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Clans and Families of Ireland and Scotland
III. The Coming of Gaeldom


The story of Gaeldom begins in the mists of antiquity, and ultimately has its roots in an age when Europe was largely covered with ice. During those early eons only one type of man lived amid the European ice sheet— Neanderthal Man—doing so long enough to develop special physical characteristics beyond strictly cultural adaptations. Ample body hair, long noses (to warm the air), fairness (lack of pigment) of eye, hair and skin; such traits are physical manifestations born of long residence in the northern regions, to which all other people were by their very nature foreign. Though other human groups have since mastered the cultural techniques of arctic living, only the Neanderthal was inherently a beast of the North, and yet he was a fully modern human (Weaver 577, 612).

Moving quickly ahead in time, Cro-Magnon man came onto the European scene some 30,000 years ago, as the ice retreated; he was the vanguard of other groups which followed in his wake (the term Cro-Magnon can also be applied to all early Homo sapiens of the post—Neanderthal European period, and to their culture). The resultant intermixture of racial elements gave birth to the Indo-European stock, with more blonds, as might be expected, farther north, and a more purely Cro-Magnon admixture on the western fringe.

The last-mentioned stock appears later as the relatively small, dark people who preceded the Celts in the British Isles, and built Stonehenge and other ancient monuments in those western reaches. Red hair, green eyes and freckled skin remain traits hard to place in an original context. They were perhaps indigenous to the southern fringe of the European ice sheet, and may represent early hybridization in central Europe following closely on the heels of the earliest Cro-Magnon influx. It is interesting that the Basques, a relatively small, dark people of ancient provenience in the western mountains between France and Spain, currently have the only native European lanaguage which falls outside the Indo-European language sphere, being of apparently independent origin.

In this Cro-Magnon—Basque connection, it is worth noting that there existed as late as the sixth century, in the northern extremity of the island of Great Britain and beyond the Celtic sphere, a race of "savage" aborigines,


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