The Captive Celt by Terry Deary


This is the story of a young Celtic boy, Deri, kidnapped from Britannia and taken to Rome as a slave. Here is has to deal with his master’s daughter, Livia (a horrible girl!) and after a heated argument, he ends up in prison for rebelling! Here he meets the famous Celtic leader Caratacus! He witnesses the Celtic mastermind talk his way out of a death sentence and into the Roman nobility! Deri then becomes a servant to Caratacus (who treats him ‘as a son’ and teaches him ‘skills of fighting’). Deri does have a happy ending, taking the road back to Britannia, where he believes that the Celts will rise again!


A well paced historical narrative, with many historical references to both the Celt and the Romans. This is written from a child’s point of view, which creates an immediate link for child readers. The vocabulary used isn’t particularly challenging for higher ability readers, but it is well selected and the use of comparative language features is simple yet effective.

Inspiration for activities9780713689600_3

1) Read identified section and talk about how they know story is set in the past. Children to annotate the text, highlighting evidence that suggests a historical setting.

2) Complete a chart describing what you (as Livia/Deri/Roman solider in Britain) might see, hear, taste, feel and smell in that place.

3) Compare Caratacus descriptions (from POV of Romans or Celts)

The Roman, Tacitus wrote about the war between the Romans and the Britons; including the British leader Caractacus’ last battle. Sections on this can be found online.

4)  Role play various situations.


1.Tthe Romans defeating Caratacus.
2. Deri being taken to the cell and meeting Caratacus.
3. Romans driving the Celts to the fortress.
4. Caratacus meeting with queen Cartimandua.

5) Plot an emotion graph (or fortune line) for Deri.

6) Write a short story as a Celtic child who was taken to Rome, just like Deri. Ask children to visualise the scene arriving in Rome.


Give the children the main character- a small child from Britannia, who hates the Romans and has a mean master called “Agrios”. Invite the children to add further detail.  Discuss and list ideas for events that could take place in the setting, drawing on the children’s previous experience of adventure stories.

7) Discuss:

Why was slavery abolished?
Was Deri lucky or unlucky?
Who was in the wrong?
Should Caratacus have been rewarded?


One thought on “The Captive Celt by Terry Deary

  1. Some great teaching ideas and a fantastic novel to link strongly across the curriculum, particularly throughout History. It presents many opportunities to encourage depth and application of skills for children. I have used this whilst teaching year 3 and found it a fab read, loved by the children. There were many opportunities to challenge the more able encouraging them to apply skills from English within history and many other areas also. A great tool for a mastery education. Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

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