Brittany was first inhabited by Noelithic tribes whose various tools bear witness to advanced development. These menhirs -which can be isolated (such as at le Champ-Dolent), or grouped into lines (Carnac)- and dolmens are still scattered throughout the region. These ancient stone creations remain quite a mystery to locals and visitors alike.
Around the 6th Century BC, these tribes were joined by the first wave of Celts, who, upon settling in the large peninsula, gave it the name of “Ar Mor” -the land before the sea….
Julius Ceasar conquered the region in 56 BC and it remained under Roman control until the 5th century AD. Coincidently, this part of French history is known throughout the world by the millions of readers of the (fictional) Asterix cartoon series. In truth, the The Gauls from Amorique formed a kind of confederation with a powerful flotilla, intense commercial activity, and financial power which allowed them to resist Roman Invasion longer than their immediate neighbours.
In the 5th and 6th centuries, a new Celtic tribe was being pushed back by barbarian invasions from the north (Picts, Scots, and Anglo-Saxons). The Bretons (as these people from what is now Britain and Ireland) crossed the Channel to settle in what is now called Brittany after them.
In the 9th century, Brittany’s national hero Nominoe revolted against French rule, taking control of both Rennes and Nantes. Shortly thereafter, his successors managed to repulse the Normans (Vikings). Because of its location the duchy of Brittany wascontested by kings of both France and England throughout the Middle Ages.
Over the centuries, Brittany has retained a seperate regional identity and has become far less assimilated into the French mainstream than othe areas of the country.To this day, some Bretons have not abandonned hope that their region will one day regain its indepedence.
The majority of Bretons retain a strong bond with their native culture. Recently, there has been a drive for cultural and linguistic renewal and stronger ties have been established with the Celtic communities of Ireland, Wales, Scotland, Cornwall and even Gallicia in Spain.0