History Files

Please help the History Files

Contributed: 175

Target: 400

Totals slider

The History Files still needs your help. As a non-profit site, it is only able to support such a vast and ever-growing collection of information with your help, and this year your help is needed more than ever. Please make a donation so that we can continue to provide highly detailed historical research on a fully secure site. Your help really is appreciated.

European Kingdoms

Iberian Tribes


Luggones (Astures Transmontani) (Hispano-Celts)
Incorporating the Abilaci, Ablaidici, Agubrigenses, Arganticaeni, Argantorii, Arronidaeci, Cabraginos, Cadabrigenses, Cilaridos, Cilurnigos, Coliacinos, Oilaridos, Vinciani, & Viromenigi

FeatureCeltic migration across Europe was a slow, constant process which took place over a millennium or so. Celtic tribes (see feature link) probably arrived in Iberia in two waves, the first traditionally placed around 900 BC. More recent thought tends to identify the early arrivals as Indo-European or proto-Celtic tribes (who would have been part of the Urnfield culture), and argues for a process of infiltration over an extended period, from around 1000 to 300 BC, rather than invasions.

The first arrivals appear to have established themselves in Catalonia, having probably entered via the eastern passages of the Pyrenees. The Astures were a mixed Hispano-Celtic tribal confederation which was located in the peninsula's north-west, on the northern Atlantic coast.

Following the arrival of the Romans, the confederation was catalogued into two groups according to which side they occupied of the mountain range known as Picos de Europa. The Transmontani were 'beyond the mountains' from the Roman point of view, while the Cismontani were on 'this side'. 'Beyond the mountains' for the Transmontani related to territory between the River Navia and the central massif of the Picos de Europa section of the Cordillera Cantabrica (Cantabrian Range).

The Astures Transmontani consisted of a number of smaller tribes or clans. One of the largest of these was the Luggones. They held territory between the rivers Nalon and Sella in the north of the later kingdom and region of Asturias, with settlements along the Atlantic coast and with their name being preserved in one of the parishes of the municipality of Serio, just a few kilometres to the north-east of the Asturian capital of Oviedo.

These Luggones are not to be confused with the nearby Louguei who were a sub-tribe of the Gallaeci, or the Celto-Germanic Luggones (Lugii), or the Astures Cismontani Luggones, or even the Lugii Picts of Britain (this highly common name is analysed there in some detail).

The Transmontani Luggones themselves included a number of clans which are detailed here and below the sources. The Abilaci occupied the municipality of Morcin, about 7.5 kilometres south-west of Oviedo (the home of the Asturcon (Astures) breed of mountain horse). The Ablaidici formed around the municipality of Piloña, in the River Piloña valley.

The Agubrigenses occupied the municipality of Belmonte de Miranda, around forty-five kilometres to the south-west Oviedo. The Arganticaeni were in the municipality of Villavicosia near Gijon.

The Argantorii location is uncertain, perhaps being focussed around the municipality of Cangas del Narcea near Oviedo. The Arronidaeci were in the municipality of Aller, forty kilometres to the south-east of Oviedo. The Cabraginos held the municiplaity of Cabranes, around fifty-three kilometres to the east-north-east of Oviedo. The Cadabrigenses had the town of Riosa, eighteen kilometres south of Oviedo. The Cilaridos or Oilaridos held the locality around Oles, in north-eastern Asturia, fifty-one kilometres to the north-east of Oviedo.

The Coliacinos were, possibly, in the locality of Puente de Los Fierros, near Pola de Lena, about thirty kilometres to the south-south-west of Oviedo and on the border of the medieval kingdom of Leon. The Cilurnigos were based in today's Campa de Torres Archaeological Park near Gijon. The Vinciani were in the locality of Corvera de Asturias, about fifteen kilometres south-east of Aviles which contains two as-yet-unexcavated castros. The Viromenigi were possibly located to the south of Piloña, in the upper valley of the River Pilona.

The ruins of Numantia in Iberia

(Information by Trish Wilson, with additional information by Edward Dawson, from The La Tene Celtic Belgae Tribes in England: Y-Chromosome Haplogroup R-U152 - Hypothesis C, David K Faux, from Spain: An Oxford Archaeological Guide, Roger Collins, from Los pueblos de la España antigua, Juan Santos Yanguas, from Culinaria Spain, Marion Trutter (Ed), from Cultural Atlas of Spain and Portugal, Mary Vincent & RA Stradling, from The Ancient Celts, Barry Cunliffe, from Celtic from the West - Chapter 9, John Koch, from Los Celtiberos, Alberto J Lorrio, from Lo que sabemos de la lucha de lenguas en la Peninisula Ibérica, Llorente Antonio Tovar, from Consideraciones sobre geografia e historia de la España Antigua, Llorente Antonio Tovar, from Los pueblos celtas del Noroeste de la Peninsula Iberica, Manuel Alberro, from Las Guerras Cantabras, Martin Almagro Gorbea et alli, and from External Links: E-Keltoi (digital magazine provided by the University of Wisconsin- Milwaukee, Center for Celtic Studies, using the following articles: The Celts in Portugal, Teresa Judice Gamito, and The Celts in Iberia - An Overview, Alberto J Lorrio & Gonzalo Ruiz Zapatero, and Oppida and Celtic Society in Western Spain, Jesus R Alvarez Sanchis, and also Celtic Elements in North Western Spain in pre-Roman times, Marco García Quintela), and Ethnology of the Iberian Peninsula c.200 BC, Fraga da Silva Luis, and The Works of Julius Caesar: Gallic Wars.)

c.700 BC

Celtic migration into Iberia begins around this period, at the end of the Atlantic Bronze Age. In some areas it overlies previous proto-Celtic Urnfield migrations around the beginning of the millennium.

The migration into Iberia is not sudden, but is more a general progression of Hallstatt culture tribes arriving at the Pyrenees and forcing their way across. These Hallstatt Celts remain undisturbed by the later La Tène culture Celts until Iberia is conquered by Rome.

The Pyrenees as seen from the national park on the French side of the border
The Pyrenees (as seen here from the national park on the French side of the border) has presented a considerable obstacle to many migrating groups and campaigning armies, but there are paths across it, as the proto-Celtic Urnfield people and their Hallstatt culture successors found

These arrivals venture west through the Pyrenees to occupy the northern coast of the peninsula, where the people they find and dominate are probably Iberian natives mixed with West Indo-Europeans who are of the dominant pre-Celtic Proto-Italic group. Forming part of the Astures confederation, the Luggones tribe quickly joins the prevailing Castro culture here.

The Ablaidici clan of the Luggones form around the municipality of Piloña, in the River Piloña valley, a left-hand tributary of the River Sella. This is a semi-mountainous region with deep valleys, approximately forty-five kilometres to the east of Oviedo. One of its parishes, Beloncio, has been linked by Ptolemy with the Luggones capital of Paelontium.

The Arganticaeni are located around the municipality of Villavicosia, some fifteen kilometres to the south-east of Gijon. Here they are surrounded by early hill forts of the Castro culture, many in the coastal inlet known as Rodiles.

The Argantorii were, possibly, based around the municipality of Cangas del Narcea, around 88.5 kilometres to the south-west of Oviedo. Archaeology has pinpointed a number of settlements in this area, but the only one to be properly excavated is the Castro de Laron.

The Cilurnigos are perhaps the best known of the clans. They form around what today is Campa de Torres Archaeological Park. This is the site of Castro Noega, near Gijon, and close to the sea in northern Asturias.

Map of Iberian Tribes 300 BC
The Iberian peninsula prior to the Carthaginian invasion and partial conquest was a melange of different tribal influences (click or tap on map to view full sized)

221 - 72 BC

Carthaginian dominance in areas of Iberia sees them employing Astures mercenaries (their first historical mention). However, Astures history during the subsequent Second Punic War is unknown, as is their part - if any - in the later Celtiberian Wars (181-179 BC and 154-151 BC), the Lusitanian War (155-139 BC), or the Sertorian War (80-72 BC). They are too far removed to enter notably into Roman records of wars in the east of Iberia.

29 - 19 BC

Cantabri raids have continued against their wealthier neighbours to the ongoing annoyance of the Roman authorities. Now, under the command of Corocotta, they also support the Vaccaei anti-Roman revolt of this year. This along with Astures resistance is enough for Rome, sparking the Cantabrian Wars between 29-19 BC (also referred to as the Cantabrian & Asturian Wars). The finish comes in 19 BC.

Some time after conquest the Cilurnigos clan form the Ala II Asturum cavalry unit which is stationed at Chesters Roman Fort on Hadrian's Wall in Roman Britannia. The camp there is named Cilurnum after them.

Mountains of the Picos de Europa in Spain
The 'Picos de Europa' is the oldest and most spectacular national park in Spain, encompassing as it does a stretch of the Cantabrian mountain range which proved so important to the resistance effort against Rome

AD 418 - 718

In the post-Roman period the Astures provide a great deal of trouble to Germanic invaders, the Suevi and Visigoths. The latter enforce their participation within their new kingdom but the Astures continue to rebel.

The fall of the Visigoth kingdom in AD 711-714 does not result in the fall of the Astures. Instead, they form their own Christian kingdom of Asturias in AD 718 and continue to fend off the latest round of invaders.

Images and text copyright © all contributors mentioned on this page. An original king list page for the History Files.