Reply To: A Treasury Of Druidic Triads

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From what you are saying Druidic triads were associated with the Neolithic people, who I thought predated the Iron Age. Did the Neolithic people have their own druids, or is druidry as old as the Neolithic period i.e. predating the Celts?

This is an interesting question. How much was passed down from generation to generation? The old ideas of waves of invaders completely wiping out the previous cultures have now fallen by the wayside. There’s a fair bit of evidence that there might have been at least some continuation from the earliest times through the generations up until relatively recently in historical terms. In the late 1990s, a living relative of Cheddar Man, who lived in the Mesolithic, was discovered not far from Cheddar Gorge. There is also some evidence that there was activity at the Stonehenge site as early as 8000 BCE and the site may have continued to be used ritualistically into the Iron Age, the so-called “Celtic” period, and even later perhaps. Another interesting site with a long and continued use of some kind is Flag Fen. Furthermore, it has been suggested that the whole “sword in the stone” mythos goes back to Bronze Age smithing techniques – the archaeologist Francis Pryor’s work is very interesting in relation to these ideas. I don’t think one culture ever completely eliminated the culture(s) preceding it.

Now, what about druids? Well, I don’t find it too inconceivable that some beliefs, traditions and forms of belief could have been passed down through the generations, even over millennia, as has happened in other places. Whether we can “back project” druids to the Stone Age is debatable, but certainly to see some kind of continuity is far from unreasonable. Caesar was of the opinion that druidism originated in the British Isles and had spread out to Gaul – references to druids are not found throughout the known Celtic-speaking world. If that indeed were really the case, it could add weight to the argument that some form of druidism is far older than the British and Irish Iron Age, far older.