Tunic~ Worn by both men and women, this rounded, 'V' or square neck garment in a
simple 'T' shape is the basis for many different garments. It can be any length from the knee to the ankle, mostly dependant on the wearer's station. Any position that would require plenty or fast movement would wear the
shorter. The sleeves would need to be narrow to the wrist to allow for productive use of the hands in any station. The sleeve ends, neckline and hem could be trimmed with ornamental banding or different colour fabric. Colours
have been recorded in history as being saffron (most popular), crimson, blue, black, yellow, purple and grey. Also there are accounts of 'checks of diverse colours' being used for tunics. Fabrics to use for such a
garment would be; linen (most favoured), a light weight wool or a linen looking cotton. (if you are dying this fabric start with ecru or tan to get a better result as cotton will not take the dye in the same way as linen)
Bracae or Trousers~ Worn under short tunics or by themselves (for trades for which a tunic would be too hot or cumbersome to wear) these basic pants would be belted into place and have either an
unfitted front to back crotch seam or no crotch seam at all. These might also be restrained from the knee to the ankle with criss-crossed leather garters. Colours and fabrics for bracae would be the same as
for tunics, and accounts exist of striped trousers worn by the Gauls (present day France)
Bratt~ A cloak, of woven material (although a story of a 'shaggy
purple cloak of fine fleece' exists) would be of all one colour wool or silk, either fringed or with a border of another colour, pattern or of fur. These could be of the same colours as the tunics, a small check
pattern or striped if from Gaul. Cloaks made with hoods would also be historically accurate.
Both men and women wore under clothing, usually of some fine texture as (handkerchief) linen, fine wool or silk, depending on ones' station.
Belts and gloves of animal skins and cloth were also worn.
Jewellery~ Torcs or neck rings would be worn by persons of high office or by persons who are champions of other people, the land or a cause.
Diadems or headbands of metal would be worn by persons of high office.
Brooches would be worn by all stations of society and by both men and women. Hoop earrings and rings were worn by both men and women.
Bracelets were worn plentifully to be given away as a sort of currency
to poets, musicians and storytellers. Both metal and cobalt glass bracelets were common. Glass and jet beads have been found in burial sites. Gold, silver and bronze jewellery with enamel, lapis and
amber are also frequent finds.
Personal Hygiene~ Bathing was highly important and it would occur twice per day, a full bath in the evening and a washing of the hands
and feet in the morning. Diodorus Siculus comments that soap is a Celtic invention and word. Romans mention their shock that even the poorest Celt had freshly washed clothing that was well mended. It was
considered shameful to have unkempt finger nails, and they were commonly crimsoned with berry dyes. Women darkened their eyebrows, cheeks and lips. Celtic Christian missionaries were
regarded as strange in that they darkened their eye lids.
Hair styles~ Both men and women wore their hair long, down past their shoulders. Romans remark that Celts are unduly vain about their
hair. Plaited hair was general among women and men, both wearing hollow gold balls at the ends of their plaits (braids). Men were said to rinse their hair in limewater to lighten the colour and stiffen their hair,
pulling it back then from the forehead to the top of the head and back to the nape of the neck. It was said to then differ in no respect from the manes of horses. Some men shaved their beards, others let them
grow a little ,and high ranking men shave their cheeks only. Other women's hair styles were quite elaborate and held in place by intricately styled pins.
Comb Bag ~
An essential accessory carried by all. Archaeology digs have found fallen warriors bearing only their helmet, a torc, their sword and a bag with a comb in it. Both men and women have been
observed in history carrying one. Many styles and types of combs have been discovered.
Compiled and written by Heather Thompson 1999
Some web sites about Celtic clothing:
Ideas for design and construction
Make them as historically and atmospherically Celtic as you can.
Whether you are building your booth to look like a crannog structure or
long house or are a roving vendor, selling goods from a 'T' stick, basket or cart;
what is most important to remember is that it be historically, specifically Celtic from the 1700's or earlier.
Some common items from other cultures that would not normally blend with Celtic, or had not been invented yet, may be part of your daily routine.
Take this as an opportunity to find your cultural alternative, or hide
questionable items and materials from view to keep the ambience.
Materials to consider; bark covered unpeeled poles, rough hewn lumber, animal skins (sheep & calf), canvas, or dyed old sheets from the thrift store.
Colours to consider are tan, brown and charcoal, saffron, green and blue. Don't forget to bring a comfortable chair, either historic, or modern disguised with a cover.
Any signs, would be best in Gaelic, Brythonic Celtic or be Pictograms (pictures of your wares or a symbol for your trade)
If you use an 'Easy-Up' tent ,disguise it. Hide the metal poles with fabric, leather or ivy.
Do not use tye-dye, dayglow or neon colours, plastic, prints, hippie bedspreads, shiny material, or brightly coloured synthetic ropes.
Standard market booth adaptation - Round house concept - Long house concept
Wall panels can be of canvas cut to the shapes of animal skins (what we put over our doors back then.)
We are in no way saying that this is what we historically sold our wares from, however this is an attainable representation that would recreate
the ambience. We would not ask a vendor to thatch their roof or daub their walls.
Some Historical sites about Celtic buildings.
Remember to fire proof any materials that may require it and keep the receipts or product information with you, and bring a fire
Home brew fire retardent:
Borax 6parts or 3pounds
Boric Acid 5parts or 2.5pounds
Water 100parts or 6gallons
This solution is used for heavy fabric. Immerse fabric, hand wring, allow to dry between applications (2 or 3 applications total) Use caution if ironing to avoid discoloration. Also useful for natural vegetation displays i.e.: grain stalks, thatching etc..
Our thanks to the Shrew and the City of Philomath, Oregon, volunteer fire department for this recipe.