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J. V. S. Megaw and M. Ruth Megaw

Style of European Iron Age art (see also Prehistoric Europe, §VI). The term is used to describe the distinctive art produced by the La Tène culture (named after the site of La Tène in Switzerland), which flourished c. 450–c. 50 bc in temperate continental Europe, extending to c. ad 600 in Britain and Ireland. (The Iron Age or Celto-Iberian art of Spain and Portugal is not considered here; see Iberian art.) The term Celtic art is also sometimes considered to include the later phase of the Hallstatt culture (c. 750–c. 450 bc) and the much later Early Christian art of Britain and Ireland (c. ad 450 onwards), which was greatly influenced by prehistoric La Tène art (see Insular art).

The Celts, according to Greek and Roman writers, were one of the great barbarian peoples of Europe. They cannot be easily defined on a racial or linguistic basis; indeed, the very name Keltoi was imposed on them by outsiders and not generally used by themselves. Although it is usually assumed that the material culture of the ...