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For the French rugby union trophy, see Bouclier de Brennus.
The Celtic Helmet from Satu Mare, Romania (northern Dacia), an Iron Age raven totem helmet, dated around 4th century BC. A similar helmet is depicted on the Gundestrup cauldron, being worn by one of the mounted warriors (detail tagged here). See also an illustration of Brennus wearing a similar helmet.

Brennus (or Brennos) is the name of two Gaulish chieftains famous in ancient history:

The recurrence of the name Brennus makes it possible that it was a title rather than a proper name. Some 19th-century scholars connected the name with the modern Welsh word for "king", brenin,[1] though Brennus and brenin have since been proven to be unrelated (brenin, earlier breenhin, being derived from the Celtic *brigantinos, meaning '(someone) pre-eminent, outstanding').[2] As early as the 12th century AD, authors such as Geoffrey of Monmouth (in his Historia Regum Britanniae) were connecting the name Brennus with the Welsh personal name Bran or Brân meaning 'crow', though the similarity of the names is superficial and they are not likely to share a common linguistic origin.

Examples in different forms of the name are:

  • Brinno, whose name was said by Tacitus to be that of "a family of rebels".
  • The personage named "Brennius", brother of legendary king of the Britons Bellinus in Geoffrey's Historia; the two are said to have conquered Gaul and then Rome. Probably created by that author from the two historical Gauls name Brennus.
    • A possible recollection of Geoffrey's "Brennius" is the "Englishman" (i.e. Briton) called Brennus whom the Duke of Norfolk told the Imperial ambassador Eustace Chapuys about in 1530. In arguing Tudor claims to imperial status, the Duke stated that this man had founded Bristol and conquered Rome.[3]

The name "Brennus" was given to a 19th Century French battleship.



  1. ^ Guest, Edwin; Origines Celticae (1883)
  2. ^ Karl, Raimund Thoughts on the Evolution of Celtic Societies University of Wales, 2007
  3. ^ Thomas Healy, Times Literary Supplement 24 June 2005, p. 25; reviewing Philip Schwyzer, Literature, Nationalism, and Memory in Early Modern England and Wales, Cambridge U. Pr., 2005

General references[edit]

  • John T. Koch, "Brân, Brennos: an instance of Early Gallo-Brittonic history and mythology'", Cambridge Medieval Celtic Studies 20 (Winter 1990:1-20)