Scotlands History


Highly skilled as metal workers and farmers, the Celts are celebrated as warriors. They admired the wild boar for its fierceness in defence and, when feasting, the finest Celtic warriors would receive the ‘hero’s portion’ - often the thigh of a roast boar.

Entering battle, Iron-Age warriors unnerved their opponents by the sheer volume of noise they could make. Their long, curved war trumpet, the Carnyx, emitted a hoarse scream from its head, which was in the shape of a wild boar. The joined section at the jaws also moved when trumpeted - striking further terror into the enemy. The Carnyx may also have been played at feasts, weddings, funerals and festivals.

The Deskford Carnyx, the only surviving carnyx head from Britain, was found at Deskford in Banffshire. It is thought to have been buried as a ‘votive offering’ - a sacrifice to the gods.

The Deskford Carnyx was used between around AD 80 and 200. It is made of brass and bronze, and originally would have had a wooden tongue that moved up and down when the Carnyx was played. It is on display at the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh.

  • A photograph of an Iron Age bronze trumpet

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