? Who were the Druids

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The Druids are part of the history and legend of the British Isles and northern France. As the priestly caste of Iron Age Britain, they fascinated Julius Caesar, who wrote about them, and actually knew one, the tribal chief Divitacus. The Druids were priests, scholars, teachers, law-makers and peace-brokers, and were at the heart of insurrections against the roman oppressors. They practiced their faith outdoors in woodland groves. All nature was sacred, but the oak tree and mistletoe were especially so.

As the Saxons and Vikings followed the Romans, and the English became a nation, the Druid tradition continued in the Celtic parts of these islands for many generations. Their songs, poems and stories were to be remembered in medieval times and became part of today’s rich folk tradition. Whilst the legacy of the incoming Romans, Saxons and Vikings help us to connect with the faiths of the people who have lived in the British Isles for well over 10,000 years, since the last ice-age came to an end, and we are intrigued by the beliefs of the people who settled here in the more distant past, the Druids have particularly captured our imaginations; they were the last bards, seers, shamans and wise folk of this land.

In the 17th and 18th Centuries Britain became a “world power”, its prosperity fuelled by burgeoning trade and industrialisation. In reaction to this, public interest grew in our ancient monuments, our history, and the beauty of our countryside. In 1792, inspired by the druid tradition, a welsh migrant in London, called Edward Williams, changed his name to Iolo Morgannwg, and began holding Druid ceremonies on Primrose Hill in London. Druidry has been practiced in some shape or form ever since then and a great deal of the ritual devised over 200 years ago is still used by Druids today.

Who were the Druids?