The Vettones (Greek: Ouettones) were a pre-Roman people of the Iberian Peninsula of possibly Celtic ethnicity.[1][2]

Vettones location map-blank
Location of the Vettones in Hispania
Altar of sacrifices of Ulaca in Ávila (Castile and León, Spain)
Vetton verraco in Mingorría (Castile and León, Spain)


Under a controversial interpretation, John T. Koch has proposed a western Hispano-Celtic classification for the Vettones.[3][4] A Celtiberian origin has also been claimed.[1] Organized since the 3rd Century BC, the Vettones formed a tribal confederacy of undetermined strength. Even though their tribes’ names are obscure, the study of local epigraphic evidence has identified the Calontienses, Coerenses, Caluri and Bletonesii but the others remain unknown.


A predominately horse-[5] and cattle-herder people that practiced transhumance, archeology has identified them with the local 2nd Iron Age ‘Cogotas II’ Culture, also known as the ‘Culture of the Verracos’ (verracos de piedra), named after the crude granite sculptures representing pigs, wild boars and bulls that still dot their former region. These are one of their most notable enduring legacies today, the other possibly being the game of Calva, which dates to the time of their influence. The Iron Age sites and respective cemeteries of Las Cogotas, La Osera, El Raso de Candeleda, La Mesa de Miranda and Alcántara have provided enough elements – weapons, shields, fibulae, belt buckles, bronze cauldrons, Campanian and Greek pottery – which attest the strong contacts with the Pellendones of the eastern meseta, the Iberian south and the Mediterranean.


Vettones cities location map-es
Location of the Vettones' cities

The Vettones lived in the northwestern part of the meseta—the high central upland plain of the Iberian peninsula—the region where the modern Spanish provinces of Ávila and Salamanca are today, as well as parts of Zamora, Toledo, Cáceres and also the eastern border areas of modern Portuguese territory. Their own capital city, which the ancient sources mysteriously failed to mention at all, has not yet been found though other towns mentioned by Ptolemy[6] were located, such as Capara (Ventas de Cápara), Obila (Ávila?), Mirobriga (Ciudad Rodrigo?), Turgalium (Trujillo, Cáceres), Alea (Alía – Cáceres) and probably Bletisa / Bletisama (Ledesma, Salamanca). Other probable Vettonian towns were Tamusia (Villasviejas de Tamuja, near Botija, Cáceres; Celtiberian-type mint: Tamusiensi), Ocelon / Ocelum (Castelo Branco), Cottaeobriga (Almeida) and Lancia (Serra d’Opa).


Traditional allies of the Lusitani, the Vettones helped the latter in their struggle against the advancing Carthaginians led by Hasdrubal the Fair and Hannibal in the late 3rd century BC. At first placed under nominal Punic suzerainty by the time of the Second Punic War, the Vettones threw off their yoke soon after 206 BC. At the Lusitanian Wars of the 2nd century BC they joined once again the Lusitani in their attacks on Baetica, Carpetania, the Cyneticum and the failed incursion on the North African town of Ocilis (modern Asilah, Morocco) in 153 BC.[7][8] Although incorporated around 134-133 BC into Hispania Ulterior, the Vettones continued to raid the more romanized regions further south and during the Roman civil wars of the early 1st century BC, they even provided auxiliary troops to Sertorius’ army in 77-76 BC. Crushed by the provincial propraetor Julius Caesar in 61 BC, they later rose in support of Pompey's faction and fought at the battle of Munda (MontillaCórdoba) in Baetica.[9]


The Romans promptly began to establish military colonies at Kaisarobriga or Caesarobriga (Talavera de la ReinaToledo) and Norba Caesarina (near Cáceres). In around 27-13 BC the Vettones were aggregated to the newly created Roman province of Lusitania with Emerita Augusta (Mérida) as the capital of the new province.[10] Despite their progressive assimilation into the Roman world, the Vettones managed to retain their martial traditions, which enabled them to provide the Roman Army with an auxiliary cavalry unit (Ala), the Ala Hispanorum Vettonum Civium Romanorum, which participated in Emperor Claudius' invasion of Britain in AD 43–60.[11]


The Vettones are not to be confused with the Vettonenses, inhabitants of Vettona (today's Bettona) in Umbria.

See also


  1. ^ a b Álvarez-Sanchís, Jesús R. (2005). "Oppida and Celtic society in western Spain". e-Keltoi: Journal of Interdisciplinary Celtic Studies, Vol. 6 (The Celts in the Iberian Peninsula).
  2. ^ Cremin, The Celts in Europe (1992), p. 57.
  3. ^ Koch, John T. (2006). Celtic Culture: A Historical Encyclopedia. ABC-CLIO. p. 481.
  4. ^ Cólera, Carlos Jordán (March 16, 2007). "The Celts in the Iberian Peninsula:Celtiberian" (PDF). e-Keltoi. 6: 749–750. Retrieved 16 June 2010.
  5. ^ Silius Italicus, Punica, III, 378.
  6. ^ Ptolemy, Geographika, II, 5, 7.
  7. ^ Appian, Iberiké, 57.
  8. ^ Livy, Periochae, 47.
  9. ^ Caesar, De Bello Civili, I, 38, 1-4.
  10. ^ Garcia y Bellido, Antonio (1958). Las colonias romanas de la provincia Lusitania (PDF). Antigua: Historia y Arqueología de las civilizaciones. pp. 3, 4.
  11. ^


  • Aedeen Cremin, The Celts in Europe, Sydney, Australia: Sydney Series in Celtic Studies 2, Centre for Celtic Studies, University of Sydney (1992) ISBN 0-86758-624-9
  • Ángel Montenegro et alii, Historia de España 2 - colonizaciones y formación de los pueblos prerromanos (1200-218 a.C), Editorial Gredos, Madrid (1989) ISBN 84-249-1386-8
  • Christophe Bonnaud, Les castros vettons et leurs populations au Second Âge du Fer (Ve siècle-IIe siècle avant J.-C.), I: implantation et systèmes défensives in Revista Portuguesa de Arqueologia, pp. 209–242, volume 8, número 1, IPA Lisboa (2005) ISSN 0874-2782
  • Christophe Bonnaud, Les castros vettons et leurs populations au Second Âge du Fer (Ve siècle-IIe siècle avant J.-C.), II: l’habitat, l’économie, la société in Revista Portuguesa de Arqueologia, pp. 209–242, volume 8, número 2, IPA Lisboa (2005) ISSN 0874-2782
  • Eduardo Sánchez Moreno, Vetones: Historia y Arqueología de un pueblo prerromano, Ediciones de la Universidad Autónoma, Madrid (2000) ISBN 84-7477-759-3
  • Francisco Burillo Mozota, Los Celtíberos, etnias y estados, Crítica, Grijalbo Mondadori, S.A., Barcelona (1998, revised edition 2007) ISBN 84-7423-891-9
  • Isabel Baquedano Beltrán, La necrópolis vettona de La Osera (Chamartín, Ávila, España) – volumen I, Zona Arqueológia número 19-I, Museo Arqueológico Regional, Alcalá de Henares (2016) ISBN 978-84-451-3518-1
  • Isabel Baquedano Beltrán, La necrópolis vettona de La Osera (Chamartín, Ávila, España) – volumen II, Zona Arqueológia número 19-II, Museo Arqueológico Regional, Alcalá de Henares (2016) ISBN 978-84-451-3518-1
  • Manuel Salinas de Frías, Los vettones: indigenismo y romanización en el occidente de la meseta, Ediciones Universidad Salamanca, Salamanca (2001) ISBN 84-7800-881-0
  • Martín Almagro-Gorbea & Ana Maria Martín, Castros y Oppida en Extremadura, Editorial Complutense, Madrid (1994) ISBN 84-7491-533-3
  • Jesús R. Álvarez-Sanchís, Los vettones, Real Academia de la Historia, Madrid (2003) ISBN 9788495983169
  • Jesús R. Álvarez-Sanchís, Los señores del ganado – Arqueología de los pueblos prerromanos en el occidente de Iberia, Colección Arqueología, Editorial Akal, Madrid (2003) ISBN 84-460-1650-8

Further reading

  • Barry Cunliffe, The Celts – A Very Short Introduction, Oxford University Press (2003) ISBN 0-19-280418-9.
  • Dáithí Ó hÓgáin, The Celts: A History, The Collins Press, Cork (2002) ISBN 0-85115-923-0
  • Daniel Varga, The Roman Wars in Spain: The Military Confrontation with Guerrilla Warfare, Pen & Sword Military, Barnsley (2015) ISBN 978-1-47382-781-3
  • Leonard A Curchin (5 May 2004). The Romanization of Central Spain: Complexity, Diversity and Change in a Provincial Hinterland. Routledge. pp. 37–. ISBN 978-1-134-45112-8.
  • Ludwig Heinrich Dyck, The Roman Barbarian Wars: The Era of Roman Conquest, Author Solutions (2011) ISBNs 1426981821, 9781426981821
  • John T. Koch (ed.), Celtic Culture: A Historical Encyclopedia, ABC-CLIO Inc., Santa Barbara, California (2006) ISBN 1-85109-440-7, 1-85109-445-8

External links


The Bletonesii were one of the pre-Roman Celtic peoples of the Iberian Peninsula (the Roman Hispania, modern Spain and Portugal), dwelling around the city of Bletisa or Bletisama, located in modern Ledesma in the province of Salamanca, Spain. They were punished by the Romans for practicing human sacrifice. If the placement in Bletisa is correct, they lived near (or they were part of) the Vettones.

Bulls of Guisando

The Bulls of Guisando (Spanish: Toros de Guisando) are a set of Celtiberian sculptures located on the hill of Guisando in the municipality of El Tiemblo, Ávila, Spain. The four sculptures, made of granite, represent quadrupeds identified as bulls or pigs. The balance of opinion favours bulls: there are holes which have been interpreted as sockets for horns.

The Bulls of Guisando are examples of a type of ancient sculpture called verracos of which hundreds are known. They are associated with the territory of a celtiberian tribe called the Vettones. The Bulls may have been made during the 2nd century BCE. Whether they are in their original position is debatable. There are some Latin graffiti on them which may mean they were repositioned in Roman times.

The field around the Bulls was the place where the Treaty of the Bulls of Guisando was signed between Henry IV of Castile and his half-sister Isabella of Castille on September 18, 1468, which granted her the title of Princess of Asturias thus ending a civil war in Castile.

The Bulls are also a recurrent feature in Spanish literature. For instance, Miguel de Cervantes references them several times throughout his novel Don Quixote. Federico García Lorca uses their symbolic value in his Llanto por la muerte de Ignacio Sánchez Mejías:

...y los toros de Guisando,

casi muerte y casi piedra,

mugieron como dos siglos

hartos de pisar la tierra...and the bulls of Guisando

partly death and partly stone

bellowed like two centuries

tired of treading the earthThe bulls are protected in Spain's heritage listings as a Bien de Interés Cultural (Property of Cultural Interest), being classified as a Sitio histórico or historic site.


Béjar is a town and municipality in the province of Salamanca, western Spain, part of the autonomous community of Castile and León. It had a population of 15,016 as of 2017.

Hispano-Celtic languages

Hispano-Celtic is a hypernym to include all the varieties of Celtic spoken in the Iberian Peninsula before the arrival of the Romans (in c. 218 BC, during the Second Punic War):

a northern-eastern, inland language attested at a relatively late date in the extensive corpus of Celtiberian. This variety, which Jordán Cólera proposed to name northeastern Hispano-Celtic, has long been synonymous with the term Hispano-Celtic and is universally accepted as a Celtic language.

a language in the north west corner of the peninsula, with a northern and western boundary marked by the Atlantic Ocean, a southern boundary along the river Douro, and an eastern boundary marked by Oviedo, which Jordán Cólera has proposed to call northwestern Hispano-Celtic, where there is a corpus of Latin inscriptions containing isolated words and sentences that are clearly Celtic.Western Hispano-Celtic is a term that has been proposed for a language continuum of dlalects, ranging from Celtic Gallaecian and Tartessian to para-Celtic Lusitanian, located in the Iberian peninsula west of an imaginary line running north-south linking Oviedo and Mérida. According to Koch, the Western Celtic varieties of the Iberian Peninsula share with Celtiberian a sufficient core of distinctive features to justify Hispano-Celtic as a term for a linguistic sub-family as opposed to a purely geographical classification. In Naturalis Historia 3.13 (written 77–79 CE), Pliny the Elder states that the Celtici of Baetica (now western Andalusia) descended from the Celtiberians of Lusitania, since they shared common religions, languages, and names for their fortified settlements.As part of the effort to prove the existence of a western Iberian Hispano-Celtic dialect continuum, there have been attempts to differentiate the Vettonian dialect from the neighboring Lusitanian language using the personal names of the Vettones to describe the following sound changes (PIE to Proto-Celtic):

*ō > ā occurs in Enimarus.

*ō > ū in final syllables is indicated by the suffix of, e. g., Abrunus, Caurunius.

*ē > ī is attested in the genitive singular Riuei.

*n̥ > an appears in Argantonius.

*m̥ > am in names with Amb-.

*gʷ > b is attested in names such as Bouius, derived from *gʷow- 'cow'.

*kʷ in PIE *perkʷ-u- 'oak' appears in a lenited form in the name Erguena.

*p > ɸ > 0 is attested in:*perkʷ-u- > ergʷ- in Erguena (see above).

*plab- > lab- in Laboina.

*uper- > ur- in Uralus and Urocius.However, *p is preserved in Cupiena, a Vettonian name not attested in Lusitania; also in names like Pinara, while *-pl- probably developed into -bl- in names like Ableca.


The Iberians (Latin: Hibērī, from Greek: Ίβηρες, Iberes) were a set of peoples that Greek and Roman sources (among others, Hecataeus of Miletus, Avienus, Herodotus and Strabo) identified with that name in the eastern and southern coasts of the Iberian peninsula, at least from the 6th century BC. The Roman sources also use the term Hispani to refer to the Iberians.

The term Iberian, as used by the ancient authors, had two distinct meanings. One, more general, referred to all the populations of the Iberian peninsula without regard to ethnic differences (Pre-Indo-European, Celts and non-Celtic Indo-Europeans). The other, more restricted ethnic sense, refers to the people living in the eastern and southern coasts of the Iberian Peninsula, which by the 6th century BC had absorbed cultural influences from the Phoenicians and the Greeks. This pre-Indo-European cultural group spoke the Iberian language from the 7th to the 1st century BC.

Other peoples possibly related to the Iberians are the Vascones, though more related to the Aquitani than to the Iberians. The rest of the peninsula, in the northern, central, northwestern, western and southwestern areas, was inhabited by Celts or Celtiberians groups and the possibly Pre-Celtic or Proto-Celtic Indo-European Lusitanians, Vettones, and the Turdetani.

Las Cogotas

Las Cogotas, (Spanish: Las Cogotas) is an archaeological site in Spain in Cardenosa municipality, province of Avila. The site was researched by the Galician archaeologist Juan Cabré in 1920s. It is namesake for two different archaeological cultures known from this site: Cogotas I (pre-Celtic) of the Late Bronze Age and Cogotas II (most probably Celtic) of the Iron Age. The latter is known from the upper layer of Las Cogotas, which represents a classical settlement of Vettones, which inhabited the territory of modern provinces of Avila and Salamanca, as well as parts of Toledo, Zamora, Caseres and Tras-os-Montes in Portugal.

List of ancient Celtic peoples and tribes

This is a list of Celtic tribes, listed in order of the Roman province (after Roman conquest) or the general area in which they lived. This geographical distribution of Celtic tribes does not imply that tribes that lived in the same general geographical area were more related. Some tribes' or tribal confederation's names are listed under more than one region because they dwelt in several of the regions.

List of ancient peoples of Portugal

In what is today's mainland Portugal territory, before the rule of the Roman Empire, several peoples and tribes were living there for many centuries and they had their own culture, language and political organization (tribal chiefdoms, tribal confederations and early forms of kingdoms and states), these peoples and tribes were in the Iron Age.

Nearly all or maybe all of these peoples and tribes were Celtic Indo-Europeans (Hispano-Celtic/Iberian Celts), Pre-Celtic Indo-Europeans or heavily celticized peoples.

Although there is today a strong identification of the Lusitanians with the territory of modern Portugal, not all the territory were dwelt by the Lusitanians, they were themselves a tribal confederation (they dwelt mainly between the rivers Tagus and Douro in central Portugal, Beira and Estremadura, and parts of the Spanish western Extremadura), other peoples and tribes speaking other languages and with distinc cultures (although related to some point) also lived in the centre, south and north of the modern Portuguese territory. It was the number and predominance of the Lusitanians regarding other peoples and tribes that caused this identification.

With the Roman conquest, the modern territory of Portugal south of the Douro river belonged to the Hispania Ulterior province. After that, in 27 BC, it was created the province of Lusitania (by Augustus) that initially covered the entire western side of the Iberian peninsula including Gallaecia and Asturias, but soon after, these later territories, north of the Douro river, were incorporated in the Hispania Tarraconensis province, an administrative division that lasted until the end of the Roman Empire. The province of Lusitania corresponded roughly with the territories of the Lusitanians (Lusitani), the Turduli Oppidani, the Vettones, the Celtici and the Cynetes and also of the Gallaeci and the Astures for a short period of time.

After the fall of the West Roman Empire, the name Lusitania continued to be used for administrative purposes but in the 9th century CE the name Portugal (a place name that started to be used in the territories north of the Douro river in south Gallaecia) started to be applied to the name of a county, the County of Portucale, and then, after independence from the Kingdom of León, to the all the country, replacing the name Lusitania by the name Portugal.

List of the Pre-Roman peoples of the Iberian Peninsula

This is a list of the Pre-Roman people of the Iberian peninsula (the Roman Hispania, i. e., modern Portugal, Spain and Andorra). Some closely fit the concept of a people, ethnic group or tribe. Others are confederations or even unions of tribes.

Lusitanian War

The Lusitanian War, called in Greek Pyrinos Polemos ("the Fiery War"), was a war of resistance fought by the Lusitanian tribes of Hispania Ulterior against the advancing legions of the Roman Republic from 155 to 139 BC. The Lusitanians revolted on two separate occasions (155 BC, and again in 146 BC) and were pacified. In 154 BC, a long war in Hispania Citerior, known as the Numantine War, was begun by the Celtiberians. It lasted until 133 and is an important event in the integration of what would become Portugal into the Roman and Latin-speaking world.

In 194 BC, war first broke out between the Romans and the Lusitanians, who were an autonomous people. By 179 BC, the Romans had mostly succeeded in pacifying the region and signed a peace treaty. In 155, a major revolt was reignited under the leadership of Punicus, who allied with the Vettones. Caesarus succeeded after Punicus's death. Another warlord, Caucenus, made war against the Romans in the region south of Tagus down to North Africa.

The praetor Servius Sulpicius Galba and the proconsul Lucius Licinius Lucullus arrived in 151 and began the process of subduing the local population. Galba betrayed the Lusitanian people he had invited to peace talks and had roughly 10,000 massacred in 150, thus ending the first phase of the war. This would be later proven to have been a costly mistake as the Lusitanians became embittered and began open warfare against Rome and its allies. Not only that, but future Lusitanian leader Viriathus had escaped alive from the massacre, having now developed a vendetta against Rome.

In 146 BC, the Lusitanians elected Viriathus leader, after he rescued a great number of Lusitanian warriors pinned down by a Roman Legion after reminding them of Rome's betrayal three years prior and convincing them not to accept any Roman offers. Preying upon the Legions' unwillingness to break formation, he succeeded in saving the entire band from massacre or capture, an incredible feat. Viriathus was to gain renown throughout the Roman world as a guerrilla fighter. In the words of Theodor Mommsen, "It seemed as if, in that thoroughly prosaic age, one of the Homeric heroes had reappeared." In 145, the general Quintus Fabius Maximus Aemilianus campaigned successfully against the Lusitanians, but failed in his attempts to arrest Viriathus. In 143 BC, Viriathus formed a league against Rome with several Celtic tribes, for resisting the Romans and getting revenge against them for the betrayal and massacre three years previously.

In 139 BC, Viriathus was killed in his sleep by three of his companions (they were Tartessians, Lusitanian allies), Audax, Ditalcus and Minurus. The three men had escaped by the time the Lusitanians discovered the death of their leader. Unable to avenge him they instead held feasts, gladiator battles and a grand funeral. These three men who had been sent as emissaries to the Romans had been bribed by Marcus Popillius Laenas into betraying their mission. The popular story of their fate has Roman general Servilius Caepio having them executed, declaring "Rome does not pay traitors."


The Lusitanians (or Latin: Lusitani) were an Indo-European people living in the west of the Iberian Peninsula prior to its conquest by the Roman Republic and the subsequent incorporation of the territory into the Roman province of Lusitania (most of modern Portugal, Extremadura and a small part of the province of Salamanca).


The Pellendones (also Pelendones Celtiberorum or Cerindones) were an ancient pre-Roman people living on the Iberian Peninsula. From the early 4th century BC they inhabited the region near the source of the river Duero in what today is north-central Spain. The area comprises the north of Soria, the southeast of Burgos and the southwest of La Rioja provinces.

Province of Salamanca

Salamanca (Spanish pronunciation: [salaˈmaŋka]) is a province of western Spain, in the western part of the autonomous community of Castile and León (Castilla y León). It is bordered by the provinces of Zamora, Valladolid, Ávila, and Cáceres; it is bordered on the west by Portugal. It has an area of 12,349 km ² and in 2018 had a population of 331,473 people. It is divided into 362 municipalities, 11 comarcas, 32 mancomunidades and five judicial districts. Of the 362 municipalities, more than half are villages with fewer than 300 people.

Sierra de Gredos

The Sierra de Gredos is a mountain range in central Spain that spans the provinces of Ávila, Salamanca, Cáceres, Madrid, and Toledo. It is part of the much larger Sistema Central of mountain ranges. Its highest point is Pico Almanzor, at 2,592 metres and it has been declared a natural park by the Autonomous Community of Castile and León. The Sierra de Gredos is one of the most extensive mountain ranges of the Central System; it comprises five river valleys: the Alto Tormes, the Alto Alberche, the Tiétar Oriental, the Tiétar Occidental y la Vera, and the Valle del Ambroz. The first known inhabitants were the Vettones, a pre-Roman Celtic people. The central part of the range encomprises the Sierra de Gredos Regional Park.

Stachys officinalis

Stachys officinalis is commonly known as common hedgenettle, betony, purple betony, wood betony, bishopwort, or bishop's wort. The French common name is betoine, and Betonie in German. It is a perennial grassland herb.

Pliny (25, 8, 46, § 84) calls the plant both betonica and vettonica, claiming that the Vettones used it as a herbal medicine. The word stachys comes from the Greek, meaning "an ear of grain," and refers to the fact that the inflorescence is often a spike.

Timeline of Hispania

This section of the timeline of Hispania concerns Spanish and Portuguese history events from the Carthaginian conquests (236 BC) to before the barbarian invasions (408 AD).

Timeline of Portuguese history (Lusitania and Gallaecia)

This is a historical timeline of Portugal.


The Vaccaei or Vaccei were a pre-Roman Celtic people of Spain, who inhabited the sedimentary plains of the central Duero valley, in the Meseta Central of northern Hispania (specifically in Castile and León). Its capital was Intercatia in Paredes de Nava.


The verracos (Spanish: verraco; Portuguese: berrão; literally 'boar'), in the Iberian Peninsula, are the Vettones's granite megalithic monuments, sculptures of animals as found in the west of the Iberian meseta - the high central plain of the Iberian peninsula - in the Spanish provinces of Ávila, Salamanca, Segovia, Salamanca, Zamora, and Cáceres, but also in the north of Portugal and Galicia. Over 400 verracos have been identified.

The Spanish word verraco normally refers to boars, and the sculptures are sometimes called verracos de piedra (pigs of stone) to distinguish them from live animals. The stone verracos appear to represent not only pigs but also other animals. Some have been identified as bulls, and the village of El Oso, Ávila, named for "the Bear", has a verraco which supposedly represents a bear.

Their dates range from the mid-4th to 1st centuries BC.

There are some similar zoomorphic monument markers in lands of Poland from the same period or older.Though they were perhaps not confined to a single usage, the verracos were an essential part of the landscape of the Vettones, one of the Pre-Roman peoples of the Iberian Peninsula. It has generally been assumed, from their high visibility in their original open fields surroundings, that these sculptures had some protective religious significance, whether guarding the security of livestock or as funerary monuments (some of them bear Latin funerary inscriptions). The verracos are particularly numerous too in the vicinity of the walled Celtiberian communities that Romans had called oppida.

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