Iron Age Celts for Kids - Fines & Clans Illustration

Ancient Ireland, Wales, Scotland, Isle of Man
Fines & Clans

The Fine:

The smallest group in Celtic society was the Fine. A fine is an extended family group that included grandparents and parents and their kids, and could include aunts, uncles, cousins and their kids. The individual was not important. The fine was a unit, and was treated like one person. Everything belonged to the fine. A person could not break the law. If a member of a fine broke the law, the fine was responsible. By the same token, there was no such thing as individual glory. The fine was victorious.

The Clan:

The next step up was the clan. Each clan was made up of several fines. In some cases, a fine would be so large that it was a clan in itself. You were part of a clan for life and beyond. Clans went back many generations.

Each clan had a leader. You did not inherit leadership from your father. Any male could be chosen as long as he had a blood relationship to the clan. Each clan expected certain things of their leaders. Leaders had to be strong warriors. They had to be able to work out disagreements with other clans and conduct trade and raids on neighboring clans. Most importantly, they had to be rich enough to throw really good festivals.

The Celts were loyal to their clans:

Clans stuck together. Members of a clan supported each other. That is one of the major reasons the Celts never developed an empire. To have an empire, you need a central government, with one leader who ruled all the people. The ancient Celts would never had allowed this. Their loyalty was to their fine and to their clan.

Who's Who:

Inside each clan, there were three major groups of people.

  • At the top were the nobles, which included warrior leaders and landowners.

  • In the middle were the artisans, druids (priests and teachers), and the bards.

  • At the bottom were the common people, the peasants.

Whatever their position in society, all people lived well. Everyone in Celtic society belonged to a clan. Everyone belonged to a fine. And everyone had a job to do.

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