Before the advent of Catholic and Orthodox Christianity, Europe had numerous religions over at least 40 thousand years, as archaeologic evidence shows.

Is there any place/community where Celtic, Animist, or other pre-Christian religion has never been ceded? My first thoughts were Ireland, Feroe Islands, or Sámi people, but they all seem to have been eagerly Christianised.

The question does not refer to Judaism, but may include nomads.

  • 2
    Except for Summerisle in the Hebrides.
    – Tomas By
    Commented Apr 24, 2020 at 20:09
  • 3
    You could make an argument for Chechnya/Dagestan, even if they were eventually subjugated by Russia. Tengrism and Judaism, then Islam.
    – Spencer
    Commented Apr 24, 2020 at 21:08
  • 1
    @Spencer: if you know enough about the history of Chechnya/Dagestan to write it up that would be great. My answer really only covers the northern expanses semi-properly Commented Apr 24, 2020 at 22:26
  • 1
    Would any non-Christian population have dared to be open about the fact?
    – jamesqf
    Commented Apr 25, 2020 at 3:40
  • 1
    Some Jew communities may have survived in the same place from Roman times to present - Jews in Rome seem good candidates, and also Belmonte Jews in Portugal. However, I don't turn that into an answer because those communities were minorities and "the place" where they are is actually a Christian place.
    – Pere
    Commented Sep 13, 2022 at 17:20

1 Answer 1


The Sámi peoples of northern Sweden (Swedish Lappland) and Finland (Finnish Lappland) seemed a likely candidate, but best evidence is that Lutheran conversion efforts in the 17th and early 18th centuries wad complete. Twentieth and twenty-first century revivalist efforts are just that by best account, demonstrated most forcefully perhaps by their inability to have retained even a single historical sacred drum of the thousands across the region extant 300 or so years ago.

Next I looked further east in the Murmansk and Arkhangelsk Oblasts of the Russian Federation, but the very high percentage of declared ethnic Russians (89% and 96% respectively) compared to the traditional Sámi, Komi and Nenets peoples again speaks to the unlikelihood of any true continuance for the traditional animism.

However the Nenets Autonomous Okrug (sometimes Nenetsia) next further east, stretching to the northern reaches of the Ural Mountains along the Barents Sea and Kara Sea coasts, still comprises over 25% Nenets (19% mostly Tundra Nenets) and Komi (9% mostly Izhma Komi) peoples. Here, at the furthest northeast reaches of Europe, Christian missionary efforts seem to have been incomplete.

The same might possibly be true for the larger Komi Republic next south, hugging the western side of the Urals, though the odds are low.

enter image description here

Finally in the Caucasus, there are sevveral Islamic (and one Buddhist!) republics. However this region was heavily proselytized by Christian missionaries prior to the 13th century, so it is doubtful there is any region that was never Christian prior to that time.

enter image description here

  • 1
    That close to Georgia and Armenia, Christianity was quite the player in Dagestan too. At least the Christian monuments there would seem to attest to that? Cf On Christianity in Dagestan, Magomed Gasanov Commented Apr 24, 2020 at 22:04
  • @LаngLаngС: You're right of course - I have edited to point that out, while retaining the demographic references. Commented Apr 24, 2020 at 22:24

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.