What evidence for Iron Age Druidry?

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What evidence for Iron Age Druidry?

Postby Kernos » 06 Aug 2007, 16:39

Most of what we know about Bards and Druids comes from Irish literature written down from a (probable) oral tradition after the Christian invasion of what we now call Ireland. The Iron Age is not well defined in Ireland, so I use the term pre-Christian to refer to Iron Age Ireland.

What evidence is there for Druidry in Iron Age Ireland?

In Britain and in Europe the Iron Age is generally considered considered to include from 800-600 BCE to the Roman Period. This was the 'heyday' of Celtic Culture at least from an archaeologic point of view. It more or less corresponds to the Hallstatt plus La Téne periods/cultures.

What evidence is there for Druidry in Iron Age Europe and Britain?

Is there any evidence at all for Vates (the Greek was ουατεις the Latin vates which may have been a Gallic loan word, Gaelic fáith) other than the writings of Strabo, Diodorus Siculus, and Poseidonius (who likely used a common source)?

What assumptions to we make when we use these words, bards, ovates, druids.

A reasonable place to start are the Wikipedia articles on Bards, [O]Vates and Druids which are not half-bad.

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Postby Eilthireach » 08 Aug 2007, 08:03

Hello Kernos!

I know that you know that a response to your questions might well fill a book, and indeed books have been written about the historical Druids and what tasks they might have fulfilled.
On the other hand, if we limit ourselves to look only at the really hard, scientific evidence, we probably don't need to write a book because it is not too much that we have there?  

I take a lively interest in Celtic archaeology for quite a few years now. From what I hear there is extremely little evidence of people being buried with grave goods that would let them appear as druids, seers, priests and such. However, very few cases exist, like the one mentioned in the text further down, and there are others that didn't find their way into international publications, for example the so called "grave of the seeress" (Grab der Seherin) south of Munich.

One difficulty that we may have here is that our notion of "sacredness" has changed from that of the historical druids. We expect a druid do have a golden sickle  :wink:  , while he was perhaps buried with a white robe that has disappeared, or wooden implements the purpose of which cannot be deciphered today?

I quote from an article on Continental Celtic religion that I find quite good because it also shows what we do not know.    

Eilthireach /|\.  

This now leaves us with the following terms: Druid, Vates, Vergobretus, Bard, and perhaps fili.

Let us take a look at what their jobs were.

DRUID
The specialised function of the "druid" is described in Strabo IV, 4 as the science of nature and moral philosophy (pro\s te physiologi/a kai\ ten ethiken philosophi/an). The term "druid" itself is probably derived from IE *dru-uid- "highly wise" - which might be the reason for why it was also used as a catchover term for all the religious functions.
The specialised functions may allow us to assume that the druids in fact are the class who worked as medics and who were knowledgeable in herbal lore as described by Pliny the Elder. A grave of such a "druid" we know from the cemetery of Pottenbrunn, object 520, which contained the burial of an adult male of the early La Te\ne Period, which carried, additionally to the usual equipment, a medical instrument and a propellor-shaped bone object of unknown function, which could be an item used in rituals.

VATES
The function of the vates is described by Strabo as "interpreters of sacrifices and natural philosophers" (hieropoioi\ kai\ physiolo\goi). This fits quite well with what we know of as the function of the Irish fa/ith, whose job was to carry out the divinations. The description of Strabo allows us to assume that also the vates were the diviners, and as such probably also the calender of Coligny falls into their field of work (the Claender has been interpreted as a solar/lunar predictor by Olmsted), so the vates would be the ones who were the astrologers and mathematicians amongst the "priests"

VERGOBRETUS
We know little about the actual function of the Vergobretus, of whom we only have one short notice in the ancient literary sources which only gives us that title. However, as the term has the same root as the Irish breithem, whose function we know was judging in lawcases, we may assume that the Vergobretus was a similar function. As Caesar reckons the judging in lawcases to the druidical functions it can be assumed that it was a "religious" function as well.

BARD
Not much has to be said about the bards. Strabo (IV, 4) describes them as "singers and poets" (hymnetai\ kai\ poietai\), which fits quite well with what we know about the Irish bards. As a possible etymology for *bardos could be derived from the IE root *gur-d(h)o-s which is translated as "Praise Giver" this function could have been religious as well.

WHAT ELSE WE KNOW
Well, actually not much. (accentuation by Eilthireach) We do not know which of the above if any carried out which of the rituals we know or can guess at. However, we know that, according to Caesar (BG VI, 14-2), "Many young men assemble of their own motion to receive their training; many are sent by parents and relatives. Report says that in the schools of the druids they learn by heart a great number of verses, and therefore some persons remain twenty years under training.".

Source:
Raimund Karl: "Celtic Religion - What Information Do We Really Have"  
http://www.thehealinghealers.com/bos/my ... igion.html

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Postby Kernos » 08 Aug 2007, 16:02

A grave of such a "druid" we know from the cemetery of Pottenbrunn, object 520, which contained the burial of an adult male of the early La Te\ne Period, which carried, additionally to the usual equipment, a medical instrument and a propellor-shaped bone object of unknown function, which could be an item used in rituals.
Thanks Eilthireach, more later as I am on my way to work... But I have seen 'propellers' on Celtic and Greek coins.

I wonder if we can find pictures of this burial. When I Google Pottenbrunn cemetery, I find it is in Austria and that it is 9th Century AD. I wonder if Ray was talking about another Pottenbrunn. Of course cemeteries are often built on cemeteries.

A big problem with archeological evidence of Druids, is that most such things would be hidden in the basements of museums or in the archives of libraries. They may as well still be buried in the ground.

I guess that is one reason most Celtic Studies types concentrate on Gaelic texts.

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Postby Beith » 08 Aug 2007, 20:25

Hi Kernos, Hi Eilthireach, great topic and posts. As you say Eilthireach, an answer could constitute a book! Gentlemen I would love to join in discussions in full but have to cut down my time on this board as I've a deadline getting rather urgent and I can't stay and play too much!

But just give some examples of possible archaeological evidence from because as you said Kernos it can be still in the ground.
Bearing in mind, I'm not an archaeologist and have no training in this, so some of the below is speculative but on reasonable assumptions and similar/concordance in documentation....just to be upfront about that right away!

1. Ceremonial structures:

Emain Macha (Navan Fort) in county Armagh, N. Ireland, in mythology and history was the seat of the Ulaid (ulstermen) and ruling place for the kings thereof. It is contains the remains of a ceremonial structre dating, I think, into iron age period or certainly with use in that period. The ceremonial building was a radial arrangement of multi-layered wooden posts and stones laid out around a centrally placed oak pillar, with a western entrance to the setting sun. The whole structure seems to have been burned (perhaps as a sacrifice or to mark an event or juncture point of something) - it is evidence of some sort of ceremonial/spiritual practice in the pre-Christian period.

[Ref: Chris Lynn, Navan Fort: Archaeology and Myth, Wordwell Books, 2003]

Lismullin and Baronstown are/were two sites discovered recently close to Tara in Meath, Ireland. I think dating puts them about 2000 yrs old but I'm recalling that from a press article rather than any published reports.  They are both believed to have been ceremonial in function and described as a henge. Excavations started on both but incredibly and outrageously, as you probably know, Baronstown has been destroyed completely by government contractors bulldozing the sites for M3 motorway construction. Lismullin is under a temporary preservation status as the EU commission have written to the National Roads Authority to halt destruction of this site. That said, it's very fragile and the decision previously was that it would be "preserved by record" - ie. explored a bit, recorded, then bulldozed. We'll see what happens with the EU order. Protest and campaigning against the M3 continues. (To anyone reading this: we need as many letters of protest to the Irish government as possible  - see all the "Save Tara" /"please write a letter" threads for address details)

Archaeological reports are pending I think, although there may be preliminary reports on both sites on http://www.savetara.com or http://www.tarawatch.org (Check links at the side for archaeological findings and reports to the minister for environment)

back on topic,

2. Coligny Calendar
(Reference info from a paper by Prof Eoin MacNeill, Eriú 10 1925/1926)

Bronze calendar fragments found at the site of a temple in area of Lyons, France, containing calendrical calculations on divisions of months and days covering about 5 solar years and referring to a druidic cycle of time calculating by full moon and division of each month into two sets of days.

Date
The month names and words related to them are in celtic language written using roman letters (but without any other roman influence and it does not accord time per the roman calendar). MacNeill states that the roman lettering is suggestive of the Aedui a celtic tribe neighbouring the territory of the Sequani, (and here's one for you Kernos! whose coins date to about 63 BC and have roman letter inscription) MacNeill puts the date of the calendar to between first half of first century AD or second half of previous century. The date not later than Claudius' reign and maybe during that of Augustus.

Druidical elements

The calendar is the work of a learned caste, familiar with astronomy and reckoning of time. It corroborates Caesar and Pliny's accounts of the druids calculating time on the basis of the moon, with special importance on specific days. It shows good evidence of druidical theory on time and nature - each month having light half/dark half division (this light/dark half symbolism as is found throughout celtic mythos and even in Hindu lore and calendar, perhaps evidence of both stemming from a common Indo-European culture). Each month has a bright half and dark half separated by the word ATENOUX and  months are qualified as good or bad with the words MAT and ANM (maybe "bad" is a bit too strong, but it is a negative prefix in opposition to MAT (irish "maith" = good) and it classifies days into "good day" and "day".

The names of the months are celtic words with cognates in other celtic languages and meanings based on agricultural activities, climatic division of the year and marking juncture points of light and dark half of the year in month and solstice names.

3., Stone inscription.
Ogam stone 19 (reference number to the Corpus Inscriptionum Insularum Celticarum - RAS Macalister, 1925 &49) is an Irish ogham stone in County Kildare which is unusual in that it has mixed Latin/Irish inscription (Latin is more a feature of British-located ogham inscriptions in former Irish colonies). I haven't seen this stone or the photographic plate for it but I'm sure it's on the "Fios Feasa" CD of ogam stones if anyone has it.

I think it's OVANOS AVI IVACATTOS  - OVAN grandson of IVACATT.(Irish part of the ogam inscription) with accompanying latin is IVVE N/R E DRVVIDES (the N/R are two proposals for the letter there). The form of the inscription would point to a primitive Irish period (about 500AD) as apocape has not occurred (truncation of the word endings/ loss of terminal sounds due to linguistic changes circa mid 6th C onwards -the "archaic Irish" period).

I need to check this out with someone who knows more but I would propose "Yewbattler" for the latter ancestor name (as IVA-usually is the word for Yew in ancestor name-ogam inscriptions and CATT is "Cath" - "battle" or "fight"). The first part of the name, OVAN I couldn't really guess at. As it's written it sounds phonetically like the modern Irish male name Eoghan (pron "owen"), a name also coming from yew) pronounced *Owen* but if it were a name from "yew" it should have the IVA prefix in the prim Irish era I think.

The possibility is that the second word DRVVIDES does indeed refer to Druids in primitive Irish.

eg. In Old Irish (about 7thC onwards) Druí is the masculine dental stem for a druid (singular) and Druid is the nominative plural. In the primitive Irish period, pre-apocape, the old ending -es would still have been in place in the plural form.

Kernos you might want to look up the McManus book on ogham p.61 where this stone is mentioned briefly. I note a PRIA journal reference in the back to macalister's paper on this stone, so if I can grab that, I will. However Macalister proposed a different meaning of translation of the full inscription but that has been negated long since. I'm not sure who has worked on this inscription recently. I must try to find updated reference to it!

Also - just in terms of relating names from myth tales in which druids occur to archaeological record....names featured in the myth tales are also represented on ogham stones in the historical period. Eg. CATTUBUTTAS (primitive Irish of Cathbad, a name popular in early Ireland and the name given to the chief Druid of Ulster at the time of King Conchobar macNessa of the "Ulster Cycle"). The point I'm making here is not that the ogham inscription is Cathbad the Ulster arch-druid, but rather the continuity of names in literary and historical material record.

I think I'm wandering of point somewhat......!

So - just some examples of pre-Christian pagan ceremonial sites and Christian-period ogham inscriptions, one with indeed a possible commemoration of a druid and a calendar that points to druidic theory and learning and understanding of time and space in origin.

I guess one would have to
(a) read plenty of archaeological reference books/papers with evidence of pagan ritual/ceremonial artefacts from the period cited, and relate it to the literary record to see what tallies.

(b) Visit the museums full of the stuff with an expert on same.

Perhaps someone else here may have that training and could discuss the material culture evidence for druidry/pagan practices of the iron-age period? Those of us who are learning and working with language and literature are limited to those sources unless we gain training in archaeology or collaborate with someone who can help research concordances between the written and the material.

Right. That’s my “swansong” for a while.

All the best!
Beith

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Postby solarization » 08 Aug 2007, 23:42

Beith

Up to now, I've always, held that one can learn more in a couple of hours well-spent at the library than in a couple of days browsing the net.

You, however, are in severe danger of turning this fondly-held belief on its head.

I just wanna say thanks for the spectrum of light you keep throwing across the 'dark ages' for all of us interested parties.

If I may say so, you are a scholar amongst scholars, a teacher amongst teachers and a bard amongst bards.

Hope you make your deadline, and don't get all distracted...

"I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by." - Douglas Adams

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Postby Eilthireach » 09 Aug 2007, 08:38

Hello all!

Beith is a star and we are all happy to have her here. I have called her a "walking dictionary" before, but I think she is more than that: she is Ireland.

And as I know her this is the highest compliment one could make.  :tiphat:    

If we had only a few more people of her kind in Europe we would not be condemned to watch how our ancestral heritage is piece by piece thrown over board. New construction on sacred sites, deletion of state support on all levels of historical and archaeological science, reduction of history lessons even in higher schools etc. etc.  But I digress.


Kernos,  

Pottenbrunn is in Lower Austria (Niederösterreich).

There is a piece of information on this site

http://www.fwf.ac.at/de/finals/final.as ... ROJ=P12531

The cemetery of Pottenbrunn seems to take a special place among the iron age cemeteries of the Traisen Valley. This shows in several graves with unusual equipment. Besides several sword carriers a "druid", a metal worker and a warrior with above-average weaponry could be identified.


Unfortunately finds like this one are rarely published and if so, only in academic periodicals that are hardly available for the general public.

In this case there seems to be an article in "Archäologie Österreichs" of 1998.  

http://cat.inist.fr/?aModele=afficheN&cpsidt=2022898

And another article in the same magazine

AÖ 13/2, 2002
Aktuell: P. C. Ramsl, Die keltischen Gräberfelder von Pottenbrunn und Mannersdorf am Leithagebirge. Zwei Drehscheiben zwischen West und Ost

The same Pottenbrunn obviously also has an early medieval and a bronze age cemetery, which are in different locations.

Unfortunately there is no picture of the propeller-like device on the web. I have never heard about it. Can you make something of it, Kernos??

Eilthireach /|\.

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Postby Scylla » 13 Aug 2007, 17:22

Hi all

Just back from holidays, so I need some time to read all the posts I missed.

It would be nice to assume that archaeologists display every item they unburied, but sadly that´s not true. They´re bound to official truth and that means they discard items that could prove those societies they study were not as primitive as they want us to believe. Only when stubborn reality hits them hard they accept that ancient epople were more developed that they believed.

Regarding Duids, Vates and Bards, I think it´s more or less the same. They try to put them down so they don´t recognize their truly role on ancient celtic society, trying to make us believe they were not that important or that they only existed in Gaul and British Isles.  

I do recall Eilithreach posted last year that german arcaeologists discovered an ancient ceremonial site and the german press played no attention to it. It seems that there is some kind of interests that Druids fall in oblivion. Again.
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Postby Scylla » 13 Aug 2007, 17:22

Hi all

Just back from holidays, so I need some time to read all the posts I missed.

It would be nice to assume that archaeologists display every item they unburied, but sadly that´s not true. They´re bound to official truth and that means they discard items that could prove those societies they study were not as primitive as they want us to believe. Only when stubborn reality hits them hard they accept that ancient epople were more developed that they believed.

Regarding Duids, Vates and Bards, I think it´s more or less the same. They try to put them down so they don´t recognize their truly role on ancient celtic society, trying to make us believe they were not that important or that they only existed in Gaul and British Isles.  

I do recall Eilithreach posted last year that german archaeologists discovered an ancient ceremonial site and the german press played no attention to it. It seems that there is some kind of interests that Druids fall in oblivion. Again.
You don´t choose your believes, your believes choose you.

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Postby Eilthireach » 14 Aug 2007, 08:07

Na cairdean, hello Scylla,

there are funny things happening in Germany, yes.

-> The last assignment for the job of aerial archaeologist (spotting ancient sites from a plane) in Bavaria has been cancelled. There is no more aerial archaeology in Bavaria except it is privately funded.

-> The Celtic oppidum of Manching is the only Celtic city in Europe where the construction of new industrial plants has been permitted by the government.

-> The Celts have been scratched from the curriculum of the higher schools (Gymnasium). History is not taught anymore in some grades at all.

-> Children talking Bavarian in school are punished.

-> Everything Germanic is deliberately ignored. Excavations of Germanic sites are nearly never funded by the state.

Overall, it looks as if the Bavarian government itself would like to suppress the culture and heritage of the people. Together with some of the things that are coming from the European Union, this is rather alarming. Will Europe be streamlined into "one nation", robbed of its many colourful expressions of local history and culture?

***

But back to the topic. An interesting question came to my mind. If a Druid was placed into a grave with a sign of his office 2,500 years ago - would we recognize that sign today? Was there such a sign at all, or was the authority of the Druids a natural one?

Eilthireach /|\.

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Postby Scylla » 14 Aug 2007, 16:54


But back to the topic. An interesting question came to my mind. If a Druid was placed into a grave with a sign of his office 2,500 years ago - would we recognize that sign today? Was there such a sign at all, or was the authority of the Druids a natural one?

Eilthireach /|\.
Maybe yes, maybe not. I have a picture of a skull founded with a kind of crown, does that mean he was a king? maybe it was some kind of druidic symbol.
Was there such a sign at all, or was the authority of the Druids a natural one?

I suppose al least they had some kind of symbol to recognize them from between other people, or the omnipresent pretenders would have had a good chance to steal their position in small villages.

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Re: What evidence for Iron Age Druidry?

Postby Beith » 25 Apr 2009, 01:20

bumping this for a reference paper within to Coligny Calendar (relating to info on a thread in Mythology for anyone coming in from there!)

best regards
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Re: What evidence for Iron Age Druidry?

Postby MathTadhg » 14 Mar 2010, 09:01

With regard to the Pottenbrunn site 520. Here is one link to a hand rendering of the finds. I assume the object is in the top right (10) of figure 30.3 'Doctors Grave'

http://books.google.co.nz/books?id=nBzu ... q=&f=false

Mt

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Re: What evidence for Iron Age Druidry?

Postby Serius » 15 Feb 2012, 23:05

As a relatively new member and Bard I have just come across this thread which I have found incredibly interesting.

I have studied, as an amateur, the Iron Age and Roman Britain for some years, particularly in my home county of Norfolk ( yes...Iceni country)

My own thoughts are that 'Druids' in the Iron Age and Roman times (before Anglesey) would have been distinguishable only during those periods...maybe by wearing particular clothing or amulets...burials would maybe only be noticeable from grave goods. Would their distinguishing regalia have been handed down?......would they have anything in particular to make them stand out?
Or would they have been Shamen like , wearing clothing of the period?

Just some thoughts.

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Re: What evidence for Iron Age Druidry?

Postby CelticCross » 23 May 2012, 17:41

Was there such a sign at all, or was the authority of the Druids a natural one?
My own thoughts are that 'Druids' in the Iron Age and Roman times (before Anglesey) would have been distinguishable only during those periods...maybe by wearing particular clothing or amulets...burials would maybe only be noticeable from grave goods. Would their distinguishing regalia have been handed down?......would they have anything in particular to make them stand out?
Or would they have been Shamen like , wearing clothing of the period?

Just some thoughts.
What I would ask is: did they need to have a sign of their office? Communities being smaller, would not everyone really just know who the local druid was?

Unless I'm way off base, the druid would be an integral part of the community, not the far off manor lord who you'd maybe see once a year.
There would even be a tactical advantage to the druids looking like everyone else: it makes it difficult for enemies to target them (as the Romans did).

addie

Re: What evidence for Iron Age Druidry?

Postby addie » 11 Dec 2012, 13:35

:shrug: :yay:

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Re: What evidence for Iron Age Druidry?

Postby Narvl-Years » 15 Dec 2012, 00:37


What evidence is there for Druidry in Iron Age Ireland?

The Iron Age is not well defined in Ireland, so I use the term pre-Christian to refer to Iron Age Ireland.

In Britain and in Europe the Iron Age is generally considered considered to include from 800-600 BCE to the Roman Period.

What evidence is there for Druidry in Iron Age Europe and Britain?
Quote was snipped:

If by pre-Christian we mean anytime B.C.E. Then consider the written comments by Julius Caesar in his Commentaries on the Gallic War in 51 B.C.E. Where he writes, "The druids take no part in war and do not pay tribute along with others... Attracted by such privileges, many [young Gauls] come for training of their own volition or are sent by their kinsmen and relatives. There they are said to learn large numbers of verses; some remain in training for twenty years."

As for the period of 800 – 600 BCE Ireland let us consider a process of elimination to start with. First was Ireland inhabited then? If so by whom? Likely the Celts but in not the Celts what are the alternatives? Perhaps a race entirely wiped away by the Celts or perhaps some other nationality. If another nationality which one? Obvious possibilities are the Vikings, Norse, or Germanic tribes. Let us ask ourselves if we see any of their cultural influences in Ireland that originate from that time period and not the later invasions.

To consider if a race inhabited Ireland before the Celts let us consider the Fomorians written about in Lebor Gabala [Book of Invasions] and Cath Maige Tuired [The (Second) Battle of Mag Tuired]. These stories give a glimpse of historical fact that is too intertwined with legend making it difficult to discern the truth. This is how it is with most oral cultures.

Also consider the stories from the Mabiogion regarding Branwen and Matholwch, King of the Irish. It is generally accepted these stories predate Christianity though they were written down after Christianity came to Wales.

We learn from Irish and Welsh folk tales that Magic was much more common then and don't we associate Magic with the historical Druids? Hard evidence continues to elude us but faith in folktales keeps us grounded as we strive to understand the Magic of the ancient Druids. We must each decide the question regarding evidence of Iron Age Druidry but a science of the time was the oral tradition of passing on knowledge so it can not be completely dismissed.

Another concern is could Druidry have been introduced later by the Celts so it was not actually present in the Iron Age. This might make for interesting discussion but it too seems impossible to prove so once again the interpretation is in the eye of the beholder.

:whistle: Narvl Years

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Re: What evidence for Iron Age Druidry?

Postby DaRC » 16 Dec 2012, 11:02

Another concern is could Druidry have been introduced later by the Celts so it was not actually present in the Iron Age.
Personally I have been heavily influenced in thought by the genetic history work of Stephen Oppenheimer on the Origins of the British. This would mean that the belief in the genocidal invasion events of the past will be viewed in a different light i.e. they did not happen as such.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stephen_Oppenheimer
This would then push towards Celt not meaning a people but a culture. Which is what Professor Barry Cunliffe suggests, that what are now called the 'Insular Celts', which provides the roots to Druidry, were formed from an Atlantic Celtic culture that had it's own sophisticated spiritual continuum. It is this continuum, rooted in Britain and Ireland & going back in time to the Neolithic, that produced Druidry.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barry_Cunliffe

So there's the evidence from Caesar, Strabo & Tacitus for early Druidry - Caesar says that the root of Druidry is in Britain. Earlier Greek writers and the archaeological history, included Stonehenge, suggest a religious centre in the British Isles.
To contrast against thsi - evidence for Druids amongst the Galation Celts is AFAIK non-existant. The Galation Celts were those who migrated down the Danube and invaded Greece ca 300 BCE and eventually settled in Galatia in modern day Turkey.
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Re: What evidence for Iron Age Druidry?

Postby Gwion » 16 Dec 2012, 13:20

Personally I have been heavily influenced in thought by the genetic history work of Stephen Oppenheimer on the Origins of the British. This would mean that the belief in the genocidal invasion events of the past will be viewed in a different light i.e. they did not happen as such. …This would then push towards Celt not meaning a people but a culture. … what are now called the 'Insular Celts' … were formed from an Atlantic Celtic culture that had it's own sophisticated spiritual continuum. It is this continuum, rooted in Britain and Ireland & going back in time to the Neolithic, that produced Druidry.
I too find myself influenced by the idea that the “Celts” were not a people but a culture – I think the genetic evidence for the idea that the "native Britons" first arrived after the Ice Age and remained without being killed off (or "diluted") by invaders is strong and increasing.
“Y-chromosome patterns in Atlantic Europe show little evidence of central European influence,” … “… new mtDNA data from Ireland and a novel analysis of a greatly enlarged European mtDNA database … show that mtDNA lineages, when analyzed in sufficiently large numbers, display patterns significantly similar to a large fraction of both Y-chromosome and autosomal variation. These multiple genetic marker systems indicate a shared ancestry throughout the Atlantic zone, from northern Iberia to western Scandinavia, that dates back to the end of the last Ice Age.” http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1182057/
I am, however, not convinced that “History is truth” and tend more to the view that a convincing story is just as valid ( :shrug: ). My own story, at present, is that Druid was a name given to members of an elite class among the Celtic culture. The “Atlantic façade” peoples had a knowledge and belief system that predated the Celtic culture but was seen as valuable and was respected. Hence, as Celtic culture began to unite the tribes of Western Europe, those of higher caste who wanted knowledge travelled to the main centre of that knowledge, particularly western Britain (and Ireland perhaps). So from the “religion” point of view I’m inclined to think that there was a “proto-druidry”, possibly dating back to Neolithic times, that was particularly strong in western Britain and that provided the basis for the Iron Age practices and, subsequently, those which the Romans classed as practiced by Druids, Vates and Bards. I think we may have physical evidence of the religious practices but without contemporary explanation of the significance we’re back in the realms of a good story.
Was there such a sign at all, or was the authority of the Druids a natural one?
My own thoughts are that 'Druids' in the Iron Age and Roman times (before Anglesey) would have been distinguishable only during those periods...maybe by wearing particular clothing or amulets...burials would maybe only be noticeable from grave goods. Would their distinguishing regalia have been handed down?......would they have anything in particular to make them stand out? Or would they have been Shamen like , wearing clothing of the period? Just some thoughts.
What I would ask is: did they need to have a sign of their office? Communities being smaller, would not everyone really just know who the local druid was? Unless I'm way off base, the druid would be an integral part of the community, not the far off manor lord who you'd maybe see once a year. There would even be a tactical advantage to the druids looking like everyone else: it makes it difficult for enemies to target them (as the Romans did).
If Strabo’s claims that Druids could intervene between armies to stop a battle are to be believed then it is likely that they had some symbol which allowed them to be recognised by both sides though we have no way of knowing what he symbols were or if they were buried with their owners.
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Re: What evidence for Iron Age Druidry?

Postby Whitemane » 10 Jan 2013, 13:05

How big would these armies be?

If we are talking local tribal conflicts, we may be talking about quite small forces, perhaps a couple of hundred fighting men combined. The chances that each side would at least recognize their own Druids.

A lot might also depend on the actual process of negotiation. Suppose for example the Druids are with the armies when the sides line up for the fight. Somebody steps out of the line holding his arms up in the air to show he is unarmed and shouts: "I am Pedantix, Druid of the Stretford End, I call upon the Druid of the Spion Kop to enter into a final negotiation to prevent the spilling of blood and loss of treasure."

In return, somebody from the other side holds up his arms and calls out "I am Alcoholix, Druid of the Spion Kop, let us send this lot off on tea break and see if we can settle this peacefully."

The Druids meet in the middle, maybe the leaders confirm their standing and agree to stand by their decision. There would be no documentary or artifactual evidence for this, but it could happen this way, and it's just a theory.
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Re: What evidence for Iron Age Druidry?

Postby DaRC » 10 Jan 2013, 14:02

Ok check out the battle of Alesia - between Caesar and the Gauls
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Alesia

Certainly we can view the size of a tribal army to be in the thousands and into the 10's of thousands. The population of Britian by the Iron Age seems to about in the 3-4 million fgure. With a normal distribution that could mean around a million males of fighting age. What percentage of the male population was likely to be involved in fighting I've not seen any research on.
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