The Celtic ring fort
  • Europe /
  • Germany /
  • Trier

A journey back in time through forests and Celtic remains

The Treveri
Heritage place of interest.
(by Silar, CC BY-SA 3.0 Wikimedia Commons)

The Treveri were a powerful tribe of Belgic Gaul, settled in the northeast of Gaul, along both banks of the Moselle, in the territory where the city of Trier was founded. Although the people were originally Germanic, they incorporated Celtic elements following their long settlement in Gaul, which merged into the primary stock.

According to the Roman consul Aulus Hirtius in the 1st century BCE, the Treveri differed little from the Germanic peoples in their lifestyle and ‘savage’ behaviour. The Treveri had a strong cavalry and infantry that was very effective in close combat. Even before Roman times, the Treveri had developed trade, agriculture and metalworking. They had adopted a monetary economy based on silver coins.

Celtic society followed the fundamental structures of Indo-European society, centred on the patriarchal ‘big family’. The Celts preserved this model by denoting that family group that included not only the family in the strict sense but also ancestors, collaterals, descendants and in-laws, comprising several dozen people. In addition, several families, or clans, formed a tribe headed by a king (in Gallic ‘rix’). 

The social structure, known mainly through Caesar’s account of the Gauls in his “Commentarii De Bello Gallico”, involved a remarkable articulation into classes. The warrior aristocracy performed the military tasks and elected, according to a pattern customary among Indo-Europeans, a king with mainly military functions. The free people dealt with economic activities centred on agriculture and animal husbandry. Finally, there were the druids, priests, magistrates and magicians, custodians of community traditions, collective knowledge and the inter-tribal identity in which all Celts recognised themselves. This identity was not limited to individual subgroups of the great Celtic family but embraced it in its entirety. Caesar, in fact, repeatedly attests to the bonds that the Celtic Gauls were aware of having, not only among themselves but also with the neighbouring Helvetians, Belgians, Cisalpine Gauls and Britons. Celtic society (or at least Gallic society) thus presented itself as clearly articulated in three ‘functions’: the sacred and juridical, the warrior and the productive.

However, what disturbed this Celtic ‘identity’ among the subgroups and tribes of Germania was precisely Rome, whose oppressive and troublesome presence of its legions in the territory spread discontent among the local populations, who were tired of being subjected to Roman restrictions. This oppression of Rome’s expansionist force in Germany led many tribes, including the Treveri, to join the revolt.


1. Who were the Celts?

2. The Treveri

3. The Fort

4. Dusk of the Celts