To animate their warriors, the Ancient Celts used a brass wind instrument, a trumpet, the Karnyka

The sound of the instrument acted as a scarecrow and made the opponent flee.

According to the Greek historian Polybius, the Carnyces were used in wars to rouse the troops into battle and strike fear into the hearts of their opponents.

Also, due to the height of the instrument, over two meters, the sound passed over the heads of the warriors and traveled far.

This is how the “haunting” sound made by Carnyx would have sounded to the Roman enemies of the Celts.

The name carnyx occurs in the Celtic invasion of Delphi in 279 BC, as well as in Julius Caesar’s campaign against the Gauls and Claudius’ invasion of Britain.

Carnykas is back

Reconstruction of the Deskford Carnyx began in 1991 by a team of musicologists and archaeologists from the National Museum of Scotland.

In 1993, professional trombonist John Kenny played the carnyka for the first time in 2000 years; since then, he has presented the ancient instrument around the world, both in concert and on radio. There are now several new musical compositions featuring the karnyka, and seven records have already been released.


The name “karnyx”, although it sounds Greek, comes from the Gaulish root “carn-” or “cern-“, which means “horn”; from the same root comes the name of the god Kernunos

And the word “carnyx” is the Roman name of the instrument, as the Celts – even after torture – stubbornly refused to reveal the Celtic name of the instrument.