Druids Celtic Shamans Seers Pagan Priests Religion Animal Spirits Magick Augury
”The Druids” by Peter Berresford Ellis.
NOTE: We have 75,000 books in our library, almost 10,000 different titles. Odds are we have other copies of this same title in varying conditions, some less expensive, some better condition. We might also have different editions as well (some paperback, some hardcover, oftentimes international editions). If you don’t see what you want, please contact us and ask. We’re happy to send you a summary of the differing conditions and prices we may have for the same title.
DESCRIPTION: Hardcover with dustjacket. Publisher: Eerdmans Publishing Company (1995). Pages: 316. Size: 9½ x 6½ x 1¼ inches; 1¼ pounds. Summary: Shrouded in legend and lore for centuries, the mysterious lives of the ancient Druids continue to invoke fascination to this day. The various interpretations of the Druids range from images of white-clad priests who practiced human sacrifice and forecast the future from human entrails to portraits of them as the intelligentsia of ancient Celtic society. Yet the fascination that the Druids continue to exert appears almost in inverse proportion to what is actually known about them.
In this compelling and highly readable study of the Druids, respected Celtic scholar Peter Berresford Ellis sifts through the historical evidence and, with reference to the latest archaeological and etymological finds, gives the first authentic account of who the mysterious Druids were and what role they played in Celtic society. The Druids emerge as the intellectual caste of the ancient Celtic society. They were the doctors, the lawyers, the ambassadors, the advisers to kings. They also had a religious function. Ellis describes the special Druidic training, their philosophy, their belief in auguries, and their intriguing origins. He also shows that the current “New Age” image of the Druids as benevolent wizards comes from a woefully inadequate interpretation of the facts.
CONDITION: VERY GOOD. Partially read hardcover w/dustjacket. Eerdmans Publishing Company (1995) 316 pages. Looks as if someone started the book, read it through page 25, dog-eared that page, then put the book away and never finished it. However the book also exhibits some shelf and age wear. There is a faint sprinkling of tiny tan-colored age speckles (known as "foxing") to the surfaces of closed page edges (visible of course only when book is closed, not to individual pages, only to the mass of closed page edges, sometimes referred to as the "page block"). Also the top open corner of many pages within the book have a slight bend mark. This is typically caused by the corner of another book striking the closed mass of page corners as the book is bring re-shelved. Or the closed corner of the page mass being hit against a bookshelf when being shelved. It's not reading wear, it is shop wear or shelfwear. But in any event, there is a tiny, faint bend mark at the top open corner of many pages. Except for these issues (the single dogeared page, and the small, faint bend mark at the top open corner of many pages), the inside of the book is almost pristine; the pages are clean, crisp, unmarked, unmutilated (except for the single dog-ear and tiny corner dents already described), tightly bound, and seemingly unread beyond page 25. The dustjacket and covers are clean and unsoiled, but evidence mild edge and corner shelfwear. To the dustjacket this is principally in the form of mild crinkling to the spine head, heel, and top "tips" (the two top open corners of the dustjacket, front and back). There is also a 3/4 inch closed (neatly mended) edge tear to the top open corner of the back side of the dustjacket. The edge tear has been very carefully repaired from the underside of the dustjacket, and as a result it is not a prominent blemish. Beneath the dustjacket the covers are clean and unsoiled, merely echoing the mild edge and corner shelfwear of the dustjacket above. Given the cosmetic blemishes to the book, it might lack the "sex appeal" of a "shelf trophy". Nonetheless for those not concerned with whether the book will or will not enhance their social status or intellectual reputation, it is an otherwise clean and only partly read copy with "lots of miles left under the hood". Satisfaction unconditionally guaranteed. In stock, ready to ship. No disappointments, no excuses. PROMPT SHIPPING! HEAVILY PADDED, DAMAGE-FREE PACKAGING! #1622g.
PLEASE SEE DESCRIPTIONS AND IMAGES BELOW FOR DETAILED REVIEWS AND FOR PAGES OF PICTURES FROM INSIDE OF BOOK.
PLEASE SEE PUBLISHER, PROFESSIONAL, AND READER REVIEWS BELOW.
REVIEW: In this compelling and highly reliable study of the Druids, respected Celtic scholar Peter Berresford Ellis sifts through the historical evidence and, with reference to the latest archaeological and etymological findings, gives the first authentic account of who the mysterious Druids were and what role they played in Celtic society.
REVIEW: An account of who and what the Druids were, covering their Druidic training, philosophies and beliefs, portraying them as doctors, lawyers and advisers to kings and arguing that they were the intellectuals of ancient Celtic society.
REVIEW: This compelling and highly reliable study of the Druids sifts through the historical evidence and, with reference to the latest archaeological and etymological findings, gives the first authentic account of who the mysterious Druids were and what role they played in Celtic society. Respected Celtic scholar Peter Berresford Ellis describes the special Druidic training, their philosophy, their belief in auguries, and their intriguing origins.
REVIEW: Peter Berresford Ellis (born 10 March 1943) is a historian, literary biographer, and novelist who has published over 100 books to date either under his own name or his pseudonyms Peter Tremayne and Peter MacAlan. He has also published 100 short stories. Under Peter Tremayne, he is the author of the international bestselling Sister Fidelma historical mystery series. His work has appeared in 25 languages. He was born in Coventry. His father, Alan Ellis, was a Cork-born journalist who started his career with The Cork Examiner. The Ellis family can be traced in the area from 1288.
His mother was from an old Sussex family of Saxon origin that traces its lineage back through 14 generations in the same area. Her mother was of Breton descent. Educated at Brighton College of Art and the University of London, Ellis graduated from North East London Polytechnic (now part of the University of East London) in Celtic Studies in 1989. He also earned a master's degree in Celtic Studies from the University of East London (1993).
He began his career as a junior reporter on an English south coast weekly, becoming deputy editor of an Irish weekly newspaper and was then editor of a weekly publishing trade journal in London. He first went as a feature writer to Northern Ireland in 1964 for a London daily newspaper. His first book was published in 1968: "Wales: a Nation Again", on the Welsh struggle for political independence, with a foreword by Gwynfor Evans, Plaid Cymru's first MP.
In 1975 he became a full-time writer. He used his academic background to produce many titles in the field of Celtic Studies and he has written academic articles and papers in the field for journals ranging from The Linguist (London) to The Irish Sword: Journal of the Irish Military History Society (University College Dublin). In 1999 The Times Higher Education Supplement described him as one of the leading authorities on the Celts then writing. He has been International Chairman of the Celtic League (1988–90); chairman of Scrif-Celt (The Celtic Languages Book Fair (1985–86); chairman and vice-president of the London Association for Celtic Education (1989–95), of which he is an Honorary Life Member.
He was also chairman of his local ward Labour Party in London and was editorial advisor on Labour and Ireland magazine in the early 1990s. He is an honorary life member of the Connolly Association (founded 1938) to examine and promote the life and teachings of James Connolly. He introduced and edited James Connolly: Selected Writing (Penguin, 1973) and wrote a regular column for the Association’s newspaper Irish Democrat from 1987-2007. He is a member of the Society of Authors.
Apart from his Celtic Studies interests, Ellis has written full-length biographies on H. Rider Haggard, W. E. Johns, Talbot Mundy and E. C. Vivian, as well as critical essays on other popular fiction authors. His output in the fictional field, writing in the genre of horror fantasy and heroic fantasy, began in 1977 when the first "Peter Tremayne" book appeared. Between 1983 and 1993 he also wrote eight adventure thrillers under the name "Peter MacAlan".
As of June 2015 he had published 98 books, 100 short stories, several pamphlets, and numerous academic papers and signed journalistic articles. Under his own name he wrote two long running columns: "Anonn is Anall" ("Here and There") from 1987–2008 for the Irish Democrat, and, "Anois agus Arís" ("Now and Again") from 2000–08 for The Irish Post.
His books include 35 titles under his own name 55 titles under his pen name of Peter Tremayne and eight under the pen name of Peter MacAlan. He has lectured at universities in several countries, including the UK, Ireland, America, Canada, France and Italy. He has also broadcast on television and radio since 1968. The popularity of his Sister Fidelma mysteries led, in January 2001, to the formation of an International Sister Fidelma Society in Charleston, South Carolina, with a website and a print magazine called The Brehon produced three times a year. A book, "The Sister Fidelma Mysteries: Essays on the Historical Novels of Peter Tremayne", was published by MacFarland in 2012. Ellis's novel, "The Devil's Seal" was published by St. Martin's Press in 2015.
Ellis was given an Honorary Doctorate of Letters by the University of East London in 2006 in recognition of his work. He is also a Fellow of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland (1996) and a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society (1998). He was made a Bard of the Cornish Gorsedd (1987) for his work on the history of the Cornish language — The Cornish Language and its Literature (published in 1974). He received an Irish Post Award (1989) for his work on Celtic history, and the French Prix Historia (2010) for best historical crime novel of 2010. As well, he was made Honorary Life President of the Scottish 1820 Society (1989), and Honorary Life Member of the Irish Literary Society (2002).
REVIEW: Peter Berresford Ellis, is regarded as one of the pre-eminent Celtic scholars and has published many books on the subject. He is a Fellow of three Royal Societies in historical and antiquarian fields and the recipient of many awards and honors for his work. He is also, under the pseudonym Peter Tremayne he is the author of the bestselling Sister Fidelma murder mysteries set in Ireland in the 7th Century.
REVIEW: Peter Berresford Ellis is the author of several highly regard works on Celtic history and culture, including “The Cornish Language and its Literature”, “Celtic Inheritance”, “A Dictionary of Celtic Mythology”, and “Celt and Saxon”. In 1989 he received an Irish Post award in recognition of his work on Celtic history. He was chairman of the Celtic League from 1989 to 1990. And in 1987 he was made a bard of the Cornish Gorsedd.
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
Introduction: Identifying the Druids.
1. The Celtic World.
2. Origins of the Druids.
3. Druids Through Foreign Eyes.
4. Druids Through Celtic Eyes.
5. Female Druids.
6. The Religion of the Druids.
7. The Rituals of the Druids.
8. The Wisdom of the Druids. Druidic Schools. Druidic Books. Druids as Philosophers. Druids as Judges. Druids as Historians. Druids as Poets and Musicians. Druids as Physicians. Druids as Seers. Druids as Astronomers and Astrologers. Druids as Magicians.
9. Reviving the Druids.
REVIEW: Peter Berresford Ellis set out to give us a careful look at just who the Druids were. It is his contention that until recent times popular knowledge have presented them as a sort of priestly, even magician class. He believes this view is decidedly incorrect. Rather, he sees the Druids as one of the two historically known and surviving intellectual classes of the ancient Indo-European peoples and sees a very close relationship between the Druids and the Brahmins of India. He claims there was a joint Indo-European origin and that what the Brahmins are to India the Druids are to the Celtic world – the intellectual class.
“…[Druids] formed the intellectuals, or learned class [and]…were deemed the highest caste....The caste not only consisted of those who had a religious function, but also comprised philosophers, judges, teachers, historians, poets, musicians, physicians, astronomers, prophets, counselors...They could also sometimes be kings or chieftains..."
Ellis argues that our early Western sources about the Druids are from the Greeks and Romans. The Druids themselves had a prohibition on writing down any of their sacred lore, not because they didn’t have written language, but they didn’t want to put their own knowledge into print for others. His view is that as the Romans began to move into Celtic regions (and this was in northern Italy, Spain and in Turkey!) they began to paint a quite biased view of the Druids. He summarizes:
“So before we continue to see just how the Greek and Roman commentators portrayed the Druids, let us summarize our argument. The Druids were an indigenous Celtic intelligentsia, evolving from the original wise men and women during the age of the hunter-gatherers among the ancient ancestors of the Celts, losing their original functions but retaining the Celtic name of those with ‘oak knowledge’. They were found to be in every part of the Celtic society but it was not until the second century BC that the Greeks realized that these individual learned functionaries had a collective name -- the Druids.”
In early A.D. Europe in the Celtic world there were four classes: 1.Intelligentsia;
2.Warriors; 3.Producers; 4.Manual workers. The Druids, while at times priests, were not even primarily that, but they were Celtic priests and there were Celtic priests who were not Druids.
Ellis is worried that the Greek and Roman view of the Druids has influenced the modern world leaving us with a false and misleading view. He is sort of right about this reader for sure. I went to this book knowing very little, next to nothing really, about the Druids. What slight inklings I had picked up here and there were what Ellis describes as this incorrect version which comes down to us via the Greeks, Romans and later, Western Christianity.
He argues that there was an interest they had to down play the role and nature of the Druids. The Greek and Roman worlds preferred to believe themselves superior cultures and wanted to make the Celts out to be primitive. Part of that interest, as Ellis sees it, made it easy for them to grab on to any evidence to suggest Celtic primitiveness, and to interpret the Druids as simply priests, magicians and bards.
Actually Ellis is somewhat understanding of how easy it was for them to come to these views, especially the Romans. By the 5th century AD the Romans has seriously moved into Gaul, Cisalpine Gaul and Britain. As early as the 1st century AD Hadrian’s Wall separated Celtic north Britain from Roman south. Only Ireland remained independent. Even by early 5th century AD Ireland was still pagan and independent.
Yet wrties Ellis, “no Classical writer ever referred to the Druids as priests, nor is Druidism depicted as a religion.” Ellis does emphasize that he allows that Celtic culture was in decline by the time of the Christian era. That fact, coupled with the paucity of written Druidic documents, added to the Roman prejudices, made it easier for the demeaning view of the Druids to emerge.
On his account the influence and place of both Celtic culture and the Druids continued to wane, especially from the Christian era until the 17th century. By that time what remained of it was centered in Ireland with some limited areas of Scotland and Wales also holding on. However, Oliver Cromwell nearly ended Celtic people in Ireland. In his campaign he killed about 1/3 rd the Irish people, another 1/3 were shipped off to the New World, especially Barbados. And then from May 1, 1654 all Irish had to live west of the Shannon River.
Finally, however, some serious reassessment of the Celts and Druids arose in the romantic period returning to a more positive, if incorrect, view of the Romans and Greeks. “The Druids and the Celts were there when our seventeenth and eighteenth century ancestors sought ‘Romanticism” as a counter-balance to the ‘Age of Reason’ and industrialization. It is not surprising that they are still being reinvented at this time because, in our sad and sorry contemporary world, people still want a quick fix on spirituality; because people, in the quest for truth and meaning in life, which seems the perennial human drive, prefer simple answers. It is easier to accept the cosy pictures of non-existent romantic Celts and Druids rather than ponder the uncomfortable realities.”
Thus it comes to Ellis’ work and time. He and other scholars have taken more contemporary assessments of the Druids and Celts and in this work Ellis is taking his strong stance on the Druids. Again, his central thesis is that: 1.The Druids were an intellectual class which included priests, but not exclusively; 2.They were culturally related to and grew out of the ancient Indo-European peoples. The Druids reflected a very close relationship to the Brahmins of India.
I enjoyed the book a great deal and learned much. Ellis makes a very strong case. But, much of it is in very technical argument with high-powered scholars like himself. I learned a great deal from the book and Ellis did manage to convince me that his central theses seem to be so. Along the way Ellis gives us an amazing amount of insight into various aspects of Celtic culture and the Druidic role in it. [Webster University].
REVIEW: Often have I read books by one Peter Tremayne. His ancient Irish mysteries are superb. But did you know that Tremayne is actually a pseudonym for Peter Berresford Ellis, the noted Celtic scholar? "The Druids" is one of his academic works. Although written for the layman, it is still an academic work. Ellis's argument is that the New Age conception of who and what the Druids were is just that, new. The historical druids are something other than what popular literature and the New Age movement has led us to believe. In this work, Ellis show us, both from external and internal sources, who the historical druids actually were.
For the most part, they were and intellectual class in Celtic culture, akin to modern day professors, priests, and other intelligentsia. Interestingly, the closest modern equivalent we have is in India in the caste of the Brahmins. Much of The Druids is taken up with showing these similarities of cultures, Celtic and Hindu, traced back to the hypothesized Indo-European language (and cultural) root.
Ellis also does not fall into the trap of taking the ancient sources at face value. He recognizes that human nature is little changed in its history and that the sources we must rely upon might be simply propaganda either for or against a particular culture. Just as we moderns demonize cultures we do not understand, so too did the Romans to the Celts. And of course, the Celts tried to make themselves look better in their own writings.
The Druids is an excellent primer for those interested in Celtic culture, particularly the druids. Readable without being too pedantic, the work presents Celtic culture objectively and argues its point succinctly. I would recommend it for history buffs and the casual reader alike if one wants to know the real druids.
REVIEW: “The Druids” penetrates the veil of fiction and folklore by painting a compelling picture of a central aspect of Celtic society that has been shrouded in mystery for centuries. The author’s insights are extremely fresh, based on impeccable scholarship, and presented in an engaging style certain to interest readers from all backgrounds. Once again Peter Berresford Ellis has made an invaluable contribution to Celtic studies.
REVIEW: Finally a book that separates fact from mythology, telling us what w can and cannot know about the ancient Druids. This remarkable book by a leading historian of the Celts offers much for the academician as well as the general reader. The book is readable and well-researched. A useful guide to those who wish to learn more about the Druids, it is fascinating reading.
REVIEW: An authoritative study of a historic people whose influence spans many countries and cultures. Ellis’s arguments as sensible and convincing, and his chapter on the wisdom of the Druids is the highlight of the book. The making of history, the painstaking construction of a valid understanding of the Druids comes alive in this book.
REVIEW: Shrouded in legend, the mysterious cult of the ancient Druids continues to fascinate, inspiring latter-day imitators who often are only a poorly researched and romantic reflection of Druidic lore. In this compelling and readable history, respected Celtic scholar Peter Berresford Ellis explores who the Druids really were and what role they played in the Celtic world. Ellis provides a fresh and convincing interpretation of the facts, based on both archaeological and etymological findings.
REVIEW: A thoughtful, comprehensive, and highly informative study that corrects many of the ill-founded theories propagated concerning the Druids. It is one of the best books available on the topic. Ellis approaches his subject with realism, respect, and impeccable scholarship, providing a balanced view not only of the Druids but of Celtic society and achievements in general. His book will be equally valuable to the scholar as well as the interested reader.
REVIEW: Remarkable...offers much for the academician as well as the general reader. Fascinating reading!
REVIEW: Who were the Druids? This group, surrounded by legend and folklore for millenia, continues to fascinate moderns, perhaps because of the enigmatic character of their identity. Probably most of the popular images of Druids -- of being tree worshippers, of being itinerant poets and prophets, of being priests who practiced human sacrifice and built strange structures such as Stonehenge -- are generally misperceptions, perhaps even deliberate 'character assassination' attempts by the victorious political and religious authorities that moved into Druid areas. Indeed, the bulk of Classical information on the Druids comes from anti-Druid writings of the Romans.
By the time the Celts themselves came to commit their knowledge to writing, they had become Christianised and, not surprisingly, the Druids continued to get "a bad Press". Their portrayal remains an extremely biased one. In this very readable book on "The Druids", Peter Berresford Ellis presents an examination of the archaeological, etymological and historical evidence to give an account of the identity and importance of the Druids in early Celtic societies. And so, as Ellis writes, "the Druids emerge as the intellectual caste of ancient Celtic society. They were the doctors, the lawyers, the ambassadors, the advisors to kings. They also had a religious function."
One historical fact that is often overlooked is that the early Celtic 'empire' was as expansive as the Roman Empire, stretching from Britain and Ireland in the northwest, through Gaul and central Europe north of the Alps, stretching as far as Turkey to the east, and also extending down into Iberia. The Celtic language group includes influences on all major European languages as well. However, the Celtic empire had no imperium, no central structure or organisation, but was rather a loose confederation, in which the Druids, as the intellectuals, helped to keep a cohesion of social life if not political and economic life.
The Druids operated largely without writing, following the tradition of many early peoples by using an oral tradition of learning and history. Thus the earliest appearances of the Druids come from Greek and Roman writings. The Druids were seen as a philosophising, priestly caste, also somewhat of a civil authority. Indeed, both Julius Caesar and Cicero mention the Druids in their writings, and one Druid ambassador even addressed the Roman Senate in search of an alliance against the barbarian Germanic tribes (Caesar, however, with intent to conquer Gaul, persuaded the Senate to support the Germans so as to facilitate the conquest of Gaul -- of course, shortly thereafter the Germans became the enemies of Rome, and would remain so for the most part for the rest of Roman history).
Ellis examines the Druids from many vantage points, looking at the writings about the Druids by both insiders (Celts) and outsiders. Ellis also examines the religion, rituals, and wisdom of the Druids, which includes subchapters on schools, books, philosophy, law, history, poetry, music, medical knowledge, art, astronomy and astrology, and mysticism.
Ellis argues in his final chapter that the Druids never truly disappeared. As a social class, rather than as a narrowly-defined group of wizards and priests, the Druids as an intelligensia remained under a new classification, but this social strata was slowly destroyed by the nations who conquered the Celts and made strides to assimilate or eliminate the Celtic peoples. Ellis traces the literary/historical chain of events that led to the identification of the Druids as a small subset of this intelligensia, mostly those dealing with religion and the arts, most commonly associated with secret rites or witchcraft, which is present in today's thinking about the Druids.
`Celtic and Druidic "truth" of every description -- from "arcane knowledge", "karmic destiny", "the true path", to "mystic awareness" -- are solicited in the commercial deluge of New Age philosophies. The Druids and the Celts were there when our seventeenth and eighteenth century ancestors sought "Romanticism" as a counter-balance to the "Age of Reason" and industrialisation. It is not surprising that they are still being reinvented at this time because, in our sad and sorry contemporary world, people still want a quick fix on spirituality.' This is a fascinating and highly readable text on the history of the Druids, and the history of the way the Druids have been portrayed (and misrepresented).
REVIEW: Mr. Ellis carefully researched history to put together reliable information on what we can attribute to Druids. He uses literary sources from the ancient past to the present, which lend weight to his arguments. Ellis presents much good history. He tries to provide history on the evolution of thought and science humanity goes through before becoming more enlightened. Some of his historical tangents are rich with insight into little known or understood facts of historical significance. I clearly better understand Irish/Celtic history and had no idea that Ireland was educationally and medically ahead of 'the Continent" to the extent it was.
I did not fully understand how the English justified their inhuman treatment and cultural genocide of the Irish, how they made slaves of the Irish and exported them out of the country. As an American, I have yet more dislike for the English and their cultural genocide as they attempted to colonize one country after another in order impose their beliefs, Christianity and culture. I have a better appreciation for the resentment on behalf of the Irish for the British. I hope all western civilizations remember and learn from this.
This book does have valuable information. I believe this is a good start on better documentation of the Celtic cultures and accomplishments of Druids. No doubt future archeological and literary discoveries will be made that reveal more on this amazing culture.
REVIEW: A history of the druids, emphasizing their celtic background. Peter Berresford Ellis (born 1943) is a historian, literary biographer, and novelist who has written many other books such as "The Celts: A History", "Celtic Myths and Legends", "Dictionary of Celtic Mythology", etc. He wrote in the Introduction to this 1994 book, "In no field is it more necessary to ask the right questions than when attempting to discover the Druids. The simple truth is that one person's Druid is another person's fantasy. The Druids have been conjured in a wide variety of perceptions, as to who they were, what they believed and what they taught, since the sixteenth century. The basic problem is that no Druid...ever committed to writing the necessary unequivocal information for our latter-day understanding..."
Ellis adds, "This work, which is an attempt to present the Druids to a general readership, sets out to demonstrate the role of the Druids in ancient Celtic society; what we know of their teachings, and how they imparted their knowledge without the aid of writing...This prohibition on committing their knowledge and philosophy to writing has been a great stumbling block for modern scholars attempting to understand exactly what they believed and taught." He points out, "A tremendous literature and learning has been handed down to us from Ireland. But, even so, we can still lament the apparent destruction of the Druidical books by the zealot Christian missionaries which was clearly a crime against knowledge."
Ellis goes on to say, "With the arrival of Christianity, the Druids began to merge totally with the new culture, some even becoming priests of the new religion and continuing as an intellectual class in much the same way as their forefathers had done for over a thousand years previously...Many early Celtic Christian saints were referred to as 'Druids'...The adoption of Christianity in Ireland did not lead to the abolition of the Druids but simply to their transformation." He adds, "The sad fact remains that no Greek or Latin writer composed a work solely on the Druids...Or, rather, no such work has survived for us to examine. But one point cannot be impressed too many times. No Classical writer ever referred to the Druids as priests, nor is Druidism depicted as a religion." However, see Caesar's "The Conquest Of Gaul", where Caesar clearly calls Druidism a "religion." Ellis himself quotes part of this passage.
Of their purported human sacrifices, Ellis observes, "earlier in the ninth century A.D., when the 'Tripartite Life of St. Patrick' claimed it was Patrick who overthrew the idol, rather than the Druids, no mention of human sacrifice is made. In fact, in Patrick's own Confession, his biography, in which he strongly criticizes pagan practices, there is no reference to human sacrifice. Nor does any of the early Celtic saints 'Lives' mention such a rite. It seems obvious that the prejudice of the Christians had no genuine 'human sacrifice' material at all to seize upon."
Ellis aments, "With the onset of the 1960s 'Hippies' and 'Alternative Religions', the Druids were fair game again. The Druids were called upon as the prototypes of many 'New Age' ideas and credos. It was almost inevitable that the Druids and ancient pre-Christian Celtic religion were waiting to be claimed by the new interest in 'witchcraft' which began to rise in the 1960s...'Witchcraft' enthusiasts did not have the Druids all to themselves for very long...Other writers began to invoke the Druids to a new form of Christianity, or rather a rebirth of old Celtic Christianity...For a wild period, however, it seemed that whatever the subject, if it was esoteric, then all one needed to do was put the word 'Celtic' in front of it and people would sit up and take note."
This is an excellent, highly engaging history, that will be "must reading" for anyone wanting to know more historical information about the Druids.
REVIEW: I love history and the mysteries of history. The mysterious Druids who are alive in the folklore of Western Europe came into reality suddenly, as I spent a week or two in their world, engrossed in this book. Did the Roman conquerors try to paint the Celts and Druids as barbarians, when in truth they had a high civilization? Scholars still debate what is the truth, since the written records are sparse. The Celts/Druids memorized their learning over a period of 20 years and a life time. So the discovery of evidence of their civilization is often 5 centuries or more too old to really know the truth!
According to this book, the Druids put a religious prohibition on committing any knowledge to writing, since they did not want it to fall into the wrong hands.The author suggests Druid ties in music and in parellel caste to Indian society and the Brahmins of the Hindu culture. Kings could be Druids, but not all Kings were Druids. As a result of the ban on writing down knowledge, when the Celtic beliefs were overcome by Christianity there was an outpouring of literature about the Celts (the hidden people).
Irish became the third written European language. Our author recounts the many hospitals that grew up in Ireland, as a result of the repository of knowledge that had been recounted and written down by people wanting to share the ancient knowledge of the Druids. He even suggests an area of study made possible thru a treasure trove of information in the British Museum on medicine. Perhaps even some cures long forgotten might be found in this repository. Just the right bait for a doctoral student, or author?
The intellectual life of Europe, its development and its mystery are laid out for you to think about as you read, what we had little knowledge of in the past. This ties in with the other book I was reading at the same timeThe Discovery of Middle Earth: Mapping the Lost World of the Celts I longed for shared conversation, with other readers, but alas, if you are reading this, there are few of us, aren't there?
REVIEW: Above and beyond the obvious short-comings of the human ego as well as humanity's collective will to amnesia especially in terms of the actual histories of the conquered, Mr Ellis's book while, well researched and superbly written takes the initiate student of Celtic studies to the next level with his work "The Druids". While roughly outlining the history and many cultural contributions of the Celts, Ellis dives into the matter of the caste or intelligentsia of the above group with an objectivity I, as of yet have not come across in most of that which passes itself off as scholarly and autoritative historical research in this area.
In this work, Ellis cleaves this group from the theatrical-gothic misrespresentations that have colored popular opinion concerning them and has rightfully repaired and restored to them a more realistic and humane image. What many seem to either have forgotten or, more aptly (and ignorantly) choose to disregard is the fact that the Celts were the first wave of Indo-Europeans to enter into Western Europe and as such were to also be the first to incorporate the various customs of those they replaced and/or supplanted.
Now there is still an enormous amount that is not known concerning those who came from the steppes during the great migrations from that mystcal homeland of the Indo-European peoples though much more has miraculously survived as they came to be organized in what we now call Civilization. Ellis rightfully points to the caste and it's system functions throughout the Celtic areas of influence (read:not-empire) and faithfully alludes to the society in which they operated while taking into consideration the reports of such classical experts as Posidenus, Strabo, Ceasar(et.al.) as well as their obvious negative biases towards these people and their society which by virtue of its structure and philosophy left that of the experts above choking in the dust.
What one needs to remember when dealing with the Celts is that while they were agrarian, with a defined caste structure (roughly equivalent to that of post-Aryan India) the culture was interestingly enough, devoid of such stifling aspects as primogeniture as well as the extremely poor position of women, children, the aged, property rights and community welfare which have been downplayed or ignored or commodified with the likes civilization founded on Greek and Roman models and their descendents.
As such, Ellis heroically takes the rather skewed and dehumanized view that has been proffered and correctly gives weight to the actual functions of the subcastes (of druids) and incorporates them into the greater societal umwelt smashing the myths that have have been put down in order to keep the descendents of these people in the same place, Ellis writes an enlightening and autoritative book that will make the soul of any Celtophile light. He eschews the path that others have taken especially in the New-Age community by weilding facts against the nebulous darkness of ignorance and to a degree, intolerance that surrounds any group that has a bona-fide original opinion of life or the universe not in line with a Civilized or Mono-lithic control scheme or its hokey, Spun-down or denatured pseudo-equivalents.
This book does justice to these people and in particular the Druids by destroying the blood thirsty image with finely researched, bias-corrected descriptions of a caste who, in a modern modern sense would have serve the same functions today as doctors, lawyers, astronomers, psychologists, poets, musicians and philosophers. Incidentally my opinion is that their standards probably could not be eclipsed even now. To get an idea of the mindset that can perpetuate the poor image these people have recieved we only have to look back to Columbus' early reports on the Arawak people, what happened next is already history. Also keep in mind, that on the opening day of the Colliseum, upwards of 15,000 people and about 5,000 animals were slaughtered in front of a packed house of 80,000. Yes, and this was just opening day in the civilized city of Rome.
As any student of life, history or polit-science knows we tend to dehumanize our enemies in order to justify any or all methods necessary to separate them from their identity as well other material items. This is done by the extirpation of their culture as well as those responsible for maintaining it. This book is a must have for anyone interested in the Celts, their intelligentsia as well as the insight Mr. Beresford gives the reader as to the mindset of a much freer as well as maligned culture that now unfortunately exists only in the hearts and sad smiles of the hidden. If nothing else, throw an eye at this book, it will lighten the hearts of those who contemplate "the truth angainst the world" and if nothing else gives all of us, as students of life a peek into a world that now is on the ropes of existence. Read, enjoy and understand.
REVIEW: Ellis gives us a glimpse into the history and archaeology of the Druids as the intellectual caste of the Celtic peoples. Investigated are the different aspects of said social caste, such as philosophers, healers/doctors, judges, historians, bards/poets and spiritual/religious leaders. The author warns the reader that very little written material remains on the druids and that much of what we do know due to various external sources should be taken with a grain of salt. For all sources, both ancient and more recent, he tends to give both sides of the argument rather than completely ignoring one side, which I found to be very useful.
This book looks at actual history and, while it can be tedious at times, is far more valuable than the numerous books on 'Druidry' that one finds a dime a dozen, focused more on the supposed mystical aspects. This book was more about what and who the Druids might actually have been as opposed to more fanciful views. An overview of Celtic society is given in the beginning, to set the framework for exploring this unique social caste and the Indo-European ties that bind them to the castes and culture of India.
Personally, I thoroughly enjoyed this book, plodding as it could be at times. I enjoy learning about history and culture, being an anthropologist by training. There were only two things that really bothered me in regards to this book and I would offer the first as a caution to any choosing to read it. If you have no experience in puzzling out written Celtic, you will have a time in deciphering a great deal of the words. The Welsh I found easier to work with than the Gaelic. I usually enjoy such challenges, but here it got old rather fast. I also found the very last chapter on 'Reviving the Druids' to be very disjointed and not nearly as well constructed as the rest of the book.
REVIEW: Peter Berresford Ellis is a popular historian, not an academic historian. The primary difference between popular and academic historians is that they write for different audiences. Ellis' work has been criticized for lacking the kind of detailed references that a peer-reviewed book or article would include. The reader must guess where the citations and allusions may be researched and accept the citations and translations as accurate. But students who have read Ellis will have a very clear idea of what materials to look for.
Ellis he does a very good job of challenging long-standing interpretations which have always been flimsy or weak at best. He takes his case to the popular audience and hopes to influence the broader imagination. He is a Celtic-centric writer and people of Celtic heritage should be glad to know there is still a dedicated flag-waver around. But in the end, no matter how well he writes, no matter how thorough his research, Ellis must be regarded only as a popular historian. In that respect, he is one of the finest popular historians I've had the pleasure to read.
REVIEW: Only Ellis could write a book about Druids that will force you to think your way through the myths and truth of the Druid culture and their relationship to our times.
Ellis is not doing the "big sell" of many historians, just all the facts and everyone's argument, with common sense guidance. Modern day Druid fanciers might find the truth about Druids more amazing than they imagine.
As an amateur student of early European history, I was struck by the thought that the Druids gave the Romans their start in history and the Romans in turn have totally Romanized us to the exclusion of the rest of the world's culture. I now have a better understanding of how awkward people from other cultures might feel in our Roman society. How can one little book achieve such a dramatic result?
REVIEW: A thorough survey, based on many sources, ancient and modern, showing what can presently be known about the Druids. Although he does not claim to be an academic expert, Ellis' well written book surveying what is currently known about the Druids is not the often seen work of fantasy (for instance, "Life and Death of a Druid Prince), but appears solidly based on deep scholarship, backed up by the large and impressive array of ancient and modern sources that he quotes and cites.
Moreover, Ellis is very candid in saying at the outset that, given our lack of any written works by the secretive Druids themselves--who evidently followed a policy of not writing anything down about their beliefs and rituals, relying solely, instead, on memorization and oral transmission--and given that the fragmentary ancient sources mentioning them that have survived were written by various Greeks and Romans and, later, Christians who were hardly the Druid's friends and champions, and despite various archeological finds here and there, given our present state of knowledge there is, ultimately, very little that we can really know for certain about the Druids and their beliefs.
Thus Ellis very wisely and commendably surveys the bits and pieces of what is known, lays out the various educated guesses and more romantic speculations to give his readers an idea of what can reasonably be pieced together. What I found particularly interesting was his pointing out and highlighting the many similarities and correspondences that form the case for the ancient common Indo-European origins of both the Celts and the inhabitants of India, and the similarities between what is known about Celtic society and Druidism and ancient Indian society and religion.
REVIEW: Ellis assembles pretty much everything we can really know about the druids. His basic idea is that the druids were a social caste, and he spends a lot of time comparing what we can infer about Celtic society and what we can infer about Indo-european societies. If Ellis is right, the druids were a high-ranking caste that produced most of the Celts' leadership and filled the roles of historians, judges, philosophers, astrologers, and educators. Some were evidently warriors, or at least served as charioteers to warriors, and there is circumstantial evidence that the early kings and war chiefs were from druidic families.
The linguistic evidence he relies on is interesting, but I'm not remotely qualified to evaluate it. Ellis painstakingly examines Roman, Greek, and Christian writers, and concludes that behind the anti-Celtic propaganda in each, there are also clues about the druids' role. Most interestingly, he tries to sort out whether Celtic religion, astronomy, philosophy, and law influenced the post-conquest societies, and what traces of Celtic civilization might have survived into modern times. He makes a pretty compelling case for Celtic ideas influencing the Christian concept of the "trinity," for Celtic ideas about reincarnation being independent of Pythagorean ideas, and for there being a fairly well-developed Celtic system of astronomy.
Although I'd often read that the Celts left little or nothing in writing, Ellis explores evidence that Roman writers like Virgil, who were born to Celtic families, and Christian writers like Pelagius, who introduced ideas that would ultimately be declared heretical, had druidical influences and educations. Indeed he finds it unlikely that Caesar completely wiped out the druids as he claimed.
It was also interesting to learn that in Cromwell's time there were still many ancient books that were likely recording more ancient traditions, though most of these were destroyed in Cromwell's systematic extirpation of Irish culture (Ellis uses the word 'genocide' and it's hard to disagree). Ellis says that at the time of his writing, many untranslated manuscripts still exist, though most are medical treatises.
For a non-expert, this is well-worth a look if you were ever curious about the druids.
The closing chapter looks at modern efforts to "revive" druidic traditions, and bemoans that that despite new-age interest in the supposed nature-cult, little is being done to preserve the dying vestiges of Celtic culture as the remaining Celtic-speakers dwindle.
REVIEW: More questions than answers! Apparently from my read of the book there is no hard, fast definition of a Druid. They were an intellectual, ruling class and written records were scarce because they relied on oral traditions and what records they did have were most probably destroyed during on of the many "book burning" type instances of the Dark and Middle Ages. The author believes the "Druids" were Indo-European people and directly related to the prehistoric Brahmin caste of the current Hindu faith. A lot of the supposed secret practices and rituals of the Druids of today are recent additions,(maybe even in the last 10 years).
The Romantic Era saw a new rebirth of the Druids and alot of practices and superstitions written about are from this era as well. The author is skeptical in regard to authors who were supposed conquerors of the "Druids" (such as the Romans) and believes their descriptions of Druid practices including human sacrifices and the famous "Wicker-Man" need to be looked at with skeptical eyes. For sure the Druids were an intellectual prehistoric caste and some of their practices as the purported "oak worship' might have been more as respect for nature than superstition. (The Druids were the original tree-huggers)?
This book will make you able to ask the right questions in regard to the identity of the Druids. Did they build Stonehenge? Most certainly someone did with an intellectual bent much like the Druids, a prehistoric group of intellectuals with a profound and vital respect for nature. My question-did the Druids have a lot to do with saving the european forestlands? Like the Hindu-Brahmin class had alot to do with saving the elephant?
REVIEW: I have this book in my personal collection, and upon having read it for four or more times, I can say that it is the most well though out and researched book on the subject of the Celtic Druids. As an author and researcher, Mr. Ellis is a very objective writer. I have detected no pretense, bias, or any other thing that might have detracted from this piece. I view Mr. Ellis as a foremost person in this area of research, and anthropologically speaking, find him to be very well spoken through his writing. This book is recommended must see for any one partaking in the challenge of anthropologically researching and studying the ancient Celtic Druids. It is a five star book.
REVIEW: Celtic spirituality seems to be a buzz word among Christians and pagans alike, and efforts to define it abound. I recommend this book to readers who are more willing to be challenged rather than soothed by things Celtic. P.B. Ellis states his mission as "an introductory argument about the reality and the legend of the Druids". He succeeds quite well in this mission, distilling what can be known from primary sources with very thorough research. Ellis also asks the questions that we would dearly like to ask of these mysterious people, who unfortunately seem to have had a prohibition against committing their scholarship to writing, leaving historians to piece together their philosophy and practices from the works of other observers. Ellis does an exceptional job of revealing the probable biases of these secondary sources.
REVIEW: As a student of history I found this book most enjoyable. The author's theories about the similarities between Celtic and Indian culture are, if nothing else, intriguing. I feel that the material was presented in the manner intended: as a sampling of the evidence that will hopefully inspire others to do the research for themselves. As a Celtic reconstructionist pagan, I personally share his views on "new agers" claiming to follow a Celtic path. A triumphant book that delivers us from the New Age dregs of revisionist religion to at least a plausible level of ancient custom.
REVIEW: This book is filled with details of Celtic history; Ellis cites many ancient documents. I am keeping the book on the shelf mainly for reference, because of the large number of personalities and facts he mentions.
REVIEW: The real deal! Excellent! This is by far the most accessible book on Druid protoculture that I’ve found. Thank you Mr. Ellis!!!
REVIEW: One of the best fact-based books on the Druids in print. Ellis is cited in nearly every work written about the Druids since the publication of this book; it is thoughtful and an easy read while maintaining a high level of scholarship. Ellis also makes the best and clearest argument for the ancient Indo-European connections claimed by other scholars. A classic, not to be missed by those interested in the subject.
REVIEW: I devoured this book - Ellis handles a much-mismanaged topic with great clarity and scholasticism. Although his passion for Celtic culture is apparent, he meticulously presents all available evidence for consideration. I look forward to finding and reading more of his books in the near future!
REVIEW: I had to step over some stacks on the floor and reach high up to grab this one off its shelf. Not sure why I haven’t read it many years before now, considering how long I’ve had it, but nevertheless, the time was obviously right! It’s an interesting analytical look at what we know as opposed to what we THINK we know about the Celtic Druids. We should remember that a lot of our primary sources come from Julius Caesar and other Roman writers who did not have a sympathetic view of those they intended to conquer.
The big question is: who, or rather what, were the Druids? Can it be that our understanding of their role in Celtic society has been shaped more by those who wanted to denigrate them than by reality? The chapter on the religion on of the Druids was particularly fascinating, in that Ellis provides a telling comparison look at various ancient creation stories, and highlights the likelihood of later, Christian, chroniclers finding similarities in beliefs that may not have been there thanks to their own bias.
This is a scholarly book, and for me at least it was hard going at times. But it DOES succeed in providing a good introduction for the persevering non-academic. In addition to the eye-opening information provided by Ellis, there are plenty of reference materials provided for further investigation.
REVIEW: This is a survey of the historical sources and main myths about Druids highlighting the paucity of primary material, and showing the links between early writers and later (now ‘classical’) writers (such as Caesar) who get taken for historical proof. The author takes pains in many sections to show supporting material when arguing a point, so there’s good value in it from a different direction as subsequently it is an excellent overview of Celtic culture using the Druids as a means of interrogating and organizing a broad range of material. Recommended for buffs of Celtic culture.
REVIEW: Peter Berresford Ellis’ book is an excellent resource for anyone wishing to enter the world of the ancient Druids, their origins, and their place in the stage of ancient world history. This book is an excellent, if academic starting point for the layperson, historian, academic, or practicing pagan. It is an excellent beginning place for the reader who is striving to learn more about the ancient Druids. It is, for the most part, fairly well-researched and even goes so far as to have photos in the middle of some of the things which are discussed in the book. It was a difficult book, which due to its academic tone, may put off many readers, but upon getting through it, one finds it well worth the effort.
REVIEW: If you want to know more about the Druids and what they were really like, look no further. Mr. Ellis establishes himself as an authority, and his clear demonstration of knowledge taught me a lot that is missed in pop culture. If you want serious and thorough information about who the Druids were and what they stood for, here is the book for you.
REVIEW: An unusual apology, meticulous in its sourcing, but somewhat strange in its advocacy: the Druids were a caste as in the Hindu system of social structure, and probably hereditary. Not the magicians and purveyors of human sacrifice (only one mention of it in all celtic sources, and that spurious!) Points out the sham reconstruction of Druidism (if there ever was such a thing) and the white robes and shallow spiritual posturing found in wannabees of today. Topics cover all aspect of a Celtic intelligentsia caste, the historical digging vast and virtually every Celtic source investigated.
Druid in your background? Not a bad genetic pool to be from. Work is readable but dryish, some repeats, some pushing of the factual envelope. Should be your primary source for investigating this topic, but there can be no avoiding the multiplicity of Druidic trash past and present still for sale at our local bookstores, unless you enjoy make believe and dress-up. No mention of Celts inventing the modern scissors, which they did. Pity. Oh, and they invented soap, that mentioned.
REVIEW: Excellent read. I wanted to know more about the ancient Celts, their way of life and beliefs. Of course nobody really has much detailed information on that, since there are no records written by the ancient Celts themselves. Mr. Ellis builds a very reliable hypothesis built on etymology plus existing archeological digs, artifacts, historical records written by Romans, and by Celts taken as slaves to Romans, writing in Latin, as well as more modern Celtic culture. This book gave me plenty of thought provoking, relevant information. I love that Ellis takes a solid stance against the impartiality of the ancient Romans' written records of the Celts-something that almost no other author or researcher on the subject does-but his argument is absolutely valid. Ellis 's writing style is lively and fluid.
REVIEW: A painstaking academic investigation of fact and fiction culminates in an explicit and ringing condemnation of New Age "Druids" as counterproductive and misguided at best, and cultural imperialists at worse, Orientalizing Celtic culture while doing nothing (or contributing to) really-existing Celtic cultures being degraded and destroyed. Ends with a call for the protection and promotion of Celtic languages in the face of the past and current attempts by the UK and French governments to intentionally destroy them and to commit, in Ellis' words, "ethnocide". An absolute must-read for anyone interested in the subject.
REVIEW: Beresford Ellis has written an introduction to Druid society and culture. It is not overly long, and reasonably accessible, I think. It looks at clearing up the misconceptions. For those interested in learning something about this group of people, this book is certainly worth a look.
REVIEW: An excellent "Introductory Argument," as the author says. This is an overview of what is known (rather than what is speculated) about the Druids of the ancient Celtic cultures. Ellis focuses on both Classical (i.e. ancient Greek and Latin) sources and native Celtic sources to draw back the veil obscuring the true roles of Druids. He posits that Druids, like the Brahmas of Hindu culture, were an intellectual caste and as such, did not disappear so much as "repurposed" themselves. It's a very convincing argument.
REVIEW: There is some incredible information in Mr. Beresford-Ellis' book, which is essentially a re-reading of previous studies on the topic of Druids, but coming at it with a slightly different frame of mind. Although much of the book may appear to be speculation - as are many studies on things that have devolved into mythology - he puts together a cogent and interesting argument for the background, spread and make-up of Druidism, A good read for anyone interested in this topic.
REVIEW: My wish was to learn more about the life, culture, and history of the druids, and it delivered on that. But it was also unbearably repetitive. I have to give it an extra star for its unbiased treatment of, and indeed, celebration of, women druids. In a lot of history books, it's assumed that women had no part in anything (as, in a lot of cases, I'm sure was true). But the author went out of his way to provide evidence for the existence of women druids, instead of not bothering. I appreciated that a lot. Because I'm of the mind that women participated in a great number of "male" things in the past, but were left out of history books simply because the authors did not think it important to mention (such as daughters' and wives' names in the Bible). Obviously these women existed; thank you for reminding us.
REVIEW: This was the least sensational book I could find on the Druids. I was a little nervous about the cover quotes on this book - by such notably weird authors as Nicolai Tolstoy - but the dry, serious, non witchy poo quality of the writing won me over. I feel like this was a pretty good introduction to a complicated topic, with a greater emphasis on the social role of the Druids and hardly any page space devoted to modern-day Druid re-creationists. Ellis gets a little tangled up in his own sentences sometimes, but who doesn't? Looking forward to finding something more in-depth to read next.
REVIEW: A spectacularly informative work! It loses 1 star for sometimes-sleepy prose and a lack of footnotes/direct citations, but the author provides his sources and does an excellent job explaining his positions. The chapters "Female Druids" and "The Wisdom of the Druids" are extremely valuable!
REVIEW: Actually this book was quite easy to read and enjoyable despite the fact that some people might find the scholarly writing a bit dry. I do highly recommend it to people who like to read about historical events or people.
REVIEW: Ellis's writing style can be a bit frustrating for the pagan reader, but as a student of history I found this book most enjoyable. The author's theories about the similarities between Celtic and Indian culture are, if nothing else, intriguing. I feel that the material was presented in the manner intended: as a sampling of the evidence that will hopefully inspire others to do the research for themselves. As a Celtic reconstructionist pagan, I personally share his views on "new agers" claiming to follow a Celtic path. A triumphant book that delivers us from the New Age dregs of revisionist religion to at least a plausible level of ancient custom.
REVIEW: This book was recommended to me by a university professor, in order to understand the Druids. The author provides a compilation of different theories of the Druids dating back over hundreds of years (since the Druids traditionally did not provide any written materials about their culture). I did acquire much knowledge about the Druids.
REVIEW: This book fully fleshes out the mystery of the Druids. In addition you will learn about the history around them and how they were influenced by these moments. The book is a bit like reading a textbook but easy to understand none the less.
REVIEW: An essential book for Druid practice! This was represented to me as a must read when I began serious exploration of the Druid spiritual path. It is not a fast or easy read but it gives you a deep and thorough look at the history and development of Druidry as a religion or at least a spiritual paradigm from ancient days to modern times. It is a keeper for me and a must-have for anyone seriously exploring Druidry and related spiritual paths.
REVIEW: Everything you wanted to know about the Druids, but were afraid to ask. This landmark study carefully separates fact from fiction, myth from records...And reveals the Druids as a powerful social class, an intelligentsia, a priesthood; and a compendium of learning which is partly lost, but still valuable today.
REVIEW: Maybe a bit too dry and scholarly to be of interest to casual readers, but this is an excellent book for anyone who is interested in history, or for historical research. I'm particularly fond of this book because it is a serious look at the ancient druids that frees them from the mythology and popular misconceptions that surround them.
REVIEW: Good read, definitely text book nonfiction. Well researched with a good unexpected mid section on the Irish influence on the Catholic Church. Nice thesis with sometimes a bit too influenced on numerology. I am a better Druid for having read it!
REVIEW: Ellis carefully laid out what is known about the Druids and just as carefully presented what is not known. A very well-researched history.
REVIEW: Of the books published for this decade, this tops the charts in both research, and it's being a flowing book. In that, I am referring to the fact that unlike predecessors by other authors, this book actually reads well. It's a moving historical work that gives the facts/fiction/and dramatic in both. P.B-Ellis has excelled himself in this work.
REVIEW: Very balanced and informative. The last two chapters are remarkable.
REVIEW: I'm enjoying the counterpoised perspective, accounting for the bias in the Roman reporting of Celtic society. Wonderfully cross-referenced between a legion of sources.
REVIEW: Fantastic book with loads of information pertaining to the Druids, their beliefs and how those beliefs were skewed through millennia of wrongful interpretation.
REVIEW: Very informative without promoting groups, theologies, etc. Definitely glad that I purchased this one for my shelf.
REVIEW: The most informative and well researched book on the Celts or anything Celtic that I have ever read. Amazing scholarship!
REVIEW: This is a well written book, which includes with through research, from, a large variety of primary and secondary sources. I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in European history, Celtic history, and Druids.
REVIEW: Thought-provoking. Great read, very interesting. Ellis points out a lot of things I hadn't known, especially the relationship between Christianity and Druidism.
REVIEW: Good book. Good information. Great references.
REVIEW: An interesting book which I am glad to have read even if I remain not entirely convinced by it.
REVIEW: A good source book for those interested in learning about the druids, their beliefs and practices in history. The book is difficult to read and does not entertain as much as I wish it did, but it is a valuable account of this particular section of human belief systems.
REVIEW: This book is very informational with a lot of historical information, as well. I have been researching my heritage which includes family history back to Old Ireland. Learning all I can about the Druids and Celtic history has been both fascinating and makes me want to go to Ireland even more now.
REVIEW: "The Druids" is a very informative book, and kept my interest all the way through. Gives a good description about the beliefs and origins of the Druids.
REVIEW: Loved this book, wonderful insight.
REVIEW: Is one of the main books about history matters with a great compilation of historic resources and interesting paragraphs related to the Celtic culture and lore, totally advisable, a capitol book about Celtic lore.
REVIEW: It's great if you're studying the Druids and need detailed info, but a bit academic in orinetation.
REVIEW: Historical facts about the Celtic culture and the Druids based historical facts from different sources. I loved it.
REVIEW: The most interesting thing I learned from this book is the connection between the Celts and the Indo-Europeans in language and religion!
REVIEW: Interesting book, though I am tempted to say what the little girl said of the book on penguins - this book tells me more about druids than I needed to know!
REVIEW: A great reference for any Celtic scholar.
REVIEW: Interesting scholarly attempt to define the druids. On the whole a good book.
REVIEW: Starts off kind of slow, but by the end you're really learned a lot of diverse facts about this ancient culture.
REVIEW: One of the most well researched and written tomes on the ancient Celts and the druid class.
REVIEW: Fascinating book!
REVIEW: A good look into the Celtic ways before Roman dominance.
REVIEW: Very informative!
REVIEW: Five stars! Great!
REVIEW: Five stars! Very informative.
REVIEW: Archaeologists [in 2008] may have found the first evidence of the existence of druids, a class of Celtic priests. One of several graves dating from A.D. 40 to 60 contained a wine warmer, divining rods, surgical instruments, a strainer bowl for brewing tea, and the carefully laid-out pieces of a board game, suggesting the cremated inhabitant was some kind of healer or magician--perhaps an actual druid. [Archaeological Institute of America].
REVIEW: I get my first glimpse of Stonehenge while mired in a five-mile traffic jam. It's just after midnight, a few hours before sunrise on summer solstice, the longest day of the year. From my car, I can see the familiar stones bathed in an eerie blue light that gives the venerable monument the feel of an empty film set--though it won't be empty for long. I'm one of 30,000 people hoping to see the sun rise over the stones. We've been stuck for hours on the A303, a highway that, infamously, runs just a few hundred yards from Stonehenge. At 2 in the morning, I pull into a parking lot reserved for solstice celebrants about a mile from the site. Security guards make sure I'm not carrying immoderate amounts of alcohol, and I walk the rest of the way with an exuberant crowd of new agers, students, and local residents--any one of whom could be a pagan.
Britain has an abundance of pagans, many more today than there were just two decades ago. Rough estimates put their number in the U.K. at around 250,000, many of whom turn out to celebrate solstice at the impressive megalithic sites scattered across the British Isles. Academics who study pagans will tell you that as a generic term, paganism broadly describes a set of related modern beliefs inspired by ancient religious practices. Druids (there are dozens of different druid orders in the U.K.), wiccans (modern witches), and heathens (who follow Viking and Anglo-Saxon rituals) are all considered pagans. What unites them is a respect for nature and for ancient British traditions. Pagans also believe that some archaeological sites are sacred ground, places of spiritual power where celebration, meditation, and communication with spirits and ancestors are all possible. Ritual processions and gathering in large circles to invoke spirits are common pagan observances at ancient sites.
Britons have been watching the solstice sun rise over the Heel Stone, the largest megalith outside of the main circle at Stonehenge, since perhaps 2500 B.C. Druid orders revived in the eighteenth century and organized along the lines of Freemasons used Stonehenge as a place for high ritual (Winston Churchill was a member of one of these, the Ancient Order of Druids). Crowds of ordinary people have been coming to the site for solstice since the early twentieth century, in part to watch the druids.
In the 1970s, as both the modern pagan movement and "alternative" culture gained steam, a "free festival" sprung up around solstice featuring live music, huge crowds, and--not surprisingly, given the era--widespread drug use. Vandalism of the stones was kept to a minimum, but some festival goers dug latrines near sensitive burial sites not far from the megaliths. Impromptu camps lingered for weeks and order was maintained by motorcycle gangs like Hell's Angels. Stonehenge became a scary place for tourists to visit.
In 1985, events came to a head when police disrupted (some would say ambushed) a caravan of festival goers enroute to Stonehenge. In what became known as the "battle of the beanfield," police used excessive force to disperse the "travelers" (a colloquialism for nomadic hippies), and kept them from reaching the monument. After the incident, English Heritage cut off access to the stones during solstice with a four-mile policed "exclusion zone."
The publicity surrounding the ban on solstice celebrations and the efforts of druids, wiccans, and others to regain access to the stones only increased the numbers of Britons seriously considering becoming pagans. Tim Sebastian, founder of the Secular Order of Druids (SODS) and one of the most prominent druids in Britain, put it to me bluntly--"You can thank English Heritage for the numbers of pagans today." One of the most visible leaders of the campaign to open Stonehenge was Arthur Pendragon, founder of the Loyal Arthurian Warband and self-proclaimed reincarnation of King Arthur. He picketed the stones with "Excalibur" in hand and generated a good deal of publicity. In 1998, English Heritage allowed a small number of druids and other pagans into Stonehenge during solstice. By 2000, free and open access returned, albeit during tightly restricted hours, and thousands flocked to Stonehenge. The numbers of solstice celebrants has roughly doubled each year since. [Archaeological Institute of America].
REVIEW: The ancient Celts were various population groups living in several parts of Europe north of the Mediterranean region from the Late Bronze Age onwards. Given the name Celt by ancient writers, these tribes often migrated and so eventually occupied territories from Portugal to Turkey. Although diverse tribes the ancient Celts spoke the same language and maintained the same artistic tradition which is characterised by the use of idiosyncratic flowing lines and forms. Celtic languages are still spoken today in parts of the British Isles and northern France.
Ancient writers gave the name Celts to various population groups living across central Europe inland from the Mediterranean coastal areas. Most scholars agree that the Celtic culture first appeared in the Late Bronze Age in the area of the upper Danube sometime around the 13th century B.C. These early Celts were known as the ‘Urnfield people’ and they probably spoke a proto-Celtic language. By the 8th century B.C., iron had replaced bronze-working and the cultural group is then referred to by scholars as the ‘Hallstatt culture’. Spain saw a similar development with tribes using iron weapons. The Hallstatt culture declined by the 5th century B.C., perhaps due to internal political tensions and economic difficulties. The next phase of Celtic development was carried out by a group known as the La Tène culture.
The migration of various Celtic tribes in order to flee wars meant that eventually they occupied Territory from the Iberian peninsula to Turkey. The prosperity of the La Tène culture in ancient France, Spain and wider central Europe meant that they were able to challenge the contemporary Mediterranean cultures and so they appear for the first time in Classical history. From then on these peoples were widely referred to as Celts. In antiquity writers did not describe tribes in ancient Britain and Ireland as Celts, although they have acquired that label in modern times and some Celtic languages or their derivatives are still spoken there, as a form of Celtic still is in the Brittany region of northern France. The religion of the Celts, led by a priesthood known as the Druids, is described by ancient writers with some disdain as crude and violent.
The migration of various Celtic tribes in order to flee wars – they were famously attacked in Gaul by Julius Caesar in the 1st century B.C. and by the Germanic tribes - and find new prospects meant that eventually the territory occupied by them ranged from Galicia (the Iberian peninsula) to Romania. Many Celtic tribes spread eastwards, for example, traversing Macedonia in 280 B.C. and crossing the Hellespont in 278 B.C. into Asia Minor. The Galatians, as they were now called, colonised areas of central Asia Minor which brought them into direct conflict with both the Hellenistic kingdoms and Rome.
Celtic armies first came to the attention of historians when the Gauls, led by their king Bran (Brennus), sacked Rome in 390 B.C., and again in 279 B.C. when they looted Delphi as they passed through Greece on their way to Asia. The Celts attacked the Romans again in 225 B.C. and were frequent mercenary allies of Carthage during the Punic Wars. The Celts thus gained a reputation with Latin and Greek writers for being fierce warriors and skilled horsemen who also fielded chariots in battle. Julius Caesar faced them when he invaded Gaul. They were light, pulled by two horses, and had an open front and back with double hoops at the sides. Containing two men they were used to attack enemy cavalry first by throwing javelins and then one man dismounted to fight on foot while the rider drove the chariot to a safe distance to await a retreat if necessary. Caesar describes them as driven with great skill and so were a highly maneuvrable weapon of disruption and attack.
Celtic warriors were known for their long hair and imposing physique. They are depicted in Greek art with their distinctive long shields (wooden panels covered in decorated hide) and long swords. Such was the respect for Celtic warriors that Hellenistic kings who defeated Galatian armies were given the title of soter, meaning ‘saviour’. Although Galatian armies were almost always defeated by their more disciplined and better-equipped enemies in single battles, once conquered, they did fight successfully as mercenaries in many Hellenistic and Roman armies.
The Celtic language is a branch of the Indo-European language family. Scholars have divided Celtic languages into two groups: Insular Celtic and Continental Celtic. The latter group was no longer widely spoken after the Roman imperial period, and the only surviving examples of it are mentions in the works of Greek and Roman writers and some epigraphic remains such as pottery graffiti and votive and funerary stelae. The best documented of this group is Gaulish.
The Insular Celtic group of languages are two: British or Brittonic (Breton, Cornish, and Welsh) and Goidelic (Irish and its medieval derivatives, Scots Gaelic and Manx). Brittonic was spoken in all of Britain in the Roman period. From it evolved Cumbrian (extinct since medieval times), Cornish (no longer spoken after the 18th century A.D. but recently revived), Breton (likely introduced by 5th-century CE British settlers and not connected directly to Gaulish), and Welsh, which is still spoken today. The earliest evidence of Goidelic-Irish dates to the 5th century A.D., and it later evolved into Middle Irish (circa 950 – 1200 A.D.) and, thereafter, morphed again into Modern Irish, which is still spoken today. [Ancient History Encyclopedia].
REVIEW: The Indo-European languages are a family of related languages that today are widely spoken in the Americas, Europe, and also Western and Southern Asia. Just as languages such as Spanish, French, Portuguese and Italian are all descended from Latin, Indo-European languages are believed to derive from a hypothetical language known as Proto-Indo-European, which is no longer spoken. It is highly probable that the earliest speakers of this language originally lived around Ukraine and neighbouring regions in the Caucasus and Southern Russia, then spread to most of the rest of Europe and later down into India. The earliest possible end of Proto-Indo-European linguistic unity is believed to be around 3400 B.C.
Since the speakers of the Proto-Indo-European language did not develop a writing system, we have no physical evidence of it. The science of linguistics has been trying to reconstruct the Proto-Indo-European language using several methods and, although an accurate reconstruction of it seems impossible, we have today a general picture of what Proto-Indo-European speakers had in common, both linguistically and culturally. In addition to the use of comparative methods, there are studies based on the comparison of myths, laws, and social institutions. The ancients came up with the explanation that the Latin language was a descendant of the Greek language.
The Indo-European languages have a large number of branches: Anatolian, Indo-Iranian, Greek, Italic, Celtic, Germanic, Armenian, Tocharian, Balto-Slavic and Albanian.
This branch of languages was predominant in the Asian portion of Turkey and some areas in northern Syria. The most famous of these languages is Hittite. In 1906 CE, a large amount of Hittite finds were made on the site of Hattusas, the capital of the Hittite Kingdom, where about 10,000 cuneiform tablets and various other fragments were found in the remains of a royal archive. These texts date back to the mid to late second millennium B.C. Luvian, Palaic, Lycian, and Lydian are other examples of families belonging to this group. All languages of this branch are currently extinct. This branch has the oldest surviving evidence of an Indo-European language, dated about 1800 B.C.
This branch includes two sub-branches: Indic and Iranian. Today these languages are predominant in India, Pakistan, Iran, and its vicinity and also in areas from the Black Sea to western China. Sanskrit, which belongs to the Indic sub-branch, is the best known among the early languages of this branch; its oldest variety, Vedic Sanskrit, is preserved in the Vedas, a collection of hymns and other religious texts of ancient India. Indic speakers entered into the Indian subcontinent, coming from central Asia around 1500 B.C.: In the Rig-Veda, the hymn 1.131 speaks about a legendary journey that may be considered a distant memory of this migration.
Avestan is a language that forms part of the Iranian group. Old Avestan (sometimes called Gathic Avestan) is the oldest preserved language of the Iranian sub-branch, the “sister” of Sanskrit, which is the language used in the early Zoroastrian religious texts. Another important language of the Iranian sub-branch is Old Persian, which is the language found in the royal inscriptions of the Achaemenid dynasty, starting in the late 6th century B.C. The earliest datable evidence of this branch dates back to about 1300 B.C.
Today, many Indic languages are spoken in India and Pakistan, such as Hindi-Urdu, Punjabi, and Bengali. Iranian languages such as Farsi (modern Persian), Pashto, and Kurdish are spoken in Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, and Tajikistan.
Rather than a branch of languages, Greek is a group of dialects: During more than 3000 years of written history, Greek dialects never evolved into mutually incomprehensible languages. Greek was predominant in the southern end of the Balkans, the Peloponnese peninsula, and the Aegean Sea and its vicinity. The earliest surviving written evidence of a Greek language is Mycenaean, the dialect of the Mycenaean civilization, mainly found on clay tablets and ceramic vessels on the isle of Crete. Mycenaean did not have an alphabetic written system, rather it had a syllabic script known as the Linear B script.
The first alphabetic inscriptions have been dated back to the early 8th century B.C., which is probably the time when the Homeric epics, the Iliad and the Odyssey, reached their present form. There were many Greek dialects in ancient times, but because of Athens cultural supremacy in the 5th century B.C., it was the Athens dialect, called Attic, the one that became the standard literary language during the Classical period (480-323 B.C.). Therefore, the most famous Greek poetry and prose written in Classical times were written in Attic: Aristophanes, Aristotle, Euripides, and Plato are just a few examples of authors who wrote in Attic.
This branch was predominant in the Italian peninsula. The Italic people were not natives of Italy; they entered Italy crossing the Alps around 1000 B.C. and gradually moved southward. Latin, the most famous language in this group, was originally a relatively small local language spoken by pastoral tribes living in small agricultural settlements in the centre of the Italian peninsula. The first inscriptions in Latin appeared in the 7th century B.C. and by the 6th century B.C. it had spread significantly.
Rome was responsible for the growth of Latin in ancient times. Classical Latin is the form of Latin used by the most famous works of Roman authors like Ovid, Cicero, Seneca, Pliny, and Marcus Aurelius. Other languages of this branch are: Faliscan, Sabellic, Umbrian, South Picene, and Oscan, all of them extinct. Today Romance languages are the only surviving descendants of the Italic branch.
This branch contains two sub-branches: Continental Celtic and Insular Celtic. By about 600 B.C., Celtic-speaking tribes had spread from what today are southern Germany, Austria, and Western Czech Republic in almost all directions, to France, Belgium, Spain, and the British Isles, then by 400 B.C., they also moved southward into northern Italy and southeast into the Balkans and even beyond. During the early 1st century B.C., Celtic-speaking tribes dominated a very significant portion of Europe. On 50 B.C., Julius Caesar conquered Gaul (ancient France) and Britain was also conquered about a century later by the emperor Claudius. As a result, this large Celtic-speaking area was absorbed by Rome, Latin became the dominant language, and the Continental Celtic languages eventually died out. The chief Continental language was Gaulish.
Insular Celtic developed in the British Isles after Celtic-speaking tribes entered around the 6th century B.C. In Ireland, Insular Celtic flourished, aided by the geographical isolation which kept Ireland relatively safe from the Roman and Anglo-Saxon invasion. The only Celtic languages still spoken today (Irish Gaelic, Scottish Gaelic, Welsh and Breton) all come from Insular Celtic.
The Germanic branch is divided in three sub-branches: East Germanic, currently extinct; North Germanic, containing Old Norse, the ancestor of all modern Scandinavian languages; and West Germanic, containing Old English, Old Saxon, and Old High German.
The earliest evidence of Germanic-speaking people dates back to first half of the 1st millennium B.C., and they lived in an area stretching from southern Scandinavia to the coast of the North Baltic Sea. During prehistoric times, the Germanic speaking tribes came into contact with Finnic speakers in the north and also with Balto-Slavic tribes in the east.
As a result of this interaction, the Germanic language borrowed several terms from Finnish and Balto-Slavic. Several varieties of Old Norse were spoken by most Vikings. Native Nordic pre-Christian Germanic mythology and folklore has been also preserved in Old Norse, in a dialect named Old Icelandic. Dutch, English, Frisian, and Yiddish are some examples of modern survivors of the West Germanic sub-branch, while Danish, Faroese, Icelandic, Norwegian, and Swedish are survivors of the North Germanic branch.
The origins of the Armenian-speaking people is a topic still unresolved. It is probable that the Armenians and the Phrygians belonged to the same migratory wave that entered Anatolia, coming from the Balkans around the late 2nd millennium B.C. The Armenians settled in an area around Lake Van, currently Turkey; this region belonged to the state of Urartu during the early 1st millennium B.C. In the 8th century B.C., Urartu came under Assyrian control and in the 7th century B.C., the Armenians took over the region. The Medes absorbed the region soon after and Armenia became a vassal state. During the time of the Achaemenid Empire, the region turned into a Persian satrap. The Persian domination had a strong linguistic impact on Armenian, which mislead many scholars in the past to believe that Armenian actually belonged to the Iranian group.
The history of the Tocharian-speaking people is still surrounded by mystery. We know that they lived in the Taklamakan Desert, located in western China. Most of the Tocharian texts left are translations from well-known Buddhist works, and all of these texts have been dated between the 6th and the 8th centuries CE. None of these texts speak about the Tocharians themselves. Two different languages belong to this branch: Tocharian A and Tocharian B. Remains of the Tocharian A language have only been found in places where Tocharian B documents have also been found, which would suggest that Tocharian A was already extinct, kept alive only as a religious or poetic language, while Tocharian B was the living language used for administrative purposes.
Many well-preserved mummies with Caucasoid features such as tall stature, red, blonde, and brown hair, have been discovered in the Taklamakan Desert, dating between 1800 B.C. to 200 CE. The weaving style and patterns of their clothes is similar to the Hallstatt culture in central Europe. Physical analysis and genetic evidence have revealed resemblances with the inhabitants of western Eurasia. This branch is completely extinct. Among all ancient Indo-European languages, Tocharian was spoken farthest to the east.
This branch contains two sub-branches: Baltic and Slavic. During the late Bronze Age, the Balts' territory may have stretched from around western Poland all the way across to the Ural Mountains. Afterwards, the Balts occupied a small region along the Baltic Sea. Those in the northern part of the territory occupied by the Balts were in close contact with Finnic tribes, whose language was not part of the Indo-European language family: Finnic speakers borrowed a considerable amount of Baltic words, which suggests that the Balts had an important cultural prestige in that area. Under the pressure of Gothic and Slavic migrations, the territory of the Balts was reduced towards the 5th century CE.
Archaeological evidence shows that from 1500 B.C., either the Slavs or their ancestors occupied an area stretching from near the western Polish borders towards the Dnieper River in Belarus. During the 6th century CE, the Slav-speaking tribes expanded their territory, migrating into Greece and the Balkans: this is when they are mentioned for the first time, in Byzantine records referring to this large migration. Either some or all of the Slavs were once located further to the east, in or around Iranian territory, since many Iranian words were borrowed into pre-Slavic at an early stage. Later on, as they moved westward, they came into contact with German tribes and again borrowed several additional terms.
Only two Baltic languages survive today: Latvian and Lithuanian. A large number of Slavic languages survive today, such as Bulgarian, Czech, Croatian, Polish, Serbian, Slovak, Russian, and many others.
Albanian is the last branch of Indo-European languages to appear in written form. There are two hypotheses on the origin of Albanian. The first one says that Albanian is a modern descendant of Illyrian, a language which was widely spoken in the region during classical times. Since we know very little about Illyrian, this assertion can be neither denied nor confirmed from a linguistic standpoint. From a historical and geographical perspective, however, this assertion makes sense. Another hypotheses says that Albanian is a descendant of Thracian, another lost language that was spoken farther east than Illyrian. Today Albanian is spoken in Albania as the official language, in several other areas in of the former Yugoslavia and also in small enclaves in southern Italy, Greece and the Republic of Macedonia.
All languages in this group are either extinct or they are a former stage of a modern language. Examples of this groups of languages are Phrygian, Thracian, Ancient Macedonian (not to be confused with Macedonian, a language currently spoken in the Republic of Macedonia, part of the Slavic branch), Illyrian, Venetic, Messapic, and Lusitanian.
Indo-European Historical Linguistics.
In ancient times it was noticed that some languages presented striking similarities: Greek and Latin are a well-known example. During classical antiquity it was noted, for example, that Greek héks “six” and heptá “seven” were similar to the Latin sex and septem. Furthermore, the regular correspondence of the initial h- in Greek to the initial s- in Latin was pointed out.
The explanation that the ancients came up with was that the Latin language was a descendant of Greek language. Centuries later, during and after the Renaissance, the close similarities between more languages were also noted, and it was understood that certain groups of languages were related, such as Icelandic and English, and also the Romance languages. Despite all of these observations, the science of linguistics did not develop much further until the 18th century CE.
During the British colonial expansion into India, a British orientalist and jurist named Sir William Jones became familiar with the Sanskrit language. Jones was also knowledgeable in Greek and Latin and was surprised by the similarities between these three languages. During a lecture on February 2, 1786 CE, Sir William Jones expressed his new ideas:
"The Sanskrit language, whatever be its antiquity, is of a wonderful structure; more perfect than the Greek, more copious than the Latin, and more exquisitely refined than either, yet bearing to both of them a stronger affinity, both in the roots of verbs and the forms of grammar, than could possibly have been produced by accident; so strong indeed, that no philologer could examine them all three, without believing them to have sprung from some common source, which, perhaps, no longer exists; there is a similar reason, though not quite so forcible, for supposing that both the Gothic and the Celtic, though blended with a very different idiom, had the same origin with the Sanskrit; and the old Persian might be added to the same family, if this were the place for discussing any question concerning the antiquity of Persia."
The idea that Greek, Latin, Sanskrit, and Persian were derived from a common source was revolutionary at that time. This was a turning point in the history of linguistics. Rather than the “daughter” of Greek, Latin was for the first time understood as the “sister” of Greek. By becoming familiar with Sanskrit, a language geographically far removed from Greek and Latin, and realizing that chance was an insufficient explanation for the similarities between these languages, Sir William Jones presented a new insight which triggered the development of modern linguistics. [Ancient History Encyclopedia].
REVIEW: A druid was a member of the high-ranking professional class in ancient Celtic cultures. While perhaps best remembered as religious leaders, they were also legal authorities, adjudicators, lorekeepers, medical professionals and political advisors. While the druids are reported to have been literate, they are believed to have been prevented by doctrine from recording their knowledge in written form, thus they left no written accounts of themselves. They are however attested in some detail by their contemporaries from other cultures, such as the Romans.
The earliest known references to the druids date to the fourth century B.C. and the oldest detailed description comes from Julius Caesar's Commentarii de Bello Gallico (50s B.C.). Later Greco-Roman writers also described the druids, including Cicero, Tacitus and Pliny the Elder. Following the Roman invasion of Gaul, the druid orders were suppressed by the Roman government under the 1st century A.D. emperors Tiberius and Claudius, and had disappeared from the written record by the 2nd century.
In about 750 A.D. the word druid appears in a poem by Blathmac, who wrote about Jesus, saying that he was "... better than a prophet, more knowledgeable than every druid, a king who was a bishop and a complete sage." The druids then also appear in some of the medieval tales from Christianized Ireland like the "Táin Bó Cúailnge", where they are largely portrayed as sorcerers who opposed the coming of Christianity. In the wake of the Celtic revival during the 18th and 19th centuries, fraternal and neopagan groups were founded based on ideas about the ancient druids, a movement known as Neo-Druidism. Many popular notions about druids, based on misconceptions of 18th century scholars, have been largely superseded by more recent study.
The modern English word druid derives from the Latin druides, which was considered by ancient Roman writers to come from the native Celtic Gaulish word for these figures. Other Roman texts also employ the form druidae, while the same term was used by Greek ethnographers. Although no extant Romano-Celtic inscription is known to contain the form, the word is cognate with the later insular Celtic words, Sources by ancient and medieval writers provide an idea of the religious duties and social roles involved in being a druid.
One of the few things that both the Greco-Roman and the vernacular Irish sources agree on about the druids is that they played an important part in pagan Celtic society. In his description, Julius Caesar claimed that they were one of the two most important social groups in the region (alongside the equites, or nobles) and were responsible for organizing worship and sacrifices, divination, and judicial procedure in Gaulish, British and Irish society. He also claimed that they were exempt from military service and from the payment of taxes, and had the power to excommunicate people from religious festivals, making them social outcasts. Two other classical writers, Diodorus Siculus and Strabo, also wrote about the role of druids in Gallic society, claiming that the druids were held in such respect that if they intervened between two armies they could stop the battle.
Pomponius Mela] is the first author who says that the druids' instruction was secret and took place in caves and forests. Druidic lore consisted of a large number of verses learned by heart, and Caesar remarked that it could take up to twenty years to complete the course of study. What was taught to druid novices anywhere is conjecture: of the druids' oral literature, not one certifiably ancient verse is known to have survived, even in translation. All instruction was communicated orally, but for ordinary purposes, Caesar reports, the Gauls had a written language in which they used Greek characters. In this he probably draws on earlier writers; by the time of Caesar, Gaulish inscriptions had moved from the Greek script to the Latin script.
Greek and Roman writers frequently made reference to the druids as practitioners of human sacrifice. According to Caesar, those who had been found guilty of theft or other criminal offences were considered preferable for use as sacrificial victims, but when criminals were in short supply, innocents would be acceptable. A form of sacrifice recorded by Caesar was the burning alive of victims in a large wooden effigy, now often known as a wicker man. A differing account came from the 10th-century Commenta Bernensia, which claimed that sacrifices to the deities Teutates, Esus and Taranis were by drowning, hanging and burning, respectively.
Diodorus Siculus asserts that a sacrifice acceptable to the Celtic gods had to be attended by a druid, for they were the intermediaries between the people and the divinities. He remarked upon the importance of prophets in druidic ritual:
"These men predict the future by observing the flight and calls of birds and by the sacrifice of holy animals: all orders of society are in their power... and in very important matters they prepare a human victim, plunging a dagger into his chest; by observing the way his limbs convulse as he falls and the gushing of his blood, they are able to read the future."
There is archaeological evidence from western Europe that has been widely used to back up the idea that human sacrifice was performed by the Iron Age Celts. Mass graves found in a ritual context dating from this period have been unearthed in Gaul, at both Gournay-sur-Aronde and Ribemont-sur-Ancre in what was the region of the Belgae chiefdom. The excavator of these sites, Jean-Louis Brunaux, interpreted them as areas of human sacrifice in devotion to a war god, although this view was criticized by another archaeologist, Martin Brown, who believed that the corpses might be those of honoured warriors buried in the sanctuary rather than sacrifices.
Some historians have questioned whether the Greco-Roman writers were accurate in their claims. J. Rives remarked that it was "ambiguous" whether the druids ever performed such sacrifices, for the Romans and Greeks were known to project what they saw as barbarian traits onto foreign peoples including not only druids but Jews and Christians as well, thereby confirming their own "cultural superiority" in their own minds. Nora Chadwick, an expert in medieval Welsh and Irish literature who believed the druids to be great philosophers, has also supported the idea that they had not been involved in human sacrifice, and that such accusations were imperialist Roman propaganda.
Alexander Cornelius Polyhistor referred to the druids as philosophers and called their doctrine of the immortality of the soul and reincarnation or metempsychosis "Pythagorean": "The Pythagorean doctrine prevails among the Gauls' teaching that the souls of men are immortal, and that after a fixed number of years they will enter into another body." Caesar remarks: "The principal point of their doctrine is that the soul does not die and that after death it passes from one body into another" (see metempsychosis). Caesar wrote:
"With regard to their actual course of studies, the main object of all education is, in their opinion, to imbue their scholars with a firm belief in the indestructibility of the human soul, which, according to their belief, merely passes at death from one tenement to another; for by such doctrine alone, they say, which robs death of all its terrors, can the highest form of human courage be developed. Subsidiary to the teachings of this main principle, they hold various lectures and discussions on astronomy, on the extent and geographical distribution of the globe, on the different branches of natural philosophy, and on many problems connected with religion.
Diodorus Siculus, writing in 36 B.C., described how the druids followed "the Pythagorean doctrine", that human souls "are immortal and after a prescribed number of years they commence a new life in a new body."In 1928, folklorist Donald A. Mackenzie speculated that Buddhist missionaries had been sent by the Indian king Ashoka. Others have invoked common Indo-European parallels. Caesar noted the druidic doctrine of the original ancestor of the tribe, whom he referred to as Dispater, or Father Hades.
Druids also play a prominent role in Irish Folklore, generally serving lords and kings as high ranking priest-counselors with the gift of prophecy and other assorted mystical abilities - the best example of these possibly being Cathbad. The chief druid in the court of King Conchobar mac Nessa of Ulster, Cathbad features in several tales, most of which detail his ability to foretell the future. In the tale of Deirdre of the Sorrows – the foremost tragic heroine of the Ulster Cycle – the druid prophesied before the court of Conchobar that Deirdre would grow up to be very beautiful, but that kings and lords would go to war over her, much blood would be shed because of her, and Ulster's three greatest warriors would be forced into exile for her sake. This prophecy, ignored by the king, came true.
Arguably the greatest of these mythological druids was Amergin Glúingel, a bard and judge for the Milesians featured in the Mythological Cycle. The Milesians were seeking to overrun the Tuatha De Danann and win the land of Ireland but, as they approached, the druids of the Tuatha Dé Danann raised a magical storm to bar their ships from making landfall. Thus Amergin called upon the spirit of Ireland itself, chanting a powerful incantation that has come to be known as The Song of Amergin and, eventually (after successfully making landfall), aiding and dividing the land between his royal brothers in the conquest of Ireland, earning the title Chief Ollam of Ireland. Other such mythological druids were Tadg mac Nuadat of the Fenian Cycle, and Mug Ruith, a powerful blind druid of Munster.
Irish mythology has a number of female druids as well, often sharing similar prominent cultural and religious roles with their male counterparts. The Irish have several words for female druids, such as bandruí ("woman-druid"), found in tales such as the Táin Bó Cúailnge; Bodhmall, featured in the Fenian Cycle, and one of Fionn mac Cumhaill's childhood caretakers; and Tlachtga, the daughter of the druid Mug Ruith who, according to Irish tradition, is associated with the Hill of Ward, site of prominent festivals held in Tlachtga's honour during the Middle Ages.
Biróg, another bandrúi of the Tuatha De Danann, plays a key role in an Irish folktale where the Fomorian warrior Balor attempts to thwart a prophecy foretelling that he would be killed by his own grandson by imprisoning his only daughter Eithne in the tower of Tory Island, away from any contact with men. Bé Chuille – daughter of the woodland goddess Flidais and sometimes described as a sorceress rather than a bandruí – features in a tale from the Metrical Dindshenchas where she joins three other of the Tuatha Dé to defeat the evil Greek witch Carman. Other bandrúi include Relbeo, a Nemedian druid who appears in The Book of Invasions, where she is described as the daughter of the King of Greece and mother of Fergus Lethderg and Alma One-Tooth. Dornoll was a bandrúi in Scotland, who normally trained heroes in warfare, particularly Laegaire and Conall; she was the Daughter of Domnall Mildemail.
According to classical authors, the Gallizenae (or Gallisenae) were virgin priestesses of the Île de Sein off Pointe du Raz, Finistère, western Brittany. Their existence was first mentioned by the Greek geographer Artemidorus Ephesius and later by the Greek historian Strabo, who wrote that their island was forbidden to men, but the women came to the mainland to meet their husbands. Which deities they honored is unknown. According to Pomponius Mela, the Gallizenae acted as both councilors and practitioners of the healing arts:
"Sena, in the Britannic Sea, opposite the coast of the Osismi, is famous for its oracle of a Gaulish god, whose priestesses, living in the holiness of perpetual virginity, are said to be nine in number. They call them Gallizenae, and they believe them to be endowed with extraordinary gifts to rouse the sea and the wind by their incantations, to turn themselves into whatsoever animal form they may choose, to cure diseases which among others are incurable, to know what is to come and to foretell it. They are, however; devoted to the service of voyagers only who have set out on no other errand than to consult them."
The earliest surviving literary evidence of the druids emerges from the classical world of Greece and Rome. The archaeologist Stuart Piggott compared the attitude of the Classical authors towards the druids as being similar to the relationship that had existed in the 15th and 18th centuries between Europeans and the societies that they were just encountering in other parts of the world, such as the Americas and the South Sea Islands. In doing so, he highlighted that both the attitude of the Early Modern Europeans and the Classical authors was that of "primitivism", viewing these newly encountered societies as primitive because of their lesser technological development and perceived backwardness in socio-political development.
The historian Nora Chadwick, in a categorization subsequently adopted by Piggott, divided the Classical accounts of the druids into two groups, distinguished by their approach to the subject as well as their chronological contexts. She refers to the first of these groups as the "Posidonian" tradition after one of its primary exponents, Posidonious, and notes that it takes a largely critical attitude towards the Iron Age societies of Western Europe that emphasizes their "barbaric" qualities. The second of these two groups is termed the "Alexandrian" group, being centred on the scholastic traditions of Alexandria in Egypt; she notes that it took a more sympathetic and idealized attitude towards these foreign peoples. Piggott drew parallels between this categorisation and the ideas of "hard primitivism" and "soft primitivism" identified by historians of ideas A.O. Lovejoy and Franz Boas.
One school of thought within historical scholarship has suggested that all of these accounts are inherently unreliable, and might be entirely fictional. They have suggested that the idea of the druid might have been a fiction created by Classical writers to reinforce the idea of the barbaric "other" who existed beyond the civilized Greco-Roman world, thereby legitimising the expansion of the Roman Empire into these areas. The earliest record of the druids comes from two Greek texts of circa 300 B.C.: one, a history of philosophy written by Sotion of Alexandria, and the other a study of magic widely attributed to Aristotle. Both texts are now lost, but were quoted in the 2nd century A.D. work Vitae by Diogenes Laertius.
Some say that the study of philosophy originated with the barbarians. In that among the Persians there existed the Magi, and among the Babylonians or Assyrians the Chaldaei, among the Indians the Gymnosophistae, and among the Celts and Gauls men who were called druids and semnothei, as Aristotle relates in his book on magic, and Sotion in the twenty-third book of his Succession of Philosophers. Subsequent Greek and Roman texts from the third century B.C. refer to "barbarian philosophers", possibly in reference to the Gaulish druids.
Julius Caesar, the Roman general and later dictator, who wrote the most important source for the Druids in Britain. The earliest extant text that describes the druids in detail is Julius Caesar's Commentarii de Bello Gallico, book VI, written in the 50s or 40s B.C. A military general who was intent on conquering Gaul and Britain, Caesar described the druids as being concerned with "divine worship, the due performance of sacrifices, private or public, and the interpretation of ritual questions."
He claimed that they played an important part in Gaulish society, being one of the two respected classes along with the equites (in Rome the name for members of a privileged class above the common people, but also "horsemen") and that they performed the function of judges. He claimed that they recognized the authority of a single leader, who would rule until his death, when a successor would be chosen by vote or through conflict.
He also remarked that they met annually at a sacred place in the region occupied by the Carnute tribe in Gaul, while they viewed Britain as the centre of druidic study; and that they were not found amongst the German tribes to the east of the Rhine. According to Caesar, many young men were trained to be druids, during which time they had to learn all the associated lore by heart. He also claimed their main teaching was "the souls do not perish, but after death pass from one to another".
They were also concerned with "the stars and their movements, the size of the cosmos and the earth, the world of nature, and the powers of deities", indicating they were involved with not only such common aspects of religion as theology and cosmology, but also astronomy. Caesar also held that they were "administrators" during rituals of human sacrifice, for which criminals were usually used, and that the method was through burning in a wicker man.
Although he had first-hand experience of Gaulish people, and therefore likely with druids, Caesar's account has been widely criticized by modern historians as inaccurate. One issue raised by such historians as Fustel de Coulanges was that while Caesar described the druids as a significant power within Gaulish society, he did not mention them even once in his accounts of his Gaulish conquests. Nor did Aulus Hirtius, who continued Caesar's account of the Gallic Wars following Caesar's death.
Hutton believed that Caesar had manipulated the idea of the druids so they would appear both civilized (being learned and pious) and barbaric (performing human sacrifice) to Roman readers, thereby representing both "a society worth including in the Roman Empire" and one that required civilizing with Roman rule and values, thus justifying his wars of conquest. Sean Dunham suggested that Caesar had simply taken the Roman religious functions of senators and applied them to the druids. Daphne Nash believed it "not unlikely" that he "greatly exaggerates" both the centralized system of druidic leadership and its connection to Britain.
Other historians have accepted that Caesar's account might be more accurate. Norman J. DeWitt surmised that Caesar's description of the role of druids in Gaulish society may report an idealized tradition, based on the society of the 2nd century B.C., before the pan-Gallic confederation led by the Arverni was smashed in 121 B.C., followed by the invasions of Teutones and Cimbri, rather than on the demoralized and disunited Gaul of his own time. John Creighton has speculated that in Britain, the druidic social influence was already in decline by the mid-1st century B.C., in conflict with emergent new power structures embodied in paramount chieftains.
Other scholars see the Roman conquest itself as the main reason for the decline of the druid orders. Archaeologist Miranda Aldhouse-Green (2010) asserted that Caesar offered both “our richest textual source” regarding the druids, and “one of the most reliable.” She defended the accuracy of his accounts by highlighting that while he may have embellished some of his accounts to justify Roman imperial conquest, it was “inherently unlikely” that he constructed a fictional class system for Gaul and Britain, particularly considering that he was accompanied by a number of other Roman senators who would have also been sending reports on the conquest to Rome, and who would have challenged his inclusion of serious falsifications.
Other classical writers also commented on the druids and their practices. Caesar's contemporary, Marcus Tullius Cicero, noted that he had met a Gallic druid, Divitiacus, who was a member of the Aedui tribe. Divitiacus supposedly knew much about the natural world and performed divination through augury. Whether Diviaticus was genuinely a druid can however be disputed, for Caesar also knew this figure, and also wrote about him, calling him by the more Gaulish-sounding (and thereby presumably the more authentic) Diviciacus, but never referred to him as a druid and indeed presented him as a political and military leader.
Another classical writer to take up describing the druids not too long after was Diodorus Siculus, who published this description in his Bibliotheca historicae in 36 B.C. Alongside the druids, or as he called them, drouidas, whom he viewed as philosophers and theologians, he also remarked how there were poets and singers in Celtic society whom he called bardous, or bards. Such an idea was expanded on by Strabo, writing in the 20s A.D. who declared that amongst the Gauls, there were three types of honoured figures: the poets and singers known as bardoi, the diviners and specialists in the natural world known as o'vateis, and those who studied "moral philosophy", the druidai.
The Roman writer Tacitus, himself a senator and a historian, described how when the Roman army, led by Suetonius Paulinus, attacked the island of Mona (Anglesey, Ynys Môn in Welsh), the legionaries were awestruck on landing by the appearance of a band of druids, who, with hands uplifted to the sky, poured forth terrible imprecations on the heads of the invaders. He states that these "terrified our soldiers who had never seen such a thing before..." The courage of the Romans, however, soon overcame such fears, according to the Roman historian; the Britons were put to flight, and the sacred groves of Mona were cut down. Tacitus is also the only primary source that gives accounts of druids in Britain, but maintains a hostile point of view, seeing them as ignorant savages.
During the Middle Ages, after Ireland and Wales were Christianized, druids appeared in a number of written sources, mainly tales and stories such as the Táin Bó Cúailnge, but also in the hagiographies of various saints. These were all written by Christian monks.
In Irish-language literature, the druids — draoithe, plural of draoi— are sorcerers with supernatural powers, who are respected in society, particularly for their ability to perform divination. The Dictionary of the Irish Language defines druí (which has numerous variant forms, including draoi) as 'magician, wizard or diviner'. In the literature the druids cast spells and turn people into animals or stones, or curse peoples’ crops to be blighted.
When druids are portrayed in early Irish sagas and saints' lives set in the pre-Christian past of the island, they are usually accorded high social status. The evidence of the law-texts, which were first written down in the 7th and 8th centuries, suggests that with the coming of Christianity the role of the druid in Irish society was rapidly reduced to that of a sorcerer who could be consulted to cast spells or practise healing magic and that his standing declined accordingly. According to the early legal tract Bretha Crólige, the sick-maintenance due to a druid, satirist and brigand (díberg) is no more than that due to a bóaire (an ordinary freeman). Another law-text, Uraicecht Becc (‘Small primer’), gives the druid a place among the dóer-nemed or professional classes which depend for their status on a patron, along with wrights, blacksmiths and entertainers, as opposed to the fili, who alone enjoyed free nemed-status.
While druids featured prominently in many medieval Irish sources, they were far rarer in their Welsh counterparts. Unlike the Irish texts, the Welsh term commonly seen as referring to the druids, dryw, was used to refer purely to prophets and not to sorcerers or pagan priests. Historian Ronald Hutton noted that there were two explanations for the use of the term in Wales: the first was that it was a survival from the pre-Christian era, when dryw had been ancient priests, while the second was that the Welsh had borrowed the term from the Irish, as had the English (who used the terms dry and drycraeft to refer to magicians and magic respectively, most probably influenced by the Irish terms.)
Archaeologists have recover many "spoons" dating to first century (B.C.) England which they speculate were used for divination. Eleven such pairs are known. Researcher, Author, and professor of archaeology at Cardiff University, Miranda Green believes a liquid was put in the first spoon with a hole, and allowed to drip into the other below, and the drip pattern interpreted. As the historian Jane Webster stated, "individual druids... are unlikely to be identified archaeologically". A.P. Fitzpatrick, in examining what he believed to be astral symbolism on Late Iron Age swords has expressed difficulties in relating any material culture, even the Coligny calendar, with druidic culture.
Nonetheless, some archaeologists have attempted to link certain discoveries with written accounts of the druids. The archaeologist Anne Rosslinked what she believed to be evidence of human sacrifice in Celtic pagan society—such as the Lindow Man bog body—to the Greco-Roman accounts of human sacrifice being officiated over by the druids. Miranda Green has noted that Suetonius's army would have passed very near the site whilst traveling to deal with Boudicca and postulates that the sacrifice may have been connected.
An excavated burial in Deal, Kent discovered the "Deal warrior" ~ a man buried around 200–150 B.C. with a sword and shield, and wearing a unique crown, too thin to be a helmet. The crown is bronze with a broad band around the head and a thin strip crossing the top of the head. It was worn without any padding beneath, as traces of hair were left on the metal. The form of the crown is similar to that seen in images of Romano-British priests several centuries later, leading to speculation among archaeologists that the man might have been a druid.
During the Gallic Wars of 58 to 51 B.C., the Roman army, led by Julius Caesar, conquered the many tribal chiefdoms of Gaul, and annexed it as a part of the Roman Empire. According to accounts produced in the following centuries, the new rulers of Roman Gaul subsequently introduced measures to wipe out the druids from that country. According to Pliny the Elder, writing in the 70s A.D., it was the emperor Tiberius (who ruled from 14 to 37 A.D.), who introduced laws banning not only druid practices, but also other native soothsayers and healers, a move which Pliny applauded, believing that it would end human sacrifice in Gaul.
A somewhat different account of Roman legal attacks on the druids was made by Suetonius, writing in the 2nd century A.D. when he claimed that Rome's first emperor, Augustus (who had ruled from 27 B.C. till 14 A.D.), had decreed that no-one could be both a druid and a Roman citizen, and that this was followed by a law passed by the later Emperor Claudius (who had ruled from 41 to 54 A.D.) which "thoroughly suppressed" the druids by banning their religious practices.
The best evidence of a druidic tradition in the British Isles is the independent cognate of the Celtic *druwid- in Insular Celtic: The Old Irish druídecht survives in the meaning of 'magic', and the Welsh dryw in the meaning of 'seer'. While the druids as a priestly caste were extinct with the Christianization of Wales, complete by the 7th century at the latest, the offices of bard and of "seer" (Welsh: dryw) persisted in medieval Wales into the 13th century.
Phillip Freeman, a classics professor, discusses a later reference to 'dryades', which he translates as 'druidesses', writing that "The fourth century A.D. collection of imperial biographies known as the Historia Augusta contains three short passages involving Gaulish women called 'dryades' ('druidesses'). He points out that "In all of these, the women may not be direct heirs of the druids who were supposedly extinguished by the Romans — but in any case they do show that the druidic function of prophesy continued among the natives in Roman Gaul."
However, the Historia Augusta is frequently interpreted by scholars as a largely satirical work, and such details might have been introduced in a humorous fashion. Additionally, female druids are mentioned in later Irish mythology, including the legend of Fionn mac Cumhaill, who, according to the 12th century The Boyhood Deeds of Fionn, is raised by the woman druid Bodhmall and her companion, another wise-woman.
The story of Vortigern, as reported by Nennius, provides one of the very few glimpses of possible druidic survival in Britain after the Roman conquest: unfortunately, Nennius is noted for mixing fact and legend in such a way that it is now impossible to know the truth behind his text. He wrote that after being excommunicated by Germanus, the British leader Vortigern invited twelve druids to assist him.
In the lives of saints and martyrs, the druids are represented as magicians and diviners. In Adamnan's vita of Columba, two of them act as tutors to the daughters of Lóegaire mac Néill, the High King of Ireland, at the coming of Saint Patrick. They are represented as endeavouring to prevent the progress of Patrick and Saint Columba by raising clouds and mist. Before the battle of Culdremne (561 A.D.) a druid made an airbe drtiad ("fence of protection"?) round one of the armies, but what is precisely meant by the phrase is unclear. The Irish druids seem to have had a peculiar tonsure. The word druí is always used to render the Latin magus, and in one passage St. Columba speaks of Christ as his druid. Similarly, a life of St. Beuno states that when he died he had a vision of 'all the saints and druids'.
Sulpicius Severus' Vita of Martin of Tours relates how Martin encountered a peasant funeral, carrying the body in a winding sheet, which Martin mistook for some druidic rites of sacrifice, "because it was the custom of the Gallic rustics in their wretched folly to carry about through the fields the images of demons veiled with a white covering." So Martin halted the procession by raising his pectoral cross: "Upon this, the miserable creatures might have been seen at first to become stiff like rocks. Next, as they endeavoured, with every possible effort, to move forward, but were not able to take a step farther, they began to whirl themselves about in the most ridiculous fashion, until, not able any longer to sustain the weight, they set down the dead body." Then discovering his error, Martin raised his hand again to let them proceed: "Thus," the hagiographer points out, "he both compelled them to stand when he pleased, and permitted them to depart when he thought good."
From the 18th century, England and Wales experienced a revival of interest in the druids. John Aubrey (1626–1697) had been the first modern writer to (incorrectly) connect Stonehenge and other megalithic monuments with the druids; since Aubrey's views were confined to his notebooks, the first wide audience for this idea were readers of William Stukeley (1687–1765). It is incorrectly believed that John Toland (1670–1722) founded the Ancient Druid Order however the research of historian Ronald Hutton has revealed that the ADO was founded by George Watson MacGregor Reid in 1909.
The order never used (and still does not use) the title "ArchDruid" for any member, but falsely credited William Blake as having been its "Chosen Chief" from 1799 to 1827, without corroboration in Blake's numerous writings or among modern Blake scholars. Blake's bardic mysticism derives instead from the pseudo-Ossianic epics of Macpherson; his friend Frederick Tatham's depiction of Blake's imagination, "clothing itself in the dark stole of moral sanctity"— in the precincts of Westminster Abbey— "it dwelt amid the druid terrors", is generic rather than specifically neo-druidic.
John Toland was fascinated by Aubrey's Stonehenge theories, and wrote his own book about the monument without crediting Aubrey. The roles of bards in 10th century Wales had been established by Hywel Dda and it was during the 18th century that the idea arose that druids had been their predecessors. The 19th-century idea, gained from uncritical reading of the Gallic Wars, that under cultural-military pressure from Rome the druids formed the core of 1st-century B.C. resistance among the Gauls, was examined and dismissed before World War II, though it remains current in folk history.
Druids began to figure widely in popular culture with the first advent of Romanticism. Chateaubriand's novel Les Martyrs (1809) narrated the doomed love of a druid priestess and a Roman soldier; though Chateaubriand's theme was the triumph of Christianity over pagan druids, the setting was to continue to bear fruit. Opera provides a barometer of well-informed popular European culture in the early 19th century: in 1817 Giovanni Pacini brought druids to the stage in Trieste with an opera to a libretto by Felice Romani about a druid priestess, La Sacerdotessa d'Irminsul ("The Priestess of Irminsul").
The most famous druidic opera, Vincenzo Bellini's Norma was a fiasco at La Scala, when it premiered the day after Christmas, 1831; but in 1833 it was a hit in London. For its libretto, Felice Romani reused some of the pseudo-druidical background of La Sacerdotessa to provide colour to a standard theatrical conflict of love and duty. The story was similar to that of Medea, as it had recently been recast for a popular Parisian play by Alexandre Soumet: the chaste goddess (casta diva) addressed in Norma's hit aria is the moon goddess, worshipped in the "grove of the Irmin statue".
A central figure in 19th century Romanticist, Neo-druid revival, is the Welshman Edward Williams, better known as Iolo Morganwg. His writings, published posthumously as The Iolo Manuscripts (1849) and Barddas (1862), are not considered credible by contemporary scholars. Williams claimed to have collected ancient knowledge in a "Gorsedd of Bards of the Isles of Britain" he had organized. Many scholars deem part or all of Williams's work to be fabrication, and purportedly many of the documents are of his own fabrication, but a large portion of the work has indeed been collected from meso-pagan sources dating from as far back as 600 A.D.
Regardless, it has become impossible to separate the original source material from the fabricated work, and while bits and pieces of the Barddas still turn up in some "Neo-Druidic" works, the documents are considered irrelevant by most scholars. In 1927 T.D. Kendrick sought to dispel the pseudo-historical aura that had accrued to druids, asserting that "a prodigious amount of rubbish has been written about Druidism"; Neo-druidism has nevertheless continued to shape public perceptions of the historical druids.
Some strands of contemporary Neo-Druidism are a continuation of the 18th-century revival and thus are built largely around writings produced in the 18th century and after by second-hand sources and theorists. Some are monotheistic. Others, such as the largest druid group in the world, The Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids draw on a wide range of sources for their teachings. Members of such Neo-Druid groups may be Neopagan, occultist, Christian or non-specifically spiritual.
In the 20th century, as new forms of textual criticism and archaeological methods were developed, allowing for greater accuracy in understanding the past, various historians and archaeologists published books on the subject of the druids and came to their own conclusions. The archaeologist Stuart Piggott, author of The Druids (1968), accepted the Greco-Roman accounts and considered the druids to be a barbaric and savage priesthood who performed human sacrifices. This view was largely supported by another archaeologist, Anne Ross, author of "Pagan Celtic Britain" and "The Life and Death of a Druid Prince", although she believed that they were essentially tribal priests, having more in common with the shamans of tribal societies than with the classical philosophers. Ross' views were largely accepted by two other prominent archaeologists to write on the subject, Miranda Aldhouse-Green, author of "The Gods of the Celts", "Exploring the World of the Druids", and "Caesar's Druids: Story of an Ancient Priesthood"; and Barry Cunliffe, author of "Iron Age Communities in Britain" "The Ancient Celts". [Wikipedia].
REVIEW: Female Druids, the Forgotten Priestesses of the Celts. In medieval Irish legends they were called Banduri or Bandorai. Their existence was confirmed by ancient Greek and Roman writers. But who were the legendary female Druids? The Druids were the ancient religious leaders, scientists and researchers of the Celtic society. For centuries, there was a common misconception that Druids were only male. However, numerous historical records attest to the fact that there were in fact women among their ranks.
The term "Druid"comes from the Indo-European word "deru”, which means "the truth" or "true". This word has evolved into the Greek term "drus", meaning "oak". The Druids were the intellectual elite. Being a Druid was a tribal function, but they were also poets, astronomers, magicians, and astrologers. It took them 19 years to gain the necessary knowledge and skills in alchemy, medicine, law, the sciences, and more. They organized intellectual life, judicial processes, had skills to heal people, and were involved in developing strategies for war. They were an oasis of wisdom and highly respected in their society
Gaius Julius Caesar was fascinated with the Druids. He wrote that they were scientists, theologians, and philosophers, and acquired knowledge that was extraordinary. According to experts in Caesar's writings, the great Roman leader was well aware of the female Druids. Unfortunately, most of the Roman writers ignored women in general, so it is not easy to find reference to them in historical texts. However, Strabo wrote about a group of religious women who lived on an island near the Loir River. In ‘Historia’, Augusta is a description of Diocletian, Alexander Severus and Aurelian, who discussed their problems with the female Druids.
Tacitus mentioned female Druids describing the slaughter of the Druids by Romans on the island of Mona in Wales. According to his description there were women known as Banduri (female Druids), who defended the island and cursed the black clad. Tacitus also observed that there was no distinction between the male and female rulers, and that the female Celts were very powerful. According to Plutarch, female Celts were nothing like Roman or Greek women. They were active in negotiating treaties and wars, and they participated in assemblies and mediated quarrels. According to the ‘Pomponius Mela’, virgin priestesses who could predict the future lived on the island of Sena, in Brittany.
Cassius Dio mentioned a Druidess named Ganna. She went on an official trip to Rome and was received by Domitian, the son of Vespasian. According to the description of the Battle of Moytura, two Druidesses enchanted the rocks and the trees, in order to support the Celtic army. According to the Irish traditions, there were two main names of the Druid women: baduri and the banfilid, meaning female poets. Most of the names of the female Druids stay forgotten. The name Fedelma was recorded in ancient texts, as a woman in the court of Queen Medb of Connacht, who was a “banfili”. She lived in the 10th century A.D. in Ireland.
The most famous descendant of a Druid woman was Queen Boudicca, whose mother was a banduri. Boudicca was a queen of the British Celtic Iceni tribe. She led an uprising against the Romans in the 1 st century AD. Researchers still argue whether Boudicca was a Druid too. The Druidesses worshipped goddesses, and celebrated with feasts in different months and seasons. One of the deities they worshipped, the goddess Brighid, was later adopted by Christian nuns as ‘Saint Brigid’.
Archeologists have discovered several proofs for the existence of the female Druids. Many female burials have been discovered in Germany between the two rivers Rhine and Moselle. The women who were buried there were dated back to circa 4th century B.C., and they were buried with lots of treasures, jewelry and other precious objects. Some of them were buried with a special torque on the chest, which are symbols of status. According to researchers, only a Druidess could have a high enough status to receive a burial like this. Two burials located in the Vix in Burgundy, France and Reinham in Germany were dated back to the 5th century B.C., and almost certainly belonged to female Druids. [Ancient Origins].
REVIEW: In ancient Celtic society the Druids and Druidesses composed an intellectual elite, whose knowledge and training placed them as priests of the Celtic religion. Their training normally lasted over twenty years and consisted of the memorization of literature, poetry, history, and Celtic law as well as astronomy. The Druids mediated for their people, preformed sacrifices, interpreted omens, and presided over religious ceremonies. They believed that the soul did not die with the body, but passed on to another. The mistletoe and the oak tree are great symbols for them. In fact, the word Druid was derived from the word for oak, which in Gaelic is darach and in Greek drus. According to Pliny's accounts "The Druids held nothing more sacred than the mistletoe and the tree that bears it, always supposing that tree to be the oak. They chose groves formed of oaks for the sake of the tree alone, and they never perform any of their rites except in the presence of a branch of it".
The first observations of the Celts by ancient sources do not speak of the presence of women as priestesses or seeresses. The Druids and their associated male colleges, the Vates and the Bards, seem to have monopolized the field". These Roman observers, products of a male dominated culture which may have marred their observations, may not have taken note of the Celtic females in roles of power. The Roman men thought of women as possessions so as a result the thought of women in public positions, such as ruler or chieftain, was preposterous to them. Finally in the first century A.D. Tacitus reported "that the Celts made no distinction between male and female rulers".
Since Druids committed very little to written forms until after the introduction of Christianity, there are few, if any, first-hand accounts by Celts themselves. Only the myths that have been transmitted through the accounts of the Romans and Christian monks have survived. Legend has mystified many of the female rulers of ancient Celtic society; giving them mystical powers and making their lives seem too extraordinary to seem true. As a result it is very difficult for people today to know if these women truly did have such powers or if they were indeed Druidesses. Women such as Boudica, Onomaris, and other nameless rulers/Druidesses whose burial tombs were found at Vix and Reinham show that Celtic women, in some instances, may have wielded power as much as men, but the evidence remains difficult to decipher.
Druidesses are most often mentioned through fictional references such as the myth of Finn. He was raised by a Druidess or "wise woman" (term that refers to a "female seer") along with another woman by the request of his mother and their "bondwoman", Muirna. "The Druidess and the wise woman taught Finn war craft, hunting, and fishing (the survival arts), and also acted as guards and advisors, warning him of danger". According to Green the position of these women is curious since most Irish Druids lived mainly to serve religious duties and held great authority among their people while these women were obviously in a subservient position. This may be so because of the almost divine rank of Finn’s family.
In other instances, however, the only reference to women with great power is through the term sorcereress. Fedelma, a "woman from the Fairy, or the Otherworld" was a part of the mystical Queen Medb of Connacht’s court. "Fedelma first appeared to Medb as a beautiful young girl, armed and riding in a chariot" wearing a red embroidered tunic, sandals with gold clasps and a "speckled cloak." She informed the Queen that she had studied poetry and prophecy in Alba, "a supernatural land belonging to Scáthach" and then warned her of the advances of Cú Chulainn. Medb then asked the girl if she had the power of ‘sight,’ Fedelma affirmed this and told Medb the chilling prophecy of her troops "I see crimson, I see it red." Her prophecy came true, Medb lost the battle and Cú Chulainn perished.
Other tales of the Druidesses that have survived often include the subject of sacrifice. "They were grey with age, and wore white tunics and over these, cloaks of finest linens and girdles of bronze. Their feet were bare. These women would enter the [army] camp, sword in hand and go up to the prisoners, crown them, and then lead them up to a bronze vessel. . . One woman would mount a step and, leaning over the cauldron, cut the throat of a prisoner [of war], who was held over the vessel’s rim. Others cut open the body and, after inspecting the entrails, would foretell victory for their countrymen".
Druids had many responsiblities, but their main duty, especially with the centralization of Celtic society, became to advise Kings and Queens. Dreams and prophecies were questioned by royalty for their significance and they interpreted events in various kingdoms. As a result, the power of the Druids and Druidesses was very great for not only were they the sole priests of Celtic religion, but they also held great sway in political matters. [University of North Carolina].
REVIEW: After about 650 BC a people called the Celts lived in England. The Celts had priests called Druids. The Druids were very important in Celtic society. As well as being priests they were scholars, judges and advisers to the kings. The Celts were polytheists (they worshiped many gods and goddesses). They did not build temples but instead worshiped at natural sites such as groves of trees, springs, rivers and lakes. Sometimes the Celts sacrificed valuable goods by throwing them into lakes and rivers. In Celtic times the old Bronze Age practice of building barrows to bury the dead in died out. Instead people were interned in individual graves. They were still buried with grave goods showing the Celts had a strong belief in an afterlife. They believed that when you died your spirit went to a place called the Other World.
The Druids did not build Stonehenge. That is a historical myth. In fact that was built long before the Celtic Era. It is sometimes claimed that the Druids practices human sacrifice but is that true? Julius Caesar (100-44 B.C.) conquered the Celts who lived in Gaul (modern France) and he led two expeditions to England. He wrote that the Druids sacrificed human beings by placing them inside a giant wickerwork and thatch effigy of a man then burning it. Caesar claimed that the Druids normally sacrificed criminals but if they could not find enough of them they used innocent people. However Caesar may have written that in order to justify his wars against the Celts (look how barbaric the Celts are they need us Romans to civilize them). In other words it may be propaganda.
Slightly later a Greek called Strabo (c.64 BC-24 AD) again claimed that Druids sacrificed human beings by placing them in giant effigies of men made of wickerwork and thatch and burning them. He also claimed they sacrificed people by impaling them or shooting arrows at them. However historians believe the Celts did not use the bow and arrow! So Strabo's writings are suspect.
The Romans strongly opposed the Druids. They had great social and political influence and the Romans probably saw the Druids as a threat). Therefore anything Greek-Roman writers say about the Druids is likely to be very biased and should be treated with caution. There is actually very little evidence of human sacrifice in Celtic Times. In 1984 the body of a man was found preserved in peat in Northwest England. He had been hit on the head and strangled and his throat was cut. Apparently he was the victim of a ritualistic killing in the 1st century AD. However there is no proof that the Druids killed him. We are not sure who killed this man or why. In summary it is possible the Druids practiced human sacrifice but it seems clear that if they did it was rare.
Another myth is that the modern Halloween custom of trick or treat is derived from a Druid custom. In reality Halloween customs evolved in the late 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries. There is no evidence that trick or treat has anything to do with the Druids! About 650 BC the Celts introduced iron into Britain and they made the first swords. Warfare was common during the iron age and many hill forts (fortified settlements) were built at that time. (Although there were also many open villages and farms). The Celts fought from horses or light wooden chariots. They threw spears and fought with swords. The Celts had wooden shields and some wore chain mail.
Most of the Celts were farmers although were also many skilled craftsmen. Some Celts were blacksmiths (working with iron), bronze smiths, carpenters, leather workers and potters. (The potter’s wheel was introduced into Britain c.150 BC). Celtic craftsmen also made elaborate jewelry of gold and precious stones. Furthermore objects like swords and shields were often finely decorated. The Celts decorated metal goods with enamel. The Celts also knew how to make glass and they made glass beads.
At the top of Celtic society was a class of nobles headed by a king or chieftain. Below them were the craftsmen (of whom metalworkers were the most important). Then came the farmers who provided the food supply and also fought for the chief. However the Celts were divided into tribes. There was no political unity among them and a great deal of fighting. The Celts grew crops in rectangular fields. They raised pigs, sheep and cattle. They stored grain in pits lined with stone or wicker and sealed with clay. The Celts also brewed beer from barley.
Trade with Europe was common. Metals like copper, tin, iron and lead were exported from England. Wool, cloth, skins and grain were also exported. Luxury goods like fine pottery and expensive metal goods were imported from Europe. At first the Celts used iron bars as a form of currency but by about 50 BC they were using gold coins. The Celts lived in round houses. They were built around a central pole with horizontal poles radiating outwards from it. They rested on vertical poles. Walls were of wattle and daub and roofs were thatched. Around the walls inside the huts were benches, which also doubled up as beds. The Celts also used low tables.
Celtic men wore tunics and trousers and women wore long dresses and mantles. They used bronze mirrors. Women wore belts around their dresses made of cloth, leather or bronze rings. Celtic men soaked their hair in lime water to make it stand up straight. They wore mustaches but not beards. Wealthy Celts wore gold ornaments around their necks called torcs or torques. The Celts made dyes from plants, woad, for blue, madder, for red and weld for yellow. For amusement Celts played board games. They were also very fond of music and played flutes and lyres. In good weather they held horse or chariot races. The Celts also enjoyed hunting wild boar on horseback.
The main Celtic festivals were Imbolc at the beginning of February at the start of the lambing season, Beltane at the beginning of May, when cattle were sent out to graze in the fields after being kept indoors and fed on hay during the Winter, Lughasad in August when the crops were growing ripe and Samhain at the beginning of November. That was the time when animals were brought in from the fields for the Winter. The Celts could not grow enough hay to feed them all so those not needed for breeding were slaughtered. Although the Romans regarded the Celts as barbarians they created a sophisticated and advanced society. Women certainly had more freedom than in Roman society and Celtic craftsmen were superb. [LocalHistories.Org].
REVIEW: The Druids were an educated class of the Celtic people. The Celtic were a people that originated from beyond the Caspian Sea. The Celtic nations included tribes that were spread across several European locales but not limited to Scotland, Britain, Wales, Ireland, Cornwall, and Isle of Man. The ancient Celtic societies were an intellectual class of philosophers, judges, educators, historians, doctors, astronomers, and astrologers. The Druids studied verse, philosophy, mythology, and astronomy, among many other subjects. Some Druids spent as many as 20 years in training. The Celtic nations included tribes that were spread across several European locales but not limited to Scotland, Britain, Wales, Ireland, Cornwall, and Isle of Man.
There are many modern Druid organizations. It is believed that modern Druid orders began in the eighteenth century in England. The beliefs and practices of the ancient Druids continue to be researched by modern Druids since much information about the ancient Druids had been lost over time. There are several meanings of the word Druid, including "a servant of truth," "an oak," and "all-knowing or wise man." This name probably originated because the ancient Druids spent much of their time in Oak forests meditating and worshiping nature.
The ancient Celtic people used a lunar calendar in which each month was represented by a moon. Each month started when the moon was full and it was further divided into fortnights, or two-week periods. A dark fortnight followed a bright fortnight. Each month had either 29 or 30 days depending on whether it was a bright or dark month. The calendar took into account the differing time periods taken by the moon and the sun to circle the earth and reconciled the differences by inserting an extra month on a regular cycle. This method meant that most years contained twelve months, and approximately every third year contained thirteen months.
Another Celtic calendar, known as the Coligny Calendar, was discovered in eastern France. This calendar was a bronze plate measuring five feet by three and a half feet. The Coligny Calendar also recorded time by lunar months. It showed 62 lunar months, with two additional months added so that the Coligny Calendar would match the solar timekeeping system. Experts believe that the Celtics made this change to the calendar after learning about the solar timekeeping system used by the Roman people.
The Druids recognized only two seasons: winter and summer. By paying close attention to the movement of the moon, sun and stars in the sky, they were able to mark the beginning of one season and the end of the other. The Druids created myths around these events and had elaborate celebrations. Samhain: The rising of the Pleiades constellation in the sky occurred at the end of summer. The Druids believed that this movement of the Pleiades marked the triumph of night over day. It was the beginning of the time of year that was ruled by the moon.
The Druids celebrated this change in season with the Samhain (or Samhuinn) festival on October 31st and November 1st. Samhain means "time of the little sun" or "end of the warm season." According to the ancient Celtic philosophy, a year passed between darkness and light. They believed that earth was in darkness in the beginning and night comes before day just as winter comes before summer. November 1st marked the beginning of winter and the first day of the year. It was like our New Year's Day.
This day was a solemn occasion for the Druids because it was a time when darkness overwhelmed the world. At this time of year, the days became short and the earth became cold and barren. The Druids explained the Samhain celebration through the telling of a myth about a god named Lugh who represented the sun. According to the myth, Lugh was the god of light. At summer's end, he was killed by Tanist, the lord of misrule. Tanist was the god of the moon. Samhain is the time when Lugh passes from the world of life to the world of death and Tanist becomes ruler of the Druids' world.
The long nights of moonlight were explained by the belief that Tanist, the moon, was a cruel and cold ruler. Although he shone brightly in the sky, he did not provide warmth to the land. The Feast of the Dead took place on Samhain Eve. The Feast of the Dead united the past, present and future. It was believed that the spirits of the dead as well as the spirits of those yet unborn walked the earth among the living. This was considered a divine time because it was one of two times of the year when the "veil" between Earth and the Otherworld was at its thinnest.
The ancient Druids also believed that a person's spirit lived in the head. They believed that if they displayed the head of an enemy killed at battle during Samhain, then the enemy could not cause them any harm on the days when the dead walked the earth with the living. In fact, the traditions of carving pumpkins at Halloween in the United States and carving turnips in Europe stem from this ancient Druid activity.
Samhain was also a time when the Druids renewed their commitments to their community. Hilltops were lit with fires at Samhain. All home fires were extinguished and then lighted again from community bonfires. The Druids and cattle left the hills and glens to live in their winter quarters. This was a time to reunite with family and friends and strengthen bonds with those you cared about. Druids spent time during Samhain discussing religious philosophy and telling stories by the fires at home.
Feast of Lugh: On August 1st, the Druids celebrated a feast in honor of the sun that had enabled their crops to grow. This festival was called the Feast of Lugh, for their sun god Lugh. The Feast of Lugh marked the end of growing time and the beginning of the harvest. Warriors returned to begin harvesting crops of corn, wheat, fruits and vegetables at this time. Many feasts and sports competitions were held in honor of Lugh.
Lugh was their sun god who gave them light and warmth. During the Feast of Lugh it was common for the Druids to set a wheel on fire at the top of a hill and then roll it down to the bottom. This tradition symbolized the decline of the sun god and the descent of the sun. The Feast of Lugh was also a time to sacrifice bad habits and remove unwanted things from one's own life.
Many marriages and divorces took place during this festival. A couple could have a trial marriage that lasted only one year until the next Feast of Lugh. At the following festival, the husband and wife would stand back to back in front of their community. If they wished to end the marriage, they walked away in opposite directions. Records tell us that these trial marriages continued well into the 16th century.
According to one Celtic myth about the festival, the sun god Lugh is married to the land, known as Nass. Lugh's death is necessary for rebirth to take place in the land. The sun god sacrifices himself to the land when he is at his hottest but when his light is fading. At this time, days are getting shorter and shadows are getting longer. In a different version of this myth, Lugh requested this annual celebration in honor of his foster mother, Tailltiu. In this myth, Tailltiu is the Goddess of the Land who had died while preparing the fields for planting.
If her memory was not honored, the Druids believed that Lugh would destroy the crops before they could be harvested. With no crops to harvest for food, the community would starve during the coming winter months. [University of Chicago].
I always ship books Media Mail in a padded mailer. This book is shipped FOR FREE via USPS INSURED media mail (“book rate”). All domestic shipments and most international shipments will include free USPS Delivery Confirmation (you might be able to update the status of your shipment on-line at the USPS Web Site) and free insurance coverage. A small percentage of international shipments may require an additional fee for tracking and/or delivery confirmation. If you are concerned about a little wear and tear to the book in transit, I would suggest a boxed shipment - it is an extra $1.00. Whether via padded mailer or box, we will give discounts for multiple purchases. International orders are welcome, but shipping costs are substantially higher.
Most international orders cost an additional $9.99 to $37.99 for an insured shipment in a heavily padded mailer, and typically includes some form of rudimentary tracking and/or delivery confirmation (though for some countries, this is only available at additional cost). There is also a discount program which can cut postage costs by 50% to 75% if you’re buying about half-a-dozen books or more (5 kilos+). Rates and available services vary a bit from country to country. You can email or message me for a shipping cost quote, but I assure you they are as reasonable as USPS rates allow, and if it turns out the rate is too high for your pocketbook, we will cancel the sale at your request. ADDITIONAL PURCHASES do receive a VERY LARGE discount, typically about $5 per book (for each additional book after the first) so as to reward you for the economies of combined shipping/insurance costs. Your purchase will ordinarily be shipped within 48 hours of payment. We package as well as anyone in the business, with lots of protective padding and containers.
All of our shipments are sent via insured mail so as to comply with PayPal requirements. We do NOT recommend uninsured shipments, and expressly disclaim any responsibility for the loss of an uninsured shipment. Unfortunately the contents of parcels are easily “lost” or misdelivered by postal employees – even in the USA. That’s why all of our domestic shipments (and most international) shipments include a USPS delivery confirmation tag; or are trackable or traceable, and all shipments (international and domestic) are insured. We do offer U.S. Postal Service Priority Mail, Registered Mail, and Express Mail for both international and domestic shipments, as well United Parcel Service (UPS) and Federal Express (Fed-Ex). Please ask for a rate quotation. We will accept whatever payment method you are most comfortable with. If upon receipt of the item you are disappointed for any reason whatever, I offer a no questions asked return policy. Send it back, I will give you a complete refund of the purchase price (less our original shipping costs).
Most of the items I offer come from the collection of a family friend who was active in the field of Archaeology for over forty years. However many of the items also come from purchases I make in Eastern Europe, India, and from the Levant (Eastern Mediterranean/Near East) from various institutions and dealers. Though I have always had an interest in archaeology, my own academic background was in sociology and cultural anthropology. After my retirement however, I found myself drawn to archaeology as well. Aside from my own personal collection, I have made extensive and frequent additions of my own via purchases on Ebay (of course), as well as many purchases from both dealers and institutions throughout the world - but especially in the Near East and in Eastern Europe. I spend over half of my year out of the United States, and have spent much of my life either in India or Eastern Europe. In fact much of what we generate on Yahoo, Amazon and Ebay goes to support The Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, as well as some other worthy institutions in Europe connected with Anthropology and Archaeology.
I acquire some small but interesting collections overseas from time-to-time, and have as well some duplicate items within my own collection which I occasionally decide to part with. Though I have a collection of ancient coins numbering in the tens of thousands, my primary interest is in ancient jewelry. My wife also is an active participant in the "business" of antique and ancient jewelry, and is from Russia. I would be happy to provide you with a certificate/guarantee of authenticity for any item you purchase from me. There is a $2 fee for mailing under separate cover. Whenever I am overseas I have made arrangements for purchases to be shipped out via domestic mail. If I am in the field, you may have to wait for a week or two for a COA to arrive via international air mail. But you can be sure your purchase will arrive properly packaged and promptly - even if I am absent. And when I am in a remote field location with merely a notebook computer, at times I am not able to access my email for a day or two, so be patient, I will always respond to every email. Please see our "ADDITIONAL TERMS OF SALE."
Black Bronze Caesar Augustus Mask Feathers Roman Greek God Goddess King Pegasus
End Date: Thursday Jul-12-2018 17:35:23 PDT
Buy It Now for only: $24.95Buy It Now
| Add to watch list
Black Silver Caesar Augustus Mask Feathers Roman Greek God Goddess King Pegasus
End Date: Thursday Jul-12-2018 15:43:57 PDT
Buy It Now for only: $24.95Buy It Now
| Add to watch list
Grecian Cuff Bracelet Greek Roman Goddess Dress Up Halloween Costume Accessory
End Date: Thursday Jul-19-2018 21:18:29 PDT
Buy It Now for only: $6.99Buy It Now
| Add to watch list
Aged Bone Twisted Ram Horns Pan Minotaur Goat Fantasy Mythical Big Horn Sheep
End Date: Friday Jun-29-2018 19:32:55 PDT
Buy It Now for only: $14.95Buy It Now
| Add to watch list
Vintage Greek God Roman Pendant Choker Necklace Gold T Black Oval Cabochon
End Date: Wednesday Jul-4-2018 4:03:01 PDT
Buy It Now for only: $19.99Buy It Now
| Add to watch list
Grecian Bracelet Greek Roman Goddess Fancy Dress Up Halloween Costume Accessory
End Date: Thursday Jul-19-2018 21:18:30 PDT
Buy It Now for only: $6.99Buy It Now
| Add to watch list
Woodland Fairy Horns Harvest Faun Minotaur Goat Fantasy Mythical Forest Goddess
End Date: Saturday Jul-14-2018 16:13:58 PDT
Buy It Now for only: $9.95Buy It Now
| Add to watch list
Brown Black Yak Horns Buffalo Bison Pan Minotaur Goat Fantasy Mythical Bull Cow
End Date: Friday Jun-29-2018 19:32:04 PDT
Buy It Now for only: $14.95Buy It Now
| Add to watch list
Rare Dionysos Pendant Necklace Signed Napier Greek God Dionysos Mythology Occult
End Date: Sunday Jun-24-2018 5:56:32 PDT
Buy It Now for only: $90.00Buy It Now
| Add to watch list
Vtg CROWN TRIFARI Hermes Greek Roman Coin Goldtone Green Enamel Pendant Necklace
End Date: Thursday Jul-12-2018 9:02:32 PDT
Buy It Now for only: $89.00Buy It Now
| Add to watch list