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Very Short Introductions is the best collection!! Please, we definitely need more from this series!!
Druids have fascinated popular imagination for over two thousand years. In recent years, they have enjoyed revived interest due largely to the emergence of various New Age and earth-based spiritual and religious movements. And yet, despite all the fascination with them, we still don't know much about who they were and what sorts of beliefs and practices they were involved in. This is primarily due to the fact that the pagan societies within which Druids operated did not leave any written records. Hence, all that we know about Druids stems from the physical archeological evidence they left behind, and the writings of outsiders.
This very short introduction tries to shed more light on Druids for the modern reader. It presents a fascinating history of the ancient world within which Druids operated. It shatters a few myths about Druids and reconfirms some other long held beliefs. In particular, even though it is unclear whether Druids themselves conducted human sacrifices, it is fairly well established that those were common in ancient pagan societies and that Druids at the very least condoned them. The book also gives a nice overview of the revival of the interest in Druids that started with the European romanticism roughly in the nineteenth century. Most of our images of Druids can actually be traced to that period, and it is amusing to note that many of the purportedly Druidic practices that some neopagan groups engage in were actually invented in this period.
5 of 6 people found this review helpful
All that becomes apparent from this work is that very little is known about the Druids. The text is padded out extensively with peripheral information not bearing on Druids directly. Having listened to this I am little more informed about Druids than I was before I started.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful
An wonderfully engaging attempt to survey everything known about the druids including a look at the sources of our knowldge and the origins of a range of modern and recent myths thrown up by neo-pagans. Potentially demoralising if you're a wiccan. Gripping if you just want an insight into the origins of Western European culture. This would have easily been a five star but for the incredibly eccentric narration. Not being a welsh speaker I can't speak with absolute authority but even an Englishman knows that Eisteddfod isn't pronounced istedfart and only the Welsh tourist board would want Glamorgan to be pronounced glamour-gan. Despite all that this is a must for history fans
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
This is a great exploration of the original sources on which all our information on the druids is based. It is refreshing to hear the actual excerpts that talk about druid practice from classical (Greek and Roman) texts rather than modern conjecture without citation. This is not a book for those looking for a "how to be a druid" handbook; it presents the facts as we know them from historical sources.
A splendid overview of the Druid caste in ancient Britain. If you are wanting a good basis as to what the Druids were I highly recommend this book.