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Ancient Druids: Why Were the Romans So Afraid of Them?

21st Century Wire asks…

Why were the Pagan Druids of the British Isles such a threat to their Roman occupiers?

From the time of pre-Roman Britain, the Druids were regarded as the educated, priestly class among the Iron Age Celtic civilisations of Gaul (France), Britain, and Ireland. They are best known as spiritual leaders, mystics, medicine men, poets and scholars of natural law. The Druids were also regarded as adepts and seers in their day, and among their many prophesies was the prediction of the coming of Saint Patrick.

Little is known about the Druids of old as they left behind very little in terms of written or visual records because of the dominance of the oral traditions, but their legend lived on through story tellers who passed down their history over generations, and there is some representations that can be derived from stone carvings and other pagan relics. There were some accounts of Druids left behind by Greek and Roman artists and authors and later from medieval writers. Other cultures regarded them as heretics, accusing Druids of practicing pagan witchcraft and the occult. Modern archaeological have uncovered evidence of their pagan the religious practices, as well as other disturbing historical reports suggesting Druids were involved in both human sacrifice and cannibalism.

Their legend can be seen today’s Britain, where you have a Council of British Druid Orders. The former Archbishop of Canterbury , Dr Rowan Williams, was himself inducted as an honorary white druid during a blue-hooded, open-air ceremony of the Gorsedd of Bards, in Wales.

Why did Romans view them as a threat during their occupations of Gaul and Britain? Perhaps Rome saw the Druidic version of paganism as competition to its own cultural and spiritual hegemony. That trend surely intensified as Rome transitioned into to Christianity across the Empire.

The Druid presence in Britain can be traced back to at least 200 BC, but because of Roman prohibition and persecution their numbers tailed off to near extinction. The ancient story of Vortigern, recounts one possible surviving Druids in Britain after the Roman conquest. The remaining Druids survived into 700-800 AD, at which time Christianity emerged as the dominant institution in the British Isles – sealing the fate of Druids for almost 1,000 years.

INSPIRED BY ANCIENTS: Druid revival continues to this day with ceremony at Stonehenge (Photo: Ian Jones).

Centuries later in the 1800’s, the Druid tradition experienced a revival of sorts as Britain’s Druidic revival began in earnest.

Archaeology Review explains how the revival came about: “The modern Druidic order arose out of the same two forces (and in many cases was driven by the same people) as created the Society of Antiquaries or The Royal Society: the post-Act-of-Union enterprise to create a British (as distinct from English, Scottish or Welsh) national identity, and the Georgian love affair with the club (of which, according to the main historian of this phenomenon, there were some 25,000 in the English speaking world during the 18th century).

“The quest for a shared heritage to represent a single United Kingdom of Great Britain led back to the wise and cultured Druids, who were idealised as our common ancestors – intellectuals, scientists, philosophers and theologians, respected as judges and as teachers (Caesar records that Britain was a place of unusual learning, where would-be Druids from Gaul went to study), yet also fiercely patriotic, rallying resistance to foreign invaders (Tacitus describes the ‘druidae, raising their hands to the sky and shouting dreadful curses, which terrified our soldiers who had never seen such a thing before’).”

Will the Druids return to the mainstream again, only to be forced underground again?

History has seen many twists and turns over the centuries, but the legend of the Druids is still a captivating story…

Who were they and why were the Romans feel so threatened by them?

Brasscheck TV

In this fascinating documentary, archaeologist Francis Pryor takes us on a journey into Britain’s ancient Druid past.

When they were wiped out by the Romans, we lost the only link to their fascinating religion and culture, and we are left with many puzzles to unravel.

The destruction of the Druids has played out over and over again throughout history: warlike, imperial cultures strong-arm less powerful ones for resources and, if threatened, destroy them. It has become increasingly obvious that what the world has lost in connection to nature and the earth as a result is not worth the material gain of this method and mindset. Watch…

SEE MORE ANCIENT HISTORY AT: 21st Century Wire Ancient History Files



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Get Your Copy of New Dawn Magazine #203 - Mar-Apr Issue