Aventicum (Avenches, canton de Vaud), c. 100 apr. J.-Chr. Musée romain, Photo/Foto: TES.

The Celtic Tribes of the Alps

The Alps had various names in ancient times: the Alps Poenines (Alpes Poeninae), the Alps Graies (Alpes Graiae), the Alps Cottiennes (Alpes Cottiae) and the Alps Maritimes (Alpes Maritimes).

The Alpes Graiae and Alpes Poenines extended over different Celtic regions and peoples. The Alpes Graiae included the Tarentaise, the Beaufortain and the Haut-Faucigny. Valais belonged to the Poenine Alps. The Alpes Cottiae and The Alpes Maritimes were in France. The Tarentaise and the Valais were important routes to Italy, Gaul and Britain.

Several passes connected different regions. The Cormet d’Arêches and Roselend connect the Tarentaise with the Beaufortain. The Bonhomme and Forclaz du Prarion pass link the Beaufortain and Haut-Faucigny, and the Balme and Forclaz de Trento passes connect the Val de Chamonix and Valais.

The Petit Saint-Bernard connects the Tarentaise with the Valle d’Aosta and the Grand-Saint-Bernard links Valais to the Aosta Valley (Valle d’Aosta).

The Ceutrones inhabited the Alpes Graiae: their capital was Aime (Axima). Four tribes inhabited the Alpes Poeninae: the Nantuaten, the Veragri, the Sedunas and the Uberi. The Nantuaten lived in the Rhone Valley from Lake Geneva to Saint-Maurice (Agaune) and had Massongex (Tarnaiae) as their capital.

The Veragri inhabited the valley of Martigny. The Sedunas lived in Sion, and the Uberi settled between Sierre, Brig, and the Gotthard (Adulas mons or Columna Solis).

(source: A. Puéjean, Les Alpes Graies et Poenines à l’époque romaine, Nîmes, 2015).