a chance to fight.
Therefore, the answer is yes, just not in the way you expect! The reason behind that is that Vikings never really had a reason to attack the Celtics – they were better off invading richer territories.
Are the Irish Celts or Vikings?
The Irish include both people of Celtic origin and people of Viking origin. The Vikings made their way into Ireland by adopting Gaelic culture and marrying Gaels.
Are Celts Similar to Vikings? In What Ways?
In fact, the Celts and the Vikings have just as many similarities as they have differences. Both the Celtics and the Vikings resided on the British Isles. The two cultures are descended from the Anglo-Saxons, and while all European citizens were Christian, members of these two ethnic groups were not. However, with time, most of them eventually converted to Christianity.
The Celtics and Vikings both braided their hair and wire non-European clothing, which mainly came from animal products. While only two groups, each was divided into several clans, all of whom believed in multiple gods (polytheists). We see that while mainly different peoples, even the Celts and the Vikings had their similarities.
What is the Difference between Anglo-Celtic and Anglo-Saxon?
The term Anglo-Celtic is a broad description of the various cultures native to Britain & Ireland. It also encompasses the diaspora located in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa, and the United States. On the other hand, the term Anglo-Saxon is used to describe the invading German tribes during the fifth century.
The term Anglo-Celtic includes the Anglo-Saxons as well as the Celtics. Today, the term Celtics describes the people from Scotland, Wales, Ireland and Cornwall. The broad Anglo-Celtic name, however, does not include the Celtic people settled in the mainland continent.
The term Anglo-Saxons is not prevalent today since it specifically refers to just a few tribes that invaded and settled in Britain (and as we said, the Celtics’ ancestors are the Anglo-Saxons – connect the dots!)
What is the difference between Celtic and Germanic?
Contrary to the Celtics, the Germanics inhabited southern Sweden, the Danish peninsula, and northern Germany. The Germanics were also different in war art than the Celtics; the former were known for their shortage of metal during battle – no Germanic warrior wore a helmet and very few fought with swords.
Who Came First, Celts or Vikings?
The Celts came way before the Vikings. It is believed that the Celtic culture developed as old as 1400 BC, but they gained a prominent standing near 800 BC where they dominated southern Europe. To the Roman Empire, Celts were nothing but barbarians with rising power.
The Vikings did not appear until 790s AD. They too, were not viewed with the highest regard. They were pirates after all, and they terrorized North-Western Europe for a long period of time.
A Final Word
While these two ethnic groups no longer exist today, they have strongly impacted European culture. They are engrained in Irish, Scottish, and English cultures.
Earlier in the day, the world had fewer rules and was less organized than it is today – that is what allow the spreading of these people across a whole continent and beyond it, and it is they who have become a big portion of the European people today.