Tuesday 29 April 2014

Bran Vran

We know that Celts from the Balkans went to Asia minor and formed Galatia. What most people don't know is that maps of Celtic Europe are seriously out of date, and that Celts lived permanently and for a long time much further down south covering the whole territory of Serbia. Strabo in his book on Getae says:
The Amphilochians are Epirotae, as also are those nations who inhabit a rugged country situated above and close to the Illyrian mountains, the Molotti, Athamanes, Aethiceas, Tymphaei, Orestae Paroraei, and Atintanes, some of whom approach nearer to Macedonia, others to the Ionian Gulf. It is said that Orestes possessed the territory Orestias at the time of his flight, after the murder of his mother, and left the country bearing his name, where also he had built a city called Orestic Argos. With these people are intermixed Illyrian nations, some of whom are situated on the southern part of the mountainous district, and others above the Ionian Gulf. For above Epidamnus and Apollonia, as far as the Ceraunian mountains, live the Bulliones, Taulantii, Parthini, and Brygi...
Somewhere near are the silver mines of Damnstium. 
 ...The Molotti also were Epirotae, and were subjects of Pyrrhus Neoptolemus, the son of Achilles, and of his descendants who were Thessalians. The rest were governed by native princes. Some tribes were continually endeavouring to obtain the mastery over the others, but all were finally defeated by the Macedonians, except a few situated above the Ionian Gulf. They gave the name of Upper Macedonia to the country about Lyncestis, Pelagonia, Orestias, and Elimia. Later writers called it Macedonia the Free, and some extend the name of Macedonia to all the country as far as Corcyra, at the same time assigning as their reasons, the mode of cutting their hair, their language, the use of the chlamys, and similar things in which they resemble the Macedonians; some of them, however, speak two languages. On the dissolution of the Macedonia empire, they fell under the power of the Romans.
Damnstium has been found near town of Vranje in southern Serbia, 10 miles from where i come from and where people still use "Celtic" crosses. 

Strabo never mentions Celts, he Talks about Ilyrians, but the archeological finds show Celtic, Maceodian and Greek presence living together in the same locality.

Here is amended map of "Celtic" lands:

Here is amended map of "La Tene" lands:

The city of Damnstium has had at least three thousand inhabitants, and the town covered four or five acres. Since 2001. when the archaeological excavations began, only six or seven per cent of the surface had been explored....The site is unique because of the fact that we have an ancient material that has been developed in the Greek workshops, we have authentic material that is done here in the workshops based on the Greek model, and we have a material that is typical of Scordisci. In the Central Balkan area has not provided Greek material so far north or Scordici material so far south. You can read about the archaeological locality Damnstium here

So Celts, led by Brennus, went from Balkans to Asia minor and formed Galatia. What is not widely known is that names Brennus, Brennos are another evidence of a very old and strong link between the Slavs and Celts. Let me show you what i mean.
Brennus (or Brennos) is the name of two Gaulish chieftains famous in ancient history:
Brennus (4th century BC), chieftain of the Senones, a Gallic tribe originating from the modern areas of France known as Seine-et-Marne, Loiret, and Yonne; in 387 BC, in the Battle of the Allia, he led an army of Cisalpine Gauls in their attack on Rome.
Brennus (3rd century BC), one of the leaders of the army of Gauls who invaded Macedon and central Greece and defeated the assembled Greeks at Thermopylae.
The recurrence of the name Brennus makes it possible that it was a title rather than a proper name. Some 19th century scholars connected the name with the modern Welsh word "breenhín", and Irish words "branán, braine, braineach" meaning "a prince, a chief, leader". There is also an Irish name "Bran" with the same meaning. As early as the 12th century AD, authors such as Geoffrey of Monmouth (in his Historia Regum Britanniae were connecting the name Brennus with the Welsh personal name Bran (spelt Vran, Uran, Fran in old Welsh) meaning "Crow".
There is a very interesting story about roman military commander Marcus Valerius Corvus Calenus
Marcus Valerius Corvus Calenus (c. 370 – c. 270 BC) was an important military commander and politician from the early-to-middle period of the Roman Republic. A member of the Patrician gens Valeria, Valerius first came to prominence in 349 BC when he served as a Military tribune under the consul Lucius Furius Camillus who was on campaign against the Gauls of northern Italy. According to legend, prior to one battle a gigantic Gallic warrior challenged any Roman to single combat, and Valerius, who asked for and gained the consul’s permission, accepted. As they approached each other, a raven settled on Valerius’ helmet and it distracted the enemy's attention by flying at his face, allowing Valerius to kill the enemy Gaul. The two armies then fought, resulting in the Gallic forces being comprehensively routed, and ending in a decisive Roman victory. As a reward for his courage, Valerius was apparently given a gift of ten oxen and a golden crown, and he was eventually given the agnomen Corvus, which is the Latin term for a raven.
It is very interesting that Galls actually used helmets with raven totems standing on top of them. 

Celtic helm with raven totem, from Satu Mare (Romania)

In  Breton word Bran means Raven and Crow. There is also word marcʼhvran which means raven.

In Welsh, word frân mean crow and word gigfran means raven. Fran is in old Welsh also spelt Bran, Vran and Uran.

In Irish, word bran means raven. The Irish bran comes from Proto-Celtic branos, "Possibly cognate with Proto-Balto-Slavic *warnás ("raven") and wárˀnā ("crow") and Tocharian B wrauña ("crow"). In view of the formal difficulty that a change of *wr- to *br- would be irregular in Celtic, Matasović considers it more likely that this is a loanword from an unknown source"....I wonder what is this unknown source...

In Irish, word braine means rim, edge, lord, and the word braineach means rimmed, edged, princely, noble...

In Serbian we have these two words:

Bran - defend, protect, be a barrier
Vran - black, Crow

In Bulgarian Vrana means both crow and raven.

Here are the Bran (defend) and Vran (crow, black) word clusters from Serbian:


Bran, brani - defend, protect, be a barrier
Braniti - defend, protect, watch over. From bran(i) + ti = defend + you
Brana - dam, wall, fence, defence, barrier, defender
Branik - border, fence, defence
Branan, Branjan, Branjanj, Branitelj - Defender. This is the exact equivalent of the
Welsh word "breenhín", and the Irish word "branán".
Zabraniti - to dam, to forbid, to put the wall or fence around something
Zabran - holly forest in which religious ceremonies are held and in which it is forbidden to cut trees, anything walled. In Serbia in even today fields are not walled, but marked with standing stones. In the past, only sacred places were walled, fenced off.

Derived personal names:

Brana, Branča - both male and female name meaning defender
Branko - male name meaning defender or defend it, in which case it was given to children to protect them from evil. From bran(i) + go = defend + it, him
Branislav, Branislava - male and female names meaning defender of faith. From bran(i) + slav = defend + faith
Branimir - male name meaning defender of peace. From bran(i) + mir = defend + peace
Branivoj - male name meaning defender soldier, border guard. From bran(i) + voj = defend + soldier
Branibor - male name meaning defender of god. From bran(i) + bor = defend + god
Branan, branjan, branjanj - defender, protector, maintainer. The name of fire part in Serbian Triglav Sun-Thunder-Fire triade. The equivalent of Brahma from Vedic Trimurti. The fire was in the prehistory the protector of human race, from both wild animals and cold. From Bran(i) + on = defend + he.

Toponyms: Branič, Brangović, Brankovina, Brančić, Braničevo, Branešci, Branetići, Branica, Branik, Branovo, Branoslavci...

Mountains: Branište, Branojevac,  Branova glava (Bran's head)


Vran - Black.

Crows are black. They are one of very few completely black things in nature in Europe. So it is natural that association was made between black and crow. This is why in Serbian Vran means both crow and black. Of all the languages in which we find Bran, Vran, Varan, Varun word for crow, only Serbian, Croatian, Bosnian, Czech and Polish have vran, vron as a word for black as well. This is a potential sign of how old this word is and which language it comes from.

Vrana - Crow, Black bird
Gavran - Raven, Black bird that talks. Govor + vran = govvran = gavran. You can see ravens talk here and here.
Linguist Derek Bickerton, building on the work of Bernd Heinrich, has recently argued that ravens are one of only four known animals (the others being bees, ants, and humans) who have demonstrated displacement, the capacity to communicate about objects or events that are distant in space or time from the communication. Young, unmated Common Ravens roost together at night, but usually forage alone during the day. However, when one discovers a large carcass guarded by a pair of adult ravens, he will return to the roost and communicate his find. The next day, a flock of young ravens will fly to the carcass, and chase off the adults. Bickerton argues that the advent of linguistic displacement was perhaps the most important event in the evolution of human language, and that ravens are the only other vertebrate to share this with humans.
Vranac - Black horse
Vranja - black sheep
Vrana kosa, Vrane oči - black hair, black eyes

Surnames derived from Vran: Vran, Vrana, Vraneš, Vranješević

Place names derived from Vran: Vrana, Vranje, Vranovci, Vranić, Vranče, Vrančići, Vraneši, Vraneštica, Vraneši, Vranište, Vranpotok, Vranjače, Vranjevići, Vranke...

Mountains: Vran, Vranica, Vranji Vrh, Vranj, Vranjevina, Vrana Stena, Gavran, Vranjača, Vranija...

We can see from the spelling of word for crow in Breton, Welsh, Irish and Serbian (Bran, Vran, Fran, Uran) that B, F, V, W (which later turned to U) are basically interchangeable sounds which depend on accent and dialect.

The name of Gaulish leader Brennus, Brennos could therefore be a personal name derived from a word "bran" meaning to defend...Or from bran/vran meaning crow/raven...

But how is bran/vran (crow, raven) related to bran meaning to defend? For that we have to look at how crows live. Crows are very social and live in family groups of between 2 to 15 birds, averaging 4 birds. A group of crows is called a “murder”. Pecking orders are evident as in all animals. Crows are territorial and are avid defenders of the same. They operate from central positions called roosts where they gather just before dark after returning from feeding on normal flight paths called flyways. Why they roost together is not, conclusively, known but it is thought for communal protection from predators. Winter roosts are communal and hold the largest numbers. The crow, with raven is probably the most intelligent bird and probably second most intelligent species after humans. It is the only other species which is known to develop and use complex tool sets to achieve its goals. 

Crow is well known for its ability to detect trouble and danger. Crows quickly learn that a moving car is no danger, but will rapidly flee if the driver stops and gets out. In areas where they are constantly hunted, they learn the difference between a hunter with a gun and a farmer with farming implements. Crows use a system of guards that observe and sound warnings to all other crows in the area. These sentinels guard fields of feeding crows. They also send scouts in advance of feeding forays to check for danger.  Crows are extremely territorial and will protect their colony against any potential predators. They are the only bird known to attack hawks and eagles and even people. So crows (vran/bran) have guards (bran) which defend (bran) the colony. 

Detail from the Gundestrup Cauldron which was made in the Balkans