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The Massacre of the Druids . . . . Frontispiece 

Stonehenge, from a Water Colour Drawing by 

J. M. W. Turner, R.A. 24 

The Druids, or The Conversion of the Britons to 

Christianity . . . . . . . . . . . • 48 

Stonehenge, from a Water Colour Drawing by 

Constable (Victoria and Albert Museum) . . . . 72 

Druidical Festival at Stonehenge . . . . . . 96 

A Druid .. . . . . . . .. . . . . 120 

Aerial View of Stonehenge .. .. .. .. 144 

Hill Ranges Converging on Stonehenge .. .. 148 

Diagrammatic Plan of Stonehenge .. .. .. 184 

N.B. — The Illustrations facing pp. 24, 48, 72, 96, 120 and Frontispiece are from 
the Fine Art Collection of Augustin Rischgitz. 

The design for the chapter ending on p. 58 shows the comparative sizes of 
Druidical Stone Circles. The outer circle is that of Avebury, the intermediate 
that of Brogar, and the centre Stennis and Stonehenge ; on p. 1 10 are 
represented the three circles referred to on p. 48 ; on p. 172 is given the Maiden 
Stone at Caldron, and on p. 183 the chambered structure at Callernish. 



Chapter I. — The Origin of Druidism . . . . . . i 

Britain, Gaul, Erin, Persia, Phoenicia, etc. 

Chapter II. — The Creed of Druidism . . . . . . 22 

Monotheism, Polytheism, Anthropomorphism. The 
Bardic, or Druidic alphabet. Ancient seats of 
learning. Ancient trees, The Tree of Knowledge. 
Reference to Cesar's account of Druidism. Affinity 
claimed between Druidism and Freemasonry. The 
Coligny Calendar. Druidical Hymn of the Deluge. 
Meteors, Falling Stars. Reappearance of the Celtic 
doctrine in modern France. Druidism and the 
Circle. Human Sacrifices. 

Chapter III. — The Initiatory Ceremonies and Priesthood 59 

The Tonsure, The Tolmen. The Noviciate. The 
Book of the OUamhs. Astronomy and Ancient 
Learning. Druidical breast plates. The Jadh Morain. 

Chapter IV. — Bards and Vates . . . . . . . . 75 

The Bard, his duties and rewards. The Bardic 
Memoria Technica. Druidical Triads. 

Chapter V. — Druidism and Magic . . . . . . 92 

The Tuatha-di-Danann. Charms and Spells. St. 
Patrick. Druidesses. Serpents and Serpents' Eggs. 

Chapter VI. — Druidical Temples and Remains .. iii 

Druidical Schools. The Sword bearer. Knights 
Templars, Freemasonry. The prayer of the Chief 
Bard. Druidical Circles and Stones. Stonehenge 
and Phoenician Art. History of Stonehenge. Circles 
and Monuments at Avebury, Dartmoor, Guernsey, 
The Isle of Man, etc. The Logan Stone. 

Chapter VII. — Druidical Festivals and Customs . . 149 
Beacons and Smoke Signals. Teut Hills. May Day 
Festivals. Ancient Sacrifices. Passing through the 
fire ; Bonfires ; Baal fires. Summer solstice and 
Winter solstice festivals observed to-day. St. John's 
fire. Mistletoe and its significance. Cutting the 

Chapter VIII. — The Affinity of Druidism with Other 

Religions . . . . . . . . . . 173 

Pythagoreanism, Druidism, Brahmanism, Judaism, 
Grove worship. Christianity. 

IX. — Bibliography .. .. .. .. .. ..185 

Index . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 190 

The Druids now, while arms are heard no more, 
Old mysteries and horrid rites restore ; 
A tribe who singular religion love, 
And haunt the lonely coverts of the grove ; 
To these, and these of all mankind alone. 
The gods are sure revealed, or sure unknown. 
If dying mortals' doom they sing aright. 
No ghosts descend to hell in dreadful night ; 
No parting souls to grisly Pluto go. 
Nor seek the dreary silent shades below : 
But forth they fly immortal in their kind, 
And other bodies in new worlds they find. 
Thus life for ever runs its endless race. 
And, like a line, death but divides the space : 
A stop which can but for a moment last, 
A point between the future and the past. 
Thrice happy they beneath the northern skies. 
Who that worst fate, the fear of death despise. 
Hence they no cares for this frail being feel. 
But rush undaunted on the pointed steel ; 
Provoke approaching fate, and bravely scorn 
To spare that life which must so soon return. 

Rowe's Lucan. 



It is problematical whether the question, asked so frequently both 
in the past and the present, as to what period in the history of the 
world witnessed the foundation of Druidism, will ever be answered with 
definiteness. Some writers have maintained that it was a development 
or offshoot of the Egyptian religion and, along with Freemasonry, 
originated in the sublime teachings of Ptah, which, by some, are believed 
to have been brought out of Egypt by Moses. Faber, in his Pagan 
Idolatry, expressed the opinion that the Druidical Bards were probably 
the founders of Freemasonry ; certainly members of the Craft will be 
able to trace many analogies and similarities between Druidic and 
Masonic ceremonial and practices, but the extent, if any, to which the 
one has been drawn from, or is dependent upon, the other, must be more 
or less a matter of speculation. 

Philology does not render much assistance in determining the origin 
of Druidism, the possible derivation of the various Druidical terms being 
very conflicting, although few modern scholars probably now maintain 
dogmatically the opinion, regarded seriously at one time, that the word 
Druid is derived from the Greek word drus, meaning " an oak," on 
which was founded, in part at any rate, the theory that the Druids had 
their original habitat among the oaks of Mamre, to which reference is 
made in the book of Genesis. Another derivation frequently given is 
that derwydd means " the body of an oak," that word being formed from 
two other words, dertv, " oak," and ydd, a substantive terminal In like 
manner Ovydd (Ovate) was said to mean *' sapling " or " unformed 
plant," from ov, " raw," and ydd ; and bardd signified " branching, " 
being derived from bar, " a branch " or " the top." Pezron gives the 
derivation of Druid from the Celtic deru, " oak," and hud, " enchant- 
ment," and says that the name was given because the priests, sages, 
diviners, and magicians of the ancient Gauls practised their divination 
and enchantments in woods and especially under oaks. Dryades, the 
Greek word, he contends, is derived from the Celtic. The Celtic meaning 
of the word Druid is " to enclose within a circle " and the word was 
used in the sense of " prophet " or " one admitted into the mysteries of 


the inner circle." Other writers give the derivation as from the Hebrew 
dcrussim, or drussim, which means " contemplators." Vallancey ascribes 
a Hebrew origin to the term, but traces it to the word drush, meaning 
" an expounder " or " an interpreter." Another explanation given is 
that it is an old Celtic word, druis, formed from trotvis, or truwis, meaning 
" a doctor of the faith." Trowis, in German, means " a revealer of 
truth." Trutis was an ancient British name for the Deity, and the 
first priests in Britain were called Triiti. The celebrated philologist 
Thurneysen derives Druid from dru, a prefix meaning " thorough " and 
vid, meaning " know," so that, from this etymological reading, a Druid 
was a man of great knowledge. The earliest mention of the name of 
Druid is found in Diogenes Laertius's Lives of the Philosophers. The 
Persian duru means " a good and holy man " ; the Arabic deri, " an 
absolver or remitter of sins." In Scotland, the Druids were called 
Ducergli, and in Spain Turduli or Turdutan. The Oriental dervishes are 
thought by some to derive their name from the same source as the Druids. 
Mr. D. Delta Evans, who has devoted considerable time, attention, and 
skill to the study of this subject, says that, according to the best informa- 
tion from Celtic scholars, it would appear beyond doubt that the word 
derzvydd is derived from dar, meaning " above," and gwydd, meaning 
" understanding," " learning," or " knowledge." 

Cynwal, an eminent Welsh poet of the sixteenth century, employs 
the term in this foregoing meaning and thus apostrophises a well-known 
Bard : 

Dywed zveithian dad ieithydd 

Dy feddwl ym, do foddatvl wydd. 

Declare thou then, thou father of languages, 

Thy mind, if of well-cultured knowledge. 

Diogenes said that the Gaulish philosophers were known both as 
Druids and as Semnothei, the latter word meaning " Venerable Deities." 
All Hallows Day was known in Ireland as La Samhna and the month of 
November as Mi Saman, but the derivation of these words is from Samh, 
meaning " rest " or " repose from labour." The name Saman was one 
of the titles of Buddha, who was regarded by the ancient Irish as the 
lord of death and the judge of departed spirits. His festival, says Faber, 
in Pagan Idolatry, occurred in the month of November, when sacrifices 
of black sheep were offered to him for the souls of the deceased. The 
festival of All Souls appears to have superseded the festival of Saman. 
Among the Gymnosophists there was a sect of philosophers, women as 
well as men, who, says Clement of Alexandria, made truth their study 
and claimed ability to read into the future and to predict forthcoming 
events. The female Senmes, he adds, always preserved their virginity. 


The word really means " venerable," and it embodied an idea of antiquity 
and veneration and was applied only to persons worthy of respect for 
their morals, merits, prudence, and age ; it is probably the root of the 
words " Senatus," " Senatores," " Senex," " Senior," etc. 

The Saxons called a sorcerer dry ; and sorcery or magic was known 
as dry-craeft, words not to be found in any dialects cognate to the British. 
From the word dry, the verb bcdrian, " to bewitch " or " to fascinate " 
was formed. A disordered man was called bedrida, from which has 
descended the modern term " bedridden." 

The antiquity of the Druidical system is not in doubt or question. 
It is indisputable that a highly-efiicient organization such as Druidism 
was when it came first into historical view, could not have been of recent 
origin or foundation. According to Caesar, who had no direct dealings 
or intercourse with the Druids and who had to depend upon other people 
for his information — Divitiacus, the arch-Druid of his time, in particular, 
and with whom, in all probability, he conversed through an interpreter — 
the Gauls boasted that they were descended from Dis as their father, 
this being a Druidical tradition. Dis, or Dives, according to mythology, 
was one of three brothers, Jupiter and Neptune being the two others. 
They are said to have had Saturn for their father and Minerva for their 
mother. Dives is the same word as the Hebrew Japheth, and this is 
probably the foundation of the tradition that Japheth was the progenitor 
of the Celts, who are claimed by some writers to have been the earliest 
inhabitants of Western Europe. Dr. Stukeley, referring to the temple 
planted by Abraham when he settled for a time at Beersheba (Genesis xxi, 
33), speaks of it as " that famous oak-grove of Beersheba, planted by 
the illustrious parent and first Druid, Abraham, and from whom our 
celebrated British Druids came, who were of the same patriarchal 
reformed religion, and brought the use of sacred groves to Britain." 
There are, however, some subjects on which Dr. Stukeley must not be 
regarded too seriously. The positive statement is nevertheless made 
by other writers that Druidic colleges were in existence in the days of 
Hermio, a German prince, who is supposed to have flourished about the 
same time as Abraham. 

Pococke, in India in Greece, claims that the Druids were of the 
Indu Vanes, or Lunar Race — hence the symbol of the crescent worn by 
them. Their chief settlement was in the Hi-Budh-des, or the land of 
the Hya-Bud'has, and their last refuge in Britain from the oppression of 
the Romans, the descendants of their own stock, was Mona, which should 
properly be Mooni. According to Wilson's Sanskrit Lexicon, the meaning 
of this word is " a holy sage," " a pious and learned person, endowed 
with more or less of a divine nature, or having attained it by rigid abstrac- 
tion and mortification." If this interpretation is correct, it explains the 


amazing mechanical skill displayed in the construction of the massive 
stone circles found throughout the country and it harmonises with the 
industrious and enterprising characteristics of the Buddhists throughout 
the world, for they were the same people that drained the valley of 
Cashmir, and, in all probability, the plains of Thessaly. 

Fergusson supposes the existence of two distinct races in the island 
of Britain : the original inhabitants, who were of Turanian origin and 
the more uncivilised, being driven by the other race, the Celtic, into the 
fastnesses of the Welsh hills long previous to the Roman invasion. Among 
the former he thinks that the religion of Druidism, consisting of tree and 
serpent worship, may have been practised. Bertrand and Reinach both 
maintain the pre-Celtic origin of Druidism, but Camille Julian inchnes 
to the opinion that it was of Gallic origin. 

Possibly one reason why some writers have assigned a Gallic origin 
to the primitive inhabitants of Britain, as well as to Druidism, is the 
adoption of Gallic names by British tribes, a very insecure deduction. 
There is greater reason for the assumption of an Asiatic origin, having 
regard to the similarity of the Persian and Druidical forms of government 
and religion, the use of military chariots, and the similarity in the names 
of the leaders of the people in each of these countries. Pliny, however, 
maintains that Druidism was taught to the Persians by the Britons and 
not by the Persians to the Britons. According to the Triads (to which 
fuller reference will be made later), however, the original colonists who 
migrated to Britain were conducted thither by a leader named Huysgwyn 
(Persian, Hushang), and the first settlers came by a long and devious 
sea-voyage from the summer country (Asia) and inhabited Dyffro-banu 
— presumably a corruption of Dyffryn-albanu, the name given to the 
glens of Albania, a country situated between the Euxine and Caspian 
Seas. Another triad states that the original inhabitants of Britain were 
emigrants from a city called Gaf-fis, or the lower Gaf, a mountain 
stretching between these seas. Schrader, in his Reallexikon, says that 
the Celtic Druids are quite different from other priesthoods of ancient 
Europe and that where the first beginnings of their origin started will 
never be known. 

The Celtic language, according to some authorities, is a dialect of 
the Phoenician language, the Phoenician being a near relative of the 
Hebrew. There is certainly a close resemblance in many details between 
the Hebrew and Irish languages. 

Vallancey, whose invaluable researches into the early history of 
Britain and its inhabitants have placed all students under an eternal 
debt of gratitude, says that the Druids were in existence at the time 
Britain was peopled ; that they flourished in the east and were imported 
by that great body of Persian Scythians, known to the Greeks under the 


name of Phoenicians, that they invaded the Britannic islands, driving 
most of the original inhabitants into Gaul, retaining possession of the 
islands (as Welsh antiquarians also maintain) until the Cymmeri arrived, 
who, in their turn, expelled the Phcenico-Persico-Scythi to Ireland and 
Scotland. The Phoenician inhabitants of Tyre are said constantly to 
have visited the western parts of Britain between b.c. 1200 and b.c. 500, 
and to have carried on a considerable trade with the inhabitants in tin 
and other articles. Borlase is of opinion that the Druidical faith had 
its origin in Britain, whence it was transmitted to Gaul. Davies, in 
his Celtic Researches, says : 

" The monuments we call Druidical must be appropriated, 
exclusively, to the aborigines of the midland and western divisions. 
They are found in such corners and fastnesses as have, in all ages 
and countries, been the last retreat of the conquered, and the last 
that are occupied by the victorious. In Wales and in Mona, they 
were used and venerated, until the aborigines were completely 
subjugated by the Roman arms. In the central countries, and in 
the west, they perpetually occur, from Cornwall to Cumberland ; 
whereas, comparatively, few traces of them are discovered in the 
eastern part of the island, which, therefore, appear to have been 
occupied by those people who did not construct buildings of this 
nature, and who obtained possession before the aborigines deeply 
impressed their character on the soil." 

In Britain, the Druidical order is said to have numbered thirty-one 
seats of education, each being a Cyfiath, or City, the capital of a tribe. 
According to some writers there were three Arch-Druids in Britain, this 
official being pecuHar to that country. Their seats are said to have 
been at Caer Troia, or London ; Caer Erroc, or York ; and Caer Leon, 
or Caerleon (Monmouthshire). Morgan, in British Cymry, gives the 
following hst of Druidical seats in Britain : Caer Caint, Canterbury ; 
Caer Wyn, Winchester ; Caer Municip, St. Alban's ; Caer SaUwg, 
Old Sarum ; Caer Leil, CarHsle ; Caer Odor, Bristol ; Caer Llear, 
Leicester ; Caer Urnach, Wroxeter ; Caer Lleyn, Lincoln ; Caer Glou, 
Gloucester ; Caer Grawnt, Cambridge ; Caer Meini, Manchester ; Caer 
Ceol, Colchester ; Caerleon ar Dwy, Chester ; Caer Peris, Porchester ; 
Caer Don, Doncaster ; Caer Guorie, Warwick ; Caer Cei, Chichester ; 
Caer Ceri, Cirencester ; Caer Dur, Dorchester ; Caer Merddyn, Car- 
marthen ; Caer Ceiont, Carnarvon ; Caer Wyse, Exeter ; Caer Segont, 
Silchester ; Caer Baddon, Bath ; Caer Gorangon, Worcester. The 
students at these colleges are said to have numbered at times 60,000. 

Mr. Akerman, in Numismatic Journal (I. p. 217), says that Druidical 
circles do appear on ancient British coins. " The coins of Adminius and 
Togodumnus," says Beale Poste, " are noticeable from the occurrence 


of various symbols upon them, as bucrania, skulls of oxen ; circles of 
dots, cases of sacrificial knives, double circles, serpents, and loose horses. 
The upholding of the nationality of the Britons and of the Druidical religion 
is supposed to be implied in these emblems. 

Whatever the origin of the inhabitants of Britain or of Druidism, 
few who have given any attention to the latter subject will venture to 
contest the statement of Theodore Watts-Dunton that, compared with 
Druidism — that mysterious, poetic religion, which, more than any other 
religion, expresses the very voice of nature — all other religions have a 
sort of commonplace and modern ring, even those which preceded it by 
centuries. Although the Druids are mentioned by Greek writers, the 
Greeks lay no claim to be the founders of the religion, and it is scarcely 
probable that it could have been derived from Judaism — although there 
are supporters of that theory — owing to the meagre intercourse of the 
Jews of those times with other nations. 

The Druids are mentioned by name by the following pre-Christian 
writers : Aristotle, Sotion, Posidonius, Julius Caesar, Cicero, Diodorus of 
Sicily, Timageneus ; and by the following writers of the Christian era : 
Strabo, Pomponius Mela, Lucian, Pliny, Tacitus, Suetonius, Dion Chrysos- 
tom, Clement of Alexandria, and St. Cyril, this last-named reproducing 
the opinion of a more ancient Greek historian, Polyhistor. Omitting 
Aristotle and Sotion, who knew of the Druids only by hearsay, there are 
some twelve writers contemporary with the Druids in the heyday of 
their existence and in their decline. 

It may, however, be admitted that nothing precise is known with 
reference to the origin of Druidism ; that some, at any rate, of the 
statements made with regard even to its religious tenets are deductive 
only, and that even where there is anything approaching certitude, the 
source of information is invariably outside Britain. There is, however, 
no conflict in the testimony regarding the rites and ceremonies of the 
Druids among the numerous authorities and it is difficult to explain the 
many points of resemblance between the rites and institutions of the 
Druids of Britain and Gaul, the Magi of Persia, the Chaldeans of Babylon, 
the Brahmans of India, and the priests of Egypt, except upon the hypothe- 
sis that the rites and ceremonies of these various religions were derived 
from a common source, which would be a date anterior to the time when 
the Greeks and Romans produced those " elegant mythologies." 

Britain appears to have been regarded as the principal home of 
Druidism, and, by some, is claimed to have held the faith in greater 
purity than any other country. The Gallic Druids appear to have been 
in the habit of journejing to Britain for the purpose of stud)ing the 
religion, although Professor Rhys thinks they went more to Ireland than 
to Britain, in consequence of Druidism in Gaul having become corrupted 


by reason of its contiguity to heathen forms of worship, by the admission 
of strange gods into the calendar, and by the adoration of images. Cassar 
states in his Commentaries that the Druidical doctrine was evolved 
(inventa) in the Isle of Britain, whence it was taken to Gaul, and, he 
adds : " Those who wish to study it deeply usually go to the island and 
stay there for a time." The GalUc Druids met annually in solemn 
assembly or convocation in the territory of the Carnutes (Chartres and 
Orleans) ; this country being chosen as it was considered to be the centre 
of Gaul. 

O'Curry, in his Manners and Customs of the Ancient Irish, says : 

" It must occur to everyone who has read of Zoroaster, or of 
the Magi of Persia, and of the sorcerers of Egypt mentioned in the 
seventh chapter of Exodus, that Druids and Druidism did not 
originate in Britain any more than in Gaul or Erin. It is indeed 
probable that, notwithstanding PUny's high opinion of the power 
of the British Druids, the European Druidical system was but the 
offspring of the eastern augury, somewhat less complete, perhaps, 
when transplanted to a new soil than in its ancient home." 
Pliny was of opinion that the Druids were the Gaulish magi, and, 
according to Porphyry, " the name magi in the east was most august 
and venerable : they alone were skilled in divine matters and were the 
ministers of the Deity." Higgins believed them to be Pythagoreans, 
akin to the Essenes, whilst another writer holds to the opinion that they 
were the descendants of the lost Atlanteans. Alexandre Bertrand main- 
tains that Druidism was not an isolated institution, without analogy, 
but that its parallel is to be looked for in the lamaseries which survive 
still in Tartary and Thibet. Maurice contends that the Druids were the 
immediate descendants of a tribe of Brahmans from the high northern 
districts bordering on the vast range of the Caucasus. Polyhistor, in 
his book on Symbols, declares that Pythagoras visited both the Brahmans 
and the Celts. There are also other writers who affirm that the Druids 
were initiated into their beliefs and practices by Zamolais, a sometime 
slave of Pythagoras. If, however, we are to believe St. Clement of 
Alexandria, the Druids took nothing from Pythagoras ; their reputation 
drew Pythagoras to Gaul in order that he might be instructed in their 
mysteries and Theology. This St. Clement is said to have learned from 
Polyhistor. In fact, Pythagoras did not come into the world until the 
forty-seventh Olympiad, four generations after Numa, while the philoso- 
phy of the Druids existed before the time of Homer. 

Dr. Churchward, in Signs and Symbols of Primordial Man, holds that 
the ancient Druids 

" were undoubtedly descendants of the ancient Egyptian priests, 
who came over and landed in Ireland and the west of England, and 


who brought with them their rehgious doctrines and taught and 

practised them here. The Tuatha-de-Danann — the princes or 

descendants of Dia-tene-ion, the fire god, or the sun — ^who came 

to Ireland, were of the same race and spoke the same language as 

the Fir-Bolgs, or the Formarians, possessed ships, knew the art of 

navigation, had a compass or magnetic needle, worked in metals, 

had a large army thoroughly organised, a body of surgeons, and a 

Bardic or Druid class of priests. These Druids brought all their 

learning with them, believed and practised the eschatology of the 

solar doctrines, and came from Egypt. That their temples are 

older than those found in Uxmah, in Yucatan, in Mexico (which 

are stated to be 11,500 years old), those amongst the Incas in South 

America, and some of the Zimbabwe in South Africa, is clearly 

proved by their want of knowledge of building an arch, although we 

find in the oldest remains among the Zimbabwe lintels at Umnuk- 

wana, and no doubt there are others in South African ruins, but 

successive immigrants have obliterated most of the original, which 

was the old Egyptian, as can be proved by other facts." 

It would certainly be interesting to have further proofs of this 

arresting statement. Concerning the arrival of the Tuatha-de-Danann 

in Ireland, Keating, in his History of Ireland, says that they journeyed 

to Erin after seven months' sojourn in the north of Scotland. They 

landed on the north coast of Ireland, but, in order that they should not 

be seen by any of the Fir Bolg, they, by means of the magical powers 

with which nearly all ancient writers invest them, raised a mist around 

their vessels until they reached SUabh-an-iarainn (Slieve-an-ierin), the 

iron mountains in County Leitrim. Once landed, they made their 

departure impossible by burning their boats. 

According to the traditional history of Ireland, the Tuatha-de- 
Danann were the descendants of the followers of Faidh, the third son 
of a prince named Nemedius, when the Fomorians, an African tribe, 
made themselves masters of Ireland and enslaved its inhabitants. The 
Fomorians appear to have been civilised sufficiently to be able to teach 
the Tuatha-de-Danann to build with stone and lime, but, according to 
Pomponius Mela, the latter emigrated to Achaia, a country of Greece 
bordering on Boetia, near the city of Thebes. It is said that while there 
they acquired that extraordinary skill in necromancy and enchantment 
which enabled them to work miracles and even to raise the dead. Rather 
than fall into the hands of the Assyrians, whose sorcerers and Druids 
were more powerful than their own, they migrated to Denmark and 
Norway. After a sojourn in those countries, they journeyed to Scotland, 
where they remained for seven years before removing to Ireland. 

After the settlement of the Tuatha-de-Danann, the Milesians 


attempted to effect a landing in Ireland, but were for some time prevented 
bv the Tuatha-de-Danann, who, by the power of their enchantments 
and diabolical arts, cast such a cloud over the whole island that the 
Milesians were confounded. With much difficulty they effected a landing 
at Inohei Seeine, in the west of Munster. They proceeded to a mountain 
called SHabh Mis, where they were met by Banba, the queen, who was 
accompanied by her Druids and soothsayers. 

" Banba they met, with all her princely train, 
On Sliabh Mis ; and on the fruitful plain 
Of Sliabh Eibhline, Fodhla next they spied. 
With priests and learned Druids for her guide, 
And all her charming court of ladies by her side ; 
Then virtuous Eire appeared in pomp and state, 
In Visneach's pleasant fields, majestically great." 
Fodhla was a princess, who was also accompanied by a retinue of 
ladies and Druids. Eire, another princess, is said to have given her 
name to the country. These three ladies were married to the three sons 
of Cearmada, who ruled alternately over the whole of the kingdom : 
" Three Irish kings alternately reigned, 

And for their consorts chose three princesses, 
Fodhla, Banba, and Eire." 
In the battles which ensued between the Tuatha-de-Danann and 
the Milesians, Scota, Milesius's widow, as well as many learned Druids, 
are said to have been slain on both sides. Two of the Druids who lost 
their lives in this encounter were named Uar and Eithir, whose funeral 
rites were celebrated with great solemnity. 

" On Sliabh Mis our warlike squadrons stood, 
Eager of fight, and prodigal of blood ; 
Victorious arms our stout Gadelians bore, 
Ruin behind, and terror march'd before ; 
A thousand of th' enchanted host are slain. 
They try their charms and magic arts in vain. 
For with their mangled limbs they cover all the plain. 
Three hundred only of our troops are kill'd, 
Who bravely turned the fortune of the field. 
The learned Uar rush'd among the rest. 
But, with repeated blows and wounds oppress'd, 
He fell, and by his side expiring lay 
Eithir, a priest, and gasp'd his soul away. 
The victors then the funeral rites prepare. 
Due to their dead companions of the war." 
The pedigree of Milesius is given in the old Irish Chronicles in the 
following words : 


" Milesius, son of Bille, son of Breogan, son of Bratha, son of 
Deaghatha, son of Earchada, son of Alleid, son of Nyagath, son of 
Nannaille, son of Feithricglas, son of Heber Glunfionn, son of Heber 
Scotson of Sree, son of Easree, son of Gadelas, son of Niul, son of 
Feniusa Farsa, son of Baath, son of Magog, son of Japhet, son of 
Noah, son of Lamech." 

It has been suggested that Ireland obtained her ancient name of 
" the sacred island " from the fact of the country having become the 
chosen depository of the Phoenician worship in that part of the world. 

With reference to Ireland, the ground is more certain when dealing 
with Druidism than in the case of Britain or Gaul, inasmuch as the sole 
source of information relating to the Irish Druids is derived from Irish 
documents and writers, whereas the greater part of the information 
concerning British and Gallic Druidism is derived from Latin and Greek 
writers. According to some of the ancient Irish writers, Parthalonus 
made his advent into Erin about three hundred years after the date 
assigned to the Deluge. He came from Middle Greece, and brought 
with him three Druids : Fios, Eolus, and Fochmar, names which mean 
" Intelligence," " Knowledge," and " Inquiry." Three hundred and 
thirty years later there came another colony of immigrants, led by 
Nemid and his sons, who entered into a conflict with the Druidical forces 
they found established on the island. From that time there is some 
record or chronicle of the acts of the Druids in Ireland. They were 
referred to frequently as " men of science," and extraordinary powers 
were attributed to them. They were credited with the power to raise 
storms and atmospheric disturbances. The following translation of an 
incantation used by them is taken from the Book of the Invasions of the 
O^Clerys in the Royal Irish Academy : 

" I pray that they reach the land of Erinn, those who are 
riding upon the great, productive, vast sea. 

" That they may be distributed upon her plains, her mountains 
and her valleys ; upon her forests that shed showers of nuts and 
all other fruits ; upon her rivers and her cataracts ; upon her lakes 
and her great waters ; upon her spring-abounding hills. 

" That we may hold our fairs and equestrian sports upon her 

" That there may be a king for us in Tara and that it may be 
the territory of many kings. 

" That the sons of Milesius may be manifestly seen upon her 

" That noble Erinn may be the home of the ships and boats of 
the sons of Milesius. 


" Erinn, which is now in darkness, it is for her that this oration 

is pronounced. 

" Let the learned wives of Breas and Buagne pray that we 

may reach the noble woman, Great Erinn. 

" Let Erinn pray and let Ir and Eber implore that we may 

reach Erinn." 

The tempest is said to have ceased immediately upon the utterance 
of this incantation and the survivors were enabled to land without any 
trouble or difficulty. 

There is an Irish tradition that the Druids first set foot in Ireland 
seven hundred years before the time of St. Patrick, or about B.C. 270. 
Certainly, it would appear from the evidence that the Druids settled at 
a date much earlier than they did in Britain. Connor is said to have 
been the name of the King of Ireland who was reigning at the time of 
the Crucifixion. Surprised, the legend runs, at the dreadful and super- 
normal eclipse which then took place, he consulted Bachrach, an eminent 
Druid of Leinster, for the purpose of ascertaining the meaning of the 
wonderful event. The Druid replied that a barbarous murder had that 
day been committed b)' the Jews, who had killed a divine and innocent 
person. The king immediately drew his sword, went to an adjacent 
grove, and, distracted almost to madness, hacked and cut away at the 
trees, protesting that if he were in the country of the Jews where this 
holy person had been executed, he would be avenged upon the murderers 
and chop them to pieces as he had done the trees. It is related that this 
Druid, Bachrach, prophesied to the people of Leinster that a most holy 
person should be born in a wonderful manner and be barbarously murdered 
by the great council of his own nation, notwithstanding his design of 
coming into the world for the happiness and salvation of the whole 
earth, and to redeem its inhabitants from the delusions and tyranny of 
infernal demons which had the power to torture them with insupportable 
pains in a future state. In this connection also it must be remembered 
that there is a legend to the effect that the Cup of the Holy Graal was a 
Druidic vase used in the most sacred rites. The Druids of Britain are 
said to have been mysteriously warned of the Passion of Jesus, as a 
result of which they sent the vase to Jerusalem, where it was used at 
the Last Supper. After the Crucifixion, it was entrusted to the care of 
Joseph of Arimathea, who conveyed it back to Britain, with which 
country he traded for tin, and whither, according to another legend 
among Cornish tin-workers, St. Joseph brought Jesus himself as a boy. 

In A.D. 449 we find St. Patrick revising the Celtic laws, the work 
of the Druids, at the command of the King, whose confidence he had 
gained, in concert with three provincial kings, three Ollamhs or Druidical 
doctors, and three bishops, these last having replaced the Druids. The 


revolution had been rapid, since it had fallen on well-prepared soil. It 
would seem that Ireland had become Christian even before it bore that 
name. It is remarkable also to note the promptitude with which King 
Loegair, only a few years after his conversion, peopled the monasteries 
with faithful followers of the Christian faith, and this was done, not only 
in Ireland, but in Scotland and in England as well. These monasteries 
and abbeys, sa}-s Bertrand, would seem almost spontaneously to have 
risen from the earth at a time when Gaul possessed none. In a.d. 500, 
shortly after the death of St. Patrick, St. Findia (who died a.d. 582) 
founded an Abbey under the jurisdiction of the Archbishop of Armagh. 
In A.D. 520, there was in existence a very flourishing monastery in the 
Scottish isle of lona. In the same century, while a large part of England, 
Ireland and Scotland was still pagan, were founded powerful abbej-s at 
Bangor and in County Down. An event is narrated in ancient Irish 
history to the effect that Lughaid, son of the Loegair mentioned above, 
perished by hghtning for his obstinate adherence to the Druidical 

The Druidical faith survived in Ireland to a period much later than 
in Britain. Toland says that the Druidical college of Derry was converted 
into a Culdee monastery. About the year a.d. 561, Columba and twelve 
companions left Ireland to build the monastery of IcolmkiU. So far as 
Wales is concerned, Druidism ceased to be practised, at least openly, by 
the end of the first century a.d., but long after the advent of St. Patrick, 
the chief monarchs of Ireland adhered to Druidism. Two of the daughters 
of King Laogorius, in whose reign St. Patrick expounded the tenets of 
the Christian faith, were educated by the Druids and maintained their 
ground in a dispute against the Christian religion. Laogorius and all 
the provincial kings of Ireland, however, granted to every man free 
liberty of preaching and professing the Christian religion if they wished 
to do so. 

Ledwich tells us that in the sixth century Columba founded two 
celebrated monasteries, one in the oaken grove in the town of Derry, 
the other at Doire-magh, in the field of oaks in the King's County. 
Churches were also founded at Doire-macaidecain in Meath, Doire-melle 
in Leitrim, and those at Kildoire and Kilderry were constructed in 
groves of oaks. The Christians continued the Druidic notion of reverence 
for trees and consecrated trees to saints ; and so great was the veneration 
for these consecrated trees that the act of cutting or injuring them 
incurred severe penalty. Some archers who, in the twelfth century, 
destroyed some timber in the churchyard of Finglas, near Dublin, were 
said to have died of an unusual pestilence. Similarly, the holinessi^of 
groves was as firmly believed in as that of shrines. At Roscarbury, 
St. Fachnan very early founded a see and literary seminary. At Lismore 


is a Druidic cave and there was also a celebrated school and cathedral, 
and near the latter was the residence of an anchoret from the remotest 
time. Felibien, in his Recucil historiq, speaking of the caves under the 
church of Chartres, says that the grottos which are under this church 
are claimed to have been there in the time of the Druids. Over these 
caves, where probably the grand assembly of the Gaulish and British 
Druids was held, a Christian church was erected. In Brecknockshire is 
Ty Ilhtud, or St. Iltut's cell, which Camden says was made in the time 
of paganism and originally stood in a stone circle. Another sacred 
structure at Llantwit, in Glamorganshire, originally stood within a 
Druidic grove. In Ireland, not far from the church of Templebrien, is a 
stone circle with a central pyramidal pillar. Close by is an artificial cave 
which was the retreat of the Druid serving the pagan temple. 

It was an established custom in the reign of Cormac, King of Ireland, 
A.D. 213-253, that every monarch of the kingdom should be attended by 
ten officers, one of whom was always a Druid, whose function it was to 
regulate the concerns of religion and worship, to offer sacrifices, to divine 
and foretell events for the use and advantage of the king and his 
dominions. The following is taken from a poem of great antiquity : 
" Ten royal officers, for use and state, 

Attend the court, and on the monarch wait, 

A nobleman, whose virtuous actions grace 

His blood, and add new glories to his race. 

A judge, to fix the meaning of the laws. 

To save the poor, and right the injur'd cause. 

A grave physician, by his artful care, 

To ease the sick, and weakened health repair. 

A poet to applaud, and boldly blame. 

And justly to give infamy or fame ; 

For without him the freshest laurels fade. 

And vice to dark oblivion is betray'd. 

The next attendant was a faithful priest, 

Prophetic fury roll'd within his breast ; 

Full of his god, he tells the distant doom 

Of kings unborn and nations yet to come ; 

Daily he worships at the holy shrine, 

And pacifies his god with rites divine. 

With constant care the sacrifice renews. 

And anxiously the panting entrails views. 

To touch the harp, the sweet musician bends, 

And both his hands upon the strings extends ; 

The sweetest sound flows from each warbling string, 

Soft as the breezes of the breathing spring, 


Music has pow'r the passions to control, 
And tunes the harsh disorders of the soul. 
The antiquary by his skill reveals 
The race of kings, and all their offspring tells. 
The spreading branches of the royal Une, 
Traced out by him in lasting records shine. 
Three officers in lower order stand, 

And, when he drives in state, attend the king's command." 
Rowland gives it as his opinion that, when the Druids were expelled 
from Anglesey, they sought refuge in Ireland, the north of Scotland, and 
the Scottish Isles. Certainly, when Druidism was inhibited in Gaul, and 
the active persecution of the Druids began, they appear to have retired 
to Caledonia, there to practise and to teach their religion. About a.d. 76, 
Dothan, who is described as the eleventh king of Scotland, is said to 
have left his three sons in the Isle of Man, there to be educated by the 
Druids, as also was Corbed, son of Corbed, first king of Scotland, at a 
much earlier date. Sacheverell, in his Survey of the Isle of Man, is of 
opinion that the Isle of Man, rather than Anglesey, was the principal 
seat of the Druids, from the fact that it was called Sedes Druidarum and 
Insula Druidarum. " The original inhabitants of the Isle of Man," he 
says, " were undoubtedly the same with the rest of Britain, and their 
first government a sort of aristocracy under the Druids. I could almost 
venture to call it a theocracy, their notions of divinity were so lively 
and perfect ; their form of government so admirably adapted to the 
good of mankind ; in short, such an excellent mixture of prince and 
priest, that religion and the state had but one united interest." 

According to Spotswood's History of the Church of Scotland, the 
Druids were in power in Scotland in the latter part of the third century. 
He writes : 

" Cratylinth, king of Scotland, coming to the throne in the 

year 277, made it one of his first works to purge the kingdom of its 

heathenish superstition, and to expel the Druids, a sort of people 

held in those days in great reputation. They ruled their affairs 

very politely ; for being governed by a president who kept his 

residence in the Isle of Man, which was then under the dominion of 

the Scots, they did once every year in that place meet to take counsel 

together for the ordering of affairs, and carried things so politely 

and with such discretion that Cratylinth found it difficult enough to 

expel them, because of the favour they had amongst the people." 

Huddleston says that it is established by the most unquestionable 

authorities that the Celts were the original inhabitants of Europe, that 

the Celtic language was a dialect of the primary language of Asia, and 

that the Celts had among them from the most remote antiquity an 


Order of Literati, called Druids, to whom the Greeks and Romans ascribed 
a degree of philosophical celebrity, inferior to none of the ages of antiquity. 
With this view Pinkerton agrees, so far as admitting that the Celts were 
the aborigines of Europe and their language the original one. The 
presence of Irish words in the French language is accounted for by the 
Irish Druids, who travelled between the two countries and who were 
the instructors of the youth of each country. 

According to another authority : 

" The Druids of the first century b.c. affirmed that once there 
was a native population in Gaul : it was the population anterior to 
the Celtic conquests, that which was known in Ireland as the Fir- 
Bolg, Fir-Domann, and Galloir. A second group, named Druids, 
came thither from the most distant isles : in other words, from the 
Land of the Dead, the Isles of the Blest, or the All-Powerful of Greek 
mythology. This was the population that first crossed the Rhine 
and settled down in the western borders in pre-historic times, 
anterior to the fifth century b.c, and to the time of Hecatus of 
Miletus. When Timageus obtained this information from the Druids 
of the first century, B.C., the Celts of this first immigration had lost 
all recollection of their arrival in Gaul and had no other belief than 
the Druidical doctrine of the mythic origin of the Cult." 
King Finnan, who succeeded to the throne of Man in b.c. 134, is 
said to have first established the Druids in the Isle of Man. 

We learn from Origen that the Druids were not only well known to 
the Roman philosophers, but that they were held up by them as examples 
of wisdom and models for imitation on account of pre-eminent merit of 
some kind ; and Clement of Alexandria called Druidism " a religion of 
philosophers," like that of the primitive Persians. 

By some the Druids were known as Saronides, a name given also 
to groves of oaks or sacred trees. Saronides is an ancient Greek appella- 
tion for the oak : 

" When Rhea felt for Jove a mother's throes 
By deep laon's streams the tall Saronides rose." 

Callim, Jov. 22. 
" She to the stiff Saronid's branch applied 

Her sons, and in the noose her neck she tied." 

Jp Rhoi. ap Parthen, 11. 
The word is derived from the root sar, meaning originally " a 
rock," but it came afterwards to be adopted as a mark of high honour. 
It is the root of the name " Sarah." In course of time high groves or 
hills with woods of oak were named " Saron," because they were sacred 
to the Deitv. Davis in his Celtic Researches, insists that " Saronides ' 


is a British word, compounded from ser, " stars," and honydd, " one who 
discriminates or points out," so that, according to his contention, the 
Saronides were Seronyddion, or astronomers. Diogenes Laertius gives 
the name of Semnotheist to the Druid ascetic and a Semnotheus seems 
to have been a solitary rehgious who, in a secret cell, gave himself up to 
the contemplation of heavenly things. 

From the language of the Triads and other ancient poems, there 
appears to be ground for the inference that during the Roman occupation 
there was a Druidical seminary in the isle of Britain, or in an adjacent 
island, and probably beyond the Hmits of the Empire, where the doctrine 
and discipUne were cultivated without interference ; that there the 
Druids persisted in the sacrifices of human beings ; that certain devotees 
from the southern provinces repaired thither to their solemn festivals ; 
that upon the departure of the Romans they repaired to Mona and Wales ; 
and that this northern seminary was not entirely suppressed until the 
end of the sixth century. It is intimated in some works that the Britons 
regarded this northern establishment with great respect and that thev 
made frequent pilgrimages there, particularly at the time of the solemn 

Druidism, under that particular name, does not appear to have been 
known outside Gaul, Britain, and Ireland, although similar teaching and 
practices are to be found in countries outside those boundaries, but the 
name appears to have belonged exclusively to those parts. The reUgion, 
however, appears to have been established among the Germans, Danes, 
Swedes, Norsemen, Muscovites, Russians, Pomeranians, Laplanders, 
Scythians, Goths, Thracians, Lithuanians, Poles, Hungarians, and 
Samogethians, with, of course, local variations. 

Although, in Britain, the Romans issued stringent laws for the 
suppression of the Druidical groves and altars, there is no proof of the 
eradication of Druidism at that time. It had taken root too deeply not 
to spring up again after the Romans had taken their departure from the 
island. The suppression of Druidism was essential to the Roman conquest 
of Britain : the two were incompatible. Augustus Cssar recognised that 
Druidism would be a source of danger unless it could be assimilated to 
Roman ideas and practices, and so he prohibited Roman citizens from 
seeking initiation into the Druidical mysteries, a step also forbidden by 
the Druids themselves. Tiberius went a step further and made a deter- 
mined effort to destroy it. Suetonius states that Claudius Csesar entirely 
abolished the dreadfully atrocious religion of the Druids among the 
Gauls, which Augustus had merely prohibited to the Roman citizens. 
However, on the rebellion of the Gaulish tribes, which occurred during 
the struggles of ViteUius and Vespasian, when the capital was burnt, 
Tacitus sa)'s that " the Druids sang with vain superstition that the Gauls 


had anciently taken Rome, but, since the seat of Jove had remained 
intact, her empire had also remained." Now the gods had given a sign 
of their wrath by a fatal conflagration and portended to the nations 
north of the Alps the supremacy over human affairs. According to 
Strabo, the Gauls held to the opinion that as the number of Druids 
increases the earth produces its fruits in greater abundance. In all 
probability when Claudius decided to exterminate Druidism it was 
because it seemed to contain within itself in a concentrated form the 
surviving national feeling of the Gaulish tribes which, in view of the 
annexation of Britain, might appear a real danger to the peace of the 
Western provinces. 

The imperial measures taken to arrest Druidism and to abolish it 
were in vain. It is certain that the Druids were in existence at the time 
of St. Eloi, who died towards the end of the seventh century, and even 
for some time after. Eloi Eligius was Bishop of Noyon and patron saint 
of goldsmiths. Long passages could be quoted from the writings of this 
saint showing that Paganism still triumphed over Christianity in many 
parts of France in his day, and there is no reason to doubt from his 
statements that the mysterious rites, with which the Druids had always 
honoured their divinities, were then still practised. It may even be 
assumed that Druidism alone retarded the free passage of Christianity 
to all parts of France. 

Pliny, in his Natural History (xxx., 4, 13) says that Tiberius Ceesar 
caused the Druids to disappear, yet he admits in another passage that 
they were still in existence and superintended the religious ceremonies 
in the time of Vespasian. His language leads to the assumption that 
all that was accomplished in the reign of Tiberius Caesar was the tem- 
porary suppression of the outward observances of Druidism, or, 
particularly, the practice of human sacrifices. 

In many parts of Britain, moreover, the Romans permitted the 
natives to retain many of their laws and customs and to be governed by 
their own princes, and here, in aU probability, they woiold continue the 
performance of their ancient and sacred mystical rites. According to 
Strabo, the Druids still acted as arbiters in pubUc and private matters, 
though, presumably, they had not the power to deal with murder indict- 
ments, as formerly they had. Thus, on the introduction of the civil law 
by the Romans, the principle of secular justice between man and man, 
priestly domination among the Britons passed away. 

Cormac, who, about the middle of the third century, ascended the 
throne of Ireland, attempted to reform the religion of the Druids by 
divesting it of the polytheism into which it had degenerated, but, in 
consequence of his efforts, his subjects rebelled against him. In one of 


the battles which ensued he lost an eye, which compelled him, in accord- 
ance with the law then prevailing in Ireland, to resign the crown. 

Celtic and Gaulish Druids are mentioned in the third century as 
being connected with events in the lives of Aurelian and Diocletian. 
They are mentioned by Ammianus Marcellinus and Ausenius and in the 
fourth century by Procopius. Gibbon epitomises the history of the 
Druids in the Christian era in the following words : 

" Under the specious pretext of abolishing human sacrifices, 
the Emperors Tiberius and Claudius suppressed the dangerous power 
of the Druids ; but the priests themselves, their gods, and their 
altars, subsisted in peaceftd obscurity till the final destruction of 

Eighteen years after Aulus Plautlus first landed, there was a merciless 
massacre of the Druidical priests and their very devoted adherents in the 
Isle of Anglesey, and, although the religion may have been, and, in all 
probability, was practised, yet so far as it was a regularly organized 
system of religious beHef, culture, and ritual, Druidism perished then 
by the edge of the sword wielded by the Romans. The foundation of 
the great Roman schools, such as that at Autun, deprived the Druids of 
many of their pupils. In Ireland, Druidism did not, however, disappear 
until about a.d. 560, after the abandonment of Tara, the capital of the 
supreme king of Ireland. In a.d. 452, the Council of Aries decreed that 
" if, in any diocese, any infidel lighted torches or worshipped trees, 
fountains, or stones, he should be guilty of sacrilege." In a.d. 658, the 
Council of Nantes ordered the destruction of all Druidical monuments, 
and, later, the capitularies also condemned the religion. Welsh historians 
assert that Christianity was accepted in a national council held by King 
Lucius, A.D. 155, when the Arch-Druids of Europe, Lud and Leon, 
became archbishops and the chief Druids of twenty-eight cities became 
bishops. Dom Pitra, in St. Leger, says : " The two thousand Brothers of 
Sletty, who sing day and night, divided into seven choirs of three hundred 
voices, reply across the seas to the sons of St. Martin, being, according to 
legend, children of the converted Druid Fiek." The Rev. W. L. 
Alexander, writing on lona, says that while the Roman armies were 
harrying the Druids at Anglesey, there was a college of them in the 
Scottish islands, situate 56° 59' N. designated Innis-nan-Druidneach, or 
" the isle of the Druids," and that the priesthood prevailed over all the 
other islands until a.d. 563-4, when Colum or Columba arrived with 
twelve companions who were continued in that number till after ages. 
The Druids remained after human sacrifices were abolished, for Mela, 
after speaking of the abolition of human sacrifices, goes on to say : 
" They stiU have their elegant speech and the Druids as their teachers 
of wisdom." Aurelius Victor (De Casiribus, iv, 2) refers to Druidism 


as an extinct superstition, but one of celebrity in his day. Druidismis 
said to have found an asylum in Armorica some ages after it had been 
proscribed and suppressed in the rest of Gaul. An attempt was made 
after its extirpation in Britain to revive it, particularly by one of the 
warlike remnant, named Dearg, but the attempt was a futile one. 
T. Taylor, in the Celtic Christianity of Cornwall, says that " Druidism 
prevailed among the Continental Celts just as it prevailed among those 
of Britain and Ireland. When the original home of the Celt has been 
determined it may be possible to discover the home of his religion." 
On this point Bertrand writes : 

" The more deeply we study the question of the Druids, the 
more it enlarges, and the greater becomes its importance. We 
arrive at the firm conviction that behind the community of Gaulish 
or Celtic priests, of which Cassar, Diodorus, and Strabo have popular- 
ised the name, is hidden an old social institution, which, from the 
highest antiquity, made its civilising influence felt, outside of Gaul, 
Ireland, and Scotland, in Wales, Scandinavia, Germany, among 
the Aestiens, the Celts of the Upper Danube, the Getes, and more 
particularly in Thrace. . . . The Pythagorean brotherhoods and 
the institutions of Numa constitute, we believe, one of the unrecog- 
nized aspects of these ancient cenobitic communities, of which our 
convents, monasteries, and abbeys became the successors, a new 
spirit animating these old bodies. The dominating idea of these 
monastic and conventual institutions is not, in point of fact, an idea 
emanating from, but is long anterior to, the gospel. If we wish to 
look for a precedent less removed from the Christian origin, it must 
be searched for among the Essenes or in Egypt. It does not originate 
with papal Rome. We believe that its origin will be found in Chaldea 
or Media, on which the western monks, as well as the Irish and 
Scottish Druids, founded their model. Montalembert recognizes 
that cenobitism is long anterior to the Christian era." 
Like Mithraism, however, Druidism as a distinctive institution 
eventually was swept from off the face of the earth. But the fact must 
not be overlooked, when speaking of the supplanting of Druidism by 
Christianity, that the Druids held many of the tenets inculcated in 
Christianity and the practices and customs of the Christians. The 
doctrine of the immortality of the soul, the belief in miracles, the doctrine 
of reincarnation, all, in those days, articles of the Christian faith, had 
already been imparted to the Britons by their own priests. They were 
also no strangers to the rite of baptism, which every Christian neophyte 
had to undergo. Unhappily, Druidism has left behind no literature, no 
art : existing monuments, claimed to be Druidical, afford no clue to the 
social habits of the people and prove nothing beyond the fact that the 


people of the period when that religion held sway had no taste for the 

aesthetic arts. 

This alleged succession of and similarity of Christianity to Druidism 

has been commented upon by several writers, and J. W. Arch, in Written 

Records of the Cymri, says : 

" When a Druid instructor was persuaded of the general truth 
of Christianity, he had fewer prejudices to surmount than any other 
civilized heathen of the ancient world, and would willingly, while 
avowing his new faith, submit, not only to be baptized, but also to 
receive from his new superiors a commission to resume his functions 
as an authorized teacher and instructor in the doctrines of his new 
Similar testimony is borne by Hughes, who writes : 

" Neither the Roman power, nor the superiority of the Christian 
religion, would easily overcome the attachment of the people to the 
superstitions of their ancestors. But if it be true, what some have 
afhrmed, that the Christian clergy were selected from among the 
Bards, then we may easily conceive that their former notions, in 
many respects, would give a strong tincture to their new religion." 
Smiddy gives an interesting account, adapted from Himerius, of a 

visit paid to Greece by a renowned Druid philosopher. He writes : 

" About six hundred years before the birth of Christ, a Druid 
from one of the western islands visited Greece, and the description 
given of his person and dress by some of the Greek writers is very 
interesting. The name of this Druid traveller was Abaris, a word 
which signifies ' the father ' or ' the master of knowledge.' This 
title was something like that of ' Rabbi ' among the Jews, and even 
in sound it resembles it somewhat. This priest of the sun, as he is 
called, went to Greece for the purpose of study and observation ; 
and also to renew, by his personal presence and his gifts, the old 
friendship which, it appears, had existed for ages between the Greeks 
and the Celts. By the Greeks, he was called a Hyperborean, that 
is ' a northener,' a term which they applied to the Celtic nations 
bordering on the Euxine, and also to the colonies or peoples springing 
from them and inhabiting northern latitudes. The Greek writer, 
Strabo, says that Abaris was much admired by even the learned 
men of Greece, for his politeness, justice, and integrity. ' He came 
to Athens,' says Himerius, another Greek writer, ' not clad in skins, 
like a Scythian, but with a bow in his hand, and a quiver hanging 
on his shoulder, and a plaid wrapped round his body, a gilded belt 
encircling his loins, and trousers reaching from his waist down to 
the soles of his feet. He was easy in his address, agreeable in his 
conversation, active in the despatch, and secret in the management 


of great affairs ; quick in judging of present occurrences, and ready 
to take his part in any sudden emergency ; provident without 
inguarding against futurity ; dihgent in quest of wisdom ; fond of 
friendship ; trusting very little to fortune ; yet having the entire 
confidence of others, and trusted with everything for his prudence. 
He spoke Greek with so much fluency that you would have thought 
that he had been bred or brought up in the Lyceum, and had con- 
versed all his life with the academy of Athens.' 

" Such is the singularly flattering character which the Greek 
writers give of this Druid traveller from the Hyperborean island. 
They also state that he had frequent interviews with Pythagoras, 
whom he astonished by the variety and extent of his knowledge. 
Now, to which of these northern Celtic, or Hyperborean, islands did 
Abaris belong ? The place of his abode is thus described by Greek 
writers, whose imperfect knowledge of geography, however, rendered 
it impossible for them to be very accurate in all particulars. It is 
the place where Latona was born, lying far north of Celtica and as 
big as Sicily, the inhabitants of which enjoy a temperate air and a 
very fruitful soil. They adore Apollo and the sun, preferably to all 
other deities, paying him the highest honours, and singing his 
praises so continually that they all seem to be priests appropriated 
to his service, and their town itself dedicated to his worship. There 
was a fine grove and circular temple consecrated to him, in which 
choirs of his votaries say hymns, celebrating his actions, and set to 
music ; whilst others, playing on the harp, which most of the 
inhabitants understood, answered to their voices and formed a 
delightful symphony. They had a peculiar dialect of their own and 
a singular regard for the Greeks, particularly the Athenian and 
Hellean, with whom they had, from ancient times, cultivated a 
friendship, confirmed by mutual visits, which, however, as they had 
been intermitted for some time, Abaris was sent by the Hyper- 
boreans to renew ; and, in return, several of the Greeks, passing to 
their island, left there several sacred presents to their deities, with 
inscriptions in Greek characters." 

In France, the opening of schools at Marseilles, Lyons, and Autun 
accomplished the demise of Druidism in that country. The Druidical 
communities there ceased to be, and many of the members migrated to 
England, Scotland, and Ireland, where they lingered until the final 
eclipse of the religion. 



" The sacred oaks, 
These awful shades among the Druids strayed, 
To cut the hallowed mistletoe, and held 
High converse with their gods." 

Sir Humphrey Davy. 

The Druids professed a creed which appears to have been as 
inspiring as that of any ancient or modern system of religion or theology, 
and the fact that sectarianism was unknown to them, all beHevers of 
the faith professing the same creed without any variation, had a cohesive 
and unifying effect upon the various nations among whom it prevailed. 

Although seemingly polytheistic in character, Druidism recognized 
and inculcated the behef in the unity of the Supreme Being, to whom 
alone the prayers of the people, through the priests, were addressed. 
The Ruler of the Universe, in the discharge of his office, was assisted by 
subordinate divinities, who were supposed to act rather as angels or 
messengers than as possessed of any inherent authority of their own. 
Origen is opposed to the idea of Druidism being polytheistic ; he affirms 
that they beHeved in one God only, which fact he considers was instru- 
mental in leading the people to Christianity, although it may be regarded 
as undoubted that the simple tenets of early Druidism became debased 
by the admission of the polytheism of the East. No text, says Bertrand, 
authorises us to suppose that the Druids introduced to the Celts any 
foreign divinities or new rites to the countries where they were estabHshed 
or settled, and it may even legitimately be affirmed to the contrary. 

Bouche says that the Druids had the primitive intuition and the 
good sense to teach a uniform and just doctrine and that far from seeking 
to personify the Eternal they devoted themselves to shewing Him in 
His manifestation through His works. Although they taught the 
adoration of spiritual and invisible divinities, they had a great veneration 
for the elements and for aU the different parts of the invisible world, for 
fire, water, the wind, the earth, trees, rocks, etc. They did not, however, 
regard the elements in the fight of divinities, unUke, according to several 
authorities, the ancient Persians. The real foundation, says Pelloutier, 
for the worship which the Celts rendered to the different parts of the 


material world, was the opinion, which they held, that each element, 
each corporeal body, was the seat or temple of a subordinate divinity, 
who resided there and directed its operations and made it, so to speak, 
the instrument of its liberality towards mankind. It was really to this 
Intelligence, and not to the visible object, that the religious veneration 
was rendered. They held that whatever was effected by the laws of 
nature was the work of God, and not simply the result of mechanism. 
For instance, they held that the motions of the leaves of a tree, the 
direction and colour of flame, the fall of a thunderbolt, were the work 
of an intelligent Being — instructions given by God to the human race, 
to which a wise man should give attention and from which he should 
profit. The same law was applied to the actions of the lower animals 
which were not ascribed to instinct : the flight and song of birds, the 
barking of a dog, the neighing of a horse, the hissing of a serpent, and the 
running of a hare. In like manner they said that all that man did 
naturally, or mechanically, or involuntarily, without any intervening 
reflection, could not be attributed to himself, but ought to be regarded 
as the work of a divinity. Thus they found presages from the involuntary 
movements of the eyelid, in the motions of the pulse, or in sneezing. 
They did not adore several gods equal in power and dignity, but only 
one sovereign God, with a large number of subordinate divinities. They 
multiplied the number of those divinities by the creation of topical or 
local gods, giving to their sanctuaries the name of the god adored. A 
man, for example, who went to say his prayers in a forest dedicated to 
the god Teut, or to consult the priests who presided at that cult, would 
say that he went to find Teut. But this was only to distinguish the sanc- 
tuaries. Thus the god Penius was not a special divinity, but the god 
whose sanctuary was upon the Alps. In like manner the Apollon 
Grynaeus of the Messians, established in Asia, was not an exclusive 
god, but the name given to the sanctuary by the Messians, because they 
offered their sacrifices to the sun in a wood where the trees could not 
lose their verdure and where the earth was always covered with flowers. 
The Druids maintained that the Supreme had produced a number of 
intelligences which animated different parts of matter and conducted 
people to the destiny of the Eternal Will. They regarded these intelli- 
gences either as angels or spirits, acting only in accordance with the 
orders and under the direction of the Supreme God, whose ministers and 
instruments only they were, but, participating in the empire and power 
of the sovereign God, they were worthy of being associated with His 
glory and with the religious worship which He received from man. 
When a man was accused of a crime of which he could not be acquitted 
or convicted by the ordinary method he was thrown into a river, his 
judges being persuaded that the intelligences residing there would not 


fail to draw him to the bottom or raise him to the surface, according to 
his guilt or innocence, which would thus be estabhshed. The Celts held 
in their mythology that water and fire took the first rank among the 
divinities emanating from the god Teut and his wife, the earth. The 
violent agitations of the air, the force and rapidity of its action, the 
terrible ravages of rain, thunder, storms, and tempests led them to 
believe that the air was filled with an enormous number of spirits who 
were masters of the destiny of man, and who consequently merited 
receiving religious worship. The Celts did not render a religious worship 
to heroes, or place them in the ranks of gods, neither during their life 
nor after their death. They beheved that the union of the active with 
the passive principles had produced not only men, but gods, the latter 
springing from matter as well as the visible and corporeal beings. Here 
is a contradiction, but it may well be that they believed that the spirits 
or genii residing in matter emanated from the first principle and that 
the earth had suppHed the body to which they were united, or the element 
in which it resided. It may be that with the Stoics they recognized a 
living, active, invincible matter, the essence of Divinity, and a visible 
entity, incapable by itself of Hfe and motion, which was the substance 
of the body. Although the Druids acknowledged a beginning to all 
things, they beheved that the world would exist for all time, but they 
maintained that the earth would become purified and renovated by 
a universal fire, as once it had been by the deluge. They did not believe 
in the existence of an almighty and universal evil power, but held that 
God could be offended by sin, but that He was placable and could be 
appeased by sacrifices. 

The Druidic conception of God had not, so far as can be ascertained, 
been degraded to the anthropomorphism current in other and later ages. 
The Supreme Being was represented to them in the sun, but the sun, as 
sun, was not worshipped : it was the great and grand symbol of the 
Living God, known as Esus, the supreme light, self-existent and invisible, 
but yet seeing, penetrating, and knowing all things. The sun was 
supposed to be the most noble type of the Godhead — the most glorious 
object of the material creation. The following is said to be an ancient 
hymn used by the Druids in their Mysteries. It is called A Song of 
Dark Import, and is said to have been composed by a distinguished Bard 
named Ogdoad : 

" The heat of the sun shall be wasted : yet shall the Britons 
have an inclosure of great renown, and the heights of Snowdon 
shall receive inhabitants. Then will come the spotted cow, and 
procure a blessing. On the serene day will she bellow : on the eve 
of May shall she be boiled : and, on the spot where her boiling is 
completed, shall her consumer rest in peace. Let truth be ascribed 

Sk nehcn'^c. 

from a wider-colour drawing 
Iry J^ M. W. Turner, R.A. 


to Menvvydd, the dragon chief of the world, who formed the 
curvatures of Kydd ; which passed through the dale of grievous 
water, having the fore part stored with corn and mounting aloft 
with connected serpents." 
To this was added a chant, or chorus : 

" Alas, my covenant. The covenant it is of Nuh. The wood 
of Nuh is my witness. My covenant is the covenant of the ship 
besmeared. My witness, my witness, it is my friend." 
Many of the locaUties where Druidical worship is said to have 
prevailed can still be identified through the names which those places 
bear. Such, for example, as Grenach (in Perthshire), which means 
" field of the sun " ; Greenan (a stream in Perthshire), " river of the 
sun " ; Balgreen (a town in Perthshire and other counties), " town of 
the sun " ; Grian chnoux, or Greenock, which means " knoll of the sun " ; 
and Granton, which means " sun's fire." Oxford, it is claimed, should 
be included in any such list. According to tradition, Oxford was founded 
bv Mcmbricius, who was destroyed by wolves when hunting at Wolver- 
cote, three miles from the city ; hence its Celtic title was Caer Membre, 
or " the citv of Membricius." It was also known as Caer Bosca, probably 
from the Greek Bosphorus, Ox-ford. The latter name, possibly, was 
bestowed upon the city when the Greek philosophers, brought by Brutus 
to Britain, migrated from their original college at Cricklade farther up 
the Tain and set up their school at the suburb of the Bel-Mont (from 
which Beaumont Street takes its name), just outside the city boundary. 
In short, the glory of Bel was manifested in the sun, and the Druids, 
in singing hymns to that luminous orb, gave expression to their worship 
of the Supreme, and not of the emblem, thus offering their adoration to 
the Supreme and Eternal Being. The words " Bel " and " Baal " were 
as common in the East for the name of the Deity as was " Jupiter " in 
the West. 

The name Baal is an interesting one from a philological point of 
view. It is composed of three radicals, denominated in Hebrew, Beth, 
Jlt'ph, and Lamed ; which correspond with the Arabic letters, Ba, Alif, 
and Lam, and the Greek Beta, Alpha, and Lambda. Each of these letters 
has a numerical value. In Arabic, Phoenician, Hebrew and Greek, B, 
when it is used as a numeral, stands for 2 ; A for i ; and L for 10, thus 
making a total of 33. Each number is regarded as a mystical number. 
The Pythagoreans regarded the number 2 as representing Intellect or 
\\'isdom, the Source of all things. It typified God. The figure 3 typified 
male and female, who, in conjunction, produce life : from the odd proceed 
both odd and even. The o added to complete the 30 of Lamed, might, 
from its shape, stand for the ovum — the world or the cosmos. Intellect 
stands first. Thus we read in the Gospel ascribed to St. John : " In the 


beginning was Wisdom. And Wisdom was with God, and Wisdom was 
God." The numerals for which B, A, and L, stand, written consecutively 
in Roman letters, run II, I, and XXX, producing a total of XXXIII, 
representing nine separate strokes. In connection with this the Nun- 
dinals of the Romans are worthy of attention. The days were divided 
into groups of eight, and on every ninth day the people left their pursuits 
and went to the town to market ; hence the Latin saying : Tres Mulieres 
Nundinas faciunt. The Romans also held a purification ceremony on 
male infants on the ninth day of life, the presiding genius at this rite 
being named Nundina. Nine was termed by the Pythagoreans the 
perfect square of the perfect number : nine reasons for praising God are 
given in Psalm 145 ; the Eleusinian Mysteries occupied nine days in 
performance. With regard to the figure 33, King David reigned in 
Jerusalem for 33 years ; Jesus lived on earth for 33 years ; there are 
33 vertebrae in the human spinal column : the MusHm Rosary of the 
99 Beautiful Names of Allah is divided into three sections, each containing 
33 beads. 

Many of the religious services of the Druids, which were conducted 
with a pomp and a ritual which could vie with the ornate ritual of later 
ecclesiastical organisations, began and ended with the ceremony of 
going thrice round in the course of the sun. As these circumvolutions 
began at the East point and followed the course of the sun, they were 
known in the Isle of Man as deas-iul, or " the way to the south." This 
ceremony was regarded by the Druids as signifying conformity to the 
will of God. To go round the circle in the opposite direction, or car- 
tuia-iul, was to court disaster. Widdershin was another name for this 
opposite movement, which, it was said, upset all nature and rendered 
its performers liable to a charge of witchcraft, which might end in a 
sentence of capital punishment. Borlase says : 

" In the Isle of Skye, after drinking the water of a famous 
well there, they made three sun-turns round the well there, as if 
some deity resided in it, to whom they were to pay proper respect 
before they left it. Weak and simple as these turns may seem, they 
have been used by the most ancient and most polite nations in 
the same manner as now practised by these uncultivated highlanders. 
They turn three times round their karns : round the persons they 
intend to bless three times ; three times they make round St. Barr's 
Church ; and three times round the well, so that the number three 
was a necessary part of the ceremony." 
Maurice, in his Indian Antiquities, says of the Greek drama : 

" In the Strophe they danced from the right hand to the left, 
by which motion Plutarch is of opinion they meant to indicate the 
apparent motion of the heavens from east to west ; in the Antistrophe 


they moved from the left to the right in allusion to the motion of 
the planets from west to east ; and by the slow or stationary motion 
before the altar, the permanent stability of the earth." 

The same kind of astronomical dance was used by the Hindoos in 
their religious ceremonies and called the Raas Jattra, or " dance of the 
circle." This circular dance in honour of the heavenly bodies was in 
use among a number of ancient nations. The Romans during their 
public worship were accustomed to turn themselves round from left to 
right, sometimes in larger and sometimes in smaller circles, and they 
derived this practice, according to Plutarch, from their religious monarch, 
Numa, who was deeply skilled in the mysteries of the Samothracian 

The ceremony of deas-iul is still used on many occasions in the 
Highlands of Scotland. Women with child go thrice in this direction 
round some chapels to procure an easy delivery. Sick persons do the 
same round some earns in order to charm back health. In Scotland also 
the old Masonic Lodge at Melrose either elected the new office-bearers, 
or had the installation on the eve of St. John's day in summer, when 
the brethren walked in procession three times round the market-cross. 
After dinner they again turned out, walked two abreast, each bearing a 
lighted torch. Preceded by their banners, the procession again walked 
three times round the cross, and then proceeded to the Abbey, round 
which it slowly marched thrice, making a complete circuit of the building. 
The order of procession was right-hand to the centre in both cases — 
round the Cross, and also at the Abbey, or deas-iul, or sun-wise. William 
Simpson, commenting on this, says : " In addition to the installation 
ceremony, let the craftsman also recall the point in the Lodge that marks 
the rising of the sun. From that he can move on to another point where 
the luminary is at its meridian, and then on to where it sets, and he will 
have a circular movement, which, if fully carried round, would 
undoubtedly mark the whole course of the sun, and be with the right 
hand to the centre." There is also the rule for the principal officers 
of the Lodge taking their seats and leaving them again, in relation to 
the pedestal : this is also deas-iul, or sunwise. 

Hercatoeus of Abdura, in his History of the Hyperboreans, says that 
there was an island about the bigness of Celtica, inhabited by a people 
called Hyperboreans, because they were beyond the north wind. " The 
climate is excellent, the soil is fertile, yielding double crops. The 
inhabitants are great worshippers of Apollo (the sun), to whom they sing 
many hymns. To this god they have consecrated a large territory, in 
the midst of which they have a magnificent round temple replenished 
with the richest offerings. This very city is dedicated to him, and is 


full of musicians and players of various instruments, who, every day, 
celebrate his benefits and perfections." 

The sun, as the giver and vivifier of life, says Napier, in Folk Lore, 
was the primary god of antiquity, being worshipped by the Assyrians, 
Chaldeans, Phoenicians and Hebrews, under the name of Baal, or Bel, 
and by other nations under other names. In Hebrew the name for God 
is El ; in Semitic, Al ; in Chaldee, //. The Welsh name for sun is 
Haul ; in Maeso-Gothic it is Hil ; while Ell is the Gothic for " fire." 
The priests of Baal always held a high position in the state. As the sun 
was the image or symbol on earth, hence aU offerings made to Baal were 
burned or made to pass through the fire, or were presented before the sun. 
The foregoing facts will account for the contention of many writers 
that Druidism was a branch of the worship of the sun, which at one 
time prevailed. 

Next in point of rank to the Supreme Being, represented by the 
sun, came the lesser divinities, symbolised by the moon and stars, all 
the celestial bodies being accorded honours. This feature was not more 
marked in Druidism than in other religions where veneration was accorded 
to the elements. Many religions regarded as polytheistic taught that 
their multitudes of gods or divinities were but emanations from, or 
constituted really but one Being. It was, in all probability, this venera- 
tion of the celestial bodies and observance of their motions which laid 
the foundation of the knowledge of astronomical science possessed by 
the Druids, testimony to which has been borne by C^sar and other 
writers. They were undoubtedly in possession of sufficient kno-wledge 
of the motion of the heavenly bodies to enable them to fix definite times 
for their festivals and religious ceremonies, aU of which were regulated 
by the sun and moon, and to calculate a thirty-year cjxle of lunar years, 
in which the month began at the sixth day. In common with Gauls, 
Teutons, and Hebrews, the Britons reckoned time from evening to 
morning. Their principal hours for devotion were midday and midnight, 
and their most important solemn functions were held at the new and 
full moons. 

Maimonides says : 

"In the days of Enos, the son of Seth, men fell into grievous 
errors, and even Enos himself partook of their infatuation. Their 
language was that since God had placed on high the heavenly 
bodies, and used them as His ministers, it was evidently His will 
that they should receive from men the same veneration as the 
servants of a great prince justly claims from the subject multitude. 
Impressed with this notion, they began to build themselves temples 
to the stars, to sacrifice to them, and to worship them in the vain 
expectation that they should thus please the Creator of all things. 


At first, indeed, they did not suppose the stars to be the only deities, 
but adored in conjunction with them the Lord God Omnipotent. 
In process of time, however, that great and venerable name was 
totally forgotten and the whole human race retained no other 
religion than the idolatrous worship of the host of heaven." 

The Druids observed a very pronounced reticence with regard to 
the articles of faith which they professed — with one exception only, 
that of immortah'ty. They are said to have been great writers in other 
respects, but they committed none of their religious or philosophical 
tenets to writing, except in allegorical poems, the key to which was in 
the possession only of the initiated, to whom the poems and doctrines 
were taught orally and by them committed to memory. It was the 
common practice of the nations of antiquity to transmit their laws and 
doctrines from generation to generation merely by oral tuition. This 
was done by, among others, the ancient Greeks and Spartans, who 
permitted nothing to be written down. In the Isle of Man, even, many 
of the laws were traditionary, and were known by the name of " Breast 
Laws." One of the Druidic objections to the use of writing, except in 
instances where it was absolutely necessary, was that it caused deteriora- 
tion of the powers of memory. 

The Bardic, or Druidic, alphabet consisted of thirty-six letters, sixteen 
of which were radical and the remainder mutations. It contained all the 
Etruscan letters without the least deviation of form, except that four 
or five were Roman. They were as follows : 

A /N ,1 :i I Y H. Y 

e e 


V vy 

to Ia; 






































0^ i^ k 

Each letter received its name from some tree or plant of a species 

which was regarded as being in some way or another descriptive of its 


Vallancey, in his treatise, On the Ogham Writing, says that the 

Ogham tree was first the symbol of numerals and then from these numerals 

were formed literary characters, and he continues : 

" The tree of knowledge of good and evil has been thought by 
many scholars to be the symbol of science, of wisdom, etc. The 
Egyptians adopted the Kadmis, or mulberry tree, as the symbol of 
wisdom, of science, and of numerals ; and the vine as the symbol 
of literary characters. Pownall, in his Treatise on the Study of 
Antiquities, says that the tree of knowledge of good and evil, men- 
tioned in Genesis, was a mythic tree, a tree representing, in the 
luxuriance of its branches, the wildness of men's opinions and by 
Its tempting and poisonous fruit, the mischievous effects of being 
seduced by the vanity of false learning. Rabbi Nahum, a Chaldean, 
speaks of ' the Great Tree in the Garden of Eden, whose leaves were 
letters and whose branches were words.' " 
Egyptian history informs us that the author of letters, numeration, 


astronomv, geometry, music, and of science in general was named Jhoth, 
wlio was also called Phine, and Jablonsky claims that Thoth was not 
the name of a man, but signified science in general. Phine certainly 
appears to be identical with the Irish Fenius, the author of letters. 

The Chinese claim to have been the wisest and most learned people 
in the world from the remotest times. They say that Confulu, or 
Confulus, was the inventor of letters and arts. But this Confulu was 
identical with the Cann-faola of the ancient Irish, meaning the learned 
Cann, or the head of the learned. Chon was the Egyptian name of 
Hercules and Canoe the Egyptian name of Thoth or Mercury. The 
Chinese always carried with them the symbol of a tree as a literary 
character, this symbol being ^ 

There is a tradition among the Jews that the tree of knowledge was 
named Dar and this was supposed to be the oak, whence Dar in Irish 
means " an oak " ; it also implies " wisdom." 

WilUam Beauford, in Druidism Revived, sets forth his reasons for 
asserting that the Irish Druids had not only the method of committing 
their doctrines and learning to writing, but that the characters and letters 
made use of for this purpose bear not only a great affinity to those of 
the ancient Phoenicians, Carthaginians, and Egyptians, but, in several 
instances, are exactly the same, as may be seen on comparing them with 
the characters and inscriptions on the Bembine and Remessean tables. 
By these also, it appears that the Hibernian Druids, like the Egyptian 
priests, made use of both hieroglyphic and alphabetic characters. Their 
letters also, like those of the ancient Egyptians, were of two species, 
sacred and profane. The profane were those used in the common occur- 
rences of life, public contracts, ordinances of state, poems, etc., and 
mentioned by antiquaries under the denomination of Bobeloth characters 
and were the same, or nearly those, of the Punic and Phoenician. The 
sacred were those mentioned under the name of Ogham and Ogham 
Croabh. These letters were mixed with symbols and hieroglyphics, in 
their hiero-grammatic writings, or those which treated of their general 
philosophy and laws. 

An interesting philological excursion might be made, as can be 
gathered from the following few illustrations. Debesh is the Arabic for 
" unbarking a tree," while debistan means " a school for writing." Dubir 
is the Persian for " a writer " ; dihiriston means " a school for writing," 
and duib is the Irish for " writing." Dane is the Persian for " feed of 
fruit, science, learning." In the Irish language, dan means " learning," 
dana " learned man " ; and aosddna " magi, Druids." Akdet, in the 
Arabic, means either " a thick plantation of trees," or " confused words," 
while uchdach, in Irish, means " delivery of speech." Asek, in Arabic, 
means " a tree," and usee, in Irish, means " a Hterary character." There 


was a proverb among the ancient Arabians, which ran : " I know the 
wood of his tree before his fruit is ripened," meaning " I know his learning, 
genius, or eloquence, before he has spoken." Libanus was a mountain, 
so called from its tall cedars. The Jews formed an alphabet called 
Catab Libona, or scriptura libonica; these letters were flourished at the 
tops with scrolls like the tendrils of a vine. 

The Bardic legend of the origin of letters states that Einigan, the 
first man, beheld three pillars of light, having on them all demonstrable 
sciences that ever were or ever will be. He accordingly took three rods 
of the quicken tree and placed on them the forms and signs of all the 
sciences, so that they should be remembered. People, however, came 
in time to regard these rods as a god, although they only bore his name. 
When Einigan saw this he was greatly annoyed and distressed, and in 
his grief broke the three rods. His anguish was such that he burst 
asunder, and with his parting breath he prayed to God that there should 
be accurate sciences among men in the flesh and a correct understanding 
of them. At the end of a year and a day of his decease men beheld 
three rods growing out of the mouth of Einigan which exhibited the 
sciences of ten letters. These ten letters were derived from the creative 
name of God '^ Beli the Great made them into sixteen. In the 
Runic alphabet the symbol for the god Tyr was '\' and that for a man 
was Y 

In the Collection of Bardism, made by Llewellyn Sion of Llangewydd 
in the sixteenth century, the following account is given of the origin 
and progress of letters : 

" Pray, my skilful and discreet teacher, if it be fair to ask, 
how was the knowledge of letters first obtained ? " 

" I will exhibit the information of men of wisdom and profound 
knowledge, thus : When God pronounced His name, with the word 
sprang the light of life : for previously there was no life except God 
Himself. And the mode in which it was spoken was of God's 
direction. His name was pronounced and with the utterance was 
the springing of light and vitality, and man, and every other living 
thing ; that is to say, each and all sprang together. And Menw, 
the Aged, son of Menwyd (meaning the source of intellect and 
happiness, the mind or the soul, derived from men, an active prin- 
ciple), beheld the springing of the light and its form and appearance, 
not otherwise than thus, /^ in three columns, and in the rays of 
light the vocalisation for one were the hearing and seeing, one 
unitedly the form and sound ; and one unitedly with the form and 
sound was life ; and one unitedly with these three was power, 
which power was God. And since each of these was one unitedly, 
he understood that every voice, and hearing, and living, and being, 


and sight, and seeing, were one unitedly with God ; nor is the 
least thing other than God. And by seeing the form, and in it 
hearing the voice — not otherwise — he knew what form and appear- 
ance voice should have. And having obtained earth under him 
co-instantaneously with the light, he drew the form of the voice 
and light on the earth. And it was on hearing the sound of the 
voice, which had in it the kind and utterance of three notes, that 
he obtained the three letters, and knew the sign that was suitable 
to one and other of them. Thus he made in form and sign the 
Name of God, after the semblance of rays of light, and perceived 
that they were the figure and form and sign of life ; one also with 
them was life, and in life was God ; that is to say, God is one with 
life, and there is no life but God, and there is no God but life. 

" It was from the understanding thus obtained in respect of 
this voice, that he was able to assimilate mutually every other voice 
as to kind, quality, and reason, and could make a letter suitable to 
the utterance of every sound and voice. Thus were obtained the 
Cymraeg and every other language. And it was from the three 
primary letters that was constructed every other letter — which is 
the principal secret of the Bards of the Isle of Britain, and from this 
secret comes every knowledge of letters that is possible. 

" Thus was the voice that was heard placed on record in the 
symbol and meaning attached to each of the three notes : — the sense 
of O was given the first column ; the sense of I to the second or 
middle column ; and the sense of V to the third, whence the word 

" That is to say, it was by means of this word that God declared 
His existence, life, knowledge, power, eternity, and universality. 
And in the declaration was His love, that is, co-instantaneously with 
it sprang Uke lightning all the universe into life and existence — 
vocally and co-jubilantly with the uttered name of God, in one 
united song of exultation and joy — then all the worlds to the 
extremity of Annwn. It was thus, then, that God made the worlds, 
namely, He declared His Name and Existence /|\ 01 v" 

" Q. Why is it not right that a man should commit the Name 
of God to vocalisation, and the sound of language and tongue ? 

" A. Because it cannot be done without misnaming God, for 
no man ever heard the vocaHzation of His Name, and no one knows 
how to pronounce it ; but it is represented by letters, that it may 
be known what is meant, and for whom it stands. Formerly signs 
were employed, namely, the three elements of vocal letters. How- 
ever, to prevent disrespect and dishonour to God, a Bard is forbidden 
to name Him, except inwardly and in thought." 


In the lolo MS. the following occurs : 

" Q. When were the three letters formed ? 
" A. God, in vocalising His Name, said ^l^ and with a 
word all words and animations sprang co-instantaneously into being 
and life from their non-existence ; shouting in ecstasy of joy -1^ 
and thus repeating the name of the Deity. Immediately with the 
utterance was light, and in the light the form of the name in three 
voices thrice uttered co-vocaUy, co-instantaneously, and in the 
vision three forms, and they were the figure and form of the light, 
and together with the utterance, and the figure and form of that 
utterance were the three first letters, and from a combination of 
their three utterances were formed by letter aU other utterances 

The inspirer of Caesar's account of Druidism is acknowledged to 
have been Divitiacus, the Arch-Druid at the time of the Roman Invasion, 
and the intimate of Csesar and Cicero. Discretion must, however, be 
exercised in accepting as authentic all the statements made by Caesar 
as to Druidical belief and worship, for reasons that will be apparent, and, 
fortunately, he is not the only source of information. It was quite 
impossible for Caesar, during the short period of time he was on the 
island, to conduct any personal investigation or research, if, indeed, he 
had been permitted to do so frequently, and the meagreness and occa- 
sionally proved inaccuracy of his statements have more than once 
provoked comment. He states emphatically that the Druids worshipped 
Mercury, which has led some writers to commit themselves to the state- 
ment that Mercury was the principal British Deitv. In all probability 
Caesar had observed among the Druidical symbols and emblems the 
winged rod with the serpents entwined around it, which, in Rome, was 
one of the emblems which adorned the statues of Mercury. This emblem 
may be found engraved in conspicuous characters upon Druidical remains 
on the plainsofAvebury, in Wiltshire, as well as in the Thebais of ancient 
Egypt. Mercury, according to some authorities, is identical with the 
Celtic name, Merch-ur, " woman-man." The Druids had also a venera- 
tion for the cube, which they regarded as symbolical of truth, because it 
presented the same appearance whichever way it was turned. This, 
again, was one of the symbols of Mercury, and this fact is also mentioned 
by some writers as a proof of the affinity claimed to exist between Druid- 
ism and Freemasonry. According to Caesar, the Druids represented 
Mercury as the inventor of all the arts. Hercules was regarded as the 
patron of eloquence, arts, and commerce, but they called him Ogimus, 
a word which has for its meaning, " the power of eloquence." One 
emblem — the Cross — is not mentioned by Caesar, yet it was assigned a. 
very important place in the Druidical ceremonial. 


Helvetia Antiqua et Nova, a work published in the sixteenth century, 
gives the following list of Druidical deities or divinities : Theutates, or 
Taut ; Hesus ; Taranis ; Belinus ; Cisa ; and Penninus. 

Theutates, or Taut, is asserted to have been the chief God, or 
Universal Father. Apparently, he combined the attributes of Jupiter 
with those of Mercur)', as he is said to have been the inventor of arts 
and to have acted as a guide to travellers. The word taut is still preserved 
in Switzerland, and is given to a lofty rock near Montreux, thought by 
some to be one of the sites of ancient Druidical worship. In this connec- 
tion it may be remembered that tout in some parts of England is stiU the 
name given to the highest point in a range of hills. The invention of 
writing has been attributed by legend to Taut, who was identical with 
the Baal Hermon worshipped in Sidon and the adjacent country. The 
name Tat or Teth was well known to the ancient Irish. Tat is the same 
as the Hindoo Tat or Datta and the Egyptian Thoth or Taut. This point 
is established, not merely by the identity of title, but by a curious coin- 
cidence of an arbitrary nature. The first month of the Egyptians, which 
commenced on the calends of August, was called Thoth, in honour of 
the deity of that name ; and the first day of August was, for a similar 
reason, called by the Irish, la Tat. This god was supposed to preside 
over the harvest. He was akin to the agricultural Jupiter, Bacchus, 
Osiris, and Deo-Naush ; or, as the prototype of all those kindred divinities, 
Noah, the husbandman. 

Hesus, the strong and powerful, was the representative of Mars, 
the god of war, carnage, and bloodshed. In the German patois of 
Switzerland, Hees still means a violent and quarrelsome person. Some 
writers have stated that this divinity was pictured with the head of a 
dog. If so, it is probably identical with the barking Anubis of Egyptian 
mythology, who was claimed to be the son of Osiris and Nepthys, and 
to have had the nature and characteristics of a dog. This divinity had 
the special guardianship of the tropics. According to the Welsh triads, 
Heus, or Hesus, brought the people of Cymry into this isle from the 
summer country called Defrobanni, over the Hazy Sea of Fairies (the 
North Sea). Davies in his Celtic Researches, says that one commentator 
explains the situation of Defrobanni as " that on which Constantinople 
now stands." As, or Aes, the British Heus, is preserved in the name 
of the towns Aswardby and Asgardby. One writer says that Jehovah 
came from Aes, or Heus, a god of the Celts; As being a subordinate god 
of the Celtic Dhia, a name for the Supreme Being, and identical with 
the Hebrew Jah, the Latin Deus being derived from the same word. 
Another maintains that the name Hesus comes from the Syrian Hizzus, 
or Haziz, signifying " strong and powerful in war." 

In the latter part of 1859, a curious discovery was made near Lille 


by workmen engaged in cutting trenches for new fortifications. In 
removing the soil they laid bare a stone tumulus, which, instead of bones, 
contained a large block of stone, covered with inscriptions, which indicated 
that it was an altar used by the Druids in their sacrifices. The names 
Hesus and Theutates were perfectly legible upon it. Near the stone, a 
sacred golden knife, as used by the Druids for cutting the mistletoe, was 
also found. The inscriptions on the stone corroborate the fact already 
known, that human sacrifices were made by Druids in times of national 
calamity. The knife was placed in the museum at Lille. 

Taranus is a word derived from taran, thunder, and is identical 
with the Jupiter of Greece and Rome and the Thor of northern nations. 

Belinus, known in Old Testament times as Baal, is identical with 
Apollo, the god of the sun. A wood in the neighbourhood of Lausanne 
is still known as Sauvebelin, viz., Sylvia Bellini, and traces of the name 
are to be found in many parts of England. Belus is also a Babylonish 
title of Ham, whose descendants include the Cuthites and Cadmians. 
Both were zealous adorers of the sun and addicted to rites of fire. They 
were men of superior stature, adepts in every branch of science, and 
particularly famed for their skill in astronomy. Tradition savs that they 
were the first navigators of the sea, and the division of time with the 
notification of the seasons is ascribed to them. According to Herodotus, 
all these arts took their rise in Babylonia, whence they were carried into 
Egypt, and from Egypt westward into other countries. Elius Schedius, 
in his book De Diis Gfrmanorum, imagines that he found in the name 
Belenus the 365 days of the year, in like manner as the Basilideans for- 
merly found them in Abrazas and Mithras, thus : 











6'0 po 

^^^ = v5^-S* 

Belenus is an ancient Celtic word Latinised meaning " blond," 
" yellow." The Greeks, changing the initial B into M, wrote melnos 
for " yellow," " blond," and " golden colour," though in certain quarters 
of Greece, Beta signified " splendour," " light," " sun." In this connec- 
tion, attention should be drawn to the discovery in November, 1897, 
near Lyons, of the Coligny Calendar, which demonstrates that the 
priests of Gaul, in the first century of the Christian era — the ascertained 
date of the Calendar — possessed a belief in lucky and unlucky days. 
The Calendar divided up the year as follows : 

Cantlos (May) . . . . 29 days unlucky 

Samos (June) . . . . 30 „ lucky 

Duman (July) . . . . 29 ,, unlucky 

Rivios (August) . . . . 30 ,, lucky 


Anaculios (September) 

■ 29 „ 


Ogrion (October) 

• 30 - 


Granion (December) 

■ 29 „ 


Simivis (January) 

• 30 .' 


Equos (February) 

• 30 '' 


Elembin (March) 

. 29 „ 


Edrin (April) 

• 30 - 


Cias was worshipped more particularly in the Grisons or Rhoetian 
Alps. Tuesday in some of the German cantons of Switzerland is called 
Cistag, or Zistag. 

With regard to Penninus, Pen, which, in Celtic, means " summit " 
or " head," is appUed to the mountainous region of the Apennines, and 
the monastery of St. Bernard stands on the site of the temple of the 
Pennine Jupiter. The prefix Pen is found in various parts of Wales, e.g., 
Penmaenmawr, Pen-y-gwint, etc., and, of course, in many Cornish names 
of people and places. 

lau was one of the names which the Cymry gave to the Supreme 
God. The following dialogue appears in the traditions of the Bards : 
" Disciple : Why is the lau (yoke) given as a name for God ? 
" Master : Because the yoke is the measuring rod of country 
and nation in virtue of the authority of law, and is in possession 
of every head of family under the mark of the lord of the territory, 
and whoever violates it is liable to a penalty. Now God is the 
measuring rod of all truth, all justice, and all goodness ; therefore, 
He is the yoke on all, and all are under it, and woe to him who 
shall violate it." 

A further development of the name of God I '1^ \l/ signified 
preservation, creation, and destruction. 

The Druids represented the world as an enormous animal issuing 
out of the abyss from the abode of an evil spirit. In common with most 
nations and religions, they had their Deluge tradition, but they repre- 
sented the event as occurring in a lake called Llyn Llion, the waters of 
which burst forth and overwhelmed the face of the whole world. One 
vessel only escaped the catastrophe, and in this were a man and a woman 
and certain of the animal species. By these Britain was re-peopled 
with human beings and animals. The name given to the man thus 
miraculously preserved was Hu, the Mighty, but he is sometimes called 
Cadwaldr. He is frequently represented as the diluvial god, and as such 
is generally attended by a spotted cow. The woman preserved in the 
ark was called Ceridwen. She was regarded as the first of womankind, 
with the same attributes as Venus, in whom were personified the genera- 
tive powers. She is mentioned in several of the poems of the Bards 


who lived under the Welsh princes. Cuhclyn, a Bard of the sixth century, 
refers to her as Ogyrven Ahmad, or " the goddess of the various seeds," 
and from this and other similar references, some authorities have con- 
nected her with the goddess Ceres, or Demeter. Ceridwen's first-born 
was named Movrah. or " the raven of the sea." 

Antiquity furnishes us with several eminent men of the name of 
Hu, or Hierocles. There was Hierocles, the brother of Menecles, the 
first of the Asiatic orators in the time of Cicero. Another was cited by 
Stephanus, who wrote of the most remarkable things he had seen and 
speaks of a nation of Hyperboreans, a people addicted to philosophy, and 
who ate no manner of flesh. The third Hu Gadarn, or Hierocles the 
Mighty, is said by lolo Goch to have been Emperor of Constantinople, to 
have held the plough and to eat no bread but from corn of his own 
raising. This may have been Hierocles, the Grammarian, who wrote a 
treatise on the Empire of Constantinople. 

The triads that relate to Hu Gadarn, or Hu the Mighty, are seven 
in number and six contain distinct notices of him. We learn from them 
that he drew to land the crocodile of the lake of floods, so that the lake 
burst out no more ; and the names of these oxen, we are informed, were 
Neinio and Peibis. Then the patriarch appears before us as the great 
benefactor of the Cymry, whom he is recorded to have instructed in the 
useful arts of agriculture, before their arrival in Britain, when they were 
conducted by him, and while they remained in the summer country, 
which an ancient commentator has described to be that part of the East 
now called Constantinople. Then he divided the people into various 
tribes, but directing them to a unanimity of action. He is said also to 
have been the first to adopt vocal song to the preservation of memorial 
and invention and thereby contributed to the foundation of Bardism. 
Hu, or the aspirated U, was anciently employed to denote the Supreme 

As an outcome of the British tradition of the Deluge, the Druids 
consecrated certain lakes as symbols of the event, and looked upon the 
small islands which rose to the surface as mystical sanctuaries, because 
they were emblems of the ark. A rock, when discovered, was hailed as 
typifying the place of debarkation of Hu the Mighty, and here, on 
certain occasions, would be celebrated by the " Druids of the Circle," 
or the Druids of high or advanced degree, certain mystical rites believed 
to be in commemoration of the salvation of the race from the waters of 
the flood. The Irish have a tradition that a great part of the north of 
Ireland was swallowed up by an inundation of the sea, but that the 
submerged regions often arise out of the waves and become visible to 
those who unite together the two indispensable qualifications of a strong 
sight and a strong faith. These regions are sometimes esteemed an 


enchanted paradisiacal island and at other times are described as a 
wonderful city floating upon the waves. 

Traditions of the submersion of cities beneath the various lakes of 
the country are still current throughout the whole of Wales. The anno- 
tator of Camden mentions the names of no fewer than six lakes, in which 
ancient cities are reported to have been submerged. One of these is 
Llyn Savaddan in Brecknockshire. Some of the incidents, as related by 
an old man in the town of Hay, are thus narrated by Davies : 

" The site of the present lake was formerly occupied by a large 
city ; but the inhabitants were reported to be very wicked. The 
king of the country sent his servant to examine into the truth of the 
rumour, adding a threat that, in case it should prove to be well- 
founded, he would destroy the place as an example to his other 
subjects. The minister arrived at the town in the evening. All 
the inhabitants were engaged in riotous festivity and wallowing 
in excess. Not one of them regarded the stranger, or offered him 
the rites of hospitality. At last he saw the open door of a mean 
habitation, into which he entered. The family had deserted it to 
repair to the scene of tumult, all but one infant, who lay weeping 
in the cradle. The royal favourite sat down by the side of this 
cradle, soothed the little innocent, and was grieved at the thought 
that he, too, must perish in the destruction of his abandoned neigh- 
bours. In this situation the stranger passed the night, and whilst 
he was diverting the child, he accidentally dropped his glove into 
the cradle. The next morning he departed before it was light to 
carry his melancholy tidings to the king. He had but just left the 
town, when he heard a noise behind him like a tremendous crack of 
thunder, mixed with dismal shrieks and lamentations. He stopped 
to Hsten. It then sounded like the dashing of waves, and presently 
all was dead silence. He could not see what had happened, as it 
was dark, and he felt no incHnation to return into the city ; so he 
pursued his journey until sunrise. The morning was cold. He 
searched for his gloves, and, finding but one of them, he presently 
recollected where he had left the other. These gloves had been a 
present to him from his sovereign. He determined to return for 
that which he had left behind. When he was come near to the 
town, he observed with surprise that none of the buildings presented 
themselves to his view as on the preceding day. He advanced a 
few steps. The whole plain was covered with a lake. Whilst he 
was gazing at this novel and terrific scene, he remarked a little spot 
in the middle of the water. The wind gently wafted it towards the 
bank where he stood. As it drew near he recognisd the identical 
cradle in which he had left his glove. His joy on receiving this 


pledge of royal favour was only heightened by the discovery that 

the little object of his compassion had reached the shore alive and 

unhurt. He carried the infant to the king, and told him that this 

was all he had been able to save out of that wretched place." 

The greatest similarity among Deluge legends to the Druidical is, 

perhaps, that of the Incas, who believed that no living thing survived 

except a man and a woman, who were preserved from the flood by being 

enclosed in a box. Then the Creator began to raise up peoples and 

nations by making clay figures with the kind of garments they were to 

wear. He then gave life and soul to each, and commanded them to 

multiply. The first of each nation were transformed into stones, which 

became objects of adoration. In some parts of Peru there are great 

blocks of stone, some of which are nearly the size of giants. 

The following is said to have been the Druidical Hymn of the Deluge : 
" The inundation will surround us, the chief priests of Ked 
(the ship-goddess Ceridwen). Yet complete is my chair in Caer Sidi. 
Neither disorder nor age wiU oppress him that is within it. It is 
known to Manawya [Menu-Ida, the Arkite or mundane Menu] and 
Pryderi [Wisdom, or Intellect, a title of Noah, and equivalent to 
the Greek nous, the Sanscrit menu, and the Latin mens, or mcnes"], 
that three loud strains round the fire wiU be sung before it ; whilst 
the currents of the sea are round its borders and the copious fountain 
is open from above, the liquor within it is sweeter than delicious 

" thou proprietor of heaven and earth, to whom great wisdom 
is attributed, a holy sanctuary there is on the surface of the ocean. 
May its chief be jovful in the splendid festival and at the time when 
the sea rises with expanding energy. Frequently does the surge 
assail the Bards over their vessels of mead ; and on the day when 
the billows come beyond the green spot from the region of the Picts. 
A holy sanctuary there is on the wide lake, a city not protected 
with walls ; the sea surrounds it. Demandest thou, O Britain, to 
what this can be meetly appHed ? Before the lake of the son of 
Erbin let thy ox be stationed. A holy sanctuary there is upon the 
ninth wave. Holy are its inhabitants in preserving themselves. 
They will not associate in the bonds of Pollution. A holy sanctuary 
there is : it is rendered complete by the rehearsal, the hymn, and 
the birds of the mountain. Smooth are its lays in its periodical 
festival ; and my lord [the hierophant, or one initiated into the 
Mysteries] duly observant of the splendid mover [the sun], before 
he entered his earthly cell in the border of the circle, gave me mead 
and wine out of the deep crystal cup. A holy sanctuary there is 
within the gulf : there every one is kindly presented with his portion. 



A holy sanctuar\- there is with its productions of the vessels of Ked 
[the cauldron of inspiration]. The writings of Prydain [Hu, the 
Gallo-Arkite Noah] are the first objects of anxious regard ; should 
the waves disturb their foundation ; I would again, if necessary, 
conceal them deep in the cell. A holy sanctuary there is upon the 
margin of the flood ; there shall every one be kindly presented with 
his wishes. 

" Disturbed is the island of the praise of Hu, the island of the 
severe remunerator [Noah] ; even Mona of the generous bowls 
which animate vigour, the island whose barrier is the Mena [the 
firth between Anglesea and Wales, so called from Menu]. Deplorable 
is the fate of the ark of Aeddon [or Adonis, a title of Hu], since it 
is perceived that there neither has been nor will be his equal in the 
hour of perturbation. When Aeddon came from the land of Gwydion 
into Seon of the strong door [the Ark], a pure poison diffused itself 
for four successive nights, whilst the season was as yet severe. 
His contemporaries fell. The woods afforded them no shelter, when 
the winds arose in their skirts. Then Math and Eunydd, masters 
of the magic wand, set the elements at large ; but in the living 
Gwydion and Amaethon there was a resource of counsel to impress 
the front of his shield with a prevalent form, a form irresistible. 
Thus the mighty combination of his chosen rank was not over- 
whelmed by the sea. Disturbed is the island of the praise of Hu, 
the island of the severe inspector. Before Buddwas [a title of 
Hu] may the community of the Cymry remain in tranquillity ; he 
being the dragon chief, the proprietor, the rightful claimant, in 
Britain. What shall consume a ruler of the illustrious circle ? 
The four damsels, having ended their lamentation, have performed 
their last office. But the just ones toiled ; on the sea, which had 
no land, long did they dwell : of their integrity it was, that they 
did not endure the extremity of distress. 

" Am I not called Gorlassar, the ethereal ? My belt has been 
a rainbow enveloping my foe. Am I not a protecting prince in 
darkness to him, who presents my form at both ends of the hive ? 
Am I not a Plougher ? Have I not protected my sanctuary, and 
with the aid of my friends caused the wrathful ones to vanish ? 
Have I not shed the blood of the indignant in bold warfare against 
the sons of the giant Nur f Have not I imparted of my guardian 
power a ninth portion in the prowess of Arthur ? Did not I give 
to Henpen the tremendous sword of the enchanter f Did not I 
perform the rites of purification, when Hearndor [1.^., Iron-door, a 
title of the ark] moved with toil to the top of the hill ? I was 
subjected to the yoke for my affliction ; but commensurate was my 


confidence ; the world had no existence, were it not for my progeny. 
Privileged on the covered mount, O Hu with the expanded wings, 
has been thy son, thy bardic proclaimer, thy deputy, father 
Deon ; my voice has recited the death-song, where the mound 
representing the world is constructed of stone-work. Let the 
countenance of Prydain, let the glancing Hu, attend to me. 

" The birds of wrath securely went to Mona to demand a sudden 
shower of the sorceress : but the goddess of the silver wheel of 
auspicious mien, the dawn of serenity, the greatest restrainer of 
sadness, in behalf of the Britons, speedily threw round his hall 
the stream of the rainbow ; a stream which scares away violence 
from the earth, and causes the bane of its former state round the 
circle of the world to subside. The books of the ruler of the mount 
record no falsehood. The chair of the preserver remains here : and, 
till the doom, shall it continue in Europe." 

Hu was described by lolo Goch, a learned Bard, who wrote in the 
fourteenth century, in the following language : 

" Hu, the Mighty, the Sovereign, the Ready Protector, a King, 
the Giver of Wine and Renown, the Emperor of the Land and the 
Seas, and the Life of all that are in the world was he. After the 
Deluge he held the strong-beamed plough, active and excellent ; 
this did our Lord's stimulating genius that he might show to the 
proud man, and to the humble wise, the art which was most approved 
by the Faithful Father ; nor is the sentiment false." 

Another poet has written : 

" The mighty Hu, who lived for ever. 
Of mead and wine to men the giver, 
The emperor of land and sea, 
And of all things that living be, 
Did hold a plough with his good hand, 
Soon as the Deluge left the land. 
To show to men both strong and weak, 
The haughty-hearted and the meek. 
Of all the arts to heaven below 
The noblest is to guide the plough." 

Ceridwen is described by the Bards who lived under the Welsh 
princes as having presided over the most hidden mysteries of the religion, 
and as a personage from whom also the secrets of the priesthood were to 
be obtained in purity and perfection. They also intimate that it was 
requisite for those who aspired to the chair of presidency to have tasted 
the waters of inspiration from her sacred cauldron — or, in other words. 


to have been initiated fully and completely into the mysteries over 
which she presided. 

It was a Druidical behef that water was the first principle of all 
things and existed before the creation of the world in unsullied purity, 
but that its qualities deteriorated when it became blended with the 
earth. Water was venerated, therefore, because it afforded a symbol, 
by its inexhaustible resources, of the continuous and successive benefits 
bestowed upon the human race and because of the mystical sympathy 
existing between the soul of man and the purity of water. The air was 
regarded as the residence of beings of a more refined and spiritual nature 
than humans, and fire was looked upon as a vital principle brought into 
action at the creation. Ceres, the goddess of agriculture, was originally 
a fire deity, and one of her early names was Cura, a title of the sun. 
In her towers the sacred fires were perpetually kept alight ; the storage 
of corn was a secondary use made of them. According to Strabo and 
Pliny, fire rites were practised in ancient Latium, and a custom, which 
remained even to the time of Augustus, consisted of a ceremony in 
which the priests used to walk barefooted over burning coals. This 
city stood at the foot of Mount Soracte, sacred to Apollo, and the priests 
were styled Hirpi. The earth was venerated by the Druids because it 
was the mother of mankind, and particular honour was paid to trees 
because they afforded a proof of the immense productive power of the 
earth. For many centuries the Druids refused to construct enclosed 
temples, regarding it as an outrage to suggest that the Deity could be 
confined within any Hmits, and the vault of the sky and the depths of 
the forest were originally their only sanctuary. 

In Druidical lore the clouds were composed of the souls of men 
who had recently quitted their earthly abode, and their influence either 
inspired courage or struck terror into armies and people. Their souls 
were capable of terrif)ing mortals with bowlings, cries, apparitions, and 
luminous phantoms. Their agency was seen in dreams and nightmares. 
They vainly endeavoured to soar above the atmosphere, but an irre- 
sistible force impeded their flight into the purer spheres where they 
waited until a new body was formed. Not having attained that high 
purity which would unite them to the sun, they were compelled to 
wander in the form of various birds, animals, and fishes, or, as they said, 
" creatures that peopled the air, earth, and seas." Millions of higher 
souls are said to have occupied vast ice-planes in the moon, where they 
lost all perception, save that of simple existence. They forgot even the 
kind of life they had lived, but on bridges, or, more correctly, " tubes " 
or tunnels caused by eclipses, they returned to earth where, revived by a 
particle of light from the sun, they began a new life career. The sun 
consisted of an assemblage of pure souls " floating on an ocean of bliss." 



This glorious orb contained the souls of good, brave and wise people 
who had been the friends and defenders of mankind. These souls, when 
thrice purified in the sun, ascended to a succession of still higher spheres, 
from which they could not again descend to those stars which occupied 
a less pure atmosphere. Souls sullied by earthly impurities were refined 
by repeated changes and probations until the last stain of evil was worn 
away, and they were ultimately ripened for immortal bhss in a higher 
sphere. A meteor was supposed to be a vehicle for carrying to Paradise 
the soul of some departed Druid. Even to the present day the appearance 
of a ball of fire, a meteor, or what are called " falling stars," creates 
among the more credulous Highlanders a belief that some illustrious 
spirit has taken its flight into the great Beyond. Dreug is the GaeHc 
for " meteor," and is supposed by Dr. Smith to be a contraction of 
Druidh-eug or " Druid's death." 

The Druids had a bold and remarkable aphorism : Nid Dim ond 
Duw, nid Duzv ond Dim — " God cannot be matter and what is not matter 
must be God." They taught that the world was to be of permanent 
duration, but subject to a succession of violent revolutions, which woidd 
be produced, sometimes by the predominating power of the elements of 
water, and sometimes by that of fire. The doctrine of a succession of 
worlds and of continuous incarnations was held also by the Mexicans, 
who doubtless brought it out of Eastern Asia. 

Pomponius Mela tells us that the immortahty of the soul was a 
Druidical doctrine which the Druids only permitted to be pubHshed 
for poHtical reasons. " There is one thing," he said, " which they teach 
their disciples, which hath been made known to the common people, in 
order to render them more brave and fearless, namely, that souls are 
immortal and that there is another life after the present." They held 
also to the belief that communication with the departed by the living 
was possible and really took place. The precise character of this after- 
life has been the occasion of debate between some writers. Some have 
held that the Druidical belief in life after death involved the tenet of 
transmigration, similar to the Buddhistic, but differing from the Theo- 
sophical beHef : that is to say, they believed in the possibility of the 
descent of the human into the animal species. Lucan wrote : 

" Forth they fly immortal in their kind. 
And other bodies in new worlds they find ; 
Thus life for ever runs its endless race. 
And like a line death but divides the space. 
Thrice happy they beneath their northern skies. 
Who that worst fear — the fear of death — despise. 
Hence they no cares for this frail being feel. 


But rush undaunted on the pointed steel ; 
Provoke approaching death and bravely scorn 
To spare that life which must so soon return." 

Diodorus Siculus says that they held that " the souls of men are 
undying, and after completing their term of existence they pass into 
another body." Edward Williams declares that this doctrine of metem- 
psychosis is that which, of all others, most clearly vindicates the ways of 
God to men, is countenanced by many passages in the New Testament, 
believed in by many, if not all, the early Christians, and by the Essenes, 
at least, among the Jews. In Irish tradition. Find MacCumall, the 
celebrated Irish hero, is described as being killed at the Battle of D'Athbrea 
in A.D. 273, and being reborn in a.d. 601, and again later still as King 
of Ireland. D'Arbois de Jubainville states that the belief in reincarnation 
went back to ancient times in Ireland. Long before our era, Eochaid 
Airem, supreme King of Ireland, espoused Elain, daughter of Etar. 
Elain had several centuries before been born in Celtic lands as Aihill, 
wife of Mider, and she was deified after her death. The Celtic doctrine, 
after being lost for centuries, made its reappearance in modern France, 
where it was reconstructed and sustained by a pleiades of brilliant 
writers : Charles Bonnet, Dupont de Nemours, Ballanche, Jean Reynaud, 
Henri Martin, Pierre Larouy, Victor Hugo, Flammarion, and many 

The Druids, apparently, were believers in a kind of evolution, 
maintaining that the soul began its course in the lowest water animalculse 
and passed through several successive graduated bodies until it reached 
the human species. This belief laid a restraint upon them in their 
choice of animals for food, and though no restriction was placed upon 
the choice of animals for sacrifice, they abstained from killing for domestic 
purposes all animals except those which might directly or indirectly 
eventually cause the death of man. According to some writers, the 
Druids believed that the whole of the animated creation was in a state 
of gradual transmigration from the animal to the human, but that the 
soul was immortal and must be perfected for a higher state of existence. 
In the human state it was in a condition of liberty, good and evil being 
held to be equally balanced. Some writers maintain that, at death, if 
the good qualities preponderated over the evil, the soul would pass into 
Gwynvyd, or the state of bUss, but that if the evil qualities preponderated, 
then the soul would pass into an animal displaying the characteristics 
exhibited by the human being while on earth, though it would have 
further opportunities of re-ascent to the human and of ultimate trans- 
lation to Gwynvyd, even though repeated falls should postpone the latter 
step for ages. Other writers, again, have maintained that the Druids 
endeavoured to persuade their followers that death was but an interlude 


to a succession of progressive human existences, and that in this or some 
other world the soul would find a new body and live another human life, 
and so onwards in an innumerable cycle of Uves. It seems very probable 
that this was really the belief held by the Druids, particularly when it 
is remembered that one of their maxims was that money lent in this 
world would be repaid by the individual in the next, and that they also 
believed that letters given to dying persons or thrown upon the funeral 
pyre would be faithfully delivered in the next world. 

" Like money by the Druids borrowed 
In t'other world to be restored." 

In some way the fear of death was removed, and the people were instilled 
with courage in battle and warfare. There is a Cornish saying of the 
present day which runs : Ni Jhuil an sablas athraghadh death, " there is 
nothing in death but a change or alteration of life." 

Jean Brantius, in his Commentary on Julius Ccssar, says that the 
Druids did not believe that the soul of a rational being could be degraded 
and debased, so as to pass from the body of a man into a brute beast, 
and Escalopier and Brucker maintain the same opinion. 

D'Arbois de Jubainville, in The Irish Mythological Circle, says : 

" If the Celtic theories on the survival of the personality after 
death resemble somewhat those of Pythagoras, they are not, how- 
ever, identical. In the system of the Greek philosopher, to be born 
again and to lead one or more new lives in this world, in the bodies 
of animals or of men, is the punishment and common lot of the 
wicked : it is thus that they expiate their faults. The souls of the 
just are not encumbered with a body : pure spirits, they live in 
the atmosphere around, free, happy, immortal. 

" Quite other is the Celtic doctrine. To be born again in this 
world, and to put on a new body has been the privilege of two heroes, 
Tuan mac Cairill, called at first Tuan mac Stairn, and Mongan, 
known in the first existence as Find mac Cumaill. For them it was 
a privilege and not a punishment. The common law, according to 
Celtic doctrine, was, that after death men find in another world the 
new life and new body which their religion holds out to them. This 
new life is a continuation of that led in the world, with all its ups 
and downs, all the social relations that are incident to it. The dead 
chief's favourite slaves and dependents are burned with him on his 
tomb, along with his chariot horses ; they followed their master 
into the other world to continue the services they rendered him in 
this. The debtor who dies without having acquitted his debt will 
find himself in the other world in exactly the same position towards 



his creditor. His obligations will follow him into the land of the 
dead, and he wiU have to fulfil aU engagements he contracted in the 
land of the Uving. 

" The Celt, then, did not conceive of the other life as a com- 
pensation for the ills which one suffers here, or as a place of punish- 
ment for those who have abused the pleasures of this world. The life 
of the dead in the mysterious region beyond the ocean is for each a 
continuation of that led here." 

The Druidical teachings with regard to the persistence of life have 
been summarised in the following lines : 

" Let no mean thoughts of dissolution fright, 
Or damp your spirits with the dews of night : 
The soul's immortal and can never die : 
Then death and aU his dreadful train defy. 
Another world is ready to receive 
Immortal souls that earthly bodies leave ; 
To dust the perishable parts return, 
But at the grave eternal spirits spurn. 
And if in virtue's paths they trod below. 
In heavenly mansions 'tis their fate to glow ; 
But, if by vice enslav'd, their doom's to roam 
Without a heavenly or an earthly home." 

Lucan, fifty years after Christ, and after the withdrawal of the 
Romans, thus addressed the Druids : 

" And yc, ye Druids, now that the sword is removed, begin 
once more your barbaric rites and weird solemnities. To you only 
is given knowledge, or ignorance, whichever it be — of the gods and 
the power of heaven : your dwelling is in the laire heart of the 
forest. From you we learn that the bourne of man's ghost is not 
the senseless grave, nor the pale realm of the monarch below : in 
another world his spirit survives still ; death, if your lore be true, 
is but the passage to enduring life." 

Several writers assert that in combats with the Romans, the Druids 
remained immobile as statues, receiving their wounds without fleeing or 
defending themselves. They knew themselves immortal, and counted 
on finding in another world a new and always young body. 

In Martini Hamconii's Frisia seu de viris rebusque Frisia illustribus, 
published in 1620, it is set forth that Barco, Pontifex seu Prcefectus 
Druidum, who lived in Holland in the fourth century, wrote on the 
immortality of the soul, and that another Dutchman, Poppa, " the most 
distinguished heathen author of the eighth century," left, along with 
other works, the treatises : Dg officiis Druidum and De ritu sacrificorum. 


also that Occo, " a ferocious fellow," the last of the Frisian Druids, wrote 
on the doctrines and lives of the chief Druidical priests. These books, 
however, are not available in England, and are referred to in the barest 
terms in Sedan's Selecta Litteraria, which was printed at Lubec in 1726. 
The Druids, it is ascertained from these and other works, apart from any 
speculation as to their belief or dis-belief in the doctrine of reincarnation, 
were non-believers in the doctrine of eternal punishment, maintaining 
that " a state of eternal punishment is in itself impossible, and the 
infliction of such a punishment is the only act which the Deitv cannot 
commit." They, however, taught that the punishment of the wicked 
after death might be cancelled or lessened by sacrifices to the Supreme 
Deity, and they accordingly offered up black sheep for the sins of the 
departed. Lucan wrote : 

" If dying mortals' doom they sing aright, 
No ghosts descend to dwell in dreadful night. 
No parting souls to grisly Pluto go, 
Nor seek the dreary silent shades below." 

The Druids believed in three circles of existence : the Circle of 
Infinity, which was traversed only by God ; the Circle of Felicity, some- 
times called Gwynvyd, or Happiness, through which men have to travel 
after they have passed through their terrestrial changes ; and the Circle 
of Abred, or Evil, through which humans pass in their varjang states 
of existence, necessary to be undergone before they are fit to inhabit 
the Circle of Felicity. In the third circle, man began in the lower state 
of existence, which contained a mixture of good and evil, of which man 
could make his choice or balance his propensities. Thence man passed 
through the Gate of Mortality, into the Circle of Happiness, where there 
would be neither want nor adversity, sorrow nor death. If there he 
permitted evil affections and passions to govern him, he would sink from 
the Circle of Happiness, and Death would return him to the lower circle, 
where he would suffer punishment in proportion to his offences, the soul 
doing penance in the form of a beast or reptile, or in several of these 
successively. From this degradation the soul would again arise and 
resume human form, until repeated probations and corrections would 
ultimately subdue all evil propensities. Such is the generally accepted 
statement of the Druidical belief in life after death as expounded by 
the principal authorities. 

Another topic which has formed the subject of much debate is the 
question as to whether human sacrifices were offered by the Druids, 
although it seems scarcely open to question in view of the categorical 
statement of Caesar. Divitiacus is scarcely likely to have consented to 
the publication of the statement if it had not been accurate. Possibly, 

The Dniids. 
or the conversion of the 
Britons to Christianity 


however, the explanation of the divergent view may be found in the 
assertion of some writers that the practice of human sacrifices was the 
perpetuation of a pre-Druidic custom. Superstitions connected with the 
mystical power of human sacrifices are of scytho-medique origin. Doubt- 
less, the practice of immolating human victims to superior persons or 
powers comes from an instinct common to all primitive people. This 
barbarous custom is found among the yellow tribes of America, the 
black tribes of Africa, as well as among the Gauls. Humanity has 
everywhere, in a greater or lesser pronounced degree, the same native 
instincts. There seems no doubt but that the practice must be admitted, 
always remembering, however, that it was not peculiar to the Druids, 
and that the Greeks and Romans, amongst others, had their sacrifices of 
men and women. Bertrand says that it is impossible to deny, after a 
close examination of texts, that human sacrifices, up to the time of the 
Roman Conquest, were very popular and were regarded as an ordinary 
practice in several parts of Gaul and Germany. He also arrives at the 
conclusion that they were established in Gaul anterior to the introduction 
of Druidism in that country. It is doubtful, however, whether these 
sacrifices took place in the vicinity of the temples. The religion of the 
Druids, apart from this custom, seems to have been spiritual and refined, 
without statues, enclosed temples, and the like. Tacitus calls one of 
their temples castum netnus, " the chaste wood." Chastity implies 
freedom from every kind of pollution, and so exact a writer as Tacitus 
would scarcely have applied the epithet " chaste " to a grove stained 
with human gore. 

These Druidical sacrifices appear, however, to have been legal 
executions, and an interval of five years generally elapsed between 
sentence and execution. There is no evidence that the human sacrifices 
of the Druids consisted of aught save the capital punishment meted out 
to criminals ; but it is necessary to observe that, according to Bardic 
law, even murderers seldom expiated their crimes with death, except 
when these were proved to be premeditated and perpetrated deliberately, 
and the victims subjected to ill-usage and cruelty before being despatched. 
The Bardic teaching was that " a man having been guilty of crimes that 
are punishable with death must be so punished ; and, by giving himself 
up as a voluntary victim, being conscious of deserving death, a man does 
all that is in his power to expiate his crimes." 

There is no proof that the Druids ever offered sacrifices in the sense 
of substitution or atonement. Although some writers have ventured 
to censure the Druids for their alleged inhumanity in regard to this 
practice, they have never brought the charge of immorality, either in 
public or private, against the Druids, and it is generally admitted by all 
writers that no obscene or improper language was permitted in the 


celebration of the Druidical rites and mysteries. The candidates, indeed, 
were for ever disgraced if they " uttered one word of unseemly import." 
It is also worthy of note that Druidism was free from that spirit of 
intolerance which has marred other faiths, and there is no record of 
any Christian missionary undergoing martyrdom at the hands of the 
Druids. Diodorus said of them : " They are of much sincerity and 
integrity, far from the craft and knavery of men amongst us ; contented 
with homely fare, strangers to excess and luxury," while Strabo states 
that they were remarkable for justice, moral and religious doctrines. 

Some writers maintain that human sacrifices were offered only on 
solemn occasions, such as when the people feared a famine, when they 
were hard pressed by the enemy, or when they were about to enter on 
some arduous undertaking. It was then that they sacrificed malefactors, 
felons, or captives of war. The Druids believed that those who killed 
themselves to accompany their friends into the next world would live 
with them there, so that there was no lack of victims who, in time of 
trouble, came forward as volunteers to submit to death with this object 
in view. Eager to rejoin their dear departed in the happier sphere, eager 
to ascend into the Circle of Felicity, the Celts mounted gladly the sacrificial 
stone, and death came to them in the midst of a song of joy. The old 
Mosaic law of " a life for a hfe " was also required by the laws of Cymry, 
and the capital punishment inflicted by the executioner was regarded 
as the requital of the debt due to God and man. The object of the 
sacrifices was to remit to an offended Deity a reprobate spirit to suffer 
the judgment of heaven. According to the laws of Dyonwal Moelmund, 
the three forms of capital punishment practised in Britain, were beheading, 
hanging, and burning. It is possible that the practice of burning was 
derived from Phoenicia, where the annual sacrifice of human beings by fire, 
which was part of the worship of Moloch, may have given rise to the 
custom of burning malefactors and prisoners taken in war, and other 
immolations in vogue amongst the Druids. 

Dr. Milner, in his History of Winchester, says that at Douay and 
Dunkirk, there was an immemorial custom of constructing huge figures 
of wickerwork and canvas that were filled with men and women and 
moved about to represent a giant who was killed by their patron saint. 
Columba, when beginning the erection of his church at lona, addressed 
his followers in words which point clearly to human sacrifice : " It is 
good for us that our roots should go under the earth here ; it is permitted 
that one of you should go under the clay of this island to hallow it." 
The story runs that Odran rose readily and said : " If thou shouldst 
take me, I am ready for that." Columba readily accepted the offer, 
Odran went to heaven, and Columba founded the church of Hi. Adamnan 


mentions that the church founded by Columba was a Duirthcch, or oak 

The Romans issued stringent laws forbidding the retention of the 
practice of human sacrifices, although they were by no means free from 
the guilt of such practices themselves, even in their most civiHzed ages. 
Adam, in his Roman Antiquities, says that by an ancient law of Romulus, 
persons guilty of certain crimes, such as treachery or sedition, were 
devoted to Pluto and the infernal gods. In after times, a consul, dictator, 
or praetor might devote not only himself, but any of the legion, and slay 
him as an expiatory victim. In the first ages of the Republic, human 
sacrifices appear to have been offered annually, and it was not until the 
year of the city 657 that a decree of the senate was made to prohibit 
them. Boys used to be put to a cruel death in the time of Cicero and 
Horace for magical purposes. Augustus ordered three hundred senators 
and equites, who had sided with Anthony, to be sacrificed on the altar 
of Julius Cassar. Gibbon tells us that " under the specious pretext of 
abolishing human sacrifices, the Emperors Tiberius and Claudius sup- 
pressed the dangerous power of the Druids." The Romans, however, 
regarded human sacrifices as pleasing to the gods. Even at so late a 
period as the Second Punic War a man was buried alive for the purpose 
of conciliating the divine favour, and when the soldiers of Julius Casar 
attempted an insurrection at Rome, two of them were sacrificed to Mars 
in the Campius Martius, and their heads were stuck up in the Regia. 
The Egyptians carried the practice to such a monstrous excess, says 
Carte, in his History of England, that, at Heliopolis, they offered every 
day three men to Juno, till Amosis abolished the custom, substituting 
images of wax instead of men ; as the Laodiceans of Syria did in lieu 
of the virgin they yearly offered to Minerva. The aborigines of Italy 
offered their victims to Jove and Apollo. 

Ireland is said by some writers, particularly d'Arbois de Jubainville, 
to have been free from the taint of human sacrifices, but this is because, 
wherever possible, all mention of this practice has been suppressed by 
partial writers. Marcus Keane, in Towers and Temples of Ancient Ireland, 
says : 

" I have no doubt of the custom of human sacrifices having 
prevailed in Ireland also. Several writers upon Ireland have 
asserted the fact ; and the Celtic Druids are stated to have sacrificed 
children at Meagh Sleachth, in Cavan, shortly before the coming of 
St. Patrick. I believe this charge to be an anachronism, so far as 
the Druids are concerned, as no such sanguinary rites could have 
prevailed during the age immediately preceding the introduction of 
Christianity, without receiving some particular notice from the 
early Christian writers. But the slight notices of such sacrificial 


rites, which have survived, I bcHeve to be due to traditions of the 
antecedent Cuthites." 

In the Latin Life of St. Patrick, however, it is stated that, on the 
festival of Tara, not only princes and heads and chiefs of provinces, 
but also the druidum magistri, assembled for the purpose of offering 
human sacrifices to idols. The following poem is found in the Books of 
Leinster, of Ballymote, of Lecan, and in the Rennes MS. The translation 
was made by Dr. Kuno Meyer, and it appears as an appendix to Nutt's 
Voyage of Bran : 

" Here used to be 

A high idol with many fights. 

Which was named the Cromm Cruaich ; 

It made every tribe to be without peace. 

'Twas a sad evil ! 

Brave Gaels used to worship it. 

From it they would not without tribute ask 

To be satisfied as to their portion of the hard world. 

He was their god. 

The withered Cromm with many mists. 
The people whom he shook over every host, 
The everlasting kingdom they shall not have. 

To him without glory 

They would kill their piteous, wretched offspring 

With much wailing and peril, 

To pour their blood around Cromm Cruaich. 

Milk and corn 

They would ask from him speedily 

In return for one-third of their healthy issue : 

Great was the horror and the scare of him. 

To him 

Noble Gaels would prostrate themselves. 

From the worship of him with many manslaughters, 

The plain is called ' Mag Slecht.' 

There came 

Tigernmas, the prince of Tara yonder. 

On Hallowe'en with many hosts, 

A cause of grief to them was the deed. 


They did evil, 

They beat their palms, they pounded their bodies, 
Waihng to the demon who enslaved them. 
They shed falling showers of tears. 

Dead were the men 

Of Banba's host, without happy strength, 
Around Tigernmas, the destructive man in the North, 
From the worship of Cromm Cruaich — 'twas no luck 
for them. 

For I have learnt. 

Except one-fourth of the keen Gaels 
Not a man alive — lasting the snare ! 
Escaped without death in his mouth. 

Around Cromm Cruaich 

There the hosts would prostrate themselves ; 
Though he put them under deadly disgrace, 
Their name cHngs to the noble plain. 

In their ranks stood 

Four times three stone idols ; 

To bitterly beguile the hosts. 

The figure of the Cromm was made of gold. 

Since the rule 

Of Herimon, the noble man of grace. 

There was worshipping of stones 

Until the coming of good Patrick of Macha. 

A sledge-hammer to the Cromm 
He appHed from crown to sole. 
He destroyed without lack of valour 
The feeble idol which was there." 

The animals of a chief also were killed on his grave at the time of 
his funeral in the same manner as in Gaul in the time of Csesar. 

It is improbable that the reUgious instruction of the populace was 
limited absolutely to the teaching of the doctrine of the immortality of 
the soul. It is more likely that the Druids followed the practice of the 
Gymnosophists of India, the Magi of Persia, the Chaldeans of Assyria, 
and other priests of antiquity, by having two sets of doctrine, one being 
communicated to the initiated only, admitted after certain ceremonies 
and rites and sworn to secrecy, and the other taught freely and openly 
to the uninitiated. No verses or poems whatsoever relating to the 


system or creed were permitted to be issued unless previously examined 
and publicly approved at a Gorsedd. For this purpose they were first 
recited by the Dageiniaid, or reciters, in the hearing of aU. 

Diodorus states that the Britons paid great regard to the exhortations 
of the Druids, not only in times of peace, but also in the time of war. 
" They sometimes," he says, " step in between two hostile armies, who 
are standing with their swords drawn and their spears extended, ready 
to engage ; and, by their eloquence, as by an irresistible enchantment, 
they prevent an effusion of blood." Tacitus also says that " the British 
chieftains, before a battle, fly from rank to rank and address the men 
with animating speeches tending to inflame their courage, increase their 
hopes, and dispel their fears." 

According to Justin, the Druids declared that in times of public 
calamity the people could not be rid of pestilence or trouble until they 
had dipped the gold and silver secured to them during a time of war 
into a lake. He gives the following description of this ceremony : 

" Many persons resorted to a lake at the foot of the Gevaudan 

mountains, consecrated to the moon under the name of Helanus, 

and thither cast, some the entire human habits, linen, cloth, and 

entire fleeces ; others cast in cheese, wax, bread, and other things, 

everyone according to his ability ; they then sacrificed for several 


Strabo also states that the Gauls consecrated their gold in certain 

The old metrical Life of St. Patrick, ascribed to Fiacc of Sleibthe, 
says : " The Tuatha adored the Sidhe. According to the Book of Armagh, 
the Sidhe were supernatural beings supposed to dwell in the earth, the 
sea, the rivers, in valleys and hills, in fountains, wells, and trees. Both 
they and the natural objects in which they were supposed to dwell were 
invoked or conciliated. They were supposed to be conciliated by the 
spells and incantations of a sacred caste called Druada or Magi. The 
Banshee is just the bcan-sidh, or female sprite or fairy. Mullaghshee, 
the hill on which the church stands in Ballyshannon, is the hiU of the 
sidh or shce, or fairy palace." 

Caesar says that the Druids were the judges on all points of law and 
equity, and were the distributors of all punishments and rewards. They 
had the power of excommunication against all who did not submit'^to 
their decrees, of excluding persons of all ranks from the benefits of 
Society, and even from Society itself ; of deposing princes, and even of 
condemning them to death, a power not infrequently exercised, and of 
declaring war and peace. The Druids themselves were exempt from 
bearing arms and paying taxes. Divitiacus, the Arch Druid, however, 


we learn from Caesar, was permitted to carry arms, and was entrusted 
even with the command of a corps in one of Cesar's battalions. 

Cffisar gives the following account of the effect of the sentence of 
excommunication : 

" If any person, either private or public, does not acquiesce in 
their decisions, they interdict him from their sacrifices. That is, 
among them, the severest punishment. They who are thus inter- 
dicted are reckoned impious and accursed ; all men depart from 
them ; all shun their company and conversation, lest they should 
sustain some misfortune from their contagion ; the administration 
of justice and the protection of the laws is denied to them and no 
honour is conferred upon them." 

The sentence consigned the miserable defaulter to a lingering death 
from cold and hunger, says George Jones. He had no fire to cheer his 
home or dress food for his subsistence or to warm himself in the depth 
of winter, while surrounded with frosts and snows. No friend, kinsman, 
or neighbour was permitted to supply him with it under pain of incurring 
the like cruel sentence. The excommunicated had also to walk with 
bare feet and wear black garments for the remainder of their lives. 

Repentance and purification were regarded by the Druids as necessary 
duties. They observed one day in seven as peculiarly sanctified and 
made holy by the Great Creator, and they were wont to dedicate one- 
tenth of all their substance to religious purposes. 

Geometrical figures, such as lines, angles, squares, and perpendiculars 
were ranked amongst the symbols of Druidism. 

" As the Druids had no enclosed temples," says Borlase, " think- 
ing them inconsistent with the majesty of the gods, so neither had 
they any carved images to represent them, and for the same reason ; 
but, instead thereof, rude stones were erected in their places of 
worship at some mystic, significant distance, and in some emblematic 
manner, situation, and plan ; sometimes in triangles, sometimes in 
squares, sometimes in both ; now single and fifty paces distant or 
more from the circles ; or eminently taller than the rest in the 
circular line, and making a part of it hke portals, not only to shape 
the entrance, but also to hallow those that entered : it appearing 
by many monuments that the Druids attributed great virtue to 
these passages between rocks." 

The Druidical philosophy and religion, even in their corrupted state, 
were certainly equal, if not superior, to any of the philosophies and 
religions current in other parts of the world in their day and time. 
Manxmen ascribe to the Druids the excellent laws by which their island 
has always been governed, and the ancient Greeks, on their own admission, 
learned part of their philosophy and many of their fables from the Gallic 


Druids. The power of the Druidical priesthood was tremendous, all 
the moral force of the country was in the hands of the priests, who were 
accountable to no other superior human power. At one time their 
authority appears to have extended over France, Flanders, the Alpine 
Regions, Lombardy, and the British Isles, but was ultimately confined 
within the narrow Umits of the Isle of Man, where the blood of the last 
victim was shed and where the last temple was overthrown. 

The knowledge of the Druids astonished the Fathers of the Church. 
St. Augustine declared that their philosophy almost approached that of 
Christian monotheism. Their studies embraced those elevated objects 
which had engaged the attention of the whole world — the nature of the 
Deity, the nature of the human soul, the future state, the heavenly 
bodies, the terrestrial globe, and its various productions. Their concep- 
tions were great and sublime, their speculations comprehensive in their 
sphere, pervading most of the arts and sciences which had interested 
the earliest peoples. M. J. P. Megnin, in his work, De Porigine de la 
Ferrure du Cheval, says that the Druids taught the structure of the 
horse's foot by the enormous sacrifices they made of this animal, and 
accustomed to the manipulation of metals, and their intelligence con- 
tinually cultivated by study, were marvellously disposed to be the 
inventors of shoeing by nails. " VVhen we also look to the rational form 
they gave to their work," he continues, " how wisely they placed the 
nail holes, and how skilfully they made the nail heads to form so many 
cages to assist travelling in rocky and mountainous regions, we cannot 
but be astonished at the perfection which the sacred smiths had attained 
in defending and assisting nature two thousand years ago." Perhaps, 
also, there was no order of men among the pagans who preserved the 
philosophical opinions of mankind in the early state with greater simplicity 
or integrity. The ceremonies of their religion were performed with a 
solemnity that deeply affected the spectator, and it is said that even the 
Romans "stood astonished and trembled." They were monogamists and 
of the highest moraHty, but followed the Phoenician custom of giving a 
widow to her husband's brother. No idol or graven image has ever been 
discovered among Druidical remains, despite Caesar's statement that the 
countries of the Druids were fuU of idols. Under a variety of names and 
characters the Druids acknowledged one God, the Maker of all things, 
and the Lord of all the earth. They taught the superintendency of 
Divine Providence, of moral responsibility, and of recompense after death. 
As a consequence of these principles they observed, as well as enjoined, 
the most rigid justice in their decisions and in their dealings with their 

According to Banier : " Although the memoirs of our Druids are 
extremely short, yet we can very evidently discover from them that 


the Druids were of Abraham's religion entirely, at least in the earliest 
times, and worshipped the Supreme Being in the same manner as he did, 
and probably according to his example, or the example of his and their 
common ancestors." Certainly, when the teachings of the Druids are 
examined — the creation of the world, the formation of man, his primitive 
innocence and felicity, and his fall into guilt and misery, the creation of 
angels, their rebellion and expulsion from heaven, the universal deluge, 
the final salvation of humanity, it will be seen that there was no great 
divergence from those teachings contained in the writings of Moses and 
other parts of the Jewish scriptures. Their worship consisted in rites 
of sacrifice, prayer, and praise : the people knew their institutes, believed 
and practised them. Sermons appear generally to have been absent 
from their services. 

In its primitive state, Druidism may be regarded as an edifice raised 
upon the same basis as the patriarchal religion. Its ostensible design 
was to enlighten the understanding, to promote harmony, and to encour- 
age virtue. As a religion, it undoubtedly deteriorated in the course of 
its historv, possibly under the influence of commerce, and probably by 
the contaminating influence of the Carthaginians and the Phoenicians. 
From them possibly were derived those cruel and abominable rites of 
human sacrifices and the burning of infants. Deterioration, however, is 
a factor common to all religions. The East to-day is losing its former 
deservedlv high reputation as the home of mysticism and high spiritual 
culture under the advance of commerce, and the art of meditation, even 
among Buddhist priests, is becoming a lost accomplishment, whenever 
and wherever such come into contact with western ideas and customs. 
There seems to be much truth in what Taliesin describes as " the 
oppression of the metal-workers." 

A note to Lord Lytton's King Arthur says : 

" The testimonv to be found in classical writers as to the 
original purity of the Druid worship, before it was corrupted into 
the idolatry which existed in Britain at the time of the Roman 
conquest, is strongly corroborated by the Welsh triads. These 
triads, indeed, are of various dates, but some bear the mark of a 
very remote antiquity — wholly distinct aUke from the philosophy of 
the Romans and the mode of thought prevalent in the earlier ages 
of the Christian era ; in short, anterior to all the recorded conquests 
of the Cymrian people. These, like proverbs, appear the wrecks 
and fragments of some primeval ethics or philosophical reUgion. 
Nor are such remarkable alone for the purity of the notions they 
inculcate relative to the Deity ; they have often, upon matters 
less spiritual, the delicate observation, as well as the profound thought 
of reflective wisdom. Nor were the Druids of Britain inferior to 


those with whom the Sages of the Western and Eastern worlds came 
into contact. On the contrary, even to the time of Caesar, the 
Druids of Britain excelled in science and repute those of Gaul, and 
to their schools the neophytes of the Continent were sent." 
Hutchinson, in his History of Cutnberland, bears similar testimony 
when he saj^s : 

" We do not find that the Britons, from the first account of 
them in this part of the island, were enveloped in that dreadful 
darkness of mind in which most other nations, on their first discovery 
by Europeans, have been described to us : on the contrary, they 
were not ignorant of the Deity and had not corrupted their 
religion with idolatry." 

The Druidical teaching concerning man's spiritual nature is com- 
prised in the following Triad : 

" In every person there is a soul : In every soul there is intelli- 
gence : In every intelligence there is thought. In every thought 
there is good and evil : In every evil there is death : In every good 
there is Hfe : In every life there is God." 

Another utterance shows the spiritual character of the Druidical 
teaching : 

" Let God be praised in the beginning and the end ; 

Who supplicates Him, He will neither despise nor refuse ; 
God above us, God before us, God possessing all things. 
May the Father of Heaven grant us a portion of mercy ! " 
In Ireland, the Druids left more solid traces of their domination 
and their teaching. Ireland has never been subject to the influence of 
foreign civilizations. Only one influence has effected any sensible 
modification in that island — the triumph of Christianity, which has been 
exclusively moral. 



" Hark ! 'twas the voice of harps that poured along 
The hoUow vale, the floating tide of song. 
I see the glittering train in long array, 
Gleam through the shades, and snowy splendours play ; 
I see them now with measured steps and slow, 
'Mid arching groves the white-robed sages go. 
The oaken wreath with braided fillet drest — 
The Crescent beaming on the holy breast — 
The silver hair which waves above the lyre. 
And shrouds the strings, proclaim the Druid's quire. 
They halt, and all is hushed." 


" . . . . The Sages skill'd in Nature's lore ; 
The changeful universe, its numbers, powers. 
Studious they measure, save when meditation 
Gives place to holy rites : then in the grove 
Each hath his rank and function." 

Mason. Caractacus. 

The mode of life adopted by the Druidical priests made easy the 
transition from Pagan to Christian monasticism. To all intents and 
purposes the Druids formed a Church, and their ecclesiastical system 
seems to have been as complete as any other system of which records 
have been preserved, whether Christian or non-Christian. The word 
" Church," it is interesting to note, is by many etymologists derived 
from the Greek word kirkos, meaning " a circle." It appears in varied, 
though similar forms in different languages : Welsh, cyrch ; Scotch, kirk ; 
Old Enghsh, chirche, cherche, or chireche ; Anglo-Saxon, circe or cyrice ; 
Dutch, kerk ; Icelandic, kirkja ; Swedish, kyrka ; Danish, kirke ; German, 
kirche ; Old High German, chirihha. 

The rank of the Arch, or Chief, Druid was that of pontifex maximus, 
and, apparently, he held his position until death or resignation, when his 
successor appears to have been elected in a manner similar to that in 
which the Pope of the present day is elected, although some writers assert 
that the Arch Druid was elected annually. Cassar states that " when 


the presulary dignity becomes vacant by the head Druid's death, the 
next in dignity succeeds ; but, when there are equals in competition, 
election carries it." 

Many Druids appear to have retired from the world and Hved a 
hermit existence, in order that they might acquire a reputation for 
sanctity. Martin, in his Description of the Western Isles, has pointed out 
that, in his time, in the most unfrequented places of the Western Isles 
of Scotland, there were still remaining the foundations of small circular 
houses, intended evidently for the abode of one person only, to which 
were given the name of "Druids' Houses" by the people of the country. 
The Druids were great lovers of silence, and if any one was found prattHng 
during their assemblies or sacrifices he was admonished ; if, after the 
third admonition, he did not cease talking, a large piece of his garment 
was cut off ; and if, after that, he again offended, he was punished in a 
more rigorous manner. 

The majority of the Druids, however, appear to have lived a com- 
munal Hfe, uniting together in fraternities and dwelHng near the temples 
which they served ; each temple requiring the services of several priests, 
except, perhaps, in isolated districts. In Wales, one Druid resided in 
every Cwnizvd to offer sacrifices and to instruct the people. In addition 
to the portion of land to which every freeborn Cymro was entitled, and 
the immunities and privileges belonging to his class, this local priest 
could claim a contribution from every plough used in the hamlets of his 
Cwmwd. Ammianus of Marseilles describes these early priests of Britain 
in the following words : 

" The Druids, men of poHshed parts, as the authority of 

Pythagoras has decreed, affecting formed societies and sodalities, 

gave themselves wholly to the contemplation of divine and hidden 

things, despising all worldly enjoyments, and confidently affirmed 

the souls of men to be immortal." 

Not a few, however, lived in a more public and secular manner, 
attaching themselves to kingly courts and the residences of the noble and 
wealthy. The Druids have thus a close affinity with both the monastic 
orders and religious congregations of the Church of Rome, known as the 
regular clergy ; and those Hving unrestricted by special vows, known as 
the secular clergy. 

The period of novitiate and the character of the training of an 
aspirant to the Druidical priesthood was as lengthy and as rigorous as 
that of an aspirant to membership of the Society of Jesus, better known 
as the Jesuit Society. It lasted for twenty years and, although the 
candidates were, in general, enlisted from the families of nobles, many 
youths in other ranks of life also entered voluntarily upon the novitiate, 
and very frequently boys were dedicated to the priestly life by their 


parents from an early age. None but freemen were admitted as aspirants, 
so that a slave seeking admission into the Order had first to obtain his 
freedom from his master. 

The ceremony of initiation, so far as can be gathered from the 
records, was solemn and arduous. The candidate first took an oath 
not to reveal the mvsteries into which he was about to be initiated. He 
was then divested of his ordinary clothing, crowned with ivy, and vested 
with a tri-coloured robe of white, blue, and green — colours emblematical 
of light, truth, and hope. Over this was placed a white tunic. Both 
were made with full-length openings in the front and, before the ceremony 
of initiation began, the candidate had to throw open both tunic and robe, 
in order that the officiating priest might be assured that he was a male. 
This divesture was also to symboHse his extreme poverty, which was 
supposed to be his characteristic prior to initiation. 

The tonsure was one of the ceremonies connected with initiation. 
As practised in the Roman Church the tonsure, the first of the four 
minor orders conferred upon aspirants to the priesthood, is undoubtedly 
a Druidical survival. There is evidence of its practice in Ireland in 
A.D. 630, but it does not appear to have become a custom in England 
until the latter part of the eighth century. The tonsure was referred to 
by St. Patrick as " the diabolical mark," although, according to Druidical 
lore, St. Patrick himself was tonsured ; and in Ireland it was known as 
" the tonsure of Simon the Druid." The Druidical differed greatly from 
both the modern monastic and secular form. All the hair in front of a 
line drawn over the crown from ear to ear was shaved or clipped. All 
Druids wore short hair, the laymen long ; the Druids wore long beards, 
the laymen shaved the whole of the face, with the exception of the upper 
lip. The tonsure was known also in Wales as a sign of service in a kingly 
or noble family. In the Welsh romance known as the Mabijiogion, we 
find among the Brythons a youth who wished to become one of Arthur's 
knights, whose allegiance was signified by the king cutting off the \-outh's 
hair with his own hand. 

The initiation took place in a cave, because of the legend which 
existed that Enoch had deposited certain invaluable secrets in a conse- 
crated cavern deep in the bowels of the earth. There is stiU to be seen 
in Denbighshire one of the caves in which Druidical initiations are said 
to have taken place. The caves in which the various ceremonies were 
performed were, like the over-ground Druidical temples, circular in form. 
The underground rooms of the Red Indians, where their secret councils 
were held, were also circular in form, with a divan running around 
them. After taking the oath the candidate had to pass through the 
Tolmen, or perforated stone, an act held to be the means of purging 
from sin and conveying purity. Captain Wilford, in Asiatic Researches, 


says that perforated stones are not uncommon in India, and that devout 
people pass through them, when the opening will admit it, in order 
to be regenerated. If the hole be too small to permit of the passage of 
the entire body, they put either the hand or foot through the hole ; and, 
with a sufficient degree of faith, this answers nearly the same purpose. 
Among the Namburi of the Travancore State a man is made a Brahman 
by being passed through the body of a golden cow, or being placed in a 
colossal golden lotus flower, which article then becomes the property of 
the priests. The individual is, by this act, said to acquire a new birth 
of the soul, or have become twice-born. Passing persons through holed 
stones is also practised in other parts of India, as it is in the East Indies. 
In some parts of the north of England children are drawn through a hole 
in the " Groaning Cheese " on the day on which they are christened. 
All rocks containing an aperture, whether natural or artificial, were held 
to possess the means of transmitting purification to the person passing 
through the hole. At Bayons Manor, near Market Rasen, Lincolnshire, 
there is a petra ambrosice, consisting of a gigantic upright stone resting 
upon another stone and hollowed out so as to form an aperture sufficiently 
large for a man to pass through. This stone is believed to have been 
used by the Druids in the performance of their sacred rites. The cele- 
brated Purgatory of St. Patrick, at Lough Derg, in Ireland, is also thought 
to have been a place of Druidical initiation, and even in ante-Druidical 
times no person was permitted to enter the enclosure without first 
undergoing all the ceremonies of preparation and purification. Some 
writers have conjectured that the prophet Isaiah was referring to a 
practice similar to this when he wrote (i, 19) : " And they shall go into 
the holes of the rocks and into the caves of the earth for fear of the 
Lord, and for the glory of His majesty, when He ariseth to shake terribly 
the earth." All such orifices were consecrated with holy oil and dedicated 
to religious uses, hence the distinguishing name of lapis ambrosius which 
was given to each. 

Forlong, in Rivers of Life, throws much fight upon this custom. In 
one passage he says : 

" The superstition of passing through natural, or even artificial, 
clefts in trees and rocks, or, faifing them, caves and holes, has 
scarcely yet left the most civiUzed parts of Europe, and is firmly 
maintained throughout the rest of the world, and, in India, takes 
the thoroughly literal aspect of the question, viz., of being really 
' born again,' the person to be regenerated being actually passed 
through the mouth and organ of a properly constructed cow — if 
the sinner be very rich, of a gold or silver cow, which is then broken 
up and divided among the purifying priests. A wooden or lithic 
perforation, that is an / Oni, is, for ordinary men, however, a sufficient 


' baptism of grace,' and in these islands the holy ash, or Ygdrasil, 
is the proper tree to regenerate one. Major Moor describes his 
gardener in Suffolk as splitting a young ash longitudinally (the oak 
is its equivalent) and passing a naked child through it three times, 
' always head foremost for rickets and rupture.' The tree is bound 
up again, and if it heals, all goes well with the child. The operation 
is called drawing in Suffolk, and, in 1834, seems to have gone beyond 
the spiritual and passed into the sphere of a medical luxury. In 
England the ash is for drawing preferred to the oak ; it should be 
split for about five feet, as closely as possible east and west, and in 
the Spring, or fertilising season of the year, before vegetation has 
set in, and just as the sun is rising. The child must then be stripped 
quite naked, and some say passed feet, and not head, foremost, 
through the tree three times, and it should then be carefully turned 
round, or, as the Celts say, deasil-ways, that is with the sun, after 
which, the cleft of the tree must be bound up carefully. Here we 
see the tree as a thing of life, and forming the very lOni-ish, ' door 
of life,' and in the presence of Siva, or the Sun, without whom 
regeneration of old, or the giving of new life is known by all to be 

Bottrell, also, in his Traditions of West Cornwall, says that children 
were at one time brought to Madron Well to be cured of shingles, wild 
fires, tetters, and various skin diseases, as well as to fortify them against 
witchcraft and other mysterious ailments. The child was stripped naked, 
then it was plunged or popped three times through the water against 
the sun ; next it was passed quickly nine times round the spring, going 
from east to west, or with the sun ; then dressed, rolled up in something 
warm, and made to sleep near the water ; if the child slept and plenty 
of bubbles rose in the water, it was a good sign. 

The candidate was next placed in a chest or cofBn, in which he 
remained enclosed — apertures being made for the circulation of air — for 
three days, to represent death. From this chest he was liberated on the 
third day to symbolise his restoration to life. The Bard, in describing 
the initiation of Arthur, says that at his (mystical) death, the " three 
nights was he placed under the flat stone of Echemeint." When the 
aspirant emerged from the tomb in which he had been immured he was 
pronounced regenerated, or born again. Dr. George OHver, in Signs 
and Symbols, says that in all ancient Mysteries before an aspirant could 
claim to participate in the higher secrets of the Institution he was placed 
within the Pastos, or Bed, or Coffin ; or, in other words, was subject to 
a solitary confinement for a prescribed period of time, that he might 
reflect seriously, in seclusion and darkness, on what he was about to 
undertake, and be reduced to a proper state of mind for the reception of 


great and important truths, by a course of fasting and mortification. 
This was symbolical death and his deliverance from confinement was 
the act of regeneration, or being born again. The candidate was made 
to undergo these changes in scenic representation and was placed under 
the Pastos in perfect darkness. 

The sanctuary was then prepared for the further ceremonies in 
connection with the initiation, and the candidate, bHndfolded, was 
introduced to the assembled company during the chanting of a h\mn to 
the sun and placed in the charge of a professed Druid, another Druid, at 
the same time, kindling the sacred fire. It is said that we still retain 
in some old English choruses the odes which those Phallo-Solar wor- 
shippers used to chant. Thus : " Heydown, down derry down," is held 
to be Hai down ir dcri danno, signifying : " Come, let us haste to the 
oaken grove " ; or, if taken from the Celtic, Dun dun daragan dun, it 
would mean, " To the hill, to the hill, to the oaks, to the hill." Another 
chant : " High troloUie, lollie loi, or lee," is said to come from the Celtic 
Ai tra la, la, li," which would be an address to the rising sun as " Hail ! 
early day." 

Still bHndfolded, the candidate was taken on a circumnambulation 
nine times round the sanctuary in circles from East to West, starting 
at the South. The procession was made to the accompaniment of a 
tumultuous clanging of musical instruments and of shouting and scream- 
ing, and was followed by the administration of a second oath, the violation 
of which rendered the individual liable to the penalty of death. 

Then followed a number of other ceremonies, which typified the 
confinement of Noah in the Ark and the death of that patriarch, the 
candidate passing eventually through a narrow avenue, which was 
guarded by angry beasts, after which he was seized and borne to the 
waters, symbolical of the waters on which the Ark of Noah floated. He 
was completely immersed in this water, and, on emerging from the water 
on the bank opposite to that from which he had entered, he found himself 
in a blaze of light. The most dismal howlings, shrieks, and lamentations 
are said to have been heard during the progress of this ceremony, the 
barking of dogs, the blowing of horns, and the voices of men uttering 
discordant cries. These were made partly for the purpose of intimidating 
the candidate, and partly with the design of inspiring with terror any 
uninitiated persons who might be within earshot, and so deter them 
from prying into the secrets. Some writers assert that the sound of 
thunder was heard, which is not improbable : the art of making artificial 
thunder was known to the priests of Delphos. The candidate, on arriving 
at the opposite bank, was presented to the Arch Druid, who, seated on 
his throne or official chair, explained to the initiate the symbolical 


meaning of the various ceremonies in which he had just taken an active 

Taliesin, in his account of his initiation, says : 

" I was first modelled into the form of a pure man in the hall 
of Ceridwen, who subjected me to penance. Though small within 
my ark and modest in my deportment, I was great. A sanctuary 
carried me above the surface of the earth. Whilst I was inclosed 
within its ribs, the sweet Awen rendered me complete ; and my 
law, without audible language, was imparted to me by the old 
giantess darkly smiUng in her wrath ; but her claim was not regretted, 
when she set sail. I fled in the form of a fair grain of pure wheat ; 
upon the edge of a covering cloth she caught me in her fangs. In 
appearance she was as large as a proud mare, which she also 
resembled: then was she swelling out, like a ship upon the waters. Into 
a dark receptacle she cast me. She carried me back into the sea of 
D\-lan. It was an auspicious omen to me, when she happily suffo- 
cated me. God, the Lord, freely set me at large." 
The ceremony of initiation was similar to that of the Egyptian 
rites of Osiris, which were regarded as a descent into hell, a passage 
through the infernal lake, followed by a landing on the Egyptian Isle of 
the Blessed. By this means men were held to become more holy, just, 
and pure, and to be delivered from all hazards which would otherwise 
be impending. The cave in which the aspirant was placed for the purpose 
of meditation before he was permitted to participate in the sacred 
Mysteries was guarded by a representation of the terrible divinity 
Busnawr, who was armed with a naked sword, and whose vindictive 
wrath, when aroused, was said to be such as to make earth, hell and 
even heaven itself, tremble. 

Dionysius tells us that when the Druidesses celebrated the mysteries 
of the great god, Hu, the Mighty, they passed over an arm of the sea 
in the dead of the night to certain smaller contiguous islets. The ship 
or vessel in which they made the passage represented the Ark of the 
Deluge ; the arm of the sea that of the waters of the Flood ; and the 
fabled Elysian island, where the passage terminated, shadowed out the 
Lunar White Island of the ocean-girt summit of the Paradisiacal Ararat. 
After the initiation was completed the novice retired into the forest, 
where the period of his novitiate was spent, his time being devoted to 
study and gymnastic exercises. The Druids encouraged learning, and 
candidates for the priesthood passed first through the courses assigned 
to those who were to become Ovates or Bards. Four degrees were 
conferred during the long novitiate ; the first being given after three 
years' study in the arts of poetry and music, if the candidate, by his 
capacity and diligence, merited the honour. The second was conferred 


after six years' further study, if merited ; the third after a further nine 
years' study ; and the final degree, equal to a doctorate, was bestowed 
two years later, on the completion of the twenty years' course. 

The Book of the Ollamhs gives the following as the course of study 
for the first twelve years. The Druids, it may be remarked, have been 
claimed as the originators of the coUegiate system of education. 

First year. — Fifty oghams, the Araicecht, or grammar, twenty tales, 
and some poems. 

Second year. — Fifty more oghams, six minor lessons in philosophy, 
thirty tales, and some poems. 

Third year. — Learning the correct diphthongal combinations, the 
six major lessons of philosophy, forty tales, and various poems. 

Fourth year. — Fifty tales, Bretha Nemidh, or law of privileges, 
twenty poems called " Enan." 

Fifth year. — Sixty tales, critical knowledge of adverbs, articles, and 
other niceties of grammar. 

Sixth year. — ^Twenty-four great Naths, twenty-four small Naths 
(this was a name given to a certain kind of poems), the secret language 
of the poets, and seventy tales. 

Seventh year. — The Brosnacha of the Sai (professor) and the Bardesy 
of the Bards. 

Eighth year. — Prosody or Versification of the poets, meaning of 
obscure words (or glosses), the various kinds of poetry, the Druidical or 
incantatory compositions called Teinm Laeghdha, Imbas Forosnai, 
Dichetal di channaibh, the knowledge of Dinnseanchus or topography, 
and all the chief historical tales of Ireland, such as were to be recited 
in the presence of kings, chiefs, and goodmen. 

Ninth and tenth years. — Forty Sennats, fifteen Luascas, seven 
Nenas, an Eochraid of sixty words with their appropriate verses, seven 
Truths, and six Duili Fedha. 

Eleventh year. — Fifty great Anamains, fifty minor Anamains. The 
great Anamain was a species of poem which contained four different 
measures of composition, viz., the Nath, the Anair, Laidh, and Eman, 
and was composed by an Ollamg only. 

Twelfth year. Six score great Ceatals (measured addresses or 
Orations) and the four arts of poetry, viz., Laidcuin Mac Barceda's art ; 
Ua Crotta's art, O'Briene's art, and Beg's art. 

J. W. Arch, in Written Records of the Cwmry, says that the Druids, 
unlike the hereditary priest castes of the Eastern world, owed their 
sacro-sanct character, not to blood and race, but to a long continued 
course of instruction, from which they were supposed to emerge a wiser, 
more sober, a better informed, and a more learned class than any other 
portion of the community. 


The presiding officers in all Druidical ceremonies and Mysteries were 
three in number. They were named Cadeiriaith, the Principal, who was 
stationed in the East ; Goronwy, who represented the moon, and occupied 
a position in the West ; and Fleidwr Flam, the representative of the 
meridian sun, and was stationed in the South. Other subordinate 
officers were necessary for the due celebration of the mysteries. The 
principal of these were Swedyad, or the mystagogue, who assisted the 
Arch-Druid in the illustration, and Ys yw wedydd, the revealer of secrets, 
who communicated to the initiated the mysterious tokens of the Order 
and their meaning. The two great lights of heaven were of no little 
importance in these rites and ceremonies. The Sun was a symbol of 
the superior god Hu, because he is the great source of light and the 
ruler of the day. The mild sovereign of the night typified the supreme 
goddess Ceridwen, in whose sacred cauldron were involved aU the mysteries 
of this religion. 

The Druids ascribed the origin of all things to three principles, 
therefore during the initiation ceremony three hymns were chanted to 
the Deity. These h\'mns were called by the name of Trigaranos, or 
" the triple crane." 

" The Druids," says Hollinshead, " applied themselves as 
earnestly to the study of philosophy, as well natural as moral, that 
they were held in no small reverence of the people, as they were 
both accounted and known to be men of the most perfect life and 
innocence, by means whereof their authority daily so far increased 
that, finally, judgments in the most doubtful matters were committed 
unto their determination, offenders by their discretion punished, 
and such as had well deserved accordingly by their appointments 
rewarded. Moreover, such as refused to obey their decrees and 
ordinances were by them excommunicated, so that no creature 
durst once keep company with such till they were reconciled again 
and by the same Druids absolved." 

Rowlands, in Mona Antiqua, bears testimony to the nature of the 
studies pursued : " The Druids considered nature in her largest extent ; 
in her systems and in her motions ; in her magnitude and powers ; in 
all which they seemed to cabbalize. Their philosophy was so compre- 
hensive as to take in, with the theory of nature, astronomy, geometry, 
medicine, and natural magic, and all this upon the corpuscularian 

They were very studious of the virtues of plants and herbs, and 
were exceedingly partial to the vervaine, which they used in casting 
lots and foretelling events. This was gathered at the rise of the Dog-star, 
and, before digging it up, they described a circle around it. It was 
gathered with the left hand into a clean, new napkin, the right hand being 


covered with a sacred vestment kept specially for that purpose. The 
plant was waved aloft after it was separated from the ground. It was 
infused in wine and then used as an antidote to the bite of serpents. 
It was also supposed to possess the virtue of fascination. Medea, in 
Sophocles, it will be remembered, is described as gathering her magic 
herbs with a brazen hook. In gathering the selago, a kind of hedge 
hyssop, the Chief Druid had to be clothed in white, as an emblem of 
internal purity, after bathing himself in clean water. The herb was 
gathered in bare feet and the gathering was preceded by participation 
in a sacrament of bread and wine. The Druids looked upon this herb 
as a preservative against all misfortune, and the smoke of it was regarded 
as an excellent cure for, as also a preservative against, sore eyes. 
The act of going with naked feet was always considered to be a token 
of humility and reverence, and the priests in the temple worship 
always officiated with feet uncovered, although frequently it was 
regarded as inimical to their health. The command thus given to 
Moses did not represent the civil and legal ceremony of putting off the 
shoes, as the IsraeHtes were subsequently directed to do, when they 
renounced any bargain or contract (Deut. xxv, 9 ; Ruth iv, 3) ; nor 
yet the sign of grief and sorrow, as when David entered into Jerusalem 
barefooted (II Samuel xii, 30) ; but it was enjoined that Moses might 
approach that sacred place with reverence and godly fear, as if it had 
been a temple consecrated to divine worship. There was another herb, 
called by the Gauls " samolus," which grew in moist places and had to 
be gathered with the left hand while fasting. He who gathered it must 
not look upon it before it was plucked, and he was not allowed to place 
it anywhere save in the canals or places where beasts drank, bruising it 
before depositing it. It was held to be a prevention of disease among 
swine and oxen. 

The three degrees of Ovate, Bard, and Druid were regarded as equal 
in importance, though not in privilege, and they were distinct in purpose. 
There is little doubt that knowledge was confined mainly, if not altogether, 
to the professed Druids, and it was one of their tenets that the Arcana 
of the Sciences must not be committed to writing, but to the memory. 
Caesar says that the Druids disputed largely upon subjects of natural 
philosophy and instructed the youth of the land in the rudiments of 
learning. By some writers the Druids are credited with a knowledge of 
the telescope, though this opinion is based mainly upon the statement of 
Diodorus Siculus, who says that in an island west of Celtae the Druids 
brought the sun and moon near to them. Hecatasus, however, informs 
us that they taught the existence of the lunar mountains. The fact that 
the Milky Way consisted of small stars was known to the ancients is 
often adduced in support of the claim to the antiquity of the telescope. 


Idris the giant, a pre-Christian astronomer, is said to have pursued his 
study of the science of astronomy from the apex of one of the loftiest 
mountains in North Wales, which, in consequence, received the name 
which it now bears — Cader Idris, or the Chair of Idris. The Druids 
encouraged the study of Anatomy to such an extent that one of their 
doctors named Herophilus is said to have delivered lectures on the 
bodies of more than seven hundred men in order to reveal the secrets and 
wonders of the human frame. Diodorus Siculus is responsible for the 
statement that the Druids were the GauHsh philosophers and divines, 
and were held in great veneration, and that it was not lawful to perform 
any sacrifices except in the presence of at least one of these philosophers. 
Sir Norman Lockyer writes : 

" The people who honoured us with their presence here in 
Britain some four thousand years ago had evidently, some way or 
other, had communicated to them a very complete Egyptian culture, 
and they determined their time of night just in the same way that 
the Egyptians did, only of course, there was a great difference 
between the latitude of 25° in Egypt and 50° in Cornwall. They 
could not observe the same stars for the same purpose. They 
observed the stars which served their purpose for one thousand years 
or so. These stars were Capella and Arcturus." 
P. W. Joyce, in his Social History of Ancient Ireland, says that in 
pagan times the Druids were the exclusive possessors of whatever learning 
was then known, and combined in themselves all the learned professions, 
being " not only Druids, or priests, but judges, prophets, historians, poets, 
and even physicians." He might have added " and instructors of 
youth," since education was entirely in their hands. No one was capable 
of public employment who had not been educated under a Druid. Children 
were brought up and educated away from their parents until they reached 
the age of fourteen. Even St. Columba began his education under a 
Druid, and so great was the veneration paid to the Druids for the know- 
ledge they possessed that it became a kind of adage with respect to 
anything that was deemed mysterious or beyond ordinary ken : " No 
one knows but God and the holy Druids." 

There is a legend concerning St. Columba and a Druid which runs : 
" Now when the time for reading came to him, the clerk went to a certain 
prophet (Jaidh, or Druid) who abode in the land to ask him when the 
boy ought to begin. When the prophet had scanned the sky, he said : 
' Write an alphabet for him now.' The alphabet was written on a cake, 
and St. Columba consumed the cake on this wise, half to the east of a 
water and half to the west of a water. Said the prophet : ' So shall this 
child's territory be, half to the east of the sea and half to the west of the 
sea.' " This is claimed to have reference to Columba's work in lona 


and among the Picts, i.e., one half in Ireland and the other half in Scotland. 
The Druids were the intermediaries between the people and the 
spiritual world, and the people believed that their priests could protect 
them from the malice of evilly-disposed spirits of every kind. The 
authority possessed by the Druids is easily understood when it is remem- 
dered that they were possessed of more knowledge and learning than 
any other class of men in the country. " They were," says Rowlands, 
in Mona Jntiqua Restorata, " men of thought and speculation, whose 
chief province was to enlarge the bounds of knowledge, as their fellows 
were to do those of empire into what country or climate soever they 

Kings had each ever about them a Druid for prayer and sacrifice, 
who was also a judge for determining controversies, although each king 
had a civil judge besides. At the court of Conchobar, king of Ulster, 
no one had the right to speak before the Druid had spoken. Cathbu, or 
Cathbad, a Druid once attached to that court, was accompanied by a 
hundred youths, students of his art. After the introduction and adoption 
of Christianity, the Druid was succeeded by a bishop or priest, just as 
the Druidesses at Kildare were succeeded by the Briggintine Nuns. 
Martin, who wrote his Description of the Western Islands of Scotland in 
1703, tells us that : 

" Every great family of the Western Islands had a Chief Druid 
who foretold future events and decided all causes, civil and eccle- 
siastical. It is reported of them that they wrought in the night 
time and rested all day. Before the Britons engaged in battle the 
Chief Druid harangued the army to excite their courage. He was 
placed on an eminence whence he addressed himself to all standing 
about him, putting them in mind of all great things that were per- 
formed by the valour of their ancestors, raised their hopes with the 
noble rewards of honour and victory, and dispelled their fears by 
all the topics that natural courage could suggest. After this harangue 
the army gave a general shout and then charged the enemy stoutly." 
In the time of Tacitus the GalHc Druids prophesied that the burning 
of the Capitol signified the approaching fall of the Roman Empire. 

The position of Arch Druid was, as already stated, at one time held 
by Divitiacus, the Eduan, the intimate acquaintance and friend of Ca?sar, 
who is believed to have inspired the account of Druidism given by Caesar 
in De Bella Gallico. The British Arch Druid is said to have had his 
residence in the Isle of Anglesey, in or near to Llaniden. There the name 
of Tre'r Dryw, or Druidstown, is still preserved, and there are also still 
there some of the massive stone structures which are associated invariably 
with Druidism. The courts of the Arch Druids were held at Drewson 
or Druidstown. A short distance from the road leading from Killiney 


to Bray there stands a chair formed of large blocks of granite, which 
is called " The Druid's Judgment Seat." On occasions of ceremony the 
Arch Druid's head was surrounded by an oaken garland, surmounted by 
a tiara composed of adder stones encased in gold. When at the altar 
he wore a white surplice, fastened on the shoulder by a golden brooch. 
In Ireland there appears to have been no chief Druid, nor even a Druidical 
hierarchy or corporation. The Druids acted singly or in twos and threes. 
They were married and each Hved with his family in his own house. 

The principal seat of the French Druids was at Chartres, the residence 
of the Gallic Arch Druid, at which place also the annual convention of 
Gallic — and some say the British — Druids was held. There was also a 
large Druidic settlement at Marseilles. It was here that Caesar, in order 
to put an end to Druidism in Gaul, ordered the trees to be felled. 

Dr. John Jamieson, in his Historical Account of the Ancient Culdees 
of lona, published in 1870, says that twenty years previously there was 
living in the parish of MouHn an old man who, although very regular in 
his devotions, never addressed the Supreme Being by any other title 
than that of Arch Druid. He quotes this as an illustration of the firm 
hold which ancient superstition takes of the mind. 

Druids had the privilege of wearing six colours in their robes, and 
their tunics reached to their heels, while the tunics of others reached 
only to the knee. Kings and queens reserved to themselves the right 
of wearing robes of seven colours ; lords and ladies five colours ; governors 
of fortresses, four ; young gentlemen of quaUty, three ; soldiers, two ; 
and the common people, one colour. When the Druids were officiating 
in their official capacity they each wore a white robe, emblematic of 
holiness as well as of the sun. When officiating as a judge the Druid 
wore two white robes, fastened with a girdle, surmounted by his Druid's 
egg encased in gold, and wore round his neck the breastplate of judgment, 
which was supposed to press upon his breast should he give utterance to 
a false or corrupt judgment. One is reminded by this breastplate of the 
wonderful collar referred to in Irish lore and legend, known as the Jadh 
Morain. This collar was attended with a very surprising virtue, for if 
it was placed on the neck of a judge who intended to pronounce a false 
judgment it would immediately shrink and almost stop the breath ; but 
if the person that wore it changed his resolution and resolved to be just 
in his sentence, it would instantly enlarge itself and hang loose about the 
neck. This miraculous collar was also used to prove the integrity of the 
witnesses and if it were tied about the neck of a person who designed to 
give false testimony it would shrink close and extort the truth or con- 
tinue contracting until it had throttled him. From this practice arose 
the custom, in the judicature of the kingdom, for the judge, when he 
suspected the veracity of a witness, to charge him solemnly to speak 


the truth, for his life was in danger if he did not, because the fatal collar, 
the Jadh Morain, was about his neck and would inevitably proceed to 

Vallancey, in Collect, de Rcb. Hibcrn. tells of one of the Druidical 
breastplates found twelve feet deep in a turf bog in the county of Limerick. 
It was made of thin plated gold chased in a neat and workmanUke 
manner : the breast plate was single but the hemispherical ornaments at 
the top were Uned throughout with another thin plate of pure gold ; 
they were less exposed to injury when on the breast than when on the 
lower part. About the centre of each was a small hole in the lining to 
receive the ring of a chain that suspended it around the neck, and in the 
centre in front were two small conical pillars of solid gold, highly polished. 
The whole weighed twenty-two golden guineas. Another was also found 
in County Longford and sold for twenty-six guineas. 

The Druid sitting as judge also wore a golden tiara upon his head 
and two official rings on his right hand fingers. On ordinary occasions 
the cap worn by the Druid had on the front a golden representation of 
the sun under a half moon of silver, supported by two Druids, one at 
each cusp, in an inclined position. The Irish Druid wore a long crimson 
robe over which was a shorter one, and suspended at his side was his 
Druid's knife. He wore a white cap, in shape and appearance like a fan : 
it was ornamented with a gold plate. The British Arch-Druid wore over 
his ordinary robes a white mantle edged with gold ; around his neck was 
a golden chain from which was suspended a golden plate, inscribed with 
the words : " The gods require sacrifice." J. C. Walker, in his Historical 
Essay on the Dress of the Irish, says that when the Druids were employed 
in sacrifice and other solemn ceremonies they wore, behind an oak-leaved 
crown, a golden crescent, with buttons at the extremities, through which 
a string was drawn that served to fasten it behind. Several of these 
crescents have been found in Irish bogs. The dress of the Druids was 
uniformly and universally a white garment, emblematic of the affected 
purity of their mind. In order to render their appearance more venerable 
and imposing they encouraged their beards to flow on their breasts. 
" His seemly beard, to grace his form bestow'd. 
Descending decent, on his bosom flow'd ; 
His robe of purest white, though rudely join'd 
Yet showed an emblem of the purest mind ; 
Stern virtue, beaming in his eye, controul'd 
Each wayward purpose, and o'eraw'd the bold." 

It is also established that in many instances priesthood was hereditary 
and that a special name was given to a priestly family. Thus the follow- 
ing was written by Ausonius, in honour of Attius Patera. 

from a water-colour drawing by Constable 
( Victoria and Albert Museum). 


" Tu Bajocassis stirpe Druidarum satus 
(Si fama non fallit fidem) 
BELENI sacratum ducis e Templo genus : 

Et inde vobis nomina ; 
Tibi PATERAE (sic Ministros nuncupant 

Apollinaris Mistyci.) 
Fratri-Patrique nomen a Phoebo datum 
Natoque de Delphis tuo." 
From this verse it is clear that all the family of Attius had a par- 
ticular name, owing to their deriving their origin from the Druids of 
Bayeux, and that they were also devoted to the Mysteries of Belenus. 
The new name of Attius was Patera : that of his father and brother 
was derived from Phaebus. The name of the son of Attius was Delphidus, 
as we read later : 

" Facunde, docte, lingua et ingenio celer, 
Jocis amsne, Delphidi." 
Here is another verse from Ausonius in confirmation : 
" Nee reticedo senem 
Nominie Phoebtium, 
Qui Beleni aedituus 
Nil opis inde tulit : 
Sed tamen, ut placitum, 
Stirpe satus Druidum, 
Gentis Aremoricse, 
Burdigalae Cathedram 
Nati opera obtinuit. 
Et tu Concordi, 
Qui profugus patria 
Mutasti sterilem 
Urbe alia cathedram, 
Et libertina, etc." 
The following interesting narrative appears in Wilson's Prehistoric 
Annals of Scotland : 

" In the museum of the Phrenological Society of Edinburgh 
may be found an interesting group of six skulls brought from the 
sacred isle of lona, and each marked as the " skull of a Druid from 
the Hebrides." They were presented to the society by Mr. Donald 
Gregory, secretary of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland and of 
the lona Club, who procured them under the following circumstances. 
The institution of a Scottish Club, specially estabHshed for the 
investigation of the history, antiquities, and early Hterature of the 
Highlands of Scotland, was celebrated at a meeting held on the 
island of lona, upon the 7th September, 1833, when the sepulchres 


of the Scottish kings were explored. The results were detailed by 
Mr. Gregory in the following letter addressed to Mr. Robert Cox, of 
the Edinburgh Philological Societ)'. 

" ' Along with this you will receive six ancient skulls procured 
under the following circumstances. There is a place here called 
Cladh na Druineach, i.e., the burial place of the Druids, in which I 
have caused some deep cuts to be made. An incredible quantity 
of human bones has been found : and as it is perfectly certain that 
this place has never been used as a Christian churchyard, or as a 
place of interment at all, since the establishment of Christianity 
here by St. Columba, there can be no doubt of the antiquity of the 
skulls now sent. They are by every one here firmly believed to be 
the skulls of the Druids, who were probably interred here from 
distant parts as well as from the neighbourhood, on account of the 
sanctity of the island, which formerly bore the name of Innis na 
Druineach, or the Druids' Isle. The six skulls herewith sent were 
selected with care by myself from a much larger number. One you 
will observe is higher in the forehead than the rest. But this is an 
exception : for I am satisfied — and others whose attention I directed 
to the matter agree with me — that the general character of the skulls 
is a low forehead, and a considerable breadth in the upper and 
posterior parts of the head, which you will undoubtedly readily 
perceive. Although, with the exception mentioned, these skulls 
have the same general character (as far as I can judge), yet there 
are sufficient differences in the individuals to make them of con- 
siderable interest to the phrenologist. I must not omit to mention 
that the present race in the islands appear to have much better 
foreheads than the Druids, and independent of intellect and intelli- 
gence, are perhaps above the average of the Highlanders and islanders. 
Some of the skulls did not present such strong individual character 
as those sent and were more quickly developed. But as I was 
limited in the number to be taken, I preferred choosing well-marked 
skulls, particularly as the general character of the whole was so 
much the same." 

The mode of excommunication from the community was to expose 
the erring member to a naked weapon. The Bards had a special ceremony 
for the degradation of their convicted brethren. It took place at a 
Gorsedd, when the assembled Bards placed their caps on their heads. 
One deputed for the ofhce unsheathed his sword, uplifted it, and named 
the dehnquent aloud three times, adding on the last occasion the words : 
*' The sword is naked against him." After these words were pronounced 
the offender was expelled, never to be re-admitted, and he became known 
as " a man deprived of privilege and exposed to warfare." 



" You, too, ye bards, whom sacred raptures fire 
To chant your heroes in your country's lyre — 
Who consecrate in your immortal strain 
Brave patient souls, in righteous battle slain — 
Securely now the tuneful task renew. 
And noblest themes in deathless songs pursue." 

Luc AN. Pharsalia. 

" Yonder grots 
Are tenanted by Bards, who nightly thence, 
Rob'd in their flowing vests of innocent white, 
Descend, with harps that glitter to the moon. 
Hymning immortal strains. The spirits of air, 
Of earth, of water, nay of heav'n itself. 
Do listen to their lay : and oft, 'tis said, 
In visible shapes dance they a magic round 
To the high minstrelsy." 

Mason. Caractacus. 

Before an aspirant to the priesthood could attain to that exalted 
rank, he had to pass through the two preliminary and definite degrees 
of Bard and Vate, or Ovate. Many of the youth of the land, however, 
who entered the service of the temple, did so with the express intention 
of remaining in the ranks of one or other of these two Orders. It is said 
that originally there was but one rank, which went by the name of 
Gwyddoniaeth, with no legal privileges or immunities. Vallancey is of 
opinion that the Bards were the original Celtic priests, so called from 
their chanting to the deities in their sacred office. This opinion is also 
held by Borlase. The division into Druids, Bards, and Ovates came 
later, when each had its peculiar honours and duties, and all were equally 
endowed and protected by the state. The term " Bard " is said by 
some to have been derived from one Bardus, the fifth king of Britain, 
circa 2082, a.m., and who was a man famous for the invention of verses 
and music. Verse was anciently the principal vehicle for conveying 
information. The Hindoo Arithmetic is in verse. The most ancient 
of the Cambrian Bards taught in verse and preserved the records of 
transactions through the medium of rhyme and measure, and when 
laws were to be enacted and historic facts preserved, they were thrown 



into triadic form. Toland asserts that the Bards did not belong to the 
body of the Druids. But against his opinion must be placed the cate- 
gorical statements of Caesar, Strabo, and others. Irish history also 
relates that the same Amergin, who, at the Milesian invasion, assumed 
the dignity of Arch Druid, took upon him also the office of Ard-Filea, 
or Chief Bard. 

The initial step for aspirants to any of the three Orders or Degrees 
was to enrol among the Awenyddion, or Disciples — a preliminary, or 
fourth class. The first requisite for admission as a disciple was unim- 
peachable moral character, for it was indispensably necessary that the 
candidate, above all things, should be above any criticism as to character 
and conduct. Nor was it permitted for one to be admitted to the 
possession of any of the secrets of the various degrees until his under- 
standing, affections, morals, and principles had undergone severe trials. 
His passions and tendencies were watched closely and tested when he 
was least aware of the fact. At all times, in all places, and on every 
possible occasion, there was an eye, unknown to him, fixed continually 
upon his actions, and from the knowledge thus obtained of his head and 
heart, indeed, of his very soul, an estimate was made of his inclinations 
and mental and spiritual abilities, and agreeable to the approbation 
given, and in the manner and degree most suitable, he was initiated by 
graduating steps into the mysteries and instructed in the doctrine and 
practices of Druidism. 

Poseidonius, the Stoic of Rhodes, who travelled in Gaul about 
B.C. 100, was the first to mention the Bards. He describes them as 
" parasites," who attended the Celtic warriors, even on their warlike 
expeditions, to celebrate their praises. The Bards, however, he says, 
were not barbarians among barbarians : they were men of letters. 

Vallancey says that the Vates, or Prophets, were called Baidh, 
Vaith, Vaithoir, or Phattoir. The name was written Vaedh by the 
Arabs, and Outeis by the Greeks. The word is thought to be derived 
from the Persian word Bach, which means " holy." Baid is the Chaldean 
bada. The Irish Faithoir is the Hebrew ptr, meaning " to solve an 
enigma." Pezron says that the word baid in the GaeUc language means 
" poet." Barth comes probably from the Hebrew or Chaldee word brt, 
" to sing." Bar is the root of the Irish Bear la, " speech," traces of 
which are found in the words " parole," " parler," " parhament." 

The first Bards were called by the triad names of Plennyd, Alawn, 
Gwron, meaning " light," " harmony," and " energy." Afterwards their 
calling came to be held in such high esteem that they were maintained 
at the expense of the state, but their pride became so overbearing, their 
demands so extortionate, and their members so numerous that they 
deservedly earned, in the course of time, the mistrust and indifference 


even of their friends, although they retained their position after the 
extinction of Druidism. 

Mason, in his Caractacus, speaks of the three Orders. After referring 
to the Arch Druid, he proceeds : 

" His brotherhood 
Possess the neighb'ring cliffs : 

On the left 
Reside the sage Ovades ; yonder grots 
Are tenanted by Bards." 
No sacerdotal functions were performed by the Bards : these were 
reserved exclusively for the Derwyddon, or Druids, who were set apart 
for, and employed solely in the exercise of peculiarly religious functions ; 
and long after the conversion of the Britons to the Christian faith, the 
ministers of religion were called by this term. 

From Anewydd, the postulate rose to the degree of Inceptor, thence 
to Inchoate Bard, or Bardd ; Caw, when, for the first time, he wore the 
band of the Order, together with a white mantle and a blue cap, orna- 
mented with a gold crescent. When he became a fully-fledged Bard, 
he received the faculties to proclaim and hold a Gorsedd, admit disciples, 
and instruct others in the principles of religion and morality. In Ireland, 
the Bard wore a white mantle and a blue cap ornamented with a gold 
crescent. In Britain the Bard wore a uni-coloured robe of sky blue, 
the emblem of peace and truth. Blue was the favourite colour among 
the Britons from the earliest times. An old Welsh proverb runs : " True 
blue keeps its hue." 

The Laws of Howel Dda (Howe, the good) have been published by 
the Record Commission, in the Ancient Laws and Institutes of Wales. 
In editing the volume, Mr. Aneurin Owen is careful to indicate on the 
title page the uncertainty connected with the authorship and codification 
of these laws. He places the oldest manuscript in the twelfth century. 
The laws relating to the Bards are given as follows : 

" Three branches of the art of Bardism. First, the primitive 
bard, or a bard licensed by privilege, having his degree and his 
privilege by discipleship, from an authorised teacher, who is a 
presiding bard ; and upon him depends every memorial of art and 
science, so far as they may be in his department ; as being an 
authorised bard of degree and privilege ; and, likewise, every 
memorial and record of country and kindred, in respect to marriages, 
and kins, and arms, and territorial divisions, and the privileges of 
the country and kindred of the Cymry. Second, the Ovate, having 
his degree under the privilege of genius and commendable sciences, 
which he shall exhibit authenticated, and for which he shall be able 
approvingl)- to answer before a customary and legitimate session of 


bards ; or, where that shall not be, before a lawful and authorised 
congress, under the patronage of the lord of the territory, or twelve 
of his judges of court, or of twelve justices of court where that is 
customary ; and discipleship shall not be required in respect to 
him, nor other claim than as to authorised sciences. And this is 
for the purpose of protecting sciences, lest there should not be 
found customary teachers, and, consequently, that the sciences and 
art of record and wisdom should pass into oblivion, from a deficiency 
of systematic teachers and disciples. And, likewise, for the 
purpose of improving and increasing the sciences of art, by adding 
everything new to them, by the judgment of teachers and wise men, 
and thence to establish and give them authorized privilege, and 
also against precluding sciences of wisdom, which might spring from 
the natural burst of genius and intuitive invention. Third, the 
Druid Bard, who is to be a presiding Bard, graduated and warranted 
as to wisdom and sciences, and of elocution to demonstrate judgment 
and reason in respect to sciences ; and his function is to be under 
the privilege of a grant by the direction and induction of a customary 
session, authenticated by the vote of session by ballot. And his 
function is to diffuse instruction and to demonstrate the sciences of 
wisdom and religion in the session of the bards, and in court, and 
in church, and in the household wherein his office is performed. 
And it is right and law for each of these three to have his five free 
erws [an erw means ' what has been tilled.' It was a measure 
applied exclusively to arable lands : it appears to have contained 
about 4,320 yards] under the privilege of the function of his art, 
distinct from what is due to him otherwise by the privilege of an 
innate Cymro ; for innate privilege extinguishes no art ; nor any 
art innate privilege." 

Malkin says that the laws of Howel Dha were enacted by him and 
his senatorial assembly in the open air. The place where they met is 
as highly venerated to this day as is Runymede, near Windsor. By 
those laws it appears that the courts of justice, especially the supreme 
courts, were always held in the open air ; and the king, or prince, who 
was accustomed to sit as supreme judge, was placed on the leeward side 
of a large stone fixed up for the purpose. It is very clear, from the 
oldest historical documents, that the early Welsh Christians, from the 
middle of the first to the middle of the fifth century, always met for 
religious worship in the open air. 

Before a Bard was regarded as fully qualified to exercise all the 
functions of Bardism, he had to preside at Gorseddau, when, if approved, 
he was classed as one of the Gorseddogion. 

According to the triads, there was one special Gorsedd in each of the 


three principal provinces. The Gorsedd was a kind of national assembly 
to which the majority of residents in the respective provinces resorted 
at appointed times for the purpose of receiving instruction. The triads 
state : 

" The three principal Gorsedds of the Bards of the Isle of 
Britain : the Gorsedd of Bryn Gwyddon at Caerleon-upon-Usk, the 
Gorsedd of Moel Evwr, and the Gorsedd of Beiscawen." 

" The three Gorsedds of entire song of the Isle of Britain : the 
Gorsedd of Beiscawen in Dynwal, the Gorsedd of Caer Caradog in 
Lloegria, and the Gorsedd of Bryn Gwyddon in Cymru." 
Further particulars of their constitution and formation are given 
by Meyryg of Glamorgan, who says : 

" A Gorsedd of the Bards of the Isle of Britain must be held in 
a conspicuous place, in full view of hearing of country and aristocracy, 
and in the face of the sun and in the eye of light ; it being unlawful 
to hold such meetings under cover, at night, or under any circum- 
stances otherwise than while the sun shall be visible in the sky. 
. . . It is an institutional usage to form a conventional circle 
of stones on the summit of some conspicuous ground, so as to enclose 
any requisite area of greensward ; the stones being so placed as to 
allow sufficient space for a man to stand between two of them, 
except that the two stones of the circle which most directly confront 
the eastern sun should be sufficiently apart to allow at least ample 
space for three men between them ; thus affording an easy ingress 
to the circle." 

Nine years was generally sufficient for graduation as a Bard, but 
his education was not considered complete, for the purposes of this 
graduation, until he had committed to memory 20,000 verses containing, 
in allegorical language, the tenets of the Druidical faith. By the term 
Bard the Welsh did not understand merely poets, but persons regularly 
instructed in the institutes and mysteries of the ancient British religion. 
The name of Bard appears to have been common in various parts of the 
Celtic world. In septentrional Italy, near to Milan, there was a place 
known as Bardomague, champ du barde. In Helvetia, there was a part 
known as Bardus, and the same name is found in Carinthie, Vienna, 
Styria, and Misene (Italy). 

Toland says that there were often at a time a thousand Ollaws, or 
graduate poets, in addition to a proportionable number of inferior 
rhymers, all of whom lived free of any cost to themselves or their families, 
being encouraged in their studies and supported by the great men and 

Merddin, or Merlin, as he is generally known, a Caledonian, lived 
in the sixth century. He was among the last of the Druidical Bards, and. 


in allegorical language, bewailed the decline of his rehgion, the pollution 
and cutting down of the sacred groves, and the demolition of the circular 
temples by the Christian missionaries. Writing on the decline and fall 
of Druidism and the persistence of Bardism, Blair, in his Dissertation on 
the Poems of Ossian, says : 

" So strong was the attachment of the Celtic nations to their 
poetry and their Bards that amidst all the changes of their govern- 
ment and manners, even long after the order of the Druids was 
extinct, and the national religion altered, the Bards continued to 
flourish, not as a set of strolling songsters, like the Greek Rhapsodists, 
in Homer's time, but as an order of men highly respected in the state, 
and supported by a public establishment. We find them, according 
to testimonies of Strabo and Diodorus, before the age of Augustus 
Caesar, and we find them remaining under the same name, and 
exercising the same functions as of old, in Ireland, and in the north 
of Scotland, almost down to our own times." 

In his work. Musical and Poetical Relics of the Welsh Bards, Edward 
Jones gives a detailed description of the divisions of the Welsh Bards. 
He states that they were divided into three classes and that the subjects 
of which they treated were as follows. The duties of the Clerv\yr were, 
To satirize, ridicule or taunt, to mimick, to sue for or intreat, to lampoon, 
and to reproach. Two Clerwyr usually stood before the company, one 
to give in rhyme at the other's extempore, to excite mirth and laughter 
with their witty quibbles. The duties of the Teuluwr, or family songster, 
or Bard of domestic eloquence, were to dwell with and solace his patron, 
to divert and enliven the time by mirth and pleasantry, to infuse liberality, 
to receive guests, and to solicit in a polite, becoming manner. The poets 
of this class composed extempore as well as in writing. They also sang 
love songs, or amatory verses, in every kind of metre, with delicacy and 
elegance. The duties of the Prydd were to teach aright, to sing aright, 
and to judge properly of all things. His three excellencies were to 
satirize without ribaldry, to commend a married woman without obscenity 
and to address men suitably to their calling. He was to commend a 
pleasant disposition of mind, to praise liberality, to celebrate the science 
of music and the art of poetry, to delight his hearers, to oppose the bitter 
invective of the Clerwyr and, in so doing, to avoid satirizing any other 
person, to be obedient, liberal, chaste, to make himself perfectly beloved, 
to avoid the seven deadly sins : extortion, theft, pride, fornication, 
gluttony, indolence, and envy, because these things destroy the genius, 
memory, and imagination of the poet. 

Other writers classify the Bards as (i) Privardh, or Chronologers ; 
(2) Posvardh, or Heralds ; and (3) Aruyvardh, or Comic or Satirical 


The Constitutions of the Irish Bards differed somewhat from those 
of the British, and Joseph Cooper Walker, in Historical Memoirs of the 
Irish Bards, gives a detailed account of the Irish organization. When 
the student had finished his course, an honorary cap called Barred (from 
which some think the name Bard was derived) and the degree of Ollamh, 
or Doctor, were conferred. The young Bard then decided his choice of 
a profession : whether he would pursue his studies and seek for admission 
into the Order of Druids, or whether he would remain as a Bard. If he 
decided upon the latter, he had to become a Filea, a Breitheamh, or a 
Seanacha, according to his birth. 

The Filidhe, or Ollamhain Re-Dan, were the poets who turned the 
tenets of religion into verse, who animated the troops before and during 
engagements with martial odes, raised the war song, celebrated valorous 
deeds, and wrote the birthday odes and epithalamiums of the chieftains 
and princes. They were the heralds and constant attendants in the 
field of battles and the chiefs whom they served, marching at the head 
of their armies, arrayed in white flowing robes. The Breitheamhain 
(Brehons) or legislative Bards promulgated the laws in a kind of recitative 
chant. The Seanachidhe were antiquaries, genealogists, and historians. 
They recorded remarkable events and preserved the genealogies of their 
patrons in a kind of unpoetical stanza. Each province, prince, and chief 
had a Seancha. In addition to these three Orders of Bards, there was 
another of an inferior kind, known as Oirfidigh, comprising the Cleana- 
naigh, Crutairigh, Ciotairigh, Tiompanach, and Cuilleannach, all of whom 
took their names from the instruments on which they played. The 
head of this Order was called Ollamh-lc-Ceol. Their profession, as well 
as that of the higher classes of Bards, was hereditary, just as the office 
of piper in Scotland. When a prince or chief fell in battle, or died in the 
course of nature, " the stones of his fame " were raised amidst the voices 
of the Bards. The Druids having performed the rites prescribed by 
religion, and the pedigree of the deceased having been recited aloud by 
the Seanacha — the Caione, or funeral song, composed by the Filea of the 
departed and set to music by one of his Oirfidigh was sung in recitative 
over his grave by a Racaraide (or Rhapsodist), the symphonic parts being 
performed by minstrels, and the responses given by Oirfidigh. Macpherson 
gives an illustration of the Caione sung over Circullin's tomb, which was 
as follows : 

" By the dark rolling waves of L6go, they raised the hero's 
tomb — Luath, at a distance, lies, the companions of CuchuUin, at 
the chance. Blest be thy soul, son of Semo : thou wert mighty in 
battle. Thy strength was the strength of a stream : thy speed like 
the eagle's wing. Thy path in the battle was terrible : the steps 


of death were behind thy sword. Blest be thy soul, son of Semo : 

car-borne chief of Dunscaick ! 

" Thou has not fallen by the sword of the mighty, neither was 

thy blood on the spear of the valiant. The arrow came, Uke the 

sting of death in a blast : nor did the feeble hand, which drew the 

bow, perceive it. Peace to thy soul in thy cave, chief of the isle 

of Mist ! " 

OUamh Fodhla, who became king of Ireland in a.m. 3236, made the 
Order of Bards his peculiar care. He ordained that none but young 
men of genius and noble descent should be admitted to the Order ; 
that the profession should be hereditary, but when a Bard died, his 
estate was to devolve, not to his eldest son, but to such of his family as 
had displayed the most distinguished talents for poetry and music ; 
that every Ard-Filea might retain thirty inferior Bards as his attendants, 
and a Bard of the second class be allowed a retinue of fifteen. He also 
furnished a university at Teamor, called Mur-Ollavan, where the powers 
of verse and song, the mysteries of metrical cadence and vocal harmony 
were taught. Those bards on whom the highest degree in this seminary 
was conferred preceded all others of the same rank in every part of the 
kingdom. He invited to his palace at Eamanis a representative gathering 
of Bards where their laws were codified and the several Filean graduatus 
were instituted. They were as follows : i. The Fochlucan ; 2, Mac- 
fuirmidh ; 3, Doss ; 4, Canaith ; 5, Cli ; 6, Anstruth ; and 7, OUamh. 
In no Filean College from this period could a Bard obtain the diploma of 
Ollamh, or Doctor, till he had passed through the first six of those degrees, 
but when the honour was conferred upon him, he was considered as 
qualified for any office in the state, and frequently became the minister, 
friend, and confidant of princes. 

The Brehon laws fixed the studies and obligations of each degree, 
and according to these, the Fochluchan was to be able to repeat thirty 
tales, if required, upon any of the festivals, or public meetings. His 
reward was two heifers or one large cow. He was to be attended for one 
day and supplied with all kinds of necessaries ; and if on a journey, he 
was to be attended by two men for five days. He was also to be furnished 
with a horse and a greyhound. The Mac-Fuirmidh was to repeat forty 
tales, if required, and his reward was forty milk cows. He was also to 
be attended for three days and supplied with all kinds of necessaries ; 
and to be waited on by three attendants on all festivals and pubHc 
meetings. The Doss was to repeat fifty stories, if required. His rewards 
were variable, according to the nature of the poems or compositions, and 
varied from one to five cows. He was to be attended by four learned men 
and he and his attendants supplied with all kinds of necessaries. The 
Canaith was rewarded in accordance with the nature of the compositions 


he recited. He was attended by six men on all public occasions and 
supplied with all necessaries for eight days ; and protected from all 
accusations on account of debts or any other charge. The Cli was 
rewarded with five cows and ten heifers. He was attended by eight 
students in poetry and entertained for ten days, he and his attendants 
being supplied with necessaries. The Anstruth was to repeat for the 
Assembly half as many stories of times past as an Ollamh. His reward 
was twenty kine. He was attended by twelve students in his own science, 
entertained for fifteen days, and he and his attendants supplied with all 
necessaries. The Ollamh, or Chief Doctor, was skilled in the four prin- 
cipal branches of poetry, in each of which he had to study for three years. 
He was to have in memory 350 stories to entertain the Assembly. His 
reward was twenty milk cows and he was attended by twenty-four men 
on all occasions, whether at home or abroad, who were also to protect 
him if occasion required. And he and all his attendants were to be 
supplied with all kinds of necessaries for a month. 

Ollamh Fodhla instituted a parliament to be held at Tara once in 
every three years to revise the laws in accordance with the exigencies of 
the times. This parliament was composed of the nobility, the Druids, 
the poets, and the historiographers. 

" The learned OUamh Fodhla first ordained 
The great assembly, where the nobles met, 
And priests, and poets, and philosophers. 
To make new laws, and to correct the old. 
And to advance the honour of his country." 
Eochoid 6 Flinn, a poet of the seventh century, composed the 
following poem " On the Triennial Convention at Tara." 

" Once in three years the great convention sate, 

And for the pubUc happiness debate ; 

The king was seated on a royal throne, 

And in his face majestic greatness shone. 

A monarch for heroic deeds design'd ; 

For noble acts become a noble mind ; 

About him, summon'd by his strict command. 

The peers, the priests, and commons of the land, 

In princely state and solemn order stand. 

The poets, likewise, are indulg'd a place. 

And men of learning the assembly grace. 

Here ev'ry member dares the truth assert, 

He scorns the false and double-dealing part, 

(For a true patriot's soul disdains the trimmer's art). 

Here love and union ev'ry look confess'd, 

And love and justice beat in ev'ry breast. 


Justice by nothing bias'd or inclined, 
Is deaf to pity, to temptation blind : 
For here with stern and steady rule she sways, 
And flagrant crimes with certain vengeance pays ; 
The monarch, ever jealous of his state. 
Inflexibly decrees th' offender's fate : 
Tho' just, yet so indulgently severe. 
Like heaven, he pities those he cannot spare." 
It was here that the youth were instructed in poetry and music and 
initiated into the mysteries of " the hidden harmony of the universe." 
Tara was for centuries the great Irish stronghold of Druidism. At a 
National Assembly, or Parliament, at Drumoat, in Londonderry, in 
A.D. 597, under Aldus Animrens, a Christian king, it was decreed that 
for the better preservation of their genealogies and the purity of their 
language, the supreme monarch and the subordinate kings, with every 
lord of a cantred, should entertain a poet of his own, no more being 
allowed by the ancient law of the island, and that upon each of these 
and their posterity a portion of land free of duties should be settled for 
ever ; that for encouraging the learning these poets professed, public 
schools should be appointed and endowed under national inspection and 
that the monarch's own Bard should be arch-poet and have superin- 
tendency over the others. This office of domestic bard is one found in 
the earliest historic times among Indo-European nations : there are 
many items of evidence which show an intimate connection between 
singers, story-tellers, and the like, and the priesthoods in the early forms 
of religion. Many of these practised to a high degree the cultivation of 
the memory in order that the rites, formulas, poems, and tales of their 
religion might be handed down from generation to generation. 

The Bard was recognised as the sacred herald of peace, under the 
title of Bardd Tnys Prudain, or " Bard of the Isle of Britain." The 
members of the Order made hymns for the temple, but this was the 
extent of their temple duties. In Ireland, there were Bardic colleges at 
Clogher, Armagh, Lismore, and Tamar. Aithan, the son of Conachar, 
was the chief Bard, or laureate, of Arth, or Art, king of Ireland. On the 
death of that monarch, he accompanied his son and successor as Chief 
Bard. It is beheved that originally the Bards were Celtic priests, and 
that it was not until their office was usurped by the Druids that they 
became mere poets, heralds, and chanters to the Drui. 

The voice of the Bard caused instant attention if heard by armies 
in the heat of action, both sides immediately desisting from fighting, so 
that the appearance of a Bard operated as a modern flag of truce. His 
word was to be credited in preference to that of any other person what- 
ever. According to the old Welsh laws, whoever even slightly injured 


a Bard was to be fined six sows and one hundred and twenty pence. 
A serious assault on a Bard was to be visited with severe punishment 
and a fine of one hundred and twenty cows. In Ireland, to kill a Bard 
was a crime of the highest degree, while to seize his estate was deemed 
an act of sacrilege. 

Bardism inculcated free investigation of all matters contributing 
to the attainment of truth and wisdom, grounded upon the aphorism : 
" To beHeve nothing and to beUeve everything," that is, " to beheve 
everything supported by reason and proof and nothing without." The 
Bard was, however, to be bold in the cause of truth, in accordance with 
his motto : " The Truth in opposition to the world." 

From the Triads of Dynwal Moelmud, who is said to have written 
about four hundred years before the Christian era, we learn that : 

" There are three distinguished characters of the art of Bardism. 
First, the chief Bard or the free privileged Bard, who obtains his 
dignity and privilege through discipline under a master duly author- 
ised, being a conventional bard. He must preserve every record of 
the arts and sciences whilst he should continue in his office of Bard 
regularly inducted in dignity and privilege. He must also keep 
every record and memorial of the country and tribe respecting 
marriage, pedigrees, arms, inheritances, and privileges of the country 
and tribe of the Cambrians. The second is the Ovate, who obtains 
his dignity according to the privilege of public genius and praise- 
worthy sciences, by fully proving that he understands them before 
the customary and honourable convention of the Bards, or where 
there is no such convention, before a legal sessions guaranteed by 
the tribe of the district ; or before twelve of the judges of his court, 
or before twelve juniors of the court in the customary manner. 
The Ovate is not to be interrogated respecting any regular discipline, 
through which he may have passed nor respecting anything else, 
except that his views of the sciences be strictly accurate. And this 
is done for the purpose of protecting the sciences where the regular 
instructions are not found, and where the sciences and arts of record 
and wisdom are in danger of being totally lost by the failure of 
organised teachers and skilful masters. Beside they are privileged 
for the purpose of improving and enlarging the arts by submitting 
every new experience respecting them to the judgment of masters 
and wise men, so that they may establish them and annex the 
common privileges ; and also lest the sciences of wisdom may be 
deprived of the knowledge that arises from the natural bursts of 
poetic genius and the energies of inventions. The third is the 
Druid-Bard, who must be a graduated conventional-Bard, and be 
inducted in wisdom and the sciences, and be able to communicate 


his judgment and views respecting them. He is raised to this oflSce 
according to the privilege granted by reason and the tribe of the 
customary Convention and is elected by ballot, which election is 
guaranteed by the vote of the Convention. His office is to impart 
instruction and to teach the sciences of wisdom and virtue in the 
Convention of the Bards, in the court, the sacred place, and in every 
family where he has his office in full privilege. Each of these three 
is entitled by equity and law to five acres of free land according to 
his privilege as a professor of the authorised arts, besides what 
belongs to him by his privilege as a free-born Cambrian, for the 
privilege by the arts does not abrogate that by nature, nor that by 
nature what the arts produce." 

The Triads contain a great number of memoranda of remarkable 
events which are said to have taken place among the Ancient Britons, 
but are entirely deficient in the matter of dates, as instanced in the 
following examples : 

" There were three awful events in the Isle of Britain ; the 
first was the bursting of the Lake of Floods, and the rushing of an 
inundation over all the lands, until all persons were destroyed, 
except Dwyvan and Dw^^ack, who escaped in an open vessel and 
from them the Isle of Britain was re-peopled." 

Inlthe most ancient songs of the Bards the naked vessel without 
sails by'which the island of Britain was constantly alluded to was a ship 
preserving what was left of the inhabitants of the old world. Dwyvan 
and Dwyvach signify in the Welsh language, " the godlike man and 
woman." The former was also called Dyglan, " son of the sea," and 
Hu Gadarn, " the mighty inspector." He was thus described by one 
of the ancient Bards : 

" Hu Gadarn, the sovereign, the ready protector, 
A King, distributing the wine, and the renown, 
The Emperor of the land and seas. 
And the hfe of all in the world was he, 
After the deluge, he held 

The strong beam'd plough, active and excellent : 
Thus did our Lord of stimulating genius. 

That he might show to the proud man, and to the humbly wise 
The most approv'd art, with the faithful father." 
Another of these historical Triads runs : 

" The three inventors of song and record of the Kymry nation : 
Gwyddon Genhedon, who was the first in the world that composed 
vocal song ; Hu the Mighty, who first appHed vocal song to strengthen 
memory and record ; and Tydain, the father of poetic genius, who 
first conferred art on poetic song and made it the medium of record. 


From what was done by these three men, originated Bards and 
Bardism ; and the privileges and institutes of these things were 
organised by the three primary Bards, Plenydd, Alawn, and Gwron." 
There is another Triad which runs : 

" There are three pillars of the nation of the Isle of Britain. 
The first was Hu, the Mighty, who brought the nation of the Kymry 
first to the Isle of Britain ; and they came over from the Hazy Sea 
to the Isle of Britain and to Armorica, where they settled. The 
second was Prydain, the son of Aedd, the Great, who first organised 
a social state and sovereignty in Britain ; for, before that time there 
was no justice but what was done by favour, nor any law except 
that of supreme force. The third was Dyvwall Moclmud, for he 
first made arrangements respecting the laws, maxims, customs, and 
privileges of the country and tribe. And on account of these three 
reasons they were called the three pillars of the nation of the Kymry." 
Two others of a similar character are : 

" There were three social tribes of the Isle of Britain. The 
first was the tribe of the Kymry, who came to the Isle of Britain 
with Hu, the Mighty, because he would not possess a country and 
land by fighting and pursuit, but by justice and tranquillity. The 
second was the tribe of the Lloegrians, who came from Gascony, 
and they were descended from the primitive tribe of the Kymry. 
These were called the three peaceful tribes, because they came by 
mutual consent and tranquillity ; and these tribes were descended 
from the primitive tribe of the Kymry, and they had all three the 
same language and speech. 

" There were three refuge-seeking tribes that came to the Isle 
of Britain ; and they came under the peace and permission of the 
tribe of the Kymry, without arms and without opposition. The 
first was the tribe of the Caledonians in the north. The second was 
the Irish tribe, who dwell in the Highlands of Scotland. The third 
were the people of Galedin, who when their country was drowned, 
came in naked vessels to the Isle of Wight, where they had land 
granted to them by the tribe of Kymry. They had no privilege of 
claim in the Isle of Britain, but they had land and protection assigned 
to them under certain limitations ; and it was stipulated that they 
should not possess the rank of native Kymry, until the ninth of 
their lineal descendants." 
The Bards were in the habit of decorating their tribunals with 

plants and herbs suitable to the season and suggestive of some moral 

truth in religious doctrine. These were : 

1. The trefoil for Alban Eilir, or the vernal equinox ; 

2. The vervain for Alban Hervin, or the summer solstice ; 


3. Ears of wheat for Alban Elved, or the autumnal equinox ; 

4. Mistletoe for Alban Arthvan, or the winter equinox. 

The principle of the Bardic Mcmoria Technica was the number three, 
and religious, scientific, and historical facts were committed to memory 
under this form of Triads, of which various discoveries have been made 
and compiled, particularly of the tenth, twelfth, thirteenth, and fourteenth 
centuries. The Bards brought this system of acquiring knowledge to 
the highest state of perfection, and it was applied to the purpose of 
preserving every kind of knowledge and science. The Triads, however, 
must not be regarded as the production of any one individual, or of any 
given period of time, but as an accumulation formed successively by 
national concurrences, as the various events appeared and became 
recognised in public observation. The arrangement of classes, both in 
civil and religious polity, partook of the ternary form. Nothing could 
be transacted by the British Druids without a reference to this figure. 
On solemn occasions the processions moved three times round the sacred 
enclosure ; the invocations were thrice repeated, and the poetry was 
composed in Triads. The ternary deiseal, or procession from east to 
west by the south, accompanied all the sacred rites, as well as secular, 
and nothing was accounted holy without the performance of this pre- 
liminary ceremony. In a word, the Triad formed the spirit of religion 
among the forefathers of Britain : it was introduced into the poetry, it 
pervaded the philosophy, politics, and morals ; and, like the property 
for which the number three was venerated by all antiquity, it formed the 
beginning, middle and end of all their policy, whether civil, military, or 

Speaking generally, the historical value of the Triads is accepted 
by most authorities. Edward Davies, in his Celtic Researches, says : 

" We find among the oldest Welsh MSS. many historical notices 
upon the model of the Druidical Triads and purporting to be the 
remains of Druidical ages. Their contents furnish, in my opinion, 
strong evidence of their authenticity. I cannot account for them 
at all upon other grounds. Many collections of these Triads are 
preserved at this day, in old copies upon vellum." 
The editors of Welsh Archcsology say : 

" The Triads may be considered amongst the most valuable 
and curious productions preserved in the Welsh language ; and 
they contain a great number of memorials of the remarkable events 
which took place among the ancient Britons. Unfortunately, 
however, they are entirely deficient with respect to dates ; and, 
considered singly, they are not well adapted to preserve the con- 
nexion of history. Yet a collection of Triads combined together, as 
these are, condense more information into a small compass than is 


to be accomplished, perhaps, by any other method ; and, conse- 
quently, such a mode of composition is superior to all others for 
the formation of a system of tradition." 

The following Triads are submitted as proof of the nobility of the 
system of ethics and morals as taught and practised by the Druids, 
Bards, and Ovates : 

The three primary principles of Wisdom : Obedience to the 
Laws of God ; Concern for the welfare of mankind ; and Suffering 
with fortitude all the accidents of life. 

The three great laws of man's actions : What he forbids in 
another ; What he requires from another ; and What he cares not 
how it is done by another. 

The three great ends of Knowledge : Duty, Utility, and 

Three things corrupt the world : Pride, Superfluity, and 

There are three things which God will not love him that dehghts 
to look at : Fighting, a monster, and the pomp of pride. 
Diogenes Laertius, who died a.d. 222, gives as one of the Bardic 
Triads : 

To worship the gods ; to do no evil ; and to exercise fortitude. 
Other Triads are : 

The three foundations of Bardism : Peace, Love, and Justice. 

For three reasons ought a man to hazard his life and to lose it, 
if necessary : In seeking for truth ; In cHnging to justice ; and 
In performing mercy. 

The following Triads are the Laws of Dyvnwal Moelmud, the cele- 
brated prince and legislator, who flourished in the fifth century b.c. 

The three principles and protection of a social state : Security 
of life and person ; security of possession and dwelling ; security 
of national right. 

Three things that confirm the social state : Effectual security 
of property ; just punishment where it is due ; and mercy tempering 
justice where the occasion requires it in equity. 

The three elements of law are knowledge, national right, and 

The three ornaments of a social state : The learned scholar ; 
the ingenious artist ; and the just judge. 

The three proofs of a judge : Knowledge of the law ; knowledge 
of the customs which the law does not supersede ; and knowledge 
of its times and the business thereto belonging. 

Three things which a judge ought always to study : Equity 


habitually ; mercy conscientiously ; and knowledge profoundly and 


The Laws of Dynwal declared that there were : 

Three persons who forfeit Hfe, and who cannot be redeemed : 

A traitor to country and kindred ; one who shall kill another through 

ferocity ; and a proved thief for the worth of more than four byzants. 

Some of the Welsh Triads bear witness to the Druidical belief in a 

Supreme Being : 

There are three primary unities, and no more than one of each 
kind exist : One God ; one Truth ; and one Point of Liberty — 
and this is where all opposites equipreponderate. 

Three things of which God necessarily consists : The greatest 
life ; the greatest knowledge ; and the greatest power — and of what 
is greatest there can be no more than one of any thing. 

Three things it is impossible God should not do : Whatever 
perfect goodness should be ; whatever perfect goodness would desire 
to be ; and whatever goodness is able to perform. 

Three things evince what God has done and will do : Infinite 
power ; Infinite wisdom ; and Infinite love — for there is nothing 
that these attributes want of power, of knowledge, or of will to 

Three things it is impossible God should not perform : What 
is most beneficial ; what is most wanted ; and what is most beautiful 
of all things. 

The three grand attributes of God : Infinite plenitude of Hfe ; 
Infinite knowledge ; and Infinite power. 

Three things that none but God can do : Endure the eternities 
of the Circle of Infinity ; Participate of every state of existence 
without changing ; and Reform and renovate every thing without 
causing the loss of it. 

Three causes that have produced rational beings : Divine love 
possessed of perfect knowledge ; Divine wisdom knowing all possible 
means ; and Divine power possessed by a joint will of divine love 
and divine wisdom. 
Here are two further Triads worthy of quotation : 

Three things which make a man equal to an angel : The love 
of every good ; the love of charity ; and the love of pleasing God. 

There are three sorts of men : A man to God, who does good 
for evil ; a man to man, who does good for good and evil for evil ; 
and a man to the devil, who does evil for good. 

The candidates for the degree of Ovate had to be well versed in 
science, letters, medicine, and language. Each had to be proposed by a 
Druid or Bard, to whom he was known personally, or by a judge or 


magistrate, or, failing these, by twelve respectable men. The British 
Ovates wore a green robe, that being the colour symbolical of learning, 
but the Irish Ovates wore a mantle of grey or sky-blue. The badge was 
a golden star, bearing the inscription : " The judgment of heaven will 
severely punish iniquity." The Ovates otEciated as physicians and 
diviners, and are said to have been greatly proficient in natural philosophy 
and the secret workings of nature. Diodorus Siculus says that the 
Ovates from auspices and the entrails of victims predicted future events. 
On the fall of Druidism, Bardism adapted itself to Christianity, 
for the Chair of Urien Rheged, that military chief who led the British 
against the Saxons at the memorable battle of Cattraeth, celebrated 
by Aneurin, in his immortal Gododin, was decidedly Christian. 



One of the principal items in the curriculum of study of a Druidical 
initiate during his twenty years' novitiate, which was spent in the depths 
of the forest, was instruction In the art of magic. 

Confused ideas are often held upon this subject of magic which does 
not mean deception, or cunning, or a skilful dexterity in hand-manipula- 
tion alone, though it is sometimes employed in one or other or all of 
these ways. Magic proper, however, means the understanding of nature, 
and it derived its name from the fact that this occult knowledge was 
supposed to be the exclusive possession of the Magi, or wise men. The 
founder of Magic is claimed by the mythologists to have been Chus, the 
reputed founder of the Cuthites, who is also accredited by tradition to 
be the first to venture upon the high seas. The Greeks, however, claim 
that magical arts were invented in Persia, in which country the Magi 
applied themselves to the study of philosophy and the assiduous search 
after the most curious works and mysteries of Nature. These men were 
chosen generally to superintend divine worship and all religious rites 
and ceremonies ; they attended constantly upon kings to advise them 
in all affairs of moment and were chosen for the highest honours and 
places demanding the greatest trust and confidence. It was at a later 
stage in Persian history that their credit and esteem became diminished 
in consequence of their abandonment of the contemplation of nature 
and the betaking of themselves to the invocation of demons. 

The magicians and sorcerers whom Pharaoh and Nebuchadnezzar 
summoned to their aid are referred to in the Gaelic Bible as Draoitho, 
Druids, the same name as is given to the wise men who are mentioned 
in the New Testament as travelling from the East to Bethlehem. The 
word Druid in Celtic signifies " a wizard," and the translators of the 
New Testament into that language have accordingly rendered the 
expression " Simon Magus " as " Simon the Druid." 

Professor John Rhys, in his Lectures on the Origin and Growth of 
Religion, says : 

" The appearance of Simon on Celtic ground is not very difficult 


to explain. He was known to the early Church as a notorious 
opponent of the apostles, and his name became identified with all 
that was pagan and anti-Christian : thus, the ancient Druidic 
tonsure usual among the clergy of the British Church till the latter 
half of the eighth century, and among those of the Irish Church 
not quite so late, was probably a Druidic tonsure continued. At any 
rate, it was described by those who had adopted the Roman tonsure 
as that of Simon Magus. As to Ireland, in particular, all the fiercest 
opposition there to Christianity is described as headed by the Druids, 
who competed with Patrick and other saints in working miracles. 
So it would be natural enough to Christian writers to liken the chief 
Druids of Ireland to Simon, especially seeing that when they used 
the Latin tongue the native word drui, " Druid," had to be rendered 
by magus, " a magician." Vice versa, Simon Magus became in Irish 
Simon Drui, or " Simon the Druid " : nay, he was at last claimed 
as an Irish ancestor and as such he appears as Simon Brec, or Simon 
the Freckled, son of Starn, or Stariath, of the family of Nemid, and 
as ancestor of the Fir Bolg, who, owing to Simon's eastern origin, 
are made to come from the east on one of the motiveless wanderings 
so common in the legendary history of Ireland. 

" The m)-thical creation, known as Roth Fail, or Fail's Wheel, 
and Roth Ramach, or the wheel with paddles, is said to have been 
made by Simon Magus, assisted by Mog Ruith, a celebrated Irish 
Druid from the island of Valencia, who, having learned all the 
Druidism or magic that could be learned in these islands, went with 
his daughter to take lessons from Simon Magus, in whose contest 
with St. Peter he is represented as taking a part. The wheel was 
to enable Simon to sail in the air ; but it met with an accident, 
and Mog Ruith's daughter brought certain fragments of it to Ireland, 
one of which she fixed as the rock or pillar stone of Cnamchoill, a 
place near Tipperary, the name of which has been Anglicised into 
Cleghile. The stone was believed to have produced blindness if 
looked at, and death if touched." 

In Ireland the modern art of magic is known as Druidity and the 
magician's wand as the " Rod of Druidism." The Irish Druids of ancient 
times are said to have been a species of sorcerers, to have been in league 
with the demons of paganism, and to have been able, through their 
agency, to do good to their friends and to work mischief upon their 
enemies. They were credited by the people with the power of transform- 
ing men into stone pillars by magical means, and this credulity assisted 
in making the Druids as great as, if not greater than, any priesthood 
in ancient or modern times. They were held in such veneration by 


all classes that no public measures became operative unless and tmtil 
they received their approbation. 

The pre-Milesian races — the Nemedians and the Formarians — had 
their Druids, who worked mutual spells against each other. The Tuatha- 
de-Danann had innumerable Druids among them who employed spells. 
The Tuatha-de-Danann were descendants of those who followed the 
Nemedians out of Ireland when the Africans usurped that kingdom. 
They landed in Achaia, where they learned the arts of necromancy and 
enchantment and became experts in magical knowledge. It was said 
that when the country of Achaia and the city of Athens were invaded by 
the Assyrians, these sorcerers were enabled by means of their charms to 
revive the bodies of the dead Athenians and bring them again on to the 
field of battle The Assyrians resolved to take counsel of a learned Druid 
and discover, if possible, in what manner they could defeat the skiU of 
those necromancers and break the power of their charms. The Druid 
told them that after a battle was over they should thrust a stake of 
wood through every one of the dead bodies : this would demonstrate 
whether the dead were brought to life by diabolical means or divine 
power. If the former, the bodies could not then be resuscitated ; but 
if the latter, they would find it futile to fight against an Almighty Power. 
The Assyrians are said to have acted upon the advice given, and the 
sorcerers were defeated. The Tuatha-de-Danann then fled from Achaia 
and Greece and betook themselves to Norway and Denmark, afterwards 
migrating to Scotland and then back to their former home, Ireland. 

Druids are mentioned in connection with all early Irish stories, 
from the first colonisation down to the time of the saints. At the time 
of the battle between the Milesians in Ireland and the invaders in the 
early days of the Christian era, some of the invaders, known by the name 
of Tuatha Fiodhga, poisoned the heads of their arrows, which had the 
effect of making the slightest wound mortal or incurable. Criomthan 
Sciathbeil, who was governor of Leinster at the time, was informed by 
a Milesian Druid, named Trosdane, of an antidote to such poisonous 
wounds. It was to procure one hundred and fifty white-faced cows and 
when he had digged a pit near to the place where he usually fought with 
his foe, to empty their milk into the hole, and when any of his soldiers 
were wounded by the enemy, they were to go immediately into the pit 
and bathe themselves in the milk, which would prove a sovereign antidote 
against the poison. Criomthan, it is said, followed the advice of the 
Druid ; and the Milesians, as a result, obtained a complete victory. 
" The wandering Picts, after a tedious voyage 
Around the British coasts, at length arrive 
Upon the Irish shore ; where the GadeHans 
Were fighting with the Britons fierce and cruel, 


Who, with envenom'd arrows, certain death 
Dispensed ; and many a brave Milesian 
Languished with wounds incurable, till relieved 
By a prevailing antidote, prescribed 
By the wise Trosdane, of the Pictish race. 
This learned Druid, exquisitely skill'd 
In poison, did expel the subtle venom 
By a warm bath of milk, which from the dugs 
Of an hundred and fifty bald-faced cows distilled ; 
The soldiers here soften'd their rankling wounds. 
And washed, and to the fight returned unhurt. 
Thus were the Britons routed in the field 
And all their barbarous art defeated." 
Fiachadh Muilleathan, king of Munster, appealed on one occasion 
to a Druid, named Modhrauith, to dehver his armies out of difficulties 
occasioned by the lack of water. The charm used by the Druid was an 
enchanted dart, which he flung into the air with all his force, and from 
the spot of ground upon which the arrow fell there sprang a fountain 
of the purest water sufhcient to supply the wants of the whole army. 

According to legendary lore, the Druids could, by their magical 

powers, create clouds and mists and bring down showers of fire and 

blood. St. Patrick, on his way to Tara one Easter Sunday morning, 

chanted a hymn beseeching God to protect him against the spells of 

women, smiths, and Druids. In a contest which the Druids had at Tara 

with the celebrated Irish apostle, they are said to have caused snow to 

descend by means of their magical incantations. The following account 

is given of an encounter between the Druidical magicians and St. Patrick : 

" All these things being done between the magician and Patrick, 

the king says to them : ' Cast your books into the water, and he 

whose books shall escape uninjured we will adore.' Patrick answered, 

' I will do so.' And the magician said : ' I am unwilling to come 

to the trial of water with this man, because he has water as his 

god ' — he had heard that baptism was given by Patrick with water. 

And the king [Laogaire] answering, said : ' Allow it by lire ' ; and 

Patrick said : ' I am ready ' ; but the magician, being unwilling, 

said : ' This man alternately, in each successive year, adores as 

god, water and fire.' And the saint said : ' Not so, but thou thyself 

shalt go and one of my boys shall go with thee into a separate and 

closed house, and my vestment shall be on thee and thine on him 

and thus together you shall be set on fire.' And this counsel was 

approved of ; and there was a house built for them, the half of 

which was made of green wood and the other half of dry ; and the 

magician was sent into that part of the house that was green and 


one of the boys of St. Patrick, Bienus by name, with the vest of 

the magician into the dry part of the house. The house, then being 

closed on the outside, was set on fire before the whole multitude, 

and it came to pass in that hour, by the prayers of Patrick, that the 

flame of fire consumed the magician, with the green half of the house, 

while the garment of St. Patrick remained untouched, because the 

fire did not touch it. But the fortunate Bienus, on the contrary, 

with the dry half of the house, according to what is said of the three 

children, was not touched by the fire, neither was he annoyed, nor 

did he experience any inconvenience : only the garment of the 

magician which he had about him was burned." 

In the Life of Senan mention is made of the use of charms and spells 

by the Druids. Coel, a brother of Senan, was ordered by King MacTail 

of Hui Figente to command his brother to leave his territory. Coel met 

with death w^hile on his way to perform his errand. When MacTail 

heard the news he was angry, but his Druid said to him : " Thou needest 

not to be anxious about this, for I will take a charm with me to him, 

and he shall either die or leave thy land in possession." The victory, 

however, did not come to the Druid. 

In the story of The Retreat of the Sons of Mile we read : 

" The sons of Mile submitted to the judgment of Amairgen. 

They returned by the way they had come, and, going on board 

their ships, withdrew from the shore to the mysterious distance of 

nine waves, in accordance with the judgment of Amairgen. As 

soon as the Tuatha de Danann found them launched upon the sea, 

their Druids and the people began to chant magic poems, which 

caused a furious tempest to arise, so that the fleet of the sons of 

Mile was driven far out to sea and dispersed." 

" Mannanan-Beg-Mac-y-Lheirr (Little Mannanan), " Son of the Sea," 

the first person who held Man (the Isle of Man), was the ruler thereof, 

after whom the land was named ; he reigned many years, and was a 

paynim (pagan). He kept the island under a mist by means of his 

necromancy. If he dreaded an enemy, he could cause one man to seem 

a hundred, and that by magic art." Thus runs one of the legends of 

the Isle of Man. Little Mannanan is said to have been converted to 

Christianity by St. Patrick in a.d. 447. 

St. Patrick could meet charm with charm. It is said that when 
the Druids sought to poison him he wrote the following words and placed 
the paper on which they were written over the liquor in which the food 
had been placed : 

" Tubu fis fri ibu, fis ibu anfis 

Fris bru natha, ibu lithu, Christi Jesus," 

Dntidicid Festival 
at Slont'liengt'. 


and declared that whoever pronounced these words over poisoned Hquor 
would sustain no injury. 

According to the Scnchus Mor : 

" When the men of Erin heard of the killing of the living and 
the resuscitation of the dead, and all the power of Patrick since his 
arrival in Erin ; and when they saw Leghaire with his Druids over- 
come by the great signs and miracles wrought in the presence of 
the men of Erin, they bowed down in obedience to the will of God 
and Patrick." 

Part of the ancient hymn known as Ntnine's Prayer, referring to 
St. Patrick, runs : 

" He fought against hard-hearted Druids, 
He thrust down the proud men with the aid of our Lord of fair 

He purified the great offspring of meadow-landed Erin, 
We pray to Patrick, chief apostle, who will save us at the judg- 
ment from doom to the malevolence of dark demons, 
Against snares of demons, 
Against black laws of heathenry, 
Against spells of women, smiths, and Druids." 
There was a Druid whose Irish slave Columba was anxious to release. 
The Druid refused to listen to Columba's request, whereupon an angel 
broke the glass cup out of which he was drinking, which caused him to 
be cut severely. Columba healed the Druid's wounds by means of a 
magic pebble which floated on water. Another act attributed to Columba 
was the turning into blood of milk said to have been drawn from a bull 
by a Scottish Druid. 

There is a poem attributed to Columba, part of which runs : 
" I adore not the voice of birds. 

Nor a sreod, nor a destiny on the earthly world ; 
Nor a son, nor chance, nor woman, 
My Drui is Christ, the Son of God." 
Another verse, bearing reference to the practice of divination among 
the ancient Druids, runs : 

" Our fate depends not on sneezing. 
Nor on a bird perched on a twig, 
Nor on the root of a knotted tree, 
Nor on the noise of clapping hands ; 
Better is He in whom we trust. 
The father, the One, and the Son." 
There is a Gothic manuscript of the twelfth or thirteenth century, 
if not earlier, part of which reads as follows : 

" Columba went once of a time to the King of Curithne (Picts), 


viz., to Brude, son of Milcoln, and the door of the dun (castle) was 
shut against him and the iron locks of the town were opened readily 
through the prayers of Columba. Then Maelcu, the King's son, 
came to his Druid to resist Columba through Paganism." 
We know from Adamnan that there were magi in the palace of 
Brude, near Inverness. They were called Geintighecht by the Christian 

Among other achievements, the Druids have been credited with the 
power to drive a man insane simply by flicking a wisp of straw, which 
was called Dlui fulla, in his face. 

At the famous battle of Culdreimne (Coolcrevny) in a.d. 560, accord- 
ing to the Annals of Ulster : " Fraechan, son of Temnan, it was that 
made the Druids' erbe for Diramit. Tuatan, son of Diman, it was that 
threw overhead the Druids' crheP The same author is responsible for 
the statement that in a.d. 738, " Fergus Glutt, king of Cobha, died from 
the envenomed spittles of evil men." 

The belief that magical powers were in the possession of certain 
individuals was retained, as wiU be seen, until well on in the Christian 
era. Sopater, the philosopher, and friend of Constantine, was accused 
of binding the winds in an adverse quarter by the influence of magic, 
so that warships could not reach Constantinople, and, in response to 
ecclesiastical clamour, the Emperor was compelled to issue the order for 
his decapitation. 

Belief in witchcraft can be traced to Druidism, and some of the 
practices attributed to witches after aU traces of Druidical worship and 
customs were supposed to have died out are nevertheless exact, or almost 
exact, reproductions of the practices attributed to the Druids by earlier 
authorities. More than one writer has stated that the Scottish witch is 
the direct descendant of the Druidess, and, according to Pomponius 
Mela, the Druidesses of the Isle of Sena could grant fair winds or raise 
tempests, and, in 1792, the author of the Statistical Account of the Hebrides 
stated that in the island of Gigha it was believed that by performing 
certain ceremonies at a fountain there, persons thus initiated into its 
mysteries could cause the wind to blow from any quarter desired. 

Concerning Druidesses, however, much controversy has arisen, some 
even disputing their existence. Most writers, however, agree that there 
were Druidesses and that they were divided into three classes, but none 
performed priestly duties. The members of the first, or highest, class 
took vows of perpetual virginity, and were regarded as the elite of the 
order. Their duty was to attend to the sacred fire, and they were known 
as Inghean an Dagha, " daughters of fire," but sometimes as Breochuidh, 
" fire keepers." The members of this class lived together in communities, 
separated from the world. The second class married, but spent the 


greater part of their time in religious work. They wove the hangings 
of the groves, made the vestments of the priests, took part in certain 
of the ceremonies, and performed the ordinary duties of the household. 
The third class consisted of such as performed the most servile offices 
about the temples and the priests' households. In Gaul, the second 
class, though married, were vowed to continence, remaining always 
within the temple enclosure, emerging only once a year to consort with 
their husbands for the purpose of procreation. The third lived at home 
with their husbands, training their children, but devoting their leisure 
to work in the temple. Although there, as in Britain, they were depen- 
dents and subordinates of the Druids, they, in fact, superintended 
entirely the divine mysteries and sacrifices, entrance to certain parts of 
the temples being interdicted to men. Druidesses appear also to have 
formed part of the Irish ecclesiastical organization. Toland, in his 
History of the Druids, speaks of Gealcossa, a Druidess, who resided near 
Gealcossa's Mount, in Inisoen, in the county of Donegal. Her name, he 
says, " is of Homeric strain, signifying ' white-legged.' On this hill is 
her grave, and hard by is her temple, being a sort of diminutive Stone- 
henge, which many of the old Irish dare not at this day in any way 

Every Druid wore around his neck, encased in gold, what was known 
as the angiiinum, or " Druid's Egg." Pliny, in his Natural History, gives 
the following account of it : 

" There is, besides, a kind of egg held in high esteem by the 
inhabitants of Gaul, unnoticed by the Greek writers. It is called 
' the serpents' egg ' ; and, in order to produce it, an immense number 
of serpents, twisted together in summer, are rolled up in an artificial 
folding by the saliva of their mouths and the slime of their bodies. 
The Druids say that this egg is tossed on high with hissings and that 
it must be intercepted in a cloak before it reaches the ground. The 
person who seizes it flies on horseback, for the serpents pursue him 
till they are stopped by the intervention of some river. The proof 
of this egg is, that, though bound in gold, it will swim against the 
stream. And, as the magi are very artful and cunning in concealing 
their frauds, they pretend that this egg can only be obtained at a 
certain time of the moon, as if this operation of the serpents could 
be rendered congruous to human determination. I have indeed 
seen that egg of the size of an ordinary round apple, worn by the 
Druids in a chequered cover resembling the enormous calculi in 
the arms of a polypus. Its virtue is highly extolled for gaining law 
suits and procuring access to kings ; and it is worn with so great 
ostentation that I knew a Roman knight by birth, a Vocentian, who 
was slain by the Emperor Claudius for no cause whatever except 


wearing one of these eggs on his breast during the dependence of a 


It is not improbable that this egg and the alleged marvellous manner 
of its production had connection with some primary dogma which Pliny 
never fathomed. Hughes, in Hora Britannica, says that in the writings 
of the ancient Bards several allusions to what he terms the " mummery " 
are to be found, one of which he quotes as follows : 

" Lively was the aspect of him, who, in his prowess, had snatched 

over the ford that involved ball which casts its rays to a distance ; 

the splendid product of the adder, shot forth by serpents." 

The Druids themselves were called Nadredd, or snakes, by the Welsh 
Bards ; and the whole of the tale mentioned by Pliny has a mystical 
reference to the difficulty of attaining Druidical secrets and the danger 
of disclosing them. There is, of course, no doubt that this famous object 
of Druidic superstition was merely artificial. The art of making these 
trinkets being known only to the Druids, they availed themselves of 
the credulity of the common people, to magnify the virtues of them and 
to give them a mysterious import. 

The serpent was a sacred reptile among the Druids. They supposed 
its spiral coils to represent the eternal existence of the Almight)'. Camden 
tells us that in many parts of Wales and throughout all Scotland and 
Cornwall it is an opinion held by the people that about Midsummer Eve 
the snakes meet in company and that by joining heads together and 
hissing, a kind of bubble is formed, which, by continually being blown 
upon, passes through the body, when it immediately consolidates and 
resembles a glass ring, which, whoever finds, shall prosper in all his 
undertakings. The rings thus generated are called Glcinunadroeth, or 
" snake stones." Wirt Sikes, in British Goblins, says that the snake 
stone is a striking W'elsh tradition associated with Midsummer Eve, and 
there is a Welsh saying respecting people who lay their heads together 
in conversation that the talkers are " blowing the gem." 

Any water poured on the serpents' eggs is said to have had wonderful 
life-giving power and become able to produce life. It has also been 
asserted that the Druids were wont to place live serpents at the foot of 
the altar during the time of sacrifice. 

In Scotland, the Druids' egg was known as an adder stone, and it 
was in great reputation for the foreteUing of events, the working of 
miracles, the curing of disease, and the gaining of law suits. 

In the Scottish Museum there is a bead of red glass, spotted with 
white ; another of dark brown glass, spotted with yellow ; others of 
pale green and blue glass, plain and ribbed ; and two of curiously figured 
patterns, wrought with various colours interwoven in their surface. 

These glass baubles were badges and passports that the bearers were 


initiated, and whoever purloined or carried one without authorization 
was pursued by the deadly vengeance of the Brotherhood. The amulet 
was variously shaped. Sometimes it was like a round bead of glass ; at 
others, like a crescent with a glass boat ; sometimes it was a glass circle, 
and sometimes it resembled a glass house. In every case it was regarded 
as a powerful talisman. Camden has thus described these magical 
appendages : 

" These geminse anguinje are small glass amulets, commonly 
as wide as our finger rings, but much thicker ; of a green colour 
usually, though some of them are blue, and others curiously waved 
with blue, red, and white." 

Specimens have frequently been found in the Isle of Anglesea. 
Smaller consecrated beads — white for Druids, blue for Bards, and green 
for Ovates — were carried by the individuals and interred with them at 
death. A number of these beads were found in an excavation made at 
Quarrington in 1828. Taliesin, speaking of a warrior's amulet, says : 
" Beautiful is the circle with its enriched border." 

The anguinum was not known in Ireland, the reason given by 
Llhwyd, the antiquarian, being : 

" The Druid doctrine about the Glain Neidr obtains very much 
throughout all Scotland, as well lowlands as highlands ; but there 
is not a word of it in this kingdom (Ireland), where, as there are no 
snakes, they could not propagate it. Besides snake-stones, the 
highlanders have their small snail stones, paddock stones, etc., to 
aU which they attribute their special virtues and wear them as 
In another letter, referring to the same subject, he says : 

" The Cornish retain a variety of charms, and have still towards 
the Land's End the amulet of Mael Magal and Gelin Nedir, which 
latter they call a Milpreu, or Melpreu, and have a charm for the 
snake to make it, when they have found one asleep and struck a 
hazel wand in the centre of her spires." 

Edwards supposes that the Welsh Bardic title of Nadredd is to be 
traced to the belief in transmigration. The serpent, which sheds its 
skin annually and appears to return to a second youth, may have been 
regarded by them, as well as by other people of that time, as a symbol 
of renovation, and this renovation or reincarnation was the great doctrine 
set forth by the Arkite mysteries and by the symbolical egg. 

Mason, in Caractacus, has described the ceremony of securing the 
anguinum in the following words : 

" The potent adder stone 
Gender'd 'fore th'autumnal moon : 
When in undulating twine 


The foaming snakes prolific join ; 
When they hiss and when they bear 
Their wondrous egg aloof in air, 
Thence, before to earth it fall 
The Druid, in his hallow'd pall. 
Receives the prize. 
And instant flies, 
Follow'd by th' envenom'd brood 
Till he cross the crystal flood." 
The Druids represented the wren as the king of all the birds and 
the Welsh for king is bren. At one time the raven was regarded by the 
Greeks as the greatest of soothsaying birds. One of the Druidical 
proverbs ran as follows : 

He that takes a wren's nest 
Will have no health all his life. 
The well-known song, " The Three Ravens," is a survival of a 
Druidic chant : 

There were three ravens sat on a tree, 

Down-a-down ! hey down ! hey down. 
They were as black as black might be 

With a down ! 
Then one of them said to his mate 
Where shall we now our breakfast take. 
With a down, down, derry, derry-down. 
Every Druid carried a wand. The wand of the British Druids was 
made from oak, but that of the Irish Druids was made from yew. At 
the present day, in some Roman Catholic churches, it is a practice, when 
the faithful approach the confessional, for them to receive a touch on 
the head from a wand which the priest holds in his hand. In this way 
also the priests of Isis blessed and exorcised. In Scotland the Rowan, 
or Mountain Ash, will always be found near holy places and circles or 
Clachans. It was essential that on Belrane, or May-day, all sheep and 
lambs should pass through a hoop of the Rowan-tree, and that on all 
occasions Scottish shepherds should be careful to drive their flocks to 
the hills with a Rowan wand. In the Scottish isles, where malign 
influence is feared, it is the custom to place a Rowan branch over the 
doorposts. Many Highlanders at the present day plant the Rowan, or 
Mountain Ash, near their dwellings or fields for the purpose of warding 
off evil spirits. If heather and flowers be added to Rowan wands, 
important beneficial services on the part of the spirits may be expected, 
particularly if all be carried thrice round the fires kindled on the May 

The gift of prophecy was also believed to be a power in the possession 


of the Druids. They claimed to be able to predict future events, not 
only from holy wells and running streams, but also from rain and snow 
water, which, when settled and afterwards stirred, either by oak leaf 
or branch, or magic, might exhibit appearances, which would convey 
information to the far-seeing Druid, or appear to do so to the credulous 
inquirer, while the priest was at full liberty to represent the appearance 
in whatever manner he thought most suited to his purpose. The cauldron 
of Ceridwen was said to contain the water of inspiration and science. 
A few drops of this water allowed to fall upon the finger of a person and 
then put into his mouth would open up futurity to his view. This, 
however, could only be done on the completion of the course of initiation, 
when the testing of this water was an essential rite. 

Several instances of the exercise of this prophetic power are related 
in ancient Irish writings, and many of them are similar to the recorded 
instances of modern clairvoyant predictions. D'Arbois de Jubainville 
says that the various Lives of St. Patrick and the other works of Christians 
who regarded the Druids as adversaries testify to the fact that even those 
Christians believed in the prophetic power of the Druids. 

We read in Josephus {Antiquities, xviii) that the Jewish Agrippa 
fell into the displeasure of Tiberius, who put him into bonds. As he 
stood leaning against a tree before a palace, an owl perched upon that 
tree. A German (some versions say " a German Druid "), one of the 
Emperor's guards, spake to him to be of good cheer, for he should be 
released from those bonds and arrive at great dignity and power ; but 
bid him remember that when he saw the bird again, he should Uve but 
five days. All this, we are told, came to pass. He was made king by 
Caligula. St. Paul preached before him, and Josephus speaks of his 
death agreeably to the prediction. 

Before St. Patrick went to Ireland, his advent was foretold by the 
Druids Lucait Mael and Luccra, or Lochru, in the following lines : 
" Adzheads (tonsured heads) wiU come over a furious sea ; 
Their mantles (cowls) hole-headed : 
Their staves (croziers) crock-headed : 
Their tables (altars) in the east of their houses : 
All will answer ' Amen.' " 
An interesting Druidical prophecy is told in the Life of St. Brigit, 
as follows : 

" Once upon a time, Dubthach (father of Brigit) and a bondmaid 
(Broicsech), whom Dubthach married, along with him, went in a 
chariot past the house of a certain wizard (Druid). When the 
wizard heard the noise of the chariot, he said : ' My boy, see who 
is in the chariot, for this is noise of chariot under king.' Quoth the 
bov : ' Dubthach is therein.' The wizard went out to meet him 


and asked whose was the woman hiding in the chariot. ' Mine,' 
said Dubthach. Now Maithgen was the name of the wizard and 
from him Ross Maithgin is named. The wizard asked if she was 
pregnant by any one. ' She is pregnant by me.' said Dubthach. 
Said the wizard : ' Marvellous will be the child that is in her womb : 
her Uke will not be on earth.' ' My wife compels me to sell this 
bondmaid,' said Dubthach. Said the wizard, through grace of 
prophecy : ' The seed of thy wife shall serve the seed of thv bond- 
maid for the bondmaid will bring forth a daughter, conspicuous, 
radiant, who will shine like a sun among the stars of heaven.' 
Dubthach was thankful for the answer, for hitherto no daughter 
had been born to him." 

The birth of Ciaran, of Clanmacois, an Irish saint, was foretold by 
Lughbrann, the Druid attached to the court of King Crimthann, who 
predicted concerning him : 

" He healed Oengus' steed 

When he lay swaddled in a cradle, 
From God that miracle to Ciaran 
Was given." 
The story then goes on in prose as follows : 

" On a certain day the horse of Oengus, son of Crimthann, 
died, and he felt great sorrow. Now when Oengus slept, an angel 
of God appeared to him in a vision and said this to him : ' Ciaran, 
the son of the wright, will come and bring the horse for thee to life.' 
And this was fulfilled, for, at the angel's word, Ciaran came and 
blessed water, which was put over the horse, and the horse at once 
arose out of death." 

An ancient work, entitled The Etymology of Names, says that 
Lughaidh, who ruled over Ireland, circa a.m. 3490, was one of five brothers, 
all of whom bore the same name. The reason for this is explained by 
the statement that a certain Druid, who had the skill of prophecy, told 
the father, Daire Domtheach, that he should have a son whose name 
should be Lughaidh, who should one day sit upon the throne of Ireland. 
Daire, it seems, afterwards had five sons, and the more effectually to 
bring this prediction to pass, he gave the same name to each one as he 
was born. When the five brothers reached a mature age, Daire took 
advantage of an opportunity that presented itself and called upon the 
Druid. He inquired of him which of his sons would have the honour of 
being the monarch of Ireland. The Druid, instead of giving him a 
direct answer to the question, ordered him to take his five sons with him 
on the morrow to Tailteau, where there was to be a general convention 
of all the nobility and gentry of the kingdom. While the assembly was 
sitting he would see a fawn or young deer running through the field, 



which would be pursued by all the company ; his five sons would likewise 
run among the rest, and whosoever of them overtook and kUled the fawn, 
the crown should be his and he should be the sole monarch of the island. 
The father followed the direction of the Druid with great exactness, and, 
accordingly, the next day, set out with his five sons for Tailteau, where 
he found the assembly sitting. Looking about him, he espied the fawn 
running over the fields, and the whole assembly suddenly left their debates 
and pursued her, following her close until they came to Binneadirr, after- 
wards called the Hill of Meath. Here a mist that was raised by enchant- 
ment separated the five sons of Daire from the other pursuers and they 
continued the chase and hunted her as far as Dail Maschorb, in Leinster, 
where Lughaidh Laighe, as the Druid foretold, overtook the fawn and 
killed her. The word Laighe in Irish, signifies " a fawn." 

When the Caledonians were expelled from Scythia, they met with 
great difficulties on the water and, uncertain which way to steer their 
course, they appealed to Caicer, a renowned Druid, for advice. He, by 
means of his prophetic knowledge, informed them that there was no 
country ordained for them to inhabit until they arrived upon the coast 
of a certain western isle, which was Ireland. The Druids, even in those 
days, were accredited with being men of extraordinary learning and 
wisdom. They were attendants of the Gadelians, and settled with them 
in Ireland. 

A Druid is said to have prophesied to Modha Nuagat, king of Ireland, 
A.D. circa 125, a seven years' famine to follow seven years of plenty, and 
advised him to build storehouses and to buy in all the corn of the country. 
Modha Nuagat was so convinced of the integrity of the Druid that he 
gave credit to his prediction and for seven years he and his subjects 
Hved upon flesh and fowl, securing the corn and other necessaries of life 
in granaries, sending factors all over the kingdom who bought up all the 
provisions exposed for sale. The famine is said to have occurred exactly 
as predicted. 

This power of prophecy was shared also by the Druidesses. It was 
a Druidess that foretold to Diocletian, when he was a soldier in GalHa that 
he would be Emperor of Rome. Diocletian was amusing himself one 
day in casting up his accounts, when his hostess, said to be a well-known 
Druidess, thus addressed him : " In truth, sir, you are too covetous." 
" Well," repHed Diocletian, " I shall be liberal when I come to be 
emperor." " You shall be so," answered his hostess, " when you have 
slain a boar." Diocletian, struck with this answer, applied himself from 
that time principally to the slaughter of boars, without, however, securing 
the throne ; but, at last, bethinking that the equivalent Latin word for 
" boar " might refer to Aper, Numerian's father-in-law, he put him to 
death, and was chosen emperor. 


It is also said that it was a Druidess who said to Alexander Severus 
as he was setting out on his last campaign, the expedition in which he 
was assassinated by his own soldiers : " Go on, my lord, but beware of 
your soldiers." Before setting out on the great expedition against 
Ulster, Medb, Queen of Connaught, went to consult her Druid, and just 
before the famous heroine, Derdriu, or Deirdre, was born, Caithbu 
prophesied what sort of woman she would be. Claudius also, it is stated, 
consulted female Druids on the question as to whether the empire would 
continue in its prosperity, and he was told that no name would be more 
illustrious in the republic than that of the posterity of Claudius. 

Toutain, in Les prctendues Druidcsses Gauloises, examines the 
question of these Druidesses very thoroughly, and throws doubt on 
their existence and, therefore, on their predictions. He points out that 
the term used for Druidess is Dryas, which means " nymph of the woods," 
but Greek and Latin writers never use this term when speaking of the 
Druids. The Greeks always write druides or druidai, with, as variant, 
drouidas, and the Latin druidee, very rarely druides. These forms would 
not give the feminine as dryas. Moreover, these predictions are said to 
have taken place in that part of Gaul adjacent to Germany. The geo- 
graphical indications in the account given by Lampridius of the death 
of Alexander Severus are very confused. He appears to be ignorant of 
the exact locality where Severus was killed ; he does not know whether 
it was Brittany or Gaul. But it is known from other sources that he 
was killed close to Mayence, at the extreme east of Gaul. The text of 
the Ufe of Aurelian does not give any particulars as to locality. But in 
the case of Diocletian, it is known for certain that the incident took 
place in the country of the Tungri, in the neighbourhood of the Mause. 
Also, says Toutain, it would be astonishing to find Druidesses in the third 
century a.d., since no authors of the first century knew of their existence. 
Neither Caesar, Diodorus of Sicily, or Strabo mention Druidesses. The 
women who made such a desperate resistance at the taking of Anglesea, 
as described by Tacitus, were female fanatics. No historian makes any 
reference to Druidesses. 

Mela, however, says that in the Isle of Sena, off the coast of Armorica, 
there resided nine consecrated virgins, called Gallicena;, who could raise 
up storms and tempests by their songs, cure all diseases, predict the 
future, and transform themselves into all shapes of animals. They are 
said to have solemnised in that isle the bloody orgies of Bacchus. 

The Druids were also experts in the science of psychotherapy. Lady 
Wilde, in one of her works, says : 

" The priests and magi of the ancient Druids possessed a wonder- 
ful faculty of healing. They were able to hypnotise the patients by 
the waving of the wand, and, while under the spell of this procedure, 


the latter could tell what was happening afar off, being vested with 
the power of clairvoyance. They also effected cures by stroking 
with the hand, and this method was thought to be of special efficacy 
in rheumatic affections. They also employed other remedies which 
appealed to the imagination, such as various mesmeric charms and 

Vervain was much used in magical operations and many virtues 
were ascribed to it. By rubbing themselves with it, the Druids claimed 
to obtain anything they desired : it banished fevers, cured all sorts of 
maladies, and reconciled the hearts of those that were at enmity one 
with another ; sprinkled by way of aspersion upon guests, it had virtue 
to make those who were touched with it more gay and better pleased 
than the rest of the company. The medical practitioners held a high 
and influential place in the Order and occupied a distinguished place at 
the royal tables, next to nobles, and above the armourers, smiths, and 
workers in metals. They were also entitled to wear a special robe of 
honour at the courts of kings, and were always attended by a large 
number of pupils, who assisted their masters in the diagnosis and treat- 
ment of disease and the preparations necessary for the curative potions. 
The Druids were inordinately attached to augury and divination, 
one of their methods being the practice of casting stones into water and 
counting the number of circular ripples thus formed. Other methods 
were the Druid's wheel, sneezing, examination of tree roots, the howling 
of dogs, and the singing of birds, particularly the croaking of the raven 
and the chirping of the wren. When St. Kellach, Bishop of Kellala, 
was about to be murdered, the raven croaked and the wise little wren 
twittered. After the deed was perpetrated, the birds of prey came 
scrambling for their share, but every one that ate the least morsel of the 
saint's flesh dropped dead. Both Pliny and Cicero bear testimony to 
the Druidical practice of sortilege or divination. They would foretell 
the future by the flight of birds and by the inspection of the entrails of 
victims. All the people would obey them unquestioningly, and it was 
an established custom among them that no one should offer sacrifice if 
a philosopher were not present. It was claimed that no one could offer 
sacrifices acceptable to the gods except through the intermediary of 
these men who knew the divine nature with which they were supposed 
to be in communication. 

Tacitus, in Germania (c. x.), speaks of a full-grown tree from which 
a branch was severed and afterwards divided into small cuttings which 
were marked and then flung upon a white cloth, and, as the sticks for- 
tuitously fell, the diviner interpreted fates. 

According to Dechelette, the Druidical teaching with regard to 
numbers is of more ancient origin than the Pythagorean. The Pytha- 


gorean philosophy flourished in the fifth and sixth centuries B.C., and 
it is supposed that at this time the Celtic civiUzation became subject to 
Grecian influence, and coming from meridional Italy, this was an influence 
not only on industry, but also on morals, and the Celts are supposed to 
have modified their funeral customs through contact with the Italian 

Odd numbers were appropriated to the celestial and even ones to 
the infernal deities, and in aU the occurrences of Hfe, the former were 
accounted fortunate. A predilection in favour of odd numbers still 
persists among most peoples. Thus, in domestic concerns, a hen is 
usually set on an odd number of eggs. Palladius says that the same 
thing was done in his time. Druidic divination also consisted in watching 
the direction of smoke from fire. Sometimes the Druid would chew a 
bit of raw flesh, muttering at the same time an incantation and an 
invocation to the gods, when he claimed that generally the future would 
be revealed to him. Sometimes he would place his hands upon his cheeks 
and fall into a divine sleep : this was known as " illumination by the 
palms of the hands." Fionn was in the habit of biting his thumb con- 
tinually when he was seeking superhuman knowledge. According to 
Dr. Joyce, the Irish Druids made their divinations from observations of 
the clouds. 

Diodorus Siculus gives the following account of one of the Druidical 
methods of divination : 

" On great occasions they practise a very strange and incredible 
manner of divination. They take a man who is to be sacrificed 
and kill him with one stroke of the sword above the diaphragm ; 
and, by observing the posture in which he falls, his different con- 
vulsions, and the direction in which the blood flows from his body, 
they form their predictions, according to certain rules which have 
been left them by their ancestors." 

" And, leaning o'er the victims as they died. 
Explored the future in the gushing tide. 
Oft as the blood, impelled with various force 
To right or left, directs its headlong course. 
They saw some bless'd event, or traced with skill 
Divine, some signal of impending iU." 
Mallet, in Northern Antiquitifs, says that when the Swedes offered 
up animals in sacrifice, they speedily killed them at the foot of the altar ; 
they then opened their entrails to draw auguries from them, as among 
the Romans. 

Belief in fairies was also Druidical. The hero, Cuchulainn, on his 
return from the land of the fairies, was unable to forget the fairywoman, 
Fand, who had enticed him thither. He was given a potion by some 


Druids, which not only banished all memory of his adventures, but rid 
his wife, Emer, of the pangs of jealousy. Another story runs that Elain, 
the wife of Eochaid Airem, high king of Ireland, was, in a former existence, 
beloved of the god Mider, who again sought her love and carried her off. 
The king had recourse to the Druid Datan, who asked for a year in which 
to discover and hunt up the couple. By means of four yew wands 
inscribed with Ogham characters, he was successful in his mission. Dr. 
John Rhys, in his Lectures on the Origin and Growth of Religion as illus- 
trated by Celtic Heathendom, says that Cuchulainn was educated at the 
school of which Cathbad, a Druid, was the master, though what the 
teaching consisted of is not known. Incidentally, however, it has been 
ascertained that he told his pupils of lucky and unlucky days. One 
morning, for instance, he informed an elder pupil that the day then 
beginning would be a lucky one for anybody who should take arms on 
it for the first time, which Cuchulainn, overhearing, at once carried out, 
to the surprise of his teacher and king, both of whom he outwitted in 
the matter. To be able to make the declaration ascribed to the Druid 
would seem to imply that he began the day with augury or some other 
kind of divination. Years later, when Cuchulainn was asked as to his 
education, he is represented as enumerating among the advantages he 
had enjoyed, that of having been taught by Cathbad, the Druid, which 
had, he said, made him a master of inquiry in the arts of the god of 
Druidism, or magic, and rendered him skilled in all that was excellent 
in visions. With regard to this latter statement, it is well known that 
the Druids were always ready to interpret a dream, which was probably 
done according to the canons they had elaborated for their use. 

St. Columba is said to have striven against the Druids at a well in 
the country of the Picts. He exorcised the heathen demon of the well, 
which, thereafter, as a holy well, cured many diseases. 

The dolmens of St. Pol-de-Leon, Brittany, are said to be haunted 
by dwarfs and fairies, who are believed to be the spirits of ancient Druids 
and Druidesses. 

Trial by ordeal was known to and practised by the Druids. O'Curry, 
in his Manners and Customs of the Ancient Irish, gives one example of 
this practice : " A woman to clear her character had to rub her tongue 
on a red-hot adze of bronze, which had been heated in a fire of blackthorn 
or rowan-tree." Walking on red-hot coals was a frequent practice at 
their annual festivals and we are told by Marcus Verro, a Roman author, 
that the Druids had an ointment with which they besmeared their feet, 
when they walked through the fire. It was customary for the lord of 
the place, or his son, or some other person of distinction, to carry the 
entrails of the sacrificed animal in his hands, and, walking barefoot over 
the coals three times after the flames had ceased, to carry these straight 


to the Druid, who waited close by the altar. If the nobleman escaped 
harmless, it was accounted a good omen, but if he received any hurt, it 
was deemed unlucky, both to the community and himself. 

The Druids of later times — the men who claimed to possess the 
power of making themselves and others invisible, who inscribed characters 
upon pieces of wood and distributed them as charms against sickness 
and other ills, who for money would curse the enemies, or bless the 
friends, of those who sought their aid — had no connection whatever with 
the Druids of more ancient times, who performed their mystic rites in 
the caves of the earth, the groves of oak, or the stone temples open to 
the heavens. 



" The Druids met, Oh ! not in kingly hall or bower, 
But where wild Nature girt herself with power ; 
They met where streams flashed bright from rocky caves, 
They met where woods made moan o'er warriors' graves, 
And where the torrent's rainbow spray was cast. 
And where cark leaves were heaving to the blast. 

And the oaks breathed mysterious murmurs round." 

The schools of the Druids were situated invariably in groves of 
trees, while the priests and other officials of the temples lived in houses 
erected in the woods and on the mountain slopes. Guards were placed 
at the stone entrances of the consecrated groves to bar the entrance of 
the uninitiated, in a manner similar to that of the Cutters or Tylors, who 
were stationed at the entrances of the Egyptian temples and as the 
Tylers are at the present day placed as Outer Guards to Masonic Temples 
and Lodges. 

In this connection the following extract from the Rev. G. Stanley 
Faber's well-known work, The Origin of Pagan Idolatry, will be of interest. 
He says : 

"In whatever mode the Mysteries were celebrated, we invariably 
find a certain door or gate viewed as being of primary importance. 
Sometimes it was the door of the temple ; sometimes the door of 
the consecrated grotto ; sometimes the hatchway of the boat within 
which the aspirant was enclosed ; sometimes a hole, either natural 
or artificial, through or between rocks ; and sometimes a gate in 
the sun or the moon or the planets. Through this the initiated were 
born again, and from this the profane were excluded. The notion 
evidently originated from the door in the side of the Ark through 
which the primary epoptse were admitted, while the profane ante- 
diluvians were shut out. 

" This circumstance gave rise to the appointment of an officer, 
who certainly bore a conspicuous part in the British orgies, and who 
probably was not unknown to the Mysteries of other countries. 
He was styled ' the door-keeper of the partial covering ' ; and, since 


he was considered to be the mystic husband of Ceridwen, he was 
certainly the representative of the great father Hu or Noe. Hence 
he must have sustained the same character as Janus, when viewed 
as Thyreus, or ' the god of the door ' ; while Ceridwen similarly 
corresponds with Venus or Ceres in her capacity of Prothyrea, or 
' the goddess of the door.' This personage was stationed before 
what TaUesin, in exact accordance with the prevaiHng ideas of the 
Mysteries, denominates ' the gates of hell ' ; and he was armed with 
a bright, gleaming sword, whence he had the additional title of ' the 
sword bearer.' His office was at once to exclude the profane, who 
might sacrilegiously attempt to gain admittance ; and to punish, 
even with death, such of the initiated as should impiously reveal 
the awful secrets committed to them. The same penalty, and (I 
apprehend) from the hand of a similar officer, awaited those who 
should too curiously pry into or divulge to the profane the wonders 
of the Eleusinian Mysteries. Yet, notwithstanding every care that 
could be taken, we repeatedly find an adventurous epopt, who 
was content to run all risques rather than lose the pleasure of 
communicating a secret. . . . 

" Whether the curiosity of the profane may be gratified at some 
future period by a similar disclosure of the portentous secret of 
Freemasonry remains yet to be seen. I have frequently been 
inclined to suspect that this whimsical institution, which some have 
deduced from the Mithras or Buddhic Manicheans through the 
medium of the Knights Templar, is nothing more than a fragment 
of those orgies which have prevailed in every part of the world ; 
and the peculiar rites of the British Ceres, as their nature may be 
collected from the poems of the Bards, have served to strengthen 
my suspicion. Not being one of the initiated myself, I can only 
speak from report ; but the Masonic sword-bearer, who is said to 
be the guardian of the door during the celebration of those wonderful 
Mysteries, seems nearly allied to the similar character in the Orgies 
of Ceridwen ; while the astronomical representations of the heavenly 
bodies, which are reported to decorate the cell of our modern epopts, 
bear a close analog)* to the parallel decorations of the ancient cell 
or grotto or adytum. The very title which they bear, when they 
throw aside the jargon respecting King Hiram and the temple of 
Solomon, affords no obscure intimation of their origin. As professed 
masons or artisans, they connect themselves with the old Cabiric 
Telchines, as described by Diodorus, with the metallurgical Pher\ilt 
of the Druidical Mysteries, with the architectural Cabiri of Phoenicia, 
with the demiurgic Phtha of Egypt, and with the great artisan 
Twashta of Hindostan. All the most remarkable buildings of 


Greece, Egypt, and Asia Minor were ascribed to the Cabrean or 
Cyclopian masons ; and in the present day, the Freemasons, with 
ail their formalities, are wont to assist at the commencement of 
every pubHc edifice. Finally, their affectation of mysterious 
concealment closely resembles the system of the Epopts in all ages 
and countries, particularly that of the Bards, when their religion 
no longer remained paramount. These last are probably the real 
founders of EngUsh Freemasonry." 

The early generation of historical man had neither temples nor 
statues for their gods, but worshipped in the open air. Livy mentions 
that the ancient Latines used to hold their chief assemblies in a sacred 
grove. So deeply rooted was the opinion in the minds of the people 
that suppUcations to the Deity could not be made in any place so appro- 
priately as from an eminence in the open air that down to the close of 
the eighteenth century a numerous sect existed in the south of Scotland 
called " Hill Folk," from their assembling on the hills to perform their 
devotional exercises under no canopy but that spread out by the hand 
of nature. 

In exactness none of the Druidic temples can be so named from a 
strict etymological point of view, and they taught that there were but 
two habitations of the Deity : the soul, invisible ; the Universe, the 
visible temple. The inner enclosure of a Druidical circle always consisted 
of rough, unhewn stones. Similarly, the Israelite, if he erected an altar 
of stone was commanded (Exodus xx., 25, 26) that he should not build 
it of hewn stone : " for if thou lift thy tool upon it, thou hast polluted 
it." This prohibition was repeated at the passage over Jordan 
(Deuteronomy xxvii., 5, 6). Distinct mention is also made of unhewn 
stones, as applied to sacred uses, in the Edipus at Colonus, of Sophocles. 
Pausanias says that unhewn stones had the honour of gods and were 
worshipped among the Grecians, and that near the statue of Mercury 
there were thirty large stones which the people worshipped and gave to 
every one of them the name of a god. Tyrius states that he scarcely 
knew what god the Arabians worshipped, for that which he saw amongst 
them was only a white stone. 

The Druids believed that the Eternal could not be locally limited 
to a house, the work of men's hands. They beheved that the Universe 
was filled with His presence and they looked upwards to the heavens as 
His throne. Fergusson claims that " there is no passage in any classical 
author which connects the Druids, either directly or indirectly, with any 
stone temples or stones of any sort," a view also adopted by Dr. Stuart, 
but contested strongly by many writers. Dr. Stukeley was the first to 
suggest that the rude stone monuments in Britain were erected as temples 
by the Druids, but there is nothing in any of the ancient writers to support 


the suggestion. It may, however, be regarded as certain that their 
religious rites were performed within these circles. The circle played an 
important part in Druidical w^orship, which is the oldest form of reUgion 
known in Britain, but similar circles have been discovered in various 
and distant parts of the world, regions where probably the name of Druid 
was never heard. Clarke observed them in Ida and the Lebanon ; 
Ouseley in Persia ; Heber and Cox in Sweden and Norway ; and others 
in Siberia and Africa. 

There was doubtless a time when the Scandinavians worshipped 
their divinities only in the open air, and either knew not or approved not 
of the use of confined temples. Mallet, in Northern Antiquities, says : 

" We find at this day here and there in Denmark, Sweden, and 
Norway, in the middle of a plain, or upon some Httle hill, altars 
around which they assembled to offer sacrifices and to assist at 
other religious ceremonies. The greatest part of these altars are 
raised upon a little hiU, either natural or artificial. Three long pieces 
of rock set upright, serve for a basis to a great flat stone, which 
forms the table of the altar. There is commonly a pretty large 
cavity under this altar, which might be intended to receive the 
blood of the victims ; and they never fail to find stones for striking 
fire scattered round it : for no other fire but such as was struck 
with a flint, was pure enough for so holy a purpose. Sometimes 
these rural altars are constructed in a more magnificent manner ; 
a double range of enormous stones surround the altar and the little 
hill on which it is erected. In Zeeland we see one of this kind which 
is formed of stones of a prodigious magnitude. Men would even 
now be afraid to undertake such a work, notwithstanding all the 
assistance of the mechanical powers which in those times they 
wanted. What redoubles the astonishment is that stones of that 
size are rarely to be seen throughout the island and that they must 
have been brought from a great distance." 

These engineering feats of the ancients formed the subject of an 
address recently by Mr. George H. Pegram, President of the American 
Society of Engineers, from which the following is quoted from the 
Scientific American Supplement : 

" No works of modern times compare in magnitude with those 
of the ancients. Consider a reservoir, to impound the waters of 
the Nile, covering an area of 150 square miles, with a dam 30 feet 
high and 13 miles long. The pyramids of Gizeh had granite blocks 
which were five feet square and thirty feet long, and were transported 
500 miles. One of the temples of Memphis was built of stones 
which were 13 feet square and 65 feet long, and laid with close 
joints. The Appian Way from Rome to Capua was so well built 


that after a thousand years its roadway was in perfect condition, 
and even now, after two thousand years, with sHght repairs, is in 
use. The modern engineer would question the possibihty of such 
work, without these great examples. If one could imagine cessation 
of Hfe on this continent, and our works subjected to the destructive 
forces of time and nature for a thousand years, what evidences 
of civilization would remain ? We look in vain for the application 
of mechanical power by the ancients, whose works seem almost 
impossible without its assumption, but the stone reliefs showing 
the movement of large weights by manual power indicate that 
probably the other did not exist." 

Haslam, in his book, The Cross and the Serpent, after referring to the 
Egyptian pyramids, the Babylonian walls, the city of Memphis, the 
Indian temples, the Chinese pagodas, and the American tescalli, says : 

" Even yet a mystery of human labour remains untold ; many 
of the structures I have referred to are constructed of gigantic 
blocks of stone, varying from sixty to three hundred tons in weight. 
In Egypt single stones of this enormous weight have been traced 
to quarries five and six hundred miles from the pyramids into which 
they are built. . . . Our progenitors, the Scandinavian and 
Cymry, were not much behind the other races in this respect. Their 
temples consisted of gigantic stones set on end, in circles on hills 
and mountains ; and their cromlechs were composed of even larger 
stones, three being usually fixed into the ground, and the fourth 
laid upon them in the form of a table, pointing, and the surface, 
bowing a little, towards the east." 
Stukeley divides the Druidic temples into three classes : 

1. Rounds or Circles ; 

2. Circles in serpentine form, as at Abury ; 

3. Circles with the forms of wings annexed. 

The remains of the first kind are most numerous. The groves of 
oaks were generally selected on the tops of mountains or hills, while 
caves were chosen for the instruction of youth and for initiatory rites. 
Prince Hywel, who died in 1171, was accustomed to invoke the Deity 
in the following words : " Attend Thou my worship in the mystical 
grove, and whilst I adore Thee, maintain Thy own jurisdiction." 

According to Delta Evans, the following procedure was adopted at 
the " Meetings of the Circle " : 

A huge flat stone, called Gorscdd y Beirdd, or " The Bard's Throne," 
was placed in the centre of a Cyclolith, or a circle of twelve smaller stones, 
with three others placed outside towards the rising sun, to represent two 
forecourts or porches. Through one of these porches the Chief Bard 
entered the Circle. He would be robed in a sky-blue gown and carry 


with him his Coelbren, or Bardic wood-memorial writing-frame. On 
entering the Circle he would recite a pra)'er to the Most High, of which 
the following is an example : 

Impart, O God, Thy strength, 

And in that strength, reason ; 

And in that reason, knowledge ; 

And in that knowledge, justice ; 

And in that justice, the love of it ; 

And in that love, the love of everything ; 

And in the love of everything, the love of God. 

Grant, O God, Thy refuge. 

And in refuge, strength ; 

And in strength, understanding ; 

And in understanding, knowledge ; 

And in knowledge, a perception of rectitude ; 

And in the perception of rectitude, the love of it ; 

And in that love, the love of all existences ; 

And in the love of all existences, the love of God and aU 

Grant, O God, Thy refuge. 

And in refuge, reason ; 

And in reason, hght ; 

And in Hght, truth ; 

And in truth, justice ; 

And in justice, love ; 

And in love, the love of God ; 

And in the love of God, all blessedness and all goodness. 

God, impart Thy strength, 

And in strength, the power to suffer, 

And to suffer for the Truth ; 

And in truth. Light ; 

And in Light, blessedness ; 

And in blessedness, love ; 

And in love, God ; 

And in God, all goodness ; 

For in Him all terminates. 
After the recital of the prayer any weapons of war within the assembly 
had to be surrendered. Two of the number present were invited to 
accompany the Chief Bard to within the Inner Circle to represent the 
three primitive Bards of Britain. These were, according to tradition, as 
stated, Gwyddon Ganhebon, the first man in the world who composed 
poetry ; Hu Gadarn, who first adapted poetry to the preservation of 
records and materials ; and Tydain Tad Awen, who first developed the 


art and structure of poetry and the due disposition of thought. From 
the labours of these three personages sprang Bards and Bardism, and 
the regulation of their privileges anei the estabHshment of their discipline 
was accomplished by the three primary Bards, Plennydd, Alawn, and 
Gwron. Plennydd is a name for the sun, or Apollo ; Alawn means 
" harmony " ; and Gwron means " energy." The three representatives 
of the primitive Bards then addressed the assembly, after which followed 
the calling of the roll. This ceremony was known as Cynal Gorsedd, or 
" holding a throne." 


" A wondrous pyle of rugged mountaynes standes, 
Plac'd on eche other in a dreare arraie, 
It ne could be the worke of human handes, 
It ne was reared up bie menne of claie. 
Here did the Britons adoration paye 
To the false god whom they did Tauran name, 
Dightynge hys altarre with greete fyres in Male, 
Roastynge theyr vyctualle round aboute the flame, 
'Twas here that Hengist did the Brytons slee 
As they were mette in council for to bee." 


Of Stonehenge it has been asserted that nearly every prominent 
historical and mythical personage from the Devil onwards has, at one 
time or another, been credited with its erection. Inigo Jones maintained 
that it was erected by the Romans, and Dr. Charleton, with equal vigour, 
accredited it to the Danes, while, according to a calculation made by 
Prof. Norman Lockyer, the circles are, at least, 3,600 years old. His 
figures received some tangible confirmation in 1901 by the discoveries 
then made, when excavations were dug near the great monoliths, of 
some rude flints, axes, hammers, and other tools of the pre-bronze age, 
viz., 1500-2000 B.C. Geoffrey of Monmouth asserts that Stonehenge was 
a monument erected in the reign of Aurelius Ambrosius, by Ambrose 
Merhn, to perpetuate the treachery of Hengist, the Saxon general who, 
having desired a friendly meeting with Vortigern at the monastery of 
Amesbury, assassinated him with 460 of his barons and consuls. A 
well-known Theosophist, Mr. A. P. Sinnett, asserts that Atlantean 
immigrants who came to the country a good deal later than the migration 
to Egypt — perhaps about 100,000 years ago — were really the engineers 
of Stonehenge, and they deliberately adopted the stern, rugged simplicity 
of its design because they were out of patience with the extravagant 
devotion to luxury and ornamentation then prevaiHng among the 
degenerate Atlanteans themselves. 


Forlong, in Rivers of Life, says : 

" It is generally acknowledged that this was a shrine to Apollo, 
or Belenus, and younger than that of Abury, which is thought to 
be more the shrine of ophiolaters and fire-worshippers than Solarists. 
The morticing of the Stonehenge blocks points to Phoenician art, 
which latterly set aside the ancient rules as to using only undressed 
stones. No one who has studied phallic and solar worship in the 
East could, I think, make any mistake as to the purport of this 
shrine, although I confess the many accounts of it which I have 
read, had not awakened my attention to the real facts, so misleading 
are many European writers on this, to them, unknown lore. Here 
stand upright stones, forming, as it were, a circular shaft within a 
perfect argha, or spoon-like enclosure, and there, to the eastward, 
the holy ' Pointer' in the Os-Yoni, over whose apex the first ray of the 
rising god of the midsummer Solstice (21st June) shines, right into 
the centre of the sacred circle. His eastward path is denoted by a 
long avenue, which diverges into two lines of wavy trench and 
embankment as it approaches the Lingam Pointer, around which 
and the circle it sweeps in an oval form. On all sides of this sacred 
spot are to be seen, scattered over a now bare, undulating country, 
large and small barrows or earthen mounds, the receptacles, no doubt, 
of the ashes, if not bones, of the dead, who once worshipped at the 
hallowed shrine, for it is clear the population of these days, like that 
of our fathers, loved to be buried around their church ; they 
were, perhaps, wiser than we, first burning the corpses, and only 
collecting the innocuous ashes to repose in these cellular caskets. 
The occurrence of such, all round the temple, reminds us of the holy 
spots which surround the Hindoo shrines, and to which visits must 
be paid by every devotee, after he or she has worshipped at the 
central holy place. If zealously pious, this is done, as elsewhere 
described, on hands and knees, and under a scorching mid-day sun, 
and always with many offerings to each holy spot, for without 
these, no priest can bestow his saintly blessing. In May, 1874, I 
made some very careful drawings of the Stonehenge shrine, and in 
the ' Pointer ' at once distinguished ' the ever-anointed one.' He 
faces towards the circle, and in spite of every allowance for the 
accidents of weather-wear, etc., no one who has at all looked into 
Swaik lore will hesitate for a moment in pronouncing him a veritable 

Stonehenge came into the market in 1915, when it was sold for 
fS.600 by Sir Charles Antrobus to Mr. C. H. E. Chubb, of Bemerton 
Lodge, Sahsbury. In 191 3 it had come under the Ancient Monuments 
Act, from which date it was impossible that it could be injured or des- 


troyed by neglect or design, or be removed from its place at the will of 
any private owner. These limitations materially reduced the price which 
such a possession could command. In September, 1918, Mr. Chubb 
generously decided to present this historic monument to the nation, and 
this gift of the remains of a bygone civilization was accepted by the 
Government w'ith the utmost satisfaction. Mr. Chubb expressed a wish 
that during the continuance of the war, the income from Stonehenge 
should be handed over to the Red Cross Society, whose work at that 
time was of such great national value, in which suggestion the Treasury 
willingly concurred. The property was thereupon transferred to the 
Ancient Monuments Board. 

The conjectures as to the origin and construction of Stonehenge are 
many and varied. Mr. Herbert supposes that Stonehenge, Avebury, and 
other megalithic monuments of England were erected after the Romans 
had left the island. He supposes that the Bards and other adherents 
of the ancient religion returned from Ireland, whither they had been 
driven by the influence of Roman civiUzation, and that Druidism for a 
while regained its ascendancy and the enthusiasm awakened by the 
return to the old habits and feelings and by a sense of recovered indepen- 
dence led to the erection of these mighty structures. With the exception, 
as Dr. Edwin Guest points out, in Origines Celticce, of Stonehenge, all 
the larger Druidical temples are situated in places where blocks of stone 
abound, or are known at one time to have abounded. Edwin Guest is 
of opinion that Stonehenge is of later date than Avebury and the other 
structures of unwrought stone ; that it could not have been built much 
later than 100 B.C., and, in all probability, was not built more than a 
century or two earlier. If its erection be fixed some eight or ten centuries 
before the Christian era, it would be difficult to advance any critical 
reasons against the hypothesis. W. S. Blacker, in his Researches into 
the Lost Histories of America, comes to the conclusion that the Apalachian 
Indians, with their priests and medicine men, must have been the builders 
of Stonehenge, and that that grand and marvellous creation, therefore, 
attests the truthfulness of Plato when he brings into Western Europe a 
great conquering people from beyond the Pillars of Hercules. Mr. Joseph 
Browne, who was for many years curator of the " Stones," used to 
expound his belief that Stonehenge stood before the Deluge, and would 
point out (to his own satisfaction) signs of the action of water upon the 
stones, even showing the direction in which the flood came rushing in. 

Langtoft's Chronicles assert that the Monument was framed according 
to the most exquisite rules of architecture, of which the pitiful, naked 
Britons had no knowledge at all. The following twelve conclusions are 
arrived at : 

I. That Stonehenge was an old British monument ; 


2. That it was a monument of a bloody battel foughten there ; 

3. This bloudy battel produced a glorious Victorie ; 

4. This victorie was wonne by the Cangi of Gladerhaf ; 

5. The Cangi were Giants ; 

6. Commanded by the famous Stanenges of Honnicutt ; 

7. The Army conquered was King Divitiacus and his Belgae ; 

8. In this place, as soone as the Cangi had conquered, they 
triumphed ; 

9. Where they triumphed they erected this monument as a 
trophie ; 

10. This Trophie was a Temple ; 

11. This Temple was consecrated to Anaraith, their Goddess 
of Victorie ; 

12. In this temple the said Victors sacrificed their Captives 
and Spoiles to their said Idoll of Victorie. 

The Cangi are said to have been " singers to instruments of Musick," 
and the westernmost inhabitants of the island. Sir Thomas Elliott, in 
his Dictionarie, on the word " Cigas " says : " About thirty years since, 
I my self, being with my father. Sir Richard Elhott, at a Monasterie of 
Regular Canons (three or four miles from Stonage) beheld the bones of 
a dead man found deep in the ground, which being joyned together, was 
in length thirteen foot and ten inches, whereof one of the teeth my father 
had, which was of a quantity of a great wallnut. This I have written 
because some men will believe nothing, that is out of the compass of 
their own knowledge." He gives the foregoing as a reason for Stonehenge 
being known as " the Giants' Dance." 

Wood, in Stonehenge Explained, gives an interesting theory concern- 
ing the stones. He says : 

" The two outward rows of pillars are the very emblems of the 
two first principles of the Magian religion : for the colour of the 
stones intimate good and evil ; and the lines which these stones 
form, being the perispheries of circles, or Hnes running into them- 
selves, represent eternity. But the two inward rows of pillars vary 
the principles pointed out by the former : for, notwithstanding the 
colour of the stones intimate good and evil, yet the imperfection in 
the lines which these stones form, as they are partly curved and 
partly straight, without returning into themselves, denotes created 
things, and exhibits the reformation which Zoroaster made in the 
Persian theology, by divesting the two first principles of it of eternity, 
and making light and darkness works of the Supreme God." 
The word " Stonehenge " is supposed to have derived its name from 
the Anglo-Saxon and means literally " hanging stones." In Yorkshire, 
pendulous rocks are called Henges. Stonehenge was known formerly as 

-4 Dniid, 
from an old engraving. 


Choir Gaur, a Phcenician term meaning " a circular high place of the 
assembly or congregation." Stowe, in his British Chronicle, says that 
the Irish brought the stones with them from Africa ; that they were 
taken to England by Merlin from Mount Clare, and erected upon Salisbury 
Plain by Aurelius Ambrosius. 

It may be taken for granted that the Druids were not the originators 
or builders of the circle, but that they used the place for the purposes of 
their ceremonies. Sir Norman Lockyer says : 

" The cursus at Stonehenge and the avenues on Dartmoor may 
be regarded as evidences that sacred processions formed part of 
the ceremonial on holy days, but sacrifices and sacred ceremonials 
were not alone in question : many authors have told us that feasts, 
games, and races were not forgotten. This, so far as racing is 
concerned, is proved, I think, by the facts that the cursus at Stone- 
henge is 10,000 feet long and 350 feet broad ; that it occupies a 
valley between two hills, thus permitting of the presence of thousands 
of spectators, and that our horses are still decked with gaudy 
trappings on May-day." 

In 1888 Sir Arthur Evans investigated the question of the age of 
Stonehenge in a lecture given at the Ashmolean Museum at Oxford, 
which was printed in the Archceological Review for January, 1889, and 
below is given, by permission, Mr. Falconer Madan's summary, which 
he quotes as an example of historical method, in his admirable guide, 
The Bodleian Library at Oxford : 

1. Many of the barrows, two of which are in obvious connec- 
tion with the great stones, are shown by their forms and contents 
to be of the largest types of Bronze Age barrows, known as Round 
Barrows (for instance, gold relics, glass beads, ivory and cremated 
remains are signs of lateness). This being so, it is significant that 
chippings of the stones brought from a distance to Stonehenge are 
found even in undisturbed barrows of this kind, where the action 
of earthworms and rabbits in introducing foreign elements is hardly 
possible. It is clear, therefore, that the building of Stonehenge was 
at least begun late in that period. There is the point also that, 
with the exception of two, the circumjacent barrows are not in any 
relation with the great circle, and are therefore not later. 

2. The contents of the barrows earlier than Stonehenge have 
some imported articles which must have come from the Continent 
not before the fifth century B.C. One even is stated to have con- 
tained a socketed celt, pointing to the late fourth century. But 
late Celtic antiquities are wholly absent, which makes it hardly 
possible that the barrows should be as late as the second century B.C. 

The skilful hewing and fitting of the huge blocks of Wiltshire 


Sarsen stone are of the same stage in technical development as the 
triliths of Syria and Tripoli, and the great Doric temples of Segesta 
in Sicily, which latter was constructed about 415 B.C. 

From these and similar indications he concludes that the 
gradual building of the great monument was probably between 300 
and 150 B.C. He is now inclined to place the date earlier. 
On 1st May, 1919, Sir Arthur Evans, in an address to the Society of 
Antiquaries, after referring to the recent presentation of Stonehenge to 
the nation, a subject of hearty congratulation, said he should continue 
to believe that the whole class of monuments to which Stonehenge 
belongs, grows out of a sepulchral cult. Its grand scale put it out of 
the category of ordinary funereal monuments and there was every reason 
to believe that it was associated with the higher cult. The bones of 
deer and oxen dug up in the interior, moreover, certainly pointed to 
sacrifices in such a connection. But that cult, he maintained, should 
be sought rather in the direction of the gods of the underworld than of 
any solar divinity. The stones seemed to him to have been set up 
gradually and might be taken also to include the commemoration of 
many individual chiefs of that bygone race. 

In 1923 a missing eastern branch of the Stonehenge Avenue was 
discovered by means of air photography, and afterwards proved con- 
clusively through excavations, superintended by Mr. 0. C. S. Crawford, 
Archaeology Officer of the Ordnance Survey, and Mr. A. D. Passmore. 
It is interesting to note that the measurements of Dr. William Stukeley 
(who was the butt of the ridicule of many of his contemporaries) were 
proved absolutely accurate. Mr. Crawford, in an article in the Observer 
of 23rd September, 1923, says : 

It is a testimony to the accuracy of Stukeley, the pioneer field 
archaeologist of the eighteenth century, that we found his figures 
correct to a foot : no unnecessary digging was required. 
Several flints were found which had been chipped by human agency. 
Mr. Crawford, continuing, says : 

They resemble the flints found by Colonel Hawley at Stonehenge ; 
ours were clearly contemporary with the making of the ditch, since 
they were found right at the bottom ; and although flint was 
chipped and flint implements were used during the Iron Age and 
even in Roman times, it is more likely that these flints belong to 
an earlier epoch. 

One result, and one of the highest importance, of the discovery of 
this avenue, which splits into two branches, one leading to a racecourse 
and the other to a river (and neither branch straight) cannot, says 
Mr. Crawford, be regarded as oriented to the rising sun for purposes of 


worship, so that it puts out of court once and for all the fanciful 
astronomical theories of Sir Norman Lockyer and others. 

Stonehenge lies about two miles west of the village of Amesbury, 
in the middle of a flat area, near the summit of a hill and between six 
and seven miles from Salisbury. 

The following description is adapted from the Ordnance Survey 
Report made by Sir Henry James : 

The structure when complete consisted of an outer circle of thirty 
large stones, upon which thirty other stones were laid horizontally, so 
as to form a perfect continuous circle. The diameter within the stones 
was one hundred feet. The stones in the uprights have each two tenons 
on their upper surfaces, which fit into mortices cut into the under surface 
of the horizontal stones and by this mode of construction the whole 
circle was braced together. The average dimensions of the uprights in 
this circle are 12 ft. 7 ins. high out of the ground ; 6 ft. broad ; and 
3 ft. 6 ins. thick. Those in the circle resting on the uprights are about 
10 ft. long ; 3 ft. 6 ins. wide ; and 2 ft. 8 ins. deep. Within this circle 
there are five stupendously large trilithons, each consisting of two 
uprights with tenons on them, supporting a large horizontal lintel, in 
which two mortices are cut to receive the tenons. These trilithons are 
arranged in the form of a horseshoe, so that one of them is central as 
regards the other four. A horizontal stone which is called the altarstone 
lies in front of the central trilithons and the axial line of the structure 
is from N.E. to S.W. 

All the stones in the outer circle and the trilithons are of an undulated 
tertiary sandstone, which is found upon the chalk in the neighbourhood, 
and particularly near Avebury and Marlborough, where they are known 
by the name of " Sarsen " stones and the " Grey Wethers." 

The dimensions of the triUthons are nearly as follows : 

Breadth. Thickness. 

A. Height of upright 22' 5" 7' 6" 4' o" 
Lintel length 15' o" 4' 6" 3' 6" 

B. 17' 2" 7' o' 4' o" 

3' 7" 

4' o" 

2' 8" 

D. 22' o" 8' %" 4' 3" 

3' 6" 

4' o" 

The altar stone is 17 ft. long and 3 ft. 6 ins. wide. 

In addition to these there was formerly a complete circle of thirty 

smaller upright stones about 6 ft. high, which was intermediate in position 

between the outer circle and the five trilithons. Within the trilithons 






































there was also a row of smaller stones about 7 ft. 6 ins. high, parallel 
with the trilithons. In the opinion of Sir Henry James these were 
probably monumental stones in memory of chieftains or priests. 

Only seventeen of the thirty upright stones of the outer circle are 
now standing and only six of the thirty Hntels are now in their places. 
Only two of the triUthons are perfect. 

Geoffrey of Monmouth states that there was not one stone at Stone- 
henge which had not some heahng virtue and that the water washed 
over the stones was efficacious in healing the sick and curing wounds. 

Dr. Charleton, who was a royal physician, was the author of a 
treatise advocating the Danish origin of Stonehenge, but this theory is 
overthrown by the fact that Stonehenge is mentioned by Nennius, who 
lived about a.d. 620, and the Danes did not visit Britain until two 
hundred years later. 

" Thou, noblest monument of Albion's isle, 
Whether by Merhn's aid, from Scythia's shore 
To Amber's fatal plain, Pendragon bore, 
Huge frame of giant hands the mighty pile, 
T'entomb his Britons, slain by Hengist's guile, 
Or Druid priests, sprinkled with human gore. 
Taught 'mid thy massy maze their mystic lore : 
Or Danish chiefs, enrich'd with savage spoil. 
To Victory's idol vast, an unhewn shrine, 
Rear'd the rude heap ; or, in thy haUow'd round, 
Repose the King of Brutus' genuine line ; 
Or here those Kings in solemn state were crown'd : 
Studious to trace thy pond'rous origin. 
We muse on many an ancient Isle renown'd." 

T. WartoTi. 


" Near Wilton sweet, huge heaps of stones are found, 
But so confus'd, that neither any tie 
Can count them just, nor reason try 
What force brought them to so unlikely ground." 

Sir Philip Sidney. 
Avebury, which is situated about a mile from Beckhampton, on 
the main road from London to Devizes and Bath, when perfect, consisted 
of an embankment three-quarters of a mile in circumference, 12 ft. 
broad and averaging 15 ft. above the natural surface of the land and a 
deep circular ditch, now 15 ft. deep, but originally not less than 30 ft. 
deep, containing an area of twenty-eight and a half acres. Inside the 
ditch which, with the rampart, measured about 70 ft. in height, was a 
circle of one hundred massive unhewn grey stones, generally about 20 ft. 


in height, and within tliis principal circle were two smaller concentric 
circles formed by a double row of stones, each 7 ft. in height, standing 
side by side, the outer circle consisting of twenty and the inner of twelve 
stones. From the outer embankment started two long winding avenues 
of stones, on each side at regular distances, one of which went in the 
direction of Beckhampton and the other in that of Kennet, where it 
ended in another double circle. In the centre of one of these was a tall 
phallus 21 ft. in height and 8 ft. 9 ins. in diameter and within the other 
was a cell or adytum. Each avenue being on an inclined plane, a person 
advancing towards the temple would have on aU sides a very fine view 
of the site. 

The temple formed the compound figure of a snake transmitted 
through a circle, an undisputed emblem of the Deity ; the circle repre- 
senting the Demiurgus or Creator, while the serpent symbolised the 
divine emanation to whose wisdom the government of the universe was 
entrusted. Faber, in Pagan Idolatry, is of opinion that the ring repre- 
sented the ark of Ceridwen, while the snake was the great god, Hu. 
In aU there were 650 stones in the circles and avenues, but now only 
about twenty are standing, though some others still remain buried in 
the ground. 

In its pristine glory Avebury must have been the most magnificent 
temple of its kind in the world. The name has been derived from the 
Cabiri and signifies " the mighty ones." It was regarded as so holy 
that no reptiles could live there and if any were taken into the sacred 
precincts they immediately died. Celtic tradition affirms that it was 
within the circles of Abury that the institution of the Gorsedd had its 
origin, a national institution not known outside Britain. 

John Aubrey, who was the first to examine Avebury with any care, 
expressed the opinion that " Avebury doth so much exceed Stonehenge 
in grandeur as a Cathedral doth an ordinary parish church," and Sir 
Richard Colt Hoare, in his work on Ancient Wiltshire, commences his 
chapter on Avebury with these words : " With awe and diffidence I 
enter the sacred precincts of this once hallowed sanctuary, the supposed 
parent of Stonehenge, the wonder of Britain, and the most ancient, as 
well as the most interesting relict which our island can produce." 

Stukeley considered the stones at Avebury to be at least twice the 
age of Stonehenge itself, and although it is perhaps the oldest monument 
of the British race in Britain, there is no record of it earlier than 1663, 
the year when Aubrey showed Charles II. over the site and afterwards, 
by royal command, wrote an account of the visit. 

William Long says that 

" the object for which the great work at Abury was constructed will 

probably for ever be involved in mystery. We know so little of 


the Druids and their forms of worship that to more than conjectural 
approximations to the truth we can hardly hope to attain. An 
astronomical, a civil, and a religious purpose have each had their 
advocates. The erection, too, of circular stones like this and 
Stonehenge, has been assigned by different writers to different 
nations, to the Phoenicians, the ancient Britons, the Romans, the 
Saxons, and the Danes. There can, however, be Uttle doubt that 
the temple at Abury dates from a period long anterior to the Roman 
occupation of Britain and that it was much older work than Stone- 

When the site was excavated by a committee of the British Associa- 
tion, fragments of medieval pottery were found at a depth of from 
two to three feet from the surface ; fragments of Roman pottery from 
three-and-a-half to four-and-a-half feet ; and, below that depth, pre- 
historic pottery, flint chips, scrapers and antlers of red deer. 

On the ancient Norman font in Abury Church there is a mutilated 
figure dressed apparently in the Druidical priestly garb, holding a crozier 
in one hand and clasping an open book to his breast with the other. 
Two winged dragons or serpents are attacking this figure on either side. 
It has been conjectured that this was designed to represent the triumph 
of Christianity over Druidism, in which there was much veneration 
entertained for the serpent. 

Near Merrivale Bridge, on Dartmoor, a long avenue of rude stones, 
1,140 ft. long, is terminated at each end by a sacred Druidic circle, whilst 
another circle stands in the centre. These circles consisted originally 
of nineteen stones — nineteen being a sacred number and indicated the 
meteoric or lunar circle, at whose completion the moon would resume her 
original position in the heavens. About one hundred yards to the east 
runs another avenue 800 ft. long and about 5 ft. wide. Somewhat to 
the north stands a rock pillar, 12 ft. in height and another sacred circle, 
b"] ft. in diameter, formed of ten stones. 

At Vale Church, in Guernsey, is a Druidical altar which, when it was 
perfect and with the original conformation, must have been one of the 
finest in existence. It was first disencumbered of the drifting sand which 
had covered it, in 181 1, but it was not until 1837 that it was thoroughly 
explored and exposed through the instrumentality of Dr. Lukis. The 
cromlech is 45 ft. long by 13 ft. wide and nearly 8 ft. in height at the 
western end, where it contracts gradually on each side, as it does at the 
top towards the eastern end. The space is covered by five larger and 
two smaller blocks of granite, which are not in contact. The western 
block is computed to weigh about thirty tons, it being nearly 17 ft. long, 
18 ft. wide, and \\ ft. thick, and it is thought tliat it was placed here by 
means of rollers. The second block is 16 ft. long, the third smaller, and 


so on, diminishing gradually until the seventh. On the floor, when it 
was opened in 1837, were found two layers, consisting of human bones, 
masses of coarse red and black clay, stone armlets, beads, bone-pins, etc. 

The removal of some sand in the early part of the nineteenth century 
brought to light the remains of a Druidical structure at L'Ancresse Bay, 
32 ft. in length with a greatest width of 12 ft. The largest stone weighed 
about twenty tons. A large stone closed the entrance to the temple, 
which was approached by a descent over some steps. About 18 ft. 
away from the temple were the remains of a circle of stones placed about 
a foot above the ground and about 2 ft. distant from each other. Another 
outer circle 42 ft. away from the temple, but of this fewer stones were 
remaining. These are the finest Druidical remains in the island. The 
roof is formed of six huge capstones graduated in size. Close by is the 
De Tus dolmen with three " side chapels." Both these temples were 
explored by Dr. Lukis. 

Near Vale Church was a traditional stone La Rocque dui Sonne, 
which, according to the general local belief, formed a portion of a very 
extensive circle, of which one of the capstones was actuallv dug out in 
1837. It is stated that the owner of the field in which this stone was 
situated began to build a house and broke up the stone for the supports 
and lintels of the doors and windows. No immediate judgment fell upon 
him, but in less than twelve months his house was burned down. He then 
rebuilt it, whereupon it was burnt down in a similar manner. With a 
persistency worthy of a better cause he sold the stones and shipped them 
to England, but the vessel containing the cargo foundered and all on 
board perished. 

A Druidical temple was discovered in 1785 on the summit of a hill 
near St. Heliers, Jersey. It was covered with earth until then, when 
the Colonel of the St. Heliers Militia wanted to level the ground for the 
exercise of his corps. The workmen soon lighted upon the stones of 
the temple when the ground was cleared. It was assumed that the temple 
was covered up by the Druids to prevent its profanation by the people. 
It consisted of 45 large stones, averaging 7 ft. in height, 6 ft. in breadth, 
and 4 ft. in thickness, the whole being 56 ft. in circumference. The 
supposed entrance was in a subterranean passage facing the east and 
measuring 15 ft. in length, 4 ft. 2^ ins. in breadth, and 2 ft. in height. 
The medals were found in the passage, one being of the time of the 
Emperor Claudius, but the other was so worn as to be unidentifiable. 
Five graves were afterwards discovered on the same hill, about 170 ft. 
from the temple. Blindextre, who died in 1691, says that there were 
existing in the Isle of Jersey no fewer than fifty Druidical temples or 
altars, but Falle, in his History of Jersey, published in 1695, only mentions 
one Druidical altar. 


There are the remains to-day of at least ten circles in the Isle of Man. 
One of the most striking of these remains is at Glen Darragy — " the 
Vale of the Oaks." The name would, on first consideration, appear to 
be a misnomer, as, instead of being a glen in the general acceptance of 
that term, the circle is situate several hundred feet above the sea level, 
on the side of a mountain near the village of Braid. It consists of one 
large oval lying due east and west. On the western side there are two 
distinct circles, one of which, consisting of twelve stones, most of which 
are from two to three feet high, is perfect. The other, on the southern 
side, which consists of about the same number of stones, is overgrown 
with brambles and some of the stones have apparently been thrown down, 
though it stiU preserves its circular form. Between the two appears to 
be what was formerly an avenue, the entrance to which was evidently 
at the eastern end. This also consists of twelve stones, two of which, 
namely, those at the entrance, are quite four feet broad and about three 
feet in height. WTien observed from the high road, about two hundred 
yards above the circle, the spectators cannot fail to be struck by the 
phaUicism conveyed. 

About a mile distant are three stones in a field known as Mager-y- 
chiarn, or " the holy field." This field is on the side of a mountain called 
Sleau-chiarn, or " the holy hiU." The stones are known locally as 
St. Patrick's Chair, and at one time there was undoubtedly a sedalia 
underneath. The centre stone is higher than those on either side. The 
southernmost back slab has evidently been broken, as only a portion 
remains, but the centre and northernmost stones are still intact and have 
crosses engraved upon them. The broken stone evidently also had a 
cross engraved upon it, as the foot of a cross is stiU plainly to be seen. 
According to popular tradition, St. Patrick sat here and ordained the 
first bishop of the Isle of Man, and from here also blessed the people. 
Inside the circle a number of stones have been gathered and heaped up 

In the parish of Marown, on the north side of the estate of Mount 
Murray, the visitor will find a perfect Druidical temple of large dimensions. 
The circle is of an unusually large diameter of forty-two feet, and is 
composed of perpendicular stones. Two terraces partially enclose the 

On the Mull HiUs, in the extreme south of the island, near the village 
of Craighneich, there are two circles. One is at the summit of an eleva- 
tion, almost directly over the popular watering-place of Port Erin. It 
consists of two circles, one within the other, the outside diameter being 
N. and S., 50 ft., and E. and W., 57 ft., and it is made conformable to 
the four points of the compass, and at each point there is an entrance to 
the centre of the circle. It is disputed whether the site marks a Druidical 


circle or a burying place. A little below are a number of stones and 
mounds, which are apparently the remains of an ancient town, believed 
by some to be of the Stone Age. This is corroborated by the fact that 
in a farm near by were found a large number of flint and other stone 
implements, including several querns or ancient stone grinding mills. 
One of these querns, together with samples of arrow heads and other 
flint implements, can be seen in a small refreshment hut, not a very great 
distance from the circle. A few years since, Dr. H. M. Leon found a 
flint arrow not very far from this place, which he has stiU in his possession. 
The other circle is near to Spanish Head and in close proximity to a 
very interesting spot known as " The Chasms," where great clefts appear 
in the rock extending downwards to between three and a hundred feet. 
In connection with these chasms there are certain caverns at the foot 
thereof, facing the renowned Sugar Loaf Rock, concerning which many 
interesting legends are related. 

Another interesting stone circle, though of smaller size, can be seen 
in the parish of Santon. It is situate in a field about fifty or sixty yards 
from the main road and not very far from a granite quarry. It consists 
of fifteen stones in circular form. 

In the north-west part of the island, between Douglas and Laxey, 
there is a stone circle called the Lonan or Cloven Stones. They are in 
the little village of Baldrine, a short distance from the main road. There 
are two large upright stones which seem to have been cleft asunder, and 
several smaller stones, and together they form a circle. There is an 
interesting legend in connection with these stones. It is said that the 
Druids were actually in the act of making a sacrifice of a human being 
upon one of these stones, when St. Maughold landed on the island from 
a leathern boat. St. Maughold arrived in the middle of the ceremony, 
and, sprinkling holy water upon the sacrificial stone, extinguished the 
fire and split the stone asunder, releasing the victim. St. Maughold 
is said to have crossed himself and said : " Avaunt ye fiends." Some 
of the water sprinkled upon the fire worked through the fuel and dropped 
on to the stone, thus causing it to split right down the centre, leaving 
it as it stands to the present day. The Druidical priests are said to have 
been so astonished at this miracle that they fled, leaving their intended 
victim behind. St. Maughold then cut the prisoner's bonds, released 
him and preached the Christian gospel to him, which faith he joyfuUy 
accepted. He was the first convert to Christianity in the Isle of Man, 
and he was baptized there and then, standing on the stone on which he 
was to have been sacrificed. He is said to have taken the name of 
Lonanus, become a priest, and subsequently Bishop of the Isle of Man 
in succession to St. Maughold, and, after his death, canonised, giving his 
name to the parish of Lonan. It is stated that after his conversion, 


Lonanus desired to build a church upon the spot, but St. Maughold would 
not permit him to do so, saying it was better to let the stones remain as 
they were, in order that the Manx people might have always before their 
eyes the evidence of the miraculous power of holy water in the shape of 
the cloven stone, while the saint, at the same time, pronounced a dreadful 
curse against any one who should attempt to move those stones at any 
time thereafter. 

St. Maughold is said to have been formerly a captain of banditti 
in Ireland, and as a punishment for his crimes was bound hand and foot, 
sent out to sea in a leathern boat, in which he was driven on shore at 
the north end of the island at a spot which now bears his name — Maughold 
Head. Being delivered from his perilous situation, he retired into the 
mountainous parts of the country and, devoting his life to religion, became 
so exemplary that, after the death of Germanus, whom St. Patrick had 
left in spiritual charge, prior to his departure for Ireland, he was elected 
bishop by the unanimous wish of the people. 

On the western side of the island, in a bye road above Poor Town 
Quarry, is a group of stones known as the Giant's Grave, but which is 
apparently the remains of an avenue which once led to a circle which is 
no longer in existence. 

Near Ballown or Crescent Cottage is a remarkable Druidical temple. 
The circle is thirty feet in diameter and is composed of irregular white 
quartz blocks. A large table of granite Ues on the east side, which seems 
to have been removed from the interior of the circle and was probably 
used for human sacrifices. 

Altogether there are about thirty-five distinct circles in the Isle of 
Man accredited to the Druids. It is also interesting to note that one of 
the principal valleys running almost to the foot of Snaefell is still known 
by the name of Druidale. 

Buchanan, in his History of Scotland, says : " So highly were the 
Manx Druids distinguished for their knowledge of Astronomy, Astrology, 
and Natural Philosophy, that the kings of Scotland sent their sons to be 
educated by them. About the year 76, Dothan, the eleventh king of 
Scotland, left his three sons to be educated by the Druids in the Isle of 

On Rombald's Moor, close to Keighley, in Yorkshire, are some stones 
which are supposed to be Druidical remains. Brimham Rocks, in the 
vicinity of Harrogate, are credited by local tradition with having been 
the scene of Druidical worship. Brimham Rocks are scattered over an 
area of about forty acres and present at a distance the appearance of 
a ruined city. Three or four of them are so nicely poised as to rock on 
the application of the sHghtest force. The largest of these rocking stones 
is calculated to weigh one hundred tons. Some of the stones are 


perforated with singular regularity and have received from this circum- 
stance the name of " Cannon Rocks." The bore of one of the rocks is 
twelve inches in diameter. Several tumuli may be observed in the 
neighbourhood of these stones, the larger of them being about 150 ft. 
in circumference. The place is called Graff-plain, or " the Plain of the 

The Bridestones at Levisham in Yorkshire, a number of huge rocks 
fringing both sides of a deep glen, have a Druidical reputation. 

There is a Druidical monument, known as " Long Meg and her 
daughters," which stands near Little Salkeld in Durham. It consists, 
according to Grose and Astle's Antiquarian Re-pertory, of 61 massy stones, 
of various sorts and sizes, ranged in a circle of nearly 120 paces diameter. 
Some of these stones are granite, some blue and grey limestone, and others 
flint. Many of them are ten feet high and fifteen or sixteen inches in 
circumference : these are called Long Meg's Daughters. On the southern 
side of the circle and about seventeen or eighteen paces out of the line 
stands the stone called Long Meg, which is of that kind of red stone 
found round about Penrith. It is so placed that each of its angles faces 
one of the cardinal points of the compass. It measures upwards of 
eighteen feet in height and fifteen inches in girth, its figure being nearly 
that of a square prism. It weighs about 16 tons. In the part of the 
circle most contiguous, four large stones are placed in a square form, as 
if they had been intended to support an altar ; and towards the east, 
west, and north, two large stones stand a greater distance from each 
other than any of the rest, seemingly to form the entrance into the circle. 
It is remarkable that no stone quarry is to be found hereabouts. The 
same ridiculous story is related concerning these stones as of those at 
Stonehenge, i.e., that it is impossible to count them, and that many 
persons who have made the trial could never twice make them amount 
to the same number. These stones are mentioned by Camden, who 
either miscalculated their number or was misinformed, unless, which 
seems improbable, some have since been taken away. " At Little 
Salkeld," he says, " there is a circle of stones, 77 in number, each 10 ft. 
high, and before these, at the entrance, is a single one by itself, 15 ft. 
high. This the common people call Long Meg, and the rest her daughters, 
and within the circle are two heaps of stones, under which they say are 
bodies buried ; and, indeed, it is probable enough that this has been a 
monument erected in memory of some great victory." 

These circles are now generally admitted to have been temples and 
places of judgment and not sepulchral monuments. Indeed, the editor 
of Camden has rectified the statement by making the following comment : 
" But as to the heaps in the middle, they are no part of the monument, 
but have been gathered off the plowed lands adjoining, and (as in many 


other parts of the country) thrown up here in a waste corner of the 
field : and as to the occasion both this and the Rollright Stones in 
Oxfordshire, are supposed by many to have been monuments erected at 
the solemn investiture of some Danish kings, and of the same kind as 
the Kingstolen in Denmark, and Moresteen in Sweden, concerning which 
several large discourses have been written." One tradition, by the way, 
states that Oxford itself was a Druid seat of learning and that the Bards 
held their mystic rites in the oak woods which still flourish in the 

Near to Keswick is an alleged Druidical monument, not mentioned 
by Camden and Httle known. It is said to have been discovered some 
years ago by Dr. Brownrigge, who resided in the neighbourhood. It 
stands on the flat summit of a hill, close under a mountain known as 
Saddleback, about two miles from Keswick and near to the Penrith 
road. It is composed of stones, mosth' granite, of divers shapes and sizes, 
evidently collected from the surface of the earth, being rude and untouched 
by any instrument. They are ranged nearly in a circle, some standing 
and others lying. The diameter from east to west is about thirty yards 
and that from north to south measures nearly thirty-two yards. The 
stones at the north end are the largest, being nearly eight feet in height 
and fifteen feet in circumference. At the eastern end a small enclosure 
is formed by ten stones, in connection with those of that side of the 
circle. It is supposed to have been the Adytum, or Sanctum Sanctorum, 
into which it was not lawful for any but the Druids to enter. On the 
inside it measures about seven yards from east to west and three in 
breadth, and here, in all probability, the altar was placed. On the east 
side, opposite the Adytum, a single stone lies about three paces out of 
the circle. The entire monument consists of fifty stones, forty of which 
form the circle and the remainder are employed in the Adytum. 

At Liverpool there is a perfect circle, near to Moseley HiU, known 
as Calder Stones. It has a diameter of thirty feet. 

Four Druidical circles, each of nineteen stones, are to be seen in 
the vicinity of Penweth in Cornwall. Maurice thinks that they refer to 
the cycle of nineteen years, supposed to be of Druidical invention. 

St. Patrick is believed to have visited Cornwall with twenty com- 
panions, when he preached to the people and founded a monastery. On 
elevations near the sea and on inland hills and tors, where bel-fires had 
long existed, churches and chapels were dedicated to St. Michael, the 
conqueror of the dragon. 

" Each rocky spire 
Of the vast mountain stood on fire. 
Though now for ever gone the days 
When God was worshipped in the blaze." 


On the Mabe Road, five miles from Penryn, stood formerly the 
Tolmen or Holed Stone, on a bleak, bare steep, 690 ft. above the sea. 
This interesting memorial was 33 ft. long, 14 ft. deep, and 18 ft. broad. 
It rested upon two deeply embedded stones, in such a manner that a 
man might crawl under it and a superstition long prevailed that a person 
so crawhng, upon certain holy days, could obtain instant relief from any 
malady from which he might be suffering. It was blown up some years 
ago by the owner of a neighbouring quarry. At Land's End, there is 
the Carn Leskez, or Carn of Light, where it is said Druids were wont to 
kindle the sacred fire ; and the Boxhednan Ring at Penzance is a sacred 
Druidical arch, 68 ft. in diameter and composed of eleven stones. The 
Hurlers at Liskeard are said to be the remains of three extensive Druidical 
circles, of which one only is now in tolerable preservation. A local 
legend, however, runs that the pillars represent the figures of some 
Sabbath breakers, who, while engaged in hurling — a Cornish ball game — 
were smitten into stone. There is a holed stone in the Vale of Lamorna, 
near to St. Paul, which is locally believed to have been used by the 
Druids for tying down their human sacrifices. 

The Sacred Circle at Scorhill Down, above the confluence of the 
W'allabrook and North Teign, is by far the finest example of the shrines 
of Druidical worship in Devonshire. The two principal columnar masses 
stand at nearly opposite points of the circle, the highest rising nearly 
eight feet from the surface and the other standing upwards of six feet ; 
the lowest are about three feet high and the whole area is about 100 ft. 
in diameter. The whole of the enclosed area has been industriously 
cleared of stones. 

The Grey Wethers, so called from their being easily mistaken for 
sheep at a little distance, are two Druidical circles, each about 60 ft. 
in diameter. They are on the higher part of Dartmoor, above Ladle 
Bottom, and directly under Sittaford Tor, and adjoin each other. They 
consist of thirty stones each, varying from 3 ft. to 5 ft. in height and are 
from 7 ft. to 8 ft. apart. Dr. Stukeley surmises that they were spewed 
out of the chalk by the centrifugal forces of the earth. 

Quarnell Down contains a number of columns or circles, one enclosing 
a kistvaen or sepulchral chest. 

On Buckland Down is a small circle of the same kind and there is 
another between Quarnell Tor and Shapitor. 

There is a Druidical circle near Winterbourne Abbas, situated at 
the bottom of a deep valley, called the " Nine Stones," which are perfectly 
unwrought and vary in height from i ft. to 6 ft. The stones mark out 
a circle about 27 ft. by 25 ft. 6 ins. in diameter. 

The circles at Stanton Drew, in Somersetshire, which are supposed 
by many to be of older date than that of Abury, are known as " the 


wedding," from a tradition that a bride and her attendants were changed 
into these stones. Another legend says that they represent serpents 
converted into stones by Keyna, a holy virgin of the fifth century. 
There is also here the local tradition about the difficulty of numbering 
the stones and the danger of drawing them. A similar circle in Stafford- 
shire has the same name. 

At Port Hellick, in the Scilly Isles, there is a Giant's Chair, where, 
according to tradition, 

" Sat the Arch-Druid, in his lonely pomp. 
With wistful eyes fixed on the rising sun." 
There are also some rock-piUars, said to have been of Druidical 
origin, nine feet in height, at St. Agnes, Inangen Point. Tolmen Point, 
at Old Town, in the Scilly Islands, is so named from the perforated stone 
or Tolmen on its summit. 

At Fountain Dale in Nottingham is a curious object, known as the 
Druid's Stone, a cloven rock, 14 ft. in height and 84 ft. in circumference, 
which crowns a national platform in a valley. Another similar stone 
stands a few yards distant. Both are regarded with veneration. 

There are several Druidical remains in Derbyshire. Stanton Moor 
appears to have been a place much frequented by the Druids : here there 
are temples, caves, rock-basins, rocking stones, and cairns. Bateman, 
in his Vestiges of the Antiquities of Derbyshire, says : 

" At the south end of Stanton Moor, close to the village of 

Birchover, is a remarkable assemblage of gritstone rocks, which 

extends in length between seventy and eighty yards and rises to the 

height of about forty or fifty yards. This massive ridge would afford 

great facilities to the Druids for practising their deceptions upon the 

people, there being natural passages and cavernous hollows in various 

parts of the rocks, some large masses of which would require but 

Uttle art and labour to convert them into moving or rocking stones ; 

in fact, oracles delivered from this ridge of rocks would be as much 

calculated to inspire awe in the breasts of the superstitious Britons, 

as those did from the temple of Apollo at Delphus, to the more 

polished but equally credulous Greeks and Romans." 

Considerable excitement was caused among archaeologists a few years 

since by the announcement in the public press that the Druidical circle 

known as Harborough Rocks, near Matlock, had been sold to a company 

with ^75,000 capital, to be worked for its value as dolomite stone. The 

Harborough Rocks were at one time owned by the late Sir Joseph 

Whitworth, the founder of the firm of Armstrong, Whitworth, and he 

had intended to erect a mansion there, but changed his mind in favour 

of Stancliffe, at Darley Dale. The rocks include a Druid's chair, cut in 

stone, where, it is believed, the ritual was carried out. A short time 


prior to the sale some notable discoveries were made at Harborough by 
antiquaries, who excavated the floor of a cave in the rocks, formerly 
the home of cave-dwellers. Thev included the bones of animals long 
since extinct, and an ancient CorneUan ring. 

About seven miles from Buxton, near to Middleton-by-Youlgrave, 
may be found the remains of a Druidical temple known as Arbor-Low, 
or Arbe Lowe, w-hich recently was sold, much to the regret of archaeolo- 
gists. It consists of 38 stones, all in their proper order, but all prostrate 
on the ground, the stones inchned towards the centre and covering an 
area of from forty to fifty yards diameter. Round it is a deep ditch 
bounded by a high earthen bank turfed over. It is the most striking 
remains of antiquity in any part of Derbyshire. The temple is said to 
correspond more nearly than any other in character and features, though 
far inferior in size, with the gigantic monument in Wiltshire. Bateman 
says concerning this that it is the most important, as well as the most 
uninjured, remains of the reUgious edifices of the early religion of the 
Britons to be found in the Midland counties. 

" It lies on the left of the turnpike road from Buxton to 

Ashbourne, and its situation, though elevated, is not so high as 

some eminences in the neighbouring county, but it commands an 

extensive view. The solitude of the place and the boundless view 

of an uncultivated country are such as almost carry the observer 

back through a multitude of centuries, and make him believe that 

he sees the same view and the same state of things as existed in the 

days of the architects of this once holy fane." 

Arbor Low also changed hands shortly before the sale of Harborough 

Rocks, though that monument is scheduled, and therefore protected 

from destruction. The fact that it is scheduled under the Ancient 

Monuments Protection Act of 1882 diminished interest in the result of 

the auction. 

About a quarter of a mile from Arbor-Low, in a westerly direction, 
is a large conical tumulus, known as Gib Hill, which is connected with 
the vallum of the temple by a rampire of earth, running in a serpentine 
direction, not dissimilar to the avenue through the celebrated temple 
of Abury. 

At Bradley Ross there is a small circle of nine stones known as the 
" Nine Ladies." It is eleven yards in diameter, the stones being 2 ft. 6 ins. 
high. At Hartle Moor there are the remains of a temple which pre- 
sumably consisted formerly of nine stones, as the adjoining field is known 
by the name of the Nine Stone Close. The height of the tallest stone 
is 17 ft. Upon Harthill Moor, near to the road from Bakewell to Winster, 
is a small Druidical circle, about thirteen yards in diameter. Circles 


also exist at Brassington Moor, Abney Moor, Eyam Moor, Froggat Edge, 
and Hathersage Moor. 

After the retreat from Anglesey the Druids are believed to have 
settled at Great Barr, near to Sutton Coldfield, on the eminence known as 
Barr Beacon. Sutton Coldfield was once a part of the Forest of Cannock, 
at that time one of the most extensive in the kingdom. At the north of 
Sutton Coldfield lies the village of Aldridge, and near here a small common 
to this day retains the name of Druidheath. 

As might be expected, there abound numerous monumental remains 
of Druidism in Wales. In the vicinity of Harlech, on the ascent of a 
precipitous hill, as well as on the summit, there are several circles formed 
of loose stones, placed at intervals. Some are single, others concentric, 
one circle being inscribed within a second ; in other places they intersect 
each other, forming nearly an ellipse. They do not, however, bear 
comparison with either Stonehenge or Avebur}-, either in magnitude or 
regularity of design. The largest is found at St. Nicholas, Glamorgan, 
and there are other important cromlechs at Newchurch, Monmouthshire ; 
Createn Arthur, Pembrokeshire ; and Arthur's Stone, Glamorganshire. 
At Meini Hirion, near Penmaenmawr, there is a circle, described as 
consisting of twelve stones, some 2| yards above the ground. There 
is also an inner circle consisting of eleven large stones, some eight feet 
high and three feet square, much weathered, with smaller stones placed 
betw-een them. The outer circle is much broken in, but the inner one 
is nearly complete, and within this, again, there is the trace of a still 
smaller circle, not concentric, but touching the inner circumference, as 
if it had been the foundation of a circular dweUing-house. Sir John 
Wynn, an ancient baronet, whose spirit is said to haunt the Swallow 
Falls near by, said that there was a wall round the circle at the time 
he wTote, early in the seventeenth century. One of the largest stones 
represents a human figure and has been dubbed the Deity Stone, with 
the result that innumerable visitors have carved their initials upon it. 

The most remarkable Druidical remains in Scotland are those of 
Callernish in Lewis, and Stennis in Orkney. The late Archdeacon John 
Sinclair, in Old Times and Distant Places, gives the following interesting 
account of an old Druidical temple in Orkney : 

" The two most notable objects, however, on the mainland of 
Orkney are not in Kirkwall itself, but a few miles off. One of them 
is the Orcadian Stonehenge, or Stones of Stennis. They are thirty- 
seven in number, surrounded by a trench, and enclosing an area of 
two-and-a-half acres, in the midst of a vast barren moor. Sixteen 
of them still stand erect, varying in height from three to fourteen 
feet. They must now have encountered the storms of more than a 
thousand years. The general opinion is that the circle was erected 


as a place of sacrifice by the early Celtic inhabitants of Orkney ; and 
it is remarkable that the name of Steinness, or ' the promontory of 
the stones,' was applied to the adjoining headland by the earliest 
Scandinavian settlers, implying that the stones had existed in still 
older times. When I was at Steinness, an obelisk sixteen feet in 
height, called the ' Stone of Odin,' stood apart from the great circle. 
It had a large hole cut through it by means of which the victims 
intended for sacrifice were tied with cords, but in modern times it 
was devoted to a very different purpose. For lovers were in the 
habit of plighting their troth, either to other, by joining hands 
through this aperture, and the vow to Odin was held to be an 
obligation as sacred as the most solemn oath. I hear with regret 
that this curious relic of the olden time has since been wantonly 

Charles Cordiner, who wrote the Antiquities of the North of Scotland, 
in a series of letters to Thomas Pennant, speaking of the neighbourhood 
of Dunadeer, says : 

" Remains of Druidical circles frequently attract one's attention 

on these hills, though the uniformity of their appearance yields but 

small recompense for encountering the rough ways that lead to 

them. I will only add one remark to the many you have made on 

the subject of these ancient places of worship : that the church of 

Benachie is included in one of them, which is not unfrequent in 

Scotland. This seems the effect of choice, not chance, and designed 

by the founders to tempt the pagan inhabitants to attend on the 

doctrine of revelation by building the churches on the spots on which 

they were wont to celebrate their ancient rites." 

Near to the " Hill of the Seven Towers " in the neighbourhood of 

Ardmucknage, is a Druidical circle 26 ft. in diameter. About ten feet 

distant from the outside is an erect pillar 7 ft. high. In the opinion 

of Dr. Borlase, the officers of the Arch Druid may have stood there to 

command silence among the people, or some other person versed in 

the ceremonies may have acted as prompter by warning the officiating 

priest should part of the ceremonial escape his memory. Near Callernish 

is a group of old, grey, moss-grown stones which form a perfect Druidical 

circle. They are great boulders of gneiss, arranged in the form of a cross. 

The circle from which the limits of the cross are thrown out contains 

fourteen stones and is fourteen feet in diameter. The limits of the cross, 

running north and south, and formed by a double row of stones, extend 

to 392 ft. ; while those which run east and west are formed by a single 

row, and extend to 141 ft. In the centre of the circle there is an immense 

boulder about 15 ft. high and, in front of it, the remains of an altar, 

with hollow centre and conduit. 


The structure at Turusachan — " the place of the pilgrimage " — is 
thirteen miles due west of Stornaway and consists of fort)'-eight large 
upright stones, standing upon a low hill, the highest point of which is 
143 ft. above the main level of the sea. The temple is cruciform in 
plan, with a circle at the intersection of the shaft and arms, but with 
an additional row of stones on the east side of the shaft. The circle 
stands about 80 ft. above the level of the sea and is about 42 ft. in 
diameter. The circle itself is comprised of thirteen stones, the most 
prominent one in the centre being 17 ft. in height above the ground level, 
and 5ft. 6 ins. broad at the base. From the centre stone to the northern 
extremity or foot of the shaft, the cross is a distance of 294 ft., while 
the portion south of the circle is 114 ft., measured from the circle : the 
total length, therefore, is 408 ft. The extremity of the eastern arm is 
73 ft., and that of the western 57 ft. from the centre. The total breadth 
of the cross, therefore, is 130 ft. The stones are all of unwrought gneiss, 
of which rock almost the whole island is formed. In October, 1857, 
Sir James Matheson, Bart., the proprietor of the island, cleared away 
the peat which had grown and accumulated round the stones to an 
extent of five or six feet. This brought to light the existence of a cruci- 
form grave, lying east and west, and so placed that the centre stone is 
made to serve as a head stone. The grave is built of small stones 
excepting at the four internal angles, which are formed by large single 
stones. It had been covered with flat stones, but they had fallen in. 
It was built upon the natural surface of the ground, but the walls are 
supported by a bank of earth around them. Nothing was found in it 
when opened. " Clach an Druidean," a name in the island, means 
" the stone of the Druids." 

There are twenty-five circles within the watershed of the Nairn and 
some twelve or fourteen between that and the River Ness, extending 
as far as Loch Ness. The principal stone circles and remains are at 
Tordarroch, Gask, Clava, Newton of Petty, Druid Temple, and Dorres. 
Another interesting series of stone circles exist in Badenoch and Upper 
Strathspey. The principal circles are at Delfoor, Ballinluig, Aviemore, 
and Tullochgorm. 

Hood's Hill, Tarbolton, the scene of many incidents in the life of 
Burns, is said to have been, in former times, a Druidical place of worship. 
To this day the Baal fire is lighted there on Midsummer Eve. 

The Druid Houses in the Isles are called by the natives Titian 
Druninich. After the Druidical period they became the abodes or cells 
of Christian anchorites. In the island of Lewis, one of the Hebrides, 
there stands a huge stone, called the Thorshel, about 20 ft. high and 
almost as many broad. On the north side of Loch Carlvay there are 
similar stones, 12 ft. high, and there are many such throughout the 


island ; but the most remarkable piece of antiquity of the kind is a 
group of pyramidal stones near the village of Classerness, 39 in number, 
from six to seven feet in height, which are all supposed to have been 
the erection of the Druids. 

Burns made the following memorandum on Glenlyon : 

" Druids' temple, three circles of stones, the outermost sunk ; the 
second has thirteen stones remaining, the innermost eight, two large 
detached ones Hke a gate to the south-east — say prayers in it." 

The sacred isle of Mona was known as Tnys Dyzvyal, or " the dark 
isle," because of the dark shade caused by its umbrageous oaks. The 
earliest name borne by lona, so far as is known, was Innas-nan-Druidneath, 
or " Isle of the Druids," thus indicating that lona was the scat of a 
Druidical college. According to the Rev. W. Lindsay Alexander : "The 
Druids retained their predominance in lona and over the adjacent isles 
and mainland until A.D. 563 or 564, when they were supplanted and their 
superstitions overturned by the arrival of St. Columba, the apostle of 
the Highlands, by whom the inhabitants of that district were first led 
to profess Christianity." 

In the Highlands one often hears the expression when invited to 
go to church : Am bheil thu doc don chlachan, or "Are ye go to the stones ?" 
and, on returning from church : " Have ye been at the stones ? " The 
beUef prevails in Scotland to this day that no one who ever meddled 
with Druids' stones ever prospered in this world. 

The remains of many alleged Druidical temples are to be found in 
many parts of Ireland. The tomb of OUamh Fodhla, which is built in 
the form of a cross, is claimed as the site of a former Druidical temple. 
In the parish of Donoughmore, by Carmeen, there is a grove still standing 
on the top of a hill, and, at the base, there is a lake of considerable size. 
The remains of Druidical groves or temples are invariably found in close 
proximity to lakes, which figure largely in the initiatory ceremonies. 
The chief seat of the Irish Druids was at Tara, the residence of the chief 
kings of Ireland. Moorna, a district in the south of Ireland, once famous 
as the residence of an Arch-Druid, possessed a cavern supposed to have 
been haunted by the spirits of the Firbolg chiefs. Londonderry is said 
to have been originally a famous grove and school of the Druids. The 
word " Derry " is claimed to have been derived from Doire, which, in 
Erse, signifies " a grove of oaks." 

The Giant's Ring at Belfast is a huge circle, 580 ft. in diameter, 
enclosing an area of 60 acres by a mound about 80 ft. broad. It was 
originally of a greater altitude than it now is, but in its present condition 
it is sufficiently high to prevent an ordinary man from seeing anything 
outside it except the summit of the neighbouring mountains. In the 
centre is an overthrown cromlech of more than ordinary dimensions. 


known as the Druids' Altar. It consists of a number of rude pillars 
supporting a top stone 7 ft. long by 6| ft. broad. In 1841 Viscount 
Dungannon, the then owner of the land in the neighbourhood, erected 
a substantial wall around it. 

At Ardpatrick, Limerick, are the remains, 11 ft. in height, of a 
round tower, which is mentioned in an ancient Life of St. Patrick as a hill 
sacred to the sun. Near by is a holy well efficacious in the cure of cattle 
disease. On Scattery Island is a Druidical circle, near the church and 
tower, and immediately adjoining is a holv well, now known as " Our 
Lady's Well." 

On the summit of a hiU, Baltony, about two miles from Raphoe, 
stands a Druidical temple. It consists of a perfect circle of large stones, 
set perpendicularly, varying from eight to nine feet in height, and, in 
many instances, of the same breadth. The circumference of the circle 
is 150 yards, comprised of 6"/ stones placed at irregular intervals. On 
the east side is an open space of seven yards, bounded by two large 
stones, which probably formed the entrance to the temple ; and on the 
opposite side are two of the largest, tallest, and broadest stones, filling 
up a space of equal breadth, against which the altar stood. Baltony, 
which is not an uncommon name in Ireland, is supposed to be a corruption 
of Baal tinne, or " the fire of Baal." 

Between Galway and Outerard, and nearer to the latter, is a space 
which for about two miles is covered with the stone remains of an old 
Druidic temple of such dimensions that it has been designated by Mr. 
and Mrs. S. C. Hall " The City of the Druids." There are a number of 
circles of various sizes, some very small, but others so large as to be 
apparently half-a-mile in circumference. 

Knock-a-dun, an island in Lough Gar, Limerick, has an extensive 
assemblage of Druidical remains. The eastern shore of the Lough 
abounds with mighty vestiges of Druidical power, and a chain of Druidical 
works extends into the county of Tipperary. 

On the northern extremity of island Magee, Co. Antrim, is a 
Druid's altar, consisting of six large stones, standing upright and forming 
two rows, about two feet asunder, extending east and west. Four of 
the stones are on the north side and two on the south, each being fully 
three feet above the ground. On these rest a large flat slab upwards 
of six feet in length, fairly smooth on both sides, and nearly two feet 
thick. The breadth is unequal, its west end being nearly six feet, but 
sloping to the east to about half that breadth. In ploughing up the field 
in which this altar stands, in 1817, a spiral instrument of pure gold, 
eleven inches in length, was discovered, and a few years afterwards 
several detached parts of a gold collar were dug up near the altar. In 
March, 1824, several spiral golden ornaments, supposed to be armlets 


or bracelets, were found, the largest weighing 526 grains and the smallest 
188 grains. 

At Broadstone, Finvoy, Co. Antrim, are the ruins of a magnificent 
temple. The principal stone is ten feet in length, nine feet in breadth, 
and one foot thick. Beneath it there is said to have been formerly a 
chamber communicating with two smaller compartments extending 
northward and covered with stone. On the south is a large stone 
detached from its supporters, and on the opposite side stood formerly 
another of similar dimensions. Adjoining on the north-west are the 
remains of a stone circle, and vestiges of a similar erection are seen on 
the south-east. These, as well as the altar, appear formerly to have 
been encompassed by a circle of large stones 43 feet in diameter. 

Near to the Rath of Mullinmast is a stone known as the Druid's 
Altar. It is eleven-and-a-half feet long, seven feet in circumference, 
and the local tradition runs that it was rolled from a place about seven 
miles away. 

Caillin, Bishop, whose festival is observed in Ireland on 13th Novem- 
ber, performed a famous miracle on the Druids, when Fergna, son of 
Fergus, King of Breitne, sent against him when he commenced the 
erection of Fiodhnach, on which occasion he turned the Druids into 
stones and as standing stones they are said still to remain. According 
to the legend the earth swallowed up King Fergna. 

The name " Druid " in some form or another is still preserved in 
the names of several places in Ireland, e.g., Loughnashandree, " the 
Lake of old Druids " ; Knockadroon, " the Hill of the Druids " ; 
Tobernadree, " the Well of the Druids " ; Loughnadroon, " the Lake 
of the Druids " ; Killadroy, " the Druids' Wood " ; Gobnadruy, " the 
Druids' Point " ; and Derrydruee, " the Druids' Oak Wood." 

These circles are, however, to be found elsewhere than within the 
British Isles, and even in countries where it is not known with certitude 
that the Druidical religion was established. Bell, in Wayside Pictures, 
says that : 

" The finest Celtic monument, the largest and most regular, 
within the limits of Brittany or Anjou, is to be seen near the village 
of Bagneux, about a mile from Saumur. This monument is of 
rectangular form, raised on the side of a hill and composed of 
enormous blocks of sandstone. It is 58 feet long, 21 feet wide, 
and 7 feet high from the ground. The disposition of the stones 
is perfectly uniform, four on each side for the walls, four for the 
roof, one on the left side near the entrance, and one on the west 
closing up the structure at that end. There are altogether seven- 
teen of these immense blocks, all unhewn, and in thickness they 
vary from eighteen inches to two-and-a-half feet. On the top of 


the hill, not far from the neighbouring village of Riou, is a smaller 
monument, consisting of six great stones, also set to the east, and 
equally regular in form. The interior of the larger structure has 
the appearance of a vast subterranean sepulchre." 
Lord Carlisle, in his Diary, pubhshed in 1854, mentions two sites 
of curious ruins at Crendi, in the island of Malta, about a quarter of a 
mile from each other. He says : 

" They are probably those of some Phoenician place of worship, 

consisting of very large stones, of which the lowest are upright, 

and what may be called Druidical. Above them are four or five 

horizontal layers, a portion of them being as if tattooed with a 

circular pattern. There is no vestige of any roof. The timbers 

are of different sizes, with the apertures and large seats round 

the outer thresholds. Two or three altars seem to be in their places, 

and one of them has a very long flat slab of stone, which might 

have served for human sacrifices. Near, another opening indicates 

that a second chamber, large enough to admit the body of a man, 

which again may have served for oracular responses." 

At Barozza, Spain, the stones known as Druidic, and similar in 

every respect to other Druidic memorials, are visited by every peasant 

girl for fifty miles around on her bethrothal. Such visit is said to bring 

good luck, and wishes made in the shadow of the stone are supposed to 

be ensured of fulfilment. 

Porphyry relates how much the cavern mode of worship prevailed 
among the first nations, who believed that caverns and hollows were 
the residences of the gods. When in the process of time men began 
to erect temples, they determined the sites by the vicinity of these 
objects, which they included, wherever possible, within the limits of 
sacred enclosure. 

At Pherae, in Achaia, there was a fountain sacred to Hermes, near 
which were thirty large stones, each of which was looked upon as the 
representative of some deity. Pausanias remarks that instead of images 
the Greeks in ancient times universally paid their adoration to rude, 
unwrought stones. 

Miss Ellwood, in her 'Journey to the East, says : " There is a sacred 
perforated stone at Malabar, through which penitents squeezed them- 
selves in order to obtain a remission of their sins." 

Peter della Valle, in his Travels in India, mentions that there was 
a famous temple at Ahmedabad, wherein was no other image but a 
column of stone, after a pyramidal form, which they call Mahaden, 
signifying in their language God. 

Clements Markham, also, states that the ancient city of the Incas 
covered a large area. It was built by highly-skilled masons, and with 


the use of enormous stones. One stone is 36 feet long, by 7 feet, weighing 
170 tons ; another 26 feet by 16 feet by 6 feet. Apart from the mono- 
liths of ancient Egypt, there is nothing to equal this in any other part 
of the world. The movement and the placing of such monoliths point 
to a dense population, to an organised government, and consequently 
to a large area under cultivation, with arrangements for the conveyance 
of supplies from various directions. There must, he says, have 
been an organization combining skill and intelligence with power and 
administrative ability. 

The explorations of the Ordnance Survey of 1869 proved the existence 
in Palestine and Arabia of circles " nearly identical in character with 
those which in England and Scotland are commonly called Druidical 

In 191 1 an interesting paper on "Stone Circles in the Gambia" 
was read at the Royal Anthropological Institute by Messrs. J. L. Tolbach 
and G. B. Wolbach, in the course of which they said (quoting from Man 
of November, 191 1) : 

" The stone circles which have been seen in the Gambia by 
ourselves and by Mr. Ozanne occur principally on the north bank 
of the river. M. Lanzerac, the French resident at Maka, states 
that there are many circles in an area extending from the district 
of Saloum in the west to the Faleme river, an affluent of the Senegal 
river, in the east. On the north side of the river we have seen them 
from Maka in the east to N'Jau in the west, and in 1903 one circle 
and a few detached stones were seen on the south bank of the river 
near Kudang. 

" During our recent expedition to the Gambia we asked in 
every town which we visited if there were circles in the neighbour- 
hood. Places in which circles existed, or where natives knew of 
any, are mentioned below. 

" In the district of Sandugu circles are said to exist at Changali, 
near Misera, in the territory of a chief called Gimmamang ; other 
circles exist near them at Dasilimi. Near Lammin Koto there are 
several circles ; we opened one of the largest of these. About 600 
yards to the south-west of the circle excavated by us is another 
circle which was opened by Mr. Ozanne some years ago. 

" Circles are said to exist at Kaleng, not far from McCarthy's 
Island, and single stones occur at Jamarli and also near Kai-ai. 

" We saw two circles in the bush about half a mile to the north 
of Gassan. There are two stone circles not far from Jallokunda. 
Others are said to exist at Buntung, while there are said to be odd 
stones near Kussassa. Others again are said to be near Nianimaru 
and near Ballangar. 


" The circles at Maka were peculiar amongst those seen by us, 
in that there were more single stones outside the circles than was 
usual. M. Lanzerac has opened two of these circles and has found 
in them only traces of bone. 

" None of the natives know anything of the origin of the stones. 
The Mandingo, who now inhabit the territory where they occur, 
say that the stones were in the country when the Mandingo first 
came to it. There is no special name for the circles ; they are 
called by the ordinary Mandingo name for stones — that is, Bero. 
At present the circles and stones have absolutely no significance. 
The natives do not use them as places for praying nor for landmarks ; 
neither do they generally believe that they were used for tombs. 
Some persons, particularly among the better educated people, 
beUeve that the Portuguese made the circles, and that some of 
those who died in the Gambia are buried within them, together 
with their belongings. When questioned concerning the circles, 
most of the natives say, God or the people of the olden times put 
them there. 

" It seems probable that the stones were cut and placed by 
some race which held the land long before the Mandingo appeared. 
It is certain that those who placed the stones had more knowledge 
of stoneworking than the Mandingo have at present. They also 
had considerable aptitude in transporting heavy weights, for, as 
at Lammin, it must have been necessary for those who built the 
circles to bring the stones composing them a distance of at least 
two miles. 

" Suntokomo, the paramount chief of Lammin, told us that the 

people who preceded the Mandingo in the country often made 

" Jalang " sacrifices of black animals of goats, sheep, horses, or 

cattle, before going to war, and that years ago the Mandingo sacrificed 

animals in much the same way. These sacrifices were sometimes 

made near, or on, one of the stones of a circle." 

In many parts of the British Isles are to be found Logan or Rocking 

Stones, but seldom far removed from a stone circle. These consist of 

one immense stone poised so nicely on the top of some other stone that 

the slightest touch or pressure of the hand will cause it to move or rock, 

while, at the same time, it is almost impossible to move it from its station. 

There are a few instances of fallen rocks which, in falling, have become 

poised in this manner on some projecting mass, but there are many 

more which appear to have been formed in a deliberate manner. These 

Logan Stones have been found, amongst other places, particularly in 

Cornwall, Wales, Lancashire, Yorkshire, and Derbyshire. At Walton, 

in Lancashire, there are five of these stones, so contiguous one to another 

:;^: V. ^:5r^ .j£^?G^^^^^. .:.-:. :^^!^ 


Aerial Viev.' of Sionehenge, 
shoxving the outer ring. 


that, if one is touched, the motion is communicated to the remainder. 
There is a legend that Uranus contrived stones called Betulia, which 
possessed the power of motion as if they were instinct with life, and 
accounts are given in ancient writers of many of these rocking- 
stones. Pliny says that at Harpasa, a town of Asia, there was a rock 
of such wonderful nature that if touched with a finger it would shake, 
but it could not be moved from its place with the whole force of the 
body. Ptolemy Hephaestion mentions a gygonian near the ocean, 
which was agitated when struck by the stalk of an asphodel, but could 
not be removed by a great exertion of force. The word gygonius appears 
to be Celtic, for duringog signifies motion. 

The term " Logan Stone " cannot be explained by the Cornish or 
Welsh language, although the name is still retained in Cornwall. Logh, 
however, was the Irish for " divine essence," and the Druids claimed 
that the divine essence descended into the Logh-onn, or stone. Stones 
which possessed the power of motion, as if they were instinct with life, 
says Sanchoniatho, were known as Betulia. Beth-el was the usual 
patriarchal name for sacred structures of this character. 

It has been conjectured, and with much probability, that the Logan 
Stone was a species of ordeal or test by which the Druid who, in con- 
formity with the patriarchal custom, was also the judge of the people, 
determined the innocence or guilt of those persons brought before him. 
Mason, in his Caractacus, supposes two young men brought before the 
Druidic tribunal on a charge of treason, when the Arch-Druid addresses 
them as follows : 

" Thither, youths, 
"Turn your astonished eyes ; behold yon huge 

And unhewn sphere of living adamant, 

Which, pois'd by magic, rests its central weight 

On yonder pointed rock : firm as it seems. 

Such is its strange and virtuous property, 

It moves, obsequious to the gentlest touch 

Of him whose breast is pure ; but, to a traitor, 

Tho' ev'n a giant's prowess nerv'd his arm. 

It stands as fixt as Snowdon. No reply ; 

The gods command that one of you must now 

Approach and try it : In your snowy vests 

Ye priests, involve the lots, and to the younger, 

As is our wont, tender the choice of Fate." 

The result of an appeal of this nature was frequently to make the 

guilty person confess his crime. If it became necessary to resort to 

the ordeal, the insertion of a wedge, or even of a small pebble in the 

socket in which the pivot moved and on which the stone was poised 


was sufficient to render the stone immovable, and thus resist the pressure 
of the hand. In that case the accused would be adjudged guilty and 
condemned, and the credit of the test would be vindicated. 

At Rudston there is a Logan Stone 25 ft. 4 ins. in height ; its width 
varies from 5 ft. 9 ins. in the west to 6 ft. i in. in the east ; and its thick- 
ness from 2 ft. 3 ins. in the south to 2 ft. 9 ins. in the north. This stone 
is almost overgrown with moss from top to bottom, but, in 1773, More 
Bosville, of Thorpe Hall, ordered a small cap of lead to be placed on the 
top in order to preserve it. The question as to how this stone was 
placed was partly solved in the autumn of 1869, when the Rev. Canon 
Greenwall opened various barrows in the parish and several stone 
hammers, axes and flint implements were dug out, by which the stone 
could have been hewn into shape and placed into position. The fact 
that this stone and other similar stones are found close to churches 
may, perhaps, be accounted for by supposing that, in order to facihtate 
the introduction of Christianity, the early missionaries erected their 
churches on the spot where the people had been accustomed to worship. 
The letter which Pope Gregory sent to the Abbot Miletus when he was 
setting out for Britain contained the following instructions : " That 
the temples of the idols of the nations ought not to be destroyed : let 
holy water be made and sprinkled in the said temples ; let altars be 
erected and relics placed." 

This custom of erecting churches on the sites of heathen temples 
continued in Scotland until the tenth century. Patrick, Bishop of the 
Hebrides, desired Orlygiis to found a church wherever he should find 
upright stones. 

At Treryn Castle, near to St. Buryan, is the celebrated Logan-rock 
— a mass of granite weighing nearly sixty-five and a half tons, being 
17 ft. long and 30 ft. in circumference, which was formerly so poised 
upon its axis that it could easily be shaken and yet regain its equihbrium 
quickly. In 1824 it was overthrown by Lieutenant Goldsmith, a nephew 
of the poet, and some sailors under his command, by way of disproving 
the assertion of Borlase, the antiquarian, that no mechanical force could 
remove it from its situation. Great and many were the complaints 
raised against this rash seaman, and the Admiralty ordered him to 
replace the stone in its former position, a task which he accompHshed 
by the aid of powerful capstans and scaffolding, and at an outlay which 
crippled the Ueutenant's limited resources to the day of his death. It 
has never " logged " with the same ease since it was replaced. 

At Rowtor there is a Logan Stone 15 ft. long, 12 ft. broad, and 
4 ft. in thickness, which is easily shaken. 

At the Giant's Castle, in the Scilly Islands, there is a Logan Stone 
45 tons in weight, but so finely balanced that it will obey the motion 


of a lady's slightest touch. Borlase, by the way, asserts that the old 
British appellation of the Scilly Islands was Sulleh, or Sylkh, signifying 
" rocks consecrated to the sun." 

There is a remarkable rocking stone in the island of St. Agnes in 
Sicily. The under rock is 10 ft. 6 ins. high, 47 ft. round the middle, 
and it touches the ground with not more than half its base. The upper 
rock rests on one point only and is so nicely balanced that two or three 
men with a pole can move it. On the top there is a bason hollowed out 
3 ft. II ins. in diameter at the medium, but wide at the brim, and 3 J ft. 
deep. From the globular part of this upper stone it is highly probable 
that it was rounded by human art, and perhaps even placed on the 
pedestal by human strength. 

In Stithney parish, near Helston, in Cornwall, stood the famous 
Logan Stone, Men-an-Bar, or the Topstone. It was 1 1 ft. 6 ins. high 
and 4ft. broad, and so nicely poised upon another stone that a little 
child could move it. Shrubsal, Cromwell's governor of Pendennis, 
caused it to be undermined. 

There is a rocking stone near Balvaird Castle, in the Ochill Hills. 
One near Rippen Tor, 16^ ft. in length, 4^ ft. in thickness, and nearly 
the same in breadth, is called the Nutcrackers, but its rocking power 
has long since disappeared. The whooping rock, near North Bovey, 
is so called from the noise it made in tempestuous weather. This was 
originally a Logan Stone, but many years ago it was wantonly removed 
from its balance. 

Mr. Rock, in Archaeology, gives the following description of the 
logan stone at Brimham Craggs, in Yorkshire : 

" It rests upon a kind of pedestal and is supposed to be about 
one hundred tons in weight. On examining the stone it appears 
to have been shaped to a small knob at the bottom to give it motion, 
though my guide, who was about seventy years old, born on the 
moors, and well acquainted with these rocks, assured me that the 
stone had never been known to rock ; however, upon my making 
trial round it, when I came to the middle of one side, I found it 
moved with great ease. The astonishing increases of the motion, 
with the little force I gave it, made me very apprehensive that the 
equilibrium might be destroyed, but on examining it I found it was 
so nicely balanced that there was no danger of it falhng. The 
construction of this equipoised stone must have been by artists 
well skilled in the power of mechanics." 

In Wales logan stones are known as Maer Sigll, or the Shaking 
Stones. Vallancey takes the word from the Irish logh, meaning divine 
power or spirit, which the Druids claimed was infused into the stone, 
which caused them to consult it as an oracle. 



In 1808 Mr. Joshua Gosselin discovered a large Logan Stone at 
L'Ancresse Bay, Guernsey, which could be rocked easily by a child. 
It was afterwards destroyed. 

Some Druidical remains near Hahfax were discovered some years 
ago by the Rev. John Watson, then rector of Stockport. A rocking 
stone forms the boundary mark between the two townships of Golcar 
and Slaightwait, on Golcar Hill, and gives the name of Hole Stone 
Moor to the adjoining grounds. It is 10 ft. 6 ins. long, 9 ft. 5 ins. broad, 
and 5ft. 3 ins. thick. It has been damaged somewhat by some masons 
who endeavoured to discover the principle on which so heavy a weight 
could move so easily. 

On the side of a lofty hill at the Gap of Dunloe, in Kerry, is a 
Logan Stone about 24 ft. in circumference, called by the peasants " the 
Balance Rock." Moore Hkens it to the poet's heart, which : 
" The slightest touch alone sets moving 
But all earth's power could not shake it from its base." 

Hill ranges converging on Stonehenge, and Routes by which some of the Stones 
may have been brought to the spot. 



Druidism, in common with most other religions, set aside one day 
in each week for the special observance of religious ceremonies, while, 
in addition, they kept annually four great festivals, viz.. May Day, 
Midsummer Day, the first of November, and the tenth of March, this 
last-named being New Year's Day, although some writers accord that 
honour to the first of May. The Gaelic name for the month of May 
is still ceituin, or ceuduin, or " the first month of time." 

Vallancey, in his Collectanea de rebus Hibernicis, cites Cormac, 
Archbishop of Cashel in the tenth century, as saying in his Irish Glossary 
that : " In his time four great fires were lighted up on the four great 
festivals of the Druids, viz., in February, May, August and November." 

Many hills were used in those days for beacons, and a telegraphic 
system was carried to considerable perfection. Intelligence was con- 
veyed by means of a fire at night and a smoke by day ; and on urgent 
occasions by the simple expedient of shouting to each other from the 
summit of these beacon hills, which frequently were dedicated to Teut. 
Many, indeed, are called Teut, or Toob hills to this day. There is a 
hill with this name at Little Coates, near Grimsby. It consists of a 
magnificent mound thrown up on the summit of a lofty eminence, which 
commands a very extensive view of the surrounding country. Cssar 
noted the practice and referred to it in the fifth book of De Bella Gallico. 
He says that the system was carried to such perfection that on urgent 
occasions the people might be raised within twelve hours through a 
tract of country i6o miles in extent. 

May Day, the day on which the sun entered Taurus, was ushered 
in by a festival commencing on the eve, which was instituted in com- 
memoration of the exit of Hu, the Mighty, and his family from the Ark. 
It was the principal time of the year for the initiation of aspirants for 
the priesthood. Maurice says he has little doubt that May Day, or, 
at least, the day on which the sun entered Taurus, has been immemorially 
kept as a sacred festival from the creation of earth and man, originally 


intended as a memorial of that event. The ceremonial preparations 
for the May festivities really commenced at midnight on the 29th of 
April, and when the initiation ceremonies had been concluded on May 
eve, fires were kindled on all the cairns and beacon hiUs throughout the 
kingdom, and were kept ahght throughout the night as an introduction 
to the sports and festivities of the following day. They were hghted in 
honour of Beal, or Bealan, a name Latinised by the Roman authors 
into Belenus, by which name the Gauls knew the sun. Beal is a com- 
pound word formed from Be, is, and Jll, universal, that is, the Universal 
Is, or the Universal Being. The other gods and even all visible things 
were regarded as mere emanations of this great spirit. Another name 
of Beal in the Celtic is Alia, or Allah, which seems to be formed from 
Jll, universal, and Hca, a vocal inflection of Ta, is, meaning again the 
Universal Is. The name Beal, or Bealan, corresponds with the Phoenician 
Baal, the Indian Bhole, the Chaldean Bel, and the Hebrew Bahal. The 
Irish and Scottish Druids knew the day by the name of La Bealtine, 
or " the day of Belen's fire." May Day is known in the Manx language 
as Shenn Laa Boaldyn. The day is still regarded in the Isle of Man 
as an unlucky one on which to lend anything and especially to give fire. 
So, even to-day, in the remote districts of Ireland if the fire goes out in 
the house of a peasant before the morning of the first of May, the tenant 
repairs to the priest's house in order to beg a lighted turf to re-kindle 
it. The " crosh cuirn " in the Isle of Man is a cross made of mountain 
ash, which is kept throughout the year behind the door and renewed 
every ^May Day. It is a belief there that no evil thing can pass in where 
the ""crosh cuirn " is kept. It is interesting to note that one of the 
many titles by which the Druids were formerly known was Maysons, 
or Men of May. Prof. Veitch, in History and Poetry of the Scottish Border, 
writes very positively as to Beltane Day being the second day of May 
and not the first, as is generally supposed. The Royal Charter granted 
to the Burgh of Peebles for holding a fair or market on Beltane Day is 
given in the Burgh Records of Peebles, p. 85, as follows : "As also of 
holding, using, enjoying, and exercising within the aforesaid Burgh 
weekly market days, according to the use and custom of the said Burgh, 
together with three fairs, thrice in the year, the first thereof beginning 
yearly upon the third day of May, called Beltane Day, the same to be 
held and continued for the space of forty-eight houre thereafter." In 
a book of Scotch proverbs, pubUshed in 1721 by James Kelly, occurs 
the following : 

"You have skill of man and beast 
You was born between the Beltans." 
In all countries in which Druidism was the prevaiUng religion the 
observances of the day included choral dances, performed in honour of 


the deliverance of Hu. May Day is still known by the name of Bealtine 
by many of the highlanders of Scotland. To this day, also, in some 
parts of Ireland the custom prevails of kindling a fire in the milking- 
yard on May Day, when men, women and children pass through or leap 
over it, and cattle are drawn through flames of burning straw, which 
custom is held to be an efficacious means of preserving them from 
accidents that would otherwise befall them before the return of May. 
The expression " to call over the coals," meaning to reprimand severely, 
had its probable origin in this passing through Bel's fire. This passing 
between two fires was not a remnant of any sacrificial practice, but was 
regarded merely as a means of purification. Leaping over the fire is 
mentioned in Ovid's Fasti as among the superstitious rites in vogue at 
the PaHlia, or the feasts instituted in honour of Pales, the goddess of 
shepherds, on the calends of May. 

Pennant, in his Tour in Scotland, published in 1771, gives a lengthy 
account of the Druidical festival of Beltine, or, as he calls it, Bel-tein, 
in which he says : 

" They cut a square trench in the ground, leaving a turf in 
the middle ; on that day they make a fire of wood on which they 
dress a large caudle of eggs, butter, oatmeal, and milk, and bring, 
besides the ingredients of the caudle, plenty of beer and whiskey, 
for each of the company must contribute something. The rites 
begin with spilling some of the caudle on to the ground, by way of 
libation ; on that, every one takes a cake of oatmeal, upon which 
are raised nine square knobs, each dedicated to some particular 
being, the supposed preservers of their flocks and herds, or to some 
particular animal, the real destroyer of them. Each person then 
turns his face to the fire, breaks off a knob, and, flinging it over 
his shoulder, says : ' This I give to thee, preserve thou my horses,' 
or ' This to thee, preserve thou my sheep,' and so on. After this, 
they use the same ceremony to the noxious animals : ' This I give 
to thee, O fox, spare thou my lambs,' or ' This to thee, O horrid 
crow,' or ' This to thee, O eagle.' When the ceremony is over, 
they dine on the caudle, and, after the feast is finished, what is 
left is hid by two persons deputed for that purpose, but on the 
next Sunday they reassemble and finish the reliques of the first 

EUis also gives a detailed account of the May Day festival and 
ceremonies in Scotland, in the course of which he says : 

" That the Caledonians paid a superstitious respect to the 
sun, as was the practice among other nations, is evident, not only 
by the sacrifice at Baltein, but upon many other occasions. When 
a Highlander goes to bathe, or to drink water out of a consecrated 


fountain, he must always approach by going round the place from 
east to west on the south side in imitation of the apparent diurnal 
motion of the sun. This is called in Gaelic, going round the right 
or lucky way. And if a person's meat or drink were to affect 
the windpipe, or come against his breath, they instantly cry out 
' disheal,' which is an ejaculation pra)'ing that it may go the right 

Beiltin, it may be added, is still the Gaelic name for Whitsunday. 
Dr. Norman Macleod, in Reminiscences of a Highland, Parish, states 
that when a boy in his father's manse in the Highlands, the parishioners 
all came to it on New Year's Day and performed deas-iul round the house 
to bring good luck to the minister and his family for the ensuing year. 
Miss Constance F. Gordon Gumming, in From the Hebrides to the Himalayas 
says that one place where the deisul is still kept up is at Kilbar, in the 
Isle of Barra, where, on St. Barr's Day (25th September), all the Roman 
Catholic population attend Mass in the chapel in honour of their titular 
saint, and then ride across the island to Kilbur, the ancient burial-place 
of the M'Neils. Each rough pony carries not only his rough unkempt 
master, but also his master's sweetheart or wife, who, in her turn, carries 
a bunch of wild carrots. This quaint procession marches thrice round 
the ruins to secure luck for the island for the coming year. 

The following account is extracted from the Survey of the South of 
Ireland, where the customs were very similar to those of Scotland : 

" The sun was propitiated here by sacrifices of fire ; one was 
on the first of May, for a blessing on the seed sown. The first of 
May is called in the Irish language. La Bealtine, that is, the day 
of Baal's fire. Vossius says it is well known that Apollo was called 
Belinus, and for this he quotes Herodian and an inscription at 
Aquileia, Apolini Belino. 

Sir John Sinclair, in his Statistical Account of Scotland, published 
in 1794, gives the following account of a Baal custom : 

" The people of this district (Callander, Perthshire), have two 
customs, which are fast wearing out, not only here, but all over 
the Highlands, and therefore ought to be taken notice of while 
they remain. Upon the first of May, which is called Beltan, or 
Baltein Day, the boys in a township or hamlet meet on the moors. 
They cut a table in the green sod, of a round figure, by casting a 
trench in the ground of such circumference as to hold the whole 
company. They kindle a fire, and dress a repast of eggs and milk 
in the consistence of a custard. They knead a cake of oatmeal, 
which is toasted at the embers against a stone. After the custard 
is eaten up, they divide the cake into so many portions, as similar 
as possible to one another in size and shape, as there are persons 


in the company. They daub one of these portions all over with 
charcoal until it be perfectly black. They put all the bits of the 
cake into a bonnet. Every one, bhndfolded, draws out a portion. 
He who holds the bonnet is entitled to the last bit. Whoever 
draws the black bit is the devoted person who is to be sacrificed 
to Baal, whose favour they mean to implore, in rendering the year 
productive of the sustenance of man and beast. There is little 
doubt of these inhuman sacrifices having once been offered in this 
country as well as in the East, although they now pass from the 
act of sacrificing, and only compel the devoted person to leap three 
times through the flames, with which the ceremonies of the festival 
are closed." 

In the same volume the minister of Logierait, in Perthshire, writes 
concerning the May Day festival as follows : 

" On the first of May a festival called Beltan is annually held 
here. It is chiefly celebrated by the cowherds, who assemble in 
scores in the fields to dress a dinner for themselves of boiled milk 
and eggs. These dishes they eat with a sort of cake, baked for 
the occasion, and having small lumps, in the form of nipples, raised 
all over the surface. The cake might, perhaps, be an offering to 
some deity in the days of Druidism." 

For many centuries subsequent to Druidic times the Welsh were 
accustomed to hold a festival on May Day morning, in commemoration 
of the Deluge. Oxen were placed near a lake, in the centre of which 
was an island, regarded as holy, where a shrine or ark was kept. This 
was drawn through the shallow water on to dry ground by the oxen, 
by means of a chain, whilst the best singers in the district sang a chant 
known as Cainc yr Tchain Banazvg, a melody said to resemble the lowing 
of kine and the rattling of chains. The principal character in the pro- 
cession which was formed after the ark had been drawn safely to land 
was supposed to represent the Arch Druid bearing his magical wand, 
after which came about two hundred Druids and Bards, the latter 
carrying harps, followed by the ark of Ceridwen, borne upon the shoulders 
of Ovates and discipuli. Immediately in front of the ark went the 
hierophant, who represented the Supreme Creator ; a torch-bearer, who 
represented the sun ; and the herald-bard, who was regarded as the 
special official of the moon. The rear was made up by a large body of 
singers and dancers, who, with wreaths of ivy upon their heads, surrounded 
the car of the diluvial god. Some of these blew horns, others carried 
double pateras, while many clashed their shields with crooked swords. 
Ultimately the procession entered a temple erected in the centre of a 
grove of oaks. 


One of the royal palaces erected by Tuathal, king of Ireland, 
A.D. 79 to 100, was in the province of Connaught, where a general con- 
vocation of all inhabitants of the kingdom was summoned each year 
on 1st of May. It was known as the convocation of Visneach, and 
sacrifices were offered to the god Beul, in whose honour two fires were 
kindled in every territory of the kingdom. It was a solemn ceremony 
at this time to drive a number of cattle between the fires. 

Cormac's Glossary mentions an annual convention which took place 
at Uisneach, in Meath, in the month of May, where the men of Ireland 
were wont to exchange their goods and their wares and jewels. 

"And at it they were wont to make a sacrifice to the Arch 

God, whom they adored, whose name was Bel. It was likewise 

their usage to light two fires to Bel in every district in Ireland at 

this season, and to drive a pair of each herd of cattle that the 

district contained between these two fires, as a preservative, to 

guard them against all the diseases of that year. It is from that 

fire thus made that the day on which the noble feast of the apostles, 

Peter and James, is held has been called Bealtine, i.e., Bel's Fire. 

The origin of the proverb ' between two fires ' is also ascribed to 

the passing of beasts about to be sacrificed between these two 

sacrificial fires. This deity, however, according to many authorities, 

appears to have been the principal deity in the Druidical calendar, 

and not the fourth in point of importance, as claimed by some." 

Fire ceremonies, however, are not the exclusive property of any 

one nation or reHgion : they belonged to many, and, even at the present 

day, they may be witnessed frequently in India, Japan, and other 

Oriental countries. Hindoos also hold a festival on May Day known as 

Bhavani ; it is kept by all Hindoos who possess horned cattle for use or 

profit. May Day was also observed formerly as a phallic festival in 

Egypt and India. A somewhat similar festival is kept by the Persians 

towards the end of April. The domestic fires are everywhere extinguished, 

nor would any true believer rekindle them save by a taper lighted at 

the dwelling of the priests. A similar custom also exists at Jerusalem, 

where, annually, at the time of Easter, a sacred fire is supposed to descend 

into the holy sepulchre, and a considerable traffic is done by priests with 

tapers lighted at its flame. Until recently it was the custom of the poor 

people in the counties of Somersetshire and Devonshire to beg fire at 

the doors of the rich on the last day of October. 

Stubbs in his Anatomie of Abuses, declaims against the May Day 
celebrations in the following language : 

"Against Maie-day, every parish, town, or village assemble 
themselves, both men, women, and children ; and either all to- 
gether, or dividing themselves into companies, they goe some to the 


woods and groves, some to the hills and mountains, some to one 
place and some to another, where they spend all the night in pleasant 
pastimes, and in the morning they return bringing with them birch 
boughs and branches of trees to deck their assemblies withal. But 
their chief est jewel they bring from thence is the maie-pole, which 
they bring home with great veneration, as thus : they have twenty 
or fourty yoke of oxen, every one having a sweet nosegaie of flowers 
tied to the tip of his horns, and these oxen drawe home the maypole, 
which they cover all over with flowers and hearbes, bound round 
with strings from the top to the bottome, and sometimes it is 
painted with variable colours, having two or three hundred men, 
women, and children following it with great devotion. And thus 
equipped is reared with handkerchiefs and flaggs streaming on the 
top ; they strawe the ground round about it, they bind green boughs 
about it, thev set up summer halles, bowers, and arbours hard by 
it, and then fall they to banquetting and feasting, to leaping and 
dancing about it as the heathen did at the dedication of their idols. 
I have heard it credebelie reported, by men of great gravity, credite 
and reputation, that of fourtie, threescore, or a hundred maides 
going to the wood, there have scarcelie the third parte of them 
returned home again as they went." 

The maypole was denounced in England by an Act of Parliament 
passed in 1644, but a tall maypole still stands at Slingsby, and at Cawood, 
in Yorkshire, the maypole is still preserved as a memorial of old customs 
that have passed away. Parade Square, at Hugh Town in the Scilly 
Isles, now enclosed, was formerly the scene of the Maypole dance and of 
midsummer night frolics. 

Forlong, in Rivers of Life, says that the maypole was once no 
trumpery matter, for it was the symbol of the " Lord of Life." It was 
called the Column of May, the great standard of justice, a term only 
applied to Toths or Jupiterstators. The maypole marked the boundary 
of the year, the confines of summer and winter, and around it contended 
two troops of youths, one in winter and the other in spring costume, 
the latter, of course, winning with their triumphal branches of May 
flowers. As the fires of love had to be renewed every Midsummer by 
a ray from Sol himself, young men and maidens had to see that their 
Maypole was so firmly set in its place that it would stand there immove- 
able and upright throughout the whole year. Some insisted that it 
should be as high as the mast of a vessel of one hundred tons and be 
worshipped with garlands and dancings round it by the youths of both 
sexes every day throughout May. It equally had its place, and was 
as important as the parish church or the parish stocks ; and if anj^where 
one was wanting, the people selected a suitable tree, fashioned it, and 


brought it triumphantly and erected it in the proper place, there from 
year to year to remain. London was very famous for its maypoles ; 
the parishioners of St. Andrew-under-Shaft set up every May morning 
a shaft that was higher than the church steeple, and after the usual 
observances put it carefully away under the eaves of the houses, which 
were built so as to protect it. The Puritans cut this to pieces, as they 
did all other maypoles they could discover. 

We are not without remnants of the old " Nature-worship " amongst 
us, says Forlong. On the ist of May in every year all the choristers 
at Magdalen College, Oxford, still meet on the summit of their tower, 
150 feet high, and sing a Latin hymn as the sun rises ; whilst the fine 
peal of ten bells simultaneously welcomes the gracious Apollo. In 
former days High Mass was held here, and the rector of Slimbridge, in 
Gloucestershire, it appears, has still to pay j^io yearly for the due per- 
formance of sundry pieces of choir music at 5 a.m. on the top of this 
tower. This May music, Christian priests explain, is for the repose of 
the souls of kings and others, which, of course, is quite an afterthought. 
Early Mass used also to be held in the College chapel, but it is now 
explained that this having been forbidden at the Reformation, music has 
since been performed at the top of the tower ! Formerly after the 
singing of the hymn the choristers used to throw down eggs upon the 
crowd beneath and blow long loud blasts to Sol through bright new tin 
horns. Long before daybreak, also, the youths of both sexes used to 
go to great distances to gather boughs and flowers, reaching home at 
sunrise to deck all doors, windows and selected spots. This May fete 
is said to be the most ancient of all and formerly to have been accom- 
panied with all manner of obscenity and lewdness. 

The festivities of the second great festival of the Druidical year — 
Midsummer Day — also commenced on the preceding eve, and also was 
observed principally in the lighting of fires on eminences all over the 
country. These fires were particularly numerous in Gloucestershire, 
Cornwall, Cambridgeshire, Devonshire, Lancashire, and the northern 
parts of England. Mr. Samuel Laing, who was born in 18 10, relates 
in Human Origins that when he was young these fires were lighted on 
the highest hills of Orkney and the Scottish mainland. "As a boy," 
he says, " I have rushed with my playmates through the smoke of these 
bonfires without a suspicion that we were repeating the homage paid 
to Baal in the Valley of Hinnom." In many country villages and even 
in towns and cities, it was the custom, until quite recently, for old and 
young to meet together and make merry over a large fire kindled in the 
open street, over which they would frequently leap, the younger members 
playing at various games, such as wrestling, running, and dancing." 

The ancient custom of lighting Baal fires on St. John's Day is still 


maintained in Northumberland. A modern writer, the Rev. J. Walker, 
has described the custom which is observed in the remote hamlet of 
Whalton, in Northumberland, in the following words : 

"As Midsummer approaches, much wood is marked out for 
bonfire, sometimes with the consent of the local farmers. When 
this has been cut it is brought into the village with a certain amount 
of formalit%-. On the evening of 4th July, a cart is borrowed and 
loaded with branches of faggots, some of the men get into the 
shafts, more are hooked on by means of long ropes, and then, with 
a good deal of shouting and horn-blowing, the lumbersome vehicle 
is run down into the village. 

On Midsummer Day until recently a pleasure fair was held annually 
at Pelynt, in Cornwall, where from time immemorial a bonfire has been 
lighted on the evening of that day. Bonfires were also formerly lighted 
on the evening of Midsummer Day at Penzance. The fisher-folk of the 
villages near Penzance have transferred the observance of the fire festival 
of Midsummer Eve to the feast of St. Peter, the fisherman's patron 
saint, but the Cornish townsfolk still adhere to Midsummer Eve and 
celebrate the night with bonfires and fireworks. 

To-day, on Midsummer Eve, people in the West Country betake 
themselves to some high ground where they watch for a sight of the 
first fire lighted. If first beheld in the east it is regarded as a good sign. 
Until recently there was in Cornwall a stone at Escals, known as the 
Garrick Zans, which was about nine feet in diameter, three feet high, 
and with a level top. A bonfire was made upon it and danced around 
at Midsummer. When petty offences were committed by unknown 
persons, those who wished to prove their innocence and to discover the 
guilty were accustomed to Hght a furze fire on the Garrick Zans. Each 
person who assisted took a stick of fire from the pile and those who 
could extinguish the fire in their sticks by spitting on them were deemed 
innocent : if any handling a fire-stick failed to do this they were declared 


Wirt Sikes, in British Goblins, published in 1880, gave an elaborate 
description of the festival, as observed in his time, in the following words : 
" Midsummer Eve, or St. John's Eve (23rd June) is still one 
of the ancient Druidic festivals, still liberally honoured in Wales. 
The custom of fighting bonfires survives in some of the villages, 
and at Pontypridd there are ceremonies of a solemn sort. Mid- 
summer Eve in 1878 fell on a Sunday. Upon that day the Druids 
and Bards at Pontypridd held the usual feast of the summer solstice 
in the face of the sun. There is a breezy common on the top of a 
high hill overlooking the town where stands a logan stone and a 
circle of upright stones constituting the temple of the Druids. 


Here it is the custom of the present day adherents of the ancient 
religion, beside which Christianity is an infant, to celebrate their 
rites ' within the folds of the serpent,' a circle marked with the 
signs of the zodiac. The venerable Arch Druid, Myfyr Morganwg, 
stands on the logan stone, with a mistletoe sprig in his buttonhole 
and prays to the god Kali, ' Creator of sun, moon, stars, and 
universe.' Then the white-bearded old man delivers a discourse, 
and new members are initiated into the ' Mysteries.' Occasionally 
these new members are Americans from over the sea, and they 
include both sexes. Large crowds gather to witness the impressive 
spectacle — a shadow of the ancient rites when from Belenian heights 
flamed high the sacrificial fires. It was a former belief that fires 
protected the lands within their light from the machinations of 
sorcery, so that good crops would follow and that their ashes were 
valuable as a medicinal charm." 

To the present day there is a yearly pilgrimage to Stonehenge by 
many who journey thither to watch the sun rise above the Friar's Hill 
Stone, which many contend was erected by the Druids to assist them 
in locating the seasons. 

In the old Cornish dialect Midsummer was known as Goluan, or 
" light," and the Druidical festival became transformed ultimately into 
a Christian festival, the day being dedicated to St. John the Baptist, 
a bright and shining light, the herald of the Christ. 

The Midsummer Day festival was to implore the friendly influences 
of heaven on the fields and that on the eve of the ist of November was 
to return thanks for the favourable season and the fruits of the year. 
At one time the annual festival of the Grand Lodge of English 
Freemasons was always held on St. John the Baptist's Day, and that 
day is stiU reserved by many Lodges in all Constitutions as the day for 
the installation of Masters. It will be remembered that the Grand 
Lodge of England — the Mother Grand Lodge of the World — was founded 
on " St. John's Day in Summer." 1717. 

Archdeacon John Williams, in his Essay on the Non-Hellenic Portion 
of the Latin Language, says that the Cambrian or Welsh form of Fates 
is Ovid, and suggests that probably the name Ovidius is a derivative of 

The fire ceremony was undoubtedly of Aryan origin, since it is found 
in countries other than those in which Druidism prevailed. The festivals 
are continued to-day in the Christian Church. One of the festivals has 
become the festival of St. John the Baptist, the summer solstice, whilst 
the winter solstice has become the festival of Noel, the festival of the 
birth of the Saviour. Thus bishops and archbishops were enjoined by 
Diocletian to have no scruple in preserving the festivals and almost all 


the rites which they found, transforming them into Christian practices 
and customs. 

In Ireland the greatest festival of the year, when all the kings paid 
homage to the supreme king, was the festival of Beltene, which was 
held triennally at Tara on the 24th June. Then assembled the five 
provincial kings and three or four hundred chiefs of clans representative 
of the elite of the nation. The fire of Beltene was regarded as a sacred 
fire. Every Irishman looked upon it as a duty to kindle the home fire 
for the year from it in order to secure the protection of the gods. It 
was at the triennial assembHes at Tara that the laws were revised. The 
gathering was not only religious but also political and social. 

From the Life of St. Patrick we learn that he found this custom 
established in the court of King Laogaire, whose hospitality he accepted, 
although he knew that he was still a pagan. He arrived on the eve of 
the festival, and, according to his custom, lighted the candles in his 
little oratory, for which he was taken severely to task. A royal decree 
existed throughout Ireland extinguishing all fires that day under very 
severe penalties, and fires were only to be re-kindled from the sacred 
fires of Tara. 

The full story is told by Patrick Kennedy, in his Fiction of the Irish 
Celts, as follows : 

"At the moment when the high pile of brushwood, crowned 
with flowers, was about to be Ughted by the hands of the chief 
Druid, the king's eyes sparkled with rage, for eastward a weak 
but steady light was beheld glimmering. ' Who,' said he, ' has 
dared to commit that sacrilege ? ' ' We know not,' was the 
answer from many voices in the assembly. ' King,' said the 
Chief Druid, ' if this fire be not extinguished at once, it will never 
be quenched. It will put out our sacred fires, and the man who 
has enkindled it will overcome thee, and he and his successors rule 
Erinn to the end of time.' ' Go then,' said Leoghaire, ' quench his 
light, and bring him hither.' ' We go,' was the answer, ' but let 
all in the assembly turn their backs towards the magic blaze. 
Meanwhile, let our own sacred fires be kindled, and all the dwellers 
in Erinn rejoice in this light. When we have brought this stranger 
into the presence, let no one rise to do him homage.' 

" So saying, the Chief Druid set fire to the pile, and, accom- 
panied by two other Druids and some guards, proceeded till he 
came to where the saint and his assistants, in their white robes, 
were chanting their hymns. ' What mean these incantations ? ' 
cried the Druid, curiously glancing at the books, so unlike their 
wooden staves and tablets ; ' and why this flame on the eve of 
Bealteine, contrary to the orders of the Ard Righ and the Arch 


Druid ? Accompany me to the assembly at Tara, and account 
for your disobedience ; but first extinguish that ill-boding light.' 

" Of all that sat or stood in the presence of the King, no one 
stood to show respect to the newly-arrived, but Dubthach, an aged 
Druid, and the young poet, Fiech, who thus braved the King's 
displeasure. He, fixing his eyes stern on the saint and his followers, 
sharply addressed them : ' Know ye not the law of this land, that 
whosoever on the eve of Bealteine kindles a fire before the blaze 
is seen from Tara is devoted to death ? ' 

" Patrick then commenced by declaring the unity of the 
Godhead in a Trinity of Persons, the Creation and the Fall of Man, 
the necessity of a Mediator, the Incarnation of the Son of God, 
and our redemption thereby, the necessity of true Christian belief, 
and the rejection of all creature worship, not excepting that of the 
genial, life-cherishing Baal. He then alluded to his former cap- 
tivity and the object of his present mission, and besought the king 
and people not to resist the good impulses which would be vouch- 
safed by God's goodness to every one who did not wilfully offer 
opposition to them. 

" The hearts of the king and the greater part of the Druids 
remained obdurate, but such persuasive strength was vouchsafed 
to the words of the saint that very many hung on his lips with 
veneration and enthusiasm. The Ard Righ observed this with 
regret, but his power was much restricted, and he did not venture 
to express open dissatisfaction. He ordered apartments to be 
reserved for Patrick and his companions, and appointed him to 
argue with his Druids on the morrow. 

" Thousands were assembled next day on the wide plain, and 
the stern-looking Druids, filled the greater part of the space enclosed 
for the disputants. After some explanations and arguments were 
adduced by the missionary which told heavily on the priests, the 
Chief cried out in an arrogant tone : ' If the Son of God has redeemed 
the human race, and if you are sent by Him, work a miracle to prove 
your mission.' ' I will not seek to disturb the order of Providence 
to gratify mere curiosity,' modestly answered the saint. ' Then 
will I approve the truth of Druidic worship by effecting what you fear 
to attempt,' cried the infuriated pagan ; and beginning to describe 
lines in the air with his wand, and to chant spells, a thick veil of 
snow shut out the light and heat of the sun, and covering the ground 
for several feet. An intense cold was felt, and the teeth of everyone 
in the assembly chattered. Cries of discontent arose, and the saint 
addressed the Druid : ' You see how the assembly suffers ; banish 
this snow and cold, and admit the warm sunshine.' ' I cannot do 


so until this hour on to-morrow.' 'Ah, you are powerful for evil, 
not for good. Very different is the gift bestowed on me by the 
messenger of the Giver of All Good.' He made the sign of the 
Cross, invoked the aid of the Holy Trinity, and the snow sank 
in the soil, the grass again emerged green and dry, and the blue 
air again appeared warmed by the bright and comforting sunbeams. 
All the people invoked blessings on the head of the beneficent 

" ' To convince you all,' cried the Druid, ' of our power and 
that of our gods, behold what I am empowered to do.' In a few 
seconds darkness such as seldom shrouds the earth fell on the 
assembly, and they groped about and murmured. Again was the 
thick black cloud dispersed by the prayer of the apostle, and 
thousands of tongues blessed him." 

Fiech, the poet mentioned in this narrative, was converted, and 
was afterwards canonised 

A similar fire-lighting ceremony was formerly observed at Rome 
on the first day of March, which was at one time the first day of the year. 
Philostratus {Heroica, I, p. 40) refers to a like custom that prevailed 
on the isle of Lemnos. In the Highlands of Scotland, and in Sweden 
also, the sacred fire was lighted in the same manner. The kings of France 
did not disdain to kindle the fires of St. John. It is on record that 
Louis XI. kindled the fire at Paris in 1471 and that Louis XIV. once, at 
least, assisted at the ceremony. As these fires are to be found in countries 
where Druidism was not the prevailing religion and was in all probability 
unknown, it is possible that they were the outcome of Aryan teaching 
anterior to the introduction or development of Druidism. 
The following is an extract from Bossuet's Catechism : 

Q. Why does the Church exhibit such joy at the birth of 
St. John the Baptist ? 

A. She only perpetuates the joy which the angel foretold. 
Q. How ? 

A. The angel Gabriel predicted to his father, Zacharias, that 
he woiJd rejoice at the birth of his son, saying, ' Thou shalt call 
his name John, and he shall be a joy.' 

Q. Is that the reason why fires of rejoicing are kindled ? 
A. Yes. 

Q. Does the Church take part in these festivities ] 
A. Yes, because in several dioceses, and particularly in this, 
several parishes make the fire in what is termed an ecclesiastical 

Q. What is the reason for making this fire in an ecclesiastical 
manner ? 


A. In order to banish the superstition attached to the kindling 
of the fire. 

Q. What are these superstitions ? 

A. Dancing around the fire, placing, feasting, singing songs, 
behaving indecentl}', throwing herbs into the fire, and preserving 
brands, cinders, and other things drawn from the fire throughout 
the year following. 

Charlotte Elizabeth, in Personal Recollections, after describing the 
blazing bonfires which take place in Ireland on St. John's Eve, goes on 
to say : 

" But something was to follow which was to puzzle me not a 
little. When the fire burned for some hours, and got low, the 
indispensable part of the ceremony commenced. Every one present 
of the peasantry passed through it, and several children were thrown 
across the sparkling embers, while a wooden frame of some eight 
feet long, with a horse's head affixed to one end, and a large white 
sheet thrown over it, concealing the wood and the man on whose 
head it was carried, made its appearance. This was greeted with 
loud shouts of ' Oh ! the white horse ! ' and having been safely 
carried by the skill of its bearer several times through the fire with 
a leap, it pursued the people, who ran screaming and laughing in 
every direction. I asked what the horse was meant for, and was 
told that it represented ' all cattle.' " 

In Tom Taylor's translation of Hersart de la Villemarque's Ballads 
and Songs of Brittany (published in 1865) we are told that at that date 
the festival of St. John, the Christian substitute for the Druidic sen-feast, 
was still celebrated. Beal-fires blazed on every hillside, round which 
the peasants danced all night, in their holiday clothes, to the sounds of 
the biniou — a kind of rustic hautboy — and the shepherd's horn, or of a 
rude music drawn out of reeds fixed across a copper basin. The girl 
who danced around nine St. John's fires before midnight was sure to 
marry within the year. In many parishes the cur6 himself went in 
procession with banner and cross to light the sacred fire, a brand from 
which was preserved with reverence and placed between a branch of 
box blessed on Palm Sunday and a piece of Twelfth Night cake, and this 
was supposed to preserve the cottage from evil by thunder. The flowers 
of the nosegay which crowned the fire heap were powerful talismans 
against bodily ills. 

In many places in France it was the practice to throw into the 
fire of St. John hampers and baskets of wickerwork containing animals 
— cats, dogs, foxes, and wolves. In several French villages even in the 
eighteenth century, the mayor or someone else in authority would cause 
a dozen or two dozen cats to be sent in a basket to be burnt in the 


" St. John Joy Fire." This custom existed even at Paris and was not 
suppressed until the reign of Louis XIV. 

In remote parts of Brittany a festival, evidently of Druidical origin, 
is held every June. The youths and maidens from the surrounding 
country over the age of sixteen and still unmarried assemble around a 
moss-grown dolmen. The youths decorate their hats with green ears 
of corn and the maidens wear in their bosoms posies of the flowers of 
flax. These are deposited on the dolmen in the superstitious belief 
that so long as the objects of their affections remain faithful, the ears 
of corn and the flowers of flax wiU remain unwithered. The festival 
is opened by a youth who is generally chosen for his beauty, commanding 
height, and gay dress. He wears in his buttonhole a favour of blue, 
green and white ribbons. He selects a partner, on whose finger he sHps 
a ring, and with her opens the dance round the dolmen, a song meanwhile 
being sung. In former times the dance was opened by the parish priest, 
who wore a tri-coloured vestment of blue, green and white, and it is a 
local tradition that in Druidical times the dance was opened by the 
Arch Druid himself. 

In several parts of the country huge bonfires are lighted every year 
on St. John's Eve, as the holy flame is considered essential to the cattle 
as a preservative from contagious disorders. 

In the South Harz and in Thuringia the so-called St. John's fires 
are common. In Edersleben, near Sangerhausen, the proceeding is as 
follows : A high pole is set up, on which a tar barrel is placed, having 
a chain drawn through it which reaches to the ground. When it is on 
fire they swing the barrel round the pole amid great rejoicing. In this 
neighbourhood of Baruth, down to recent times, St. John's fires were 
lighted, as well as in the Catholic parts of Westphalia. 

In heathen mythology the summer solstice was a day dedicated 
to the sun, and was believed to be a day on which witches held their 
festivities. St. John's Wort was their symbolical plant, and people 
were wont to judge from it whether their future would be lucky or 
unlucky ; as it grew they read in its progressive character their future 
lot. The Christians dedicated this festive period to St. John the Baptist, 
and the sacred plant was named St. John's Wort, or toor, and became 
a talisman against evil. In one of the old romantic ballads, a young 
lady falls in love with a demon, who tells her : 
" Gin you wish to be Leman mine 
Lay aside the St. John's Wort and the vervain." 
When hung up on St. John's Day together with a cross over the doors 
of houses it kept out the devil and other evil spirits. To gather the root 
on St. John's Day morning at sunrise, and retain it in the house, gave 


luck to the family in their undertakings, especially to those begun on 
that day. 

The most important of all Druidical festivals, however, was held 
on the eve of the ist of November, when all the people throughout the 
country extinguished their fires and every master of a family was obliged 
to take home with him a portion of the consecrated fire and kindle with 
it the fire in his house. This sacred fire was lighted as a thanksgiving 
for the completion of the harvest. If any man had not paid his tithes 
by the last day of October in each year, he was not allowed to have 
even a spark from the holy fires, nor dare any neighbour give him a portion 
under the pain of excommunication, a punishment worse than death. 

At the Hallowe'en festival, which, in many parts of the Highlands, 
still retains its GaeHc name of Samh-in, or " the fire of peace," tlie Druids 
met annually to adjust all disputes and to decide controversies. 
Miss Catherine Sinclair, in Hill and P' alley, says : 

" The same animated celebration of All Saints' Eve takes place 
among the Welsh peasantry that Burns describes in his poem on 
Hallowe'en, and all superstitious ceremonies seem exactly similar to 
those in Scotland. Apples and tallow candles are hung alternately 
from the cottage ceiling so close together that those who leap up 
to catch them in their mouths can scarcely touch the one without 
tasting the other, though the greatest proof of skill and good fortune 
is to succeed in doing so." 

MacLauchlan, in The Early Scottish Church, a work published in 
1865, says : 

" There are places in Scotland where within the memory of 
living men the teine eigin, or ' forced fire,' was lighted once every 
year by the rubbing of two pieces of wood together, while every 
fire in the neighbourhood was extinguished in order that they might 
be lighted anew from this sacred source." 

It w-as not until 1220 that Loundres, Archbishop of Dublin 
extinguished the perpetual fire which was kept in a small cell near the 
church of Kildare, but so firmly rooted was the veneration for this fire 
that it was relighted in a few years and actually kept burning until the 
suppression of the monasteries. A writer in the Gentleman's Magazine, 
1795, says that being in Ireland the day before Midsummer he was 
told that in the evening he should see " the lighting of fires in honour 
of the sun " at midnight. 

Tuathal ordered a fire to be kindled annually on the eve of 1st of 
November at his royal seat at Tiachtga for the purpose of summoning 
the priests, augurs, and Druids in order that they might consume the 
sacrifices which were offered to the gods. It was established under the 
penalty of a heavy fine that no other fire should be kindled upon that 


night throughout the kingdom, so that the fire that was to be used in 
the country was to be derived from this holy fire ; for which privilege 
the people were to pay a Scroball, amounting to threepence each year 
to the King of Munster. 

These fires were a feature of Irish Druidism, although the Irish 
Druids had no particular veneration for the oak, and the mistletoe was 
unknown in Ireland until the nineteenth century. In an ancient tract 
called Dinnseanchus, there is a legendary account of Midhe, son of 
Brath, son of Detha, who is said to have been the first to light a fire 
for the sons of the Milesians on the hill of Uisnech in Westmeath, which 
continued to burn for seven years, and from this fire every chief fire in 
Erin used to be lighted. The successor of Midhe was entitled to a sack 
of wine and a pig from every house in Erin every year. The Irish 
Druids, however, said that it was an insult to them to have this fire 
ignited in the country, and all the Druids of Erin came into the house 
to take council, but Midhe had all their tongues cut out, and he buried 
the tongues in the earth of Uisnech and then sat over them, upon which 
his mother exclaimed : " It is uisnech (i.e., proudly) you sit up there 
this night." 

The third day of the Feis, or Convention, of Tara, instituted by 
Ollamh Fodhla, was devoted to the feast of Saman, or the moon. Saman, 
or Samhen, has also been rendered " heaven." At the conclusion of 
the festival the fire of Saman was lighted and the tutelary divinities 

Vallancey says that among the Irish Hallowmas Day is known as 
La Samhna, that November was the month of mourning, being the season 
appointed by the Druids for the solemn intercession of the quick for the 
souls of the dead, or those who had departed this life within the space 
of the year. The first day of November was dedicated to the angel 
presiding over fruits, seeds, etc., and was therefore named La Mas 
Ushal, or " the day of the apple fruit," and being pronounced Lamasool, 
has been corrupted into " Lambswool," the name given to a composition 
made on this eve, of roasted apples, sugar, and ale. The festival lasted 
until the beginning of December, which month was named Mi Nolagh, 
or the month of the new born, from the Hebrew word Nolah, " to bring 
forth young," whence the French word Noel and the Irish Nolagh, or 
Christmas Day. The feast of Murdad, the angel of the ancient Persians, 
who presided over fruit, fell also on ist November, and it is not im- 
possible, says Vallancey, that the Irish name for agrimony, viz., murdrad, 
may have been derived from this source. 

So great was the hold of these ceremonies upon the people that the 
Christian priests were unable to abolish them and therefore transferred 
them to Christian observances. Thus St. John the Baptist's Day came 


to be observed by the building up of large fires of which bones formed 
part of the constituents, while the customs of driving cattle through 
the flames and of people leaping over them were still retained. The 
cattle were driven through the flames in substitution for the actual sacrifice 
and the bones were, in all probability, burned as substitutes for the actual 
cattle. From this custom sprang the term " bone fire," corrupted into 
" bonfire." 

These fires were interdicted at the sixth Council of Constantinople, 
held in A.D. 680, in the following words : 

" These Bonefires that are kindled by certain people on New 
Moones before their shops and houses, over which also they are 
ridiculously and follishly to leape, by a certain ancient custome, 
we command from henceforth to cease. Whoever therefore shall 
doe any such thing ; if he be a clergyman, let him be deposed ; if 
a lavman, let him be excommunicated ; for in the fourth book of 
the Kings it is thus written : 'And Manasseh built an altar to all 
the host of heaven, in the two courts of the Lord's house, and made 
his children to pass through the fire.' " 

Prynne, in his Histriomastix, says : " Bonefires therefore had their 
originall from this idolatrous custome, as this General Councill hath 
defined ; therefore all Christians should avoid them." 

They were further interdicted by the Synodus Francisca under 
Pope Zachary when " the sacrilegious fires which they call Nedri (or 
Bonefires) and all other observations of the Pagans whatsoever " were 
further interdicted. 

The observance of the Druidical New Year on the loth of March 
was also accompanied by the usual Hghting of fires on the elevations of 
the country. 

The festival of the 25th of December also was celebrated by the 
Druids, both in Great Britain and Ireland, with great fires lighted on 
the tops of hills which were re-lighted twelve days afterwards on what 
is known as the feast of the Epiphany. The mistletoe was honoured 
by the Druids as a divine plant. It was known to them as the Ollyach, 
or the " all-heal," and the tree on which it grew, frequently, in Britain, 
the oak, was called the pren azvyr, or " the celestial tree." The cutting 
of the mistletoe, with a golden knife, was the occasion of a special religious 

The oak was reverenced by the Druids as a sacred tree, and oak 
leaves were used in many of their most solemn services. The growth 
of mistletoe upon an oak was, therefore, to the Druid a sign that the 
tree was particularly sacred, for mistletoe does not commonly grow 
upon the oak, and its presence enhanced the sanctity and mystery of 
the tree. There is an oak tree in Lord Henry Somerset's park at Eastnor, 


near Ledbury, at the western base of the Malvern Hills, on which the 
mistletoe grows, and at Rosenau, Datchct, on the bank of the Thames, 
mistletoe could, until quite recently, be seen growing on an acacaia. 
Pliny refers to the Druidical belief that whatever grew on an oak was 
sent from Heaven and was a sign that the tree had been chosen by the 
gods. Hence, when cut, it was not allowed to fall to the ground and 
become profane and thus lose its marvellous virtue. 

Sir John Colbatch, a famous physician, was the author of A Disser- 
tation concerning Mistletoe, a most wonderful specific remedy for the cure 
of convulsive distempers, and in some country places there is still a lingering 
belief in the magical powers of the mistletoe, particularly in curing 
animals of diseases. It was once known as omnia sanane. In the reign 
of George I. it was called lignum sanctae crucis. There are several 
references to It in English literature. In Holstein, the mistletoe is 
believed to confer the power of ghost-seeing upon its possessor. At 
Glastonbury, once possibly a stronghold of Druidism, which, according 
to tradition, contains the tomb of the great British hero. King Arthur, 
the mistletoe hangs in thick clusters. 

The Druids had a remarkable veneration for the number three, and 
the mistletoe is said to have been regarded by them as sacred because 
not only its berries, but its leaves also, grew in clusters of three united 
to one stock. The mistletoe was invested with a character so holy that 
it was considered a profanation to touch it with fingers. The Arch 
Druid alone was deemed worthy to pluck the mistletoe, and he first 
carefully purified himself with consecrated water. The golden hook 
held in his left hand must never have been used before. Some doubt 
has been cast by Dr. Lort as to whether gold really formed the substance 
of the sickle, whether aerea should not be the word instead of aurea, 
and Virgil, in the Aeneii, iv, 513, expressly says that herbs for magical 
purposes were cut with brazen sickles. 

The following catechism relating to the gathering of the mistletoe 
is taken from C. Mclntyre North's The Book of the Club of True High- 
landers : 

Q. When is the sacred plant gathered ? 

A. At the new moon next the winter solstice, they thus gather 
the sacred plant : Having made all due preparation for the sacrifice 
and the banquet beneath the trees, they bring thither two white 
bulls, the horns of which are bound then for the first time. Clad 
in a white robe the priest ascends the tree, and cuts the mistletoe 
with a golden sickle, which is received by others in a white cloak. 
The chief Druid then says : ' The gift in the golden horn, the golden 
horn in the hand, the hand on the knife, the knife on the leader of 
the herd. Sincerely I worship thee, Beli, giver of good, and Manhogan 


the king, who preserves the honour of Bel, the Island of Beh.' 
They then immolate the victims, offering up their prayer that BeU 
will render this gift of his propitious to those to whom he has so 
granted it. 

Q. Name some of the other sacred feasts. 
A. The feast of Belteine, when the faithful offer sacrifices to 
Hu and Ked, when the king receives a horse and arms from each 
lord of the manor or chieftains of the lands. The day on which 
the great fire is kindled (according to O'Curry this was 31st of 
October) to summon the priest to consume the offered sacrifice ; 
and every other fire in the country extinguished ; so that the 
faithful use only the sacred fire to rekindle the house fire, and 
for which each pays a screpall. And the great feast which is held 
three days before and three days after Samhain, in every third year 
when, if any person commits a crime during this period, the penalty 
is instant death. 

The oak has always and everywhere been the tree of the gods. 
In the North the oak was under the special protection of Thor, the 
hammer-wielding god, whose name is handed down to us in the word 
" thunder." The oaks of Zeus belted his oracle at Dodona. 

Aubrey, in his History of Surrey, says : 

" It has not been usually observed that to cut oakwood is 
unfortunate. There was at Norwood one oak that had mistletoe, a 
timber tree, which was felled about 1657. Some persons cut this 
mistletoe for some apothecaries in London, and sold them a quantity 
for ten shilUngs each time, and left only one branch remaining for 
more to sprout out. One fell lame shortly after; soon after each of 
the others lost an eye ; and he that felled the tree, though warned 
of these misfortunes of the other men, would, notwithstanding, 
adventure to do it, and shortly after broke his leg, as if the 
Hamadryades had resolved to take an ample revenge for the injury 
done to this sacred and venerable oak. I cannot omit here taking 
notice of the great misfortunes in the family of the Earl of Winchelsea, 
who, at Eastwell, in Kent, felled down a most curious grove of 
oaks, near his own noble seat, and gave the first blow with his 
own hands. Shortly after his countess died in her bed suddenly, 
and his eldest son, the Lord Maidstone, was killed at sea by a 
cannon ball." 

Towards the end of the eighteenth century Mr. Philip Rashleigh 
found at the bottom of a mine near the River Powey, ten fathoms below 
the surface of the earth, a brass hook corresponding to the description 
given of the Druidical hook. 


A bas-relief discovered at Autun has been described bv Aubrey, 
in his Antiquities of Autun, in which a Druid is represented " crowned 
with oaken leaves." Another Druid, by his side, has in his hand a crescent 
resembUng the moon at six days old. It was a rule among the Druids 
not to celebrate any ceremony in which mistletoe formed a part except 
on the sixth day of the moon. The Britons, according to Pliny, " began 
their months and years when the moon was six days old, because then 
she is thought to be of great power and force sufficient, but is not yet 
come to her half light and the end of her first quarter." 

The power of the mistletoe, contended the Druids, made women 

Sir Walter Scott, in Marmion, refers to the mistletoe in : 
" Forth to the woods did merry men go 
To gather in the mistletoe." 
Gay, in Trivia, writes : 

" Now with bright holly all the temple strew 
With laurel green and sacred mistletoe." 
while Herrick in Hesperides, says : 

" Down with the rosemary and days, 
Down with the mistletoe ; 
Instead of holly now upraise 
The greener box for show." 
Shakespeare has only one allusion to the mistletoe, and that an 
uncomplimentary one : 

" Trees, though summer, yet forlorn and lean, 
O'er come with moss and baleful mistletoe." 
Watts thus apostrophies the plant : 

" Hail, Hail to its leaves of rich green, 
With pearls that are fit for a queen." 
Pliny, in his Natural History, gives a description of the plant and 
the mode of gathering it. He says (Book xvi, c. 44) : 

" The Druids, for so call they their Magi, have nothing more 
sacred than the mistletoe, and the tree on which it grows, provided 
it be the oak. They select a particular grove of oaks and perform 
no sacred rites without oak leaves, so that from this custom they 
may seem to have been called Druids (Oakites), according to the 
Greek interpretation of that word. They reckon whatever grows 
on these trees is sent down from Heaven and a proof that the tree 
itself is chosen by Deity. But the mistletoe is very rarely found 
and when found is sought after with the greatest religious ardour, 
and principally in the sixth moon, which is the beginning of their 
months and years, and when the tree is thirty years old it is then 
not half-grown only but has attained its full vigour. They call it 


All-heal (UU-ice) by a word in their own language, and having 

proper sacrifices and feasts under the trees with great solemnity 

bring up two white buUs, whose horns are then first bound. The 

priest, clothed in a white surpHce, ascends the tree and cuts it off 

with a golden knife, and it is received in a white sheet. Then they 

sacrifice the victims and pray that God would render his own gift 

prosperous to those on whom He has bestowed it. They reckon 

the mistletoe administered as a potion can impart fecundity to any 

barren animal and that it is a remedy against all kinds of poision." 

The mistletoe was, and is, more rare even in Scotland than in 

England, where any variety of the plant is regarded as a rarity. In 

the Statistical Account of Scotland the minister of Kiltarility, in 

Inverness-shire, writes : " In Lovat's garden are a number of standard 

trees. On two standard apple trees here mistltoe {sic) grows, which 

is a very rare plant in this country." There are references in the writings 

of the Bards to the use of tallies or sprigs cut from a fruit-bearing tree, 

a custom which Tacitus ascribes to the Germans. 

Among the Druidical ceremonies may be included the turnings of 
the body during the times of worship. The numerous round monu- 
ments in Damonium are said to have been formed for the purpose of 
this mysterious rite. In several of the Scottish isles the people never 
approached " the fire-haUowed kurne " without walking round it three 
times from east to west in accordance with the course of the sun. The 
Druids turned sun-ways in order to bless and worship the gods, and the 
opposite way when they wished to curse and destroy their enemies. 
On the point of facing the east in religious ceremonial, Hurd, in his 
Ceremonies and Rites, says : 

" This ceremony was peculiar to all those heathen nations who 

lived westward of the Hellespont, as well as the ancient Britons ; 

and although they had all formed the most unworthy notions of 

the Divine Being, yet the hope of a great person being born in the 

East seems to have prevailed everywhere among them. This 

undoubtedly was handed down to them by tradition and there is 

great reason to beheve that they expected (like Socrates in Plato) 

he would rectify all the abuses that had crept into their rehgion, 

and that he would reign for ever among men. Thus in every nation 

we meet with something of a traditional hope of the coming of the 

Messiah, although some are ignorant of the character he is to assume." 

Plutarch says that the Druids observed a feast in honour of Saturn 

every thirty years, the time taken by the planet Saturn to complete its 

course round the sun ; and that the festival took place on its entrance 

into the second sign — Taurus — of the zodiac. 


At St. Maughold's Well, in the Isle of Man, there was formerly a 
custom, believed to be of Druidical origin, of resorting thither on the 
first Sunday in August to drink of the water to which medicinal virtues 
were ascribed. 

At St. Ives, in Cornwall, once every five years pubhc games are 
held round the monument of one, John KeriU, a barrister, who died in 
1 79 1, and who caused to be erected in his lifetime a pyramid of granite 
to his own memory. A band of four matrons and ten virgins dressed 
in white silk walk in pairs to the summit of a hill, accompanied by 
musicians. They dance a merry measure, after which they chant a 
psalm " in imitation of the Druids round the cromlechs of the departed 
brave." Then the Mayor of St. Ives appears in his official robes, and 
wrestling, racing and rowing are duly accomplished by athletic com- 
petitors, the winners receiving appropriate rewards. 

In 1792 an eflPort was made to revive the annual meetings of the 
Bards. On 2nd September of that year, the day of the autumnal equinox, 
some Welsh Bards resident in London assembled in congress on Primrose 
Hill, when the wonted ceremonies were observed. A circle of stones 
was formed, in the middle of which was the Maen Gorsedd, on which a 
naked sword being placed, all the Bards assisting to sheathe it. This 
was attended by a proclamation that the Bards of the island of Britain 
were the heralds and ministers of peace and never bore a naked weapon 
in the presence of any one ; nor was it lawful for any person to bear one, 
on any pretence, in their presence. 

It was an unwritten law of the Bards that, as a community, their 
whole life and actions were to be governed by the principle that what 
is wrong in pubhc must be wrong in private, and the proverb that 
governed the doings of their circles was : " In the face of the sun and 
the eye of Light." Hence one reason for holding their meetings in the 
open air and in the broad daylight. 

In Switzerland the most important day of the summer is St. John's 
Day, 24th of June. Certain herbs only acquire virtue from being 
gathered on that date ; in Valais a bunch of nine different plants is then 
picked and fastened to the house to protect it. A bath on the night of 
St. John's Day has curative properties though in some places it is held 
to be dangerous, as St. John's night might claim a victim. " On this 
day three persons must perish, one in the air, one by fire, and one by 
water." Bonfires on the hills are restricted to French Switzerland. 

In the Border counties on Hallowe'en, New Year's Day, and Mid- 
summer Eve, and in Ireland on May Day Eve, the fire is not permitted 
to go out, for, if extinguished, none would be given or good luck would 



James Napier, in Folk Lore, quotes from Train's description of a 
ceremony witnessed in 18 10 while at Balnaguard, a village of Perthshire, 
as a charm to ward ofi the " Black Haunch," an infectious cattle disease. 
He says : 

"All fires are extinguished between the two nearest rivers, 
and all the people within that boundary convene in a convenient 
place, where they erect a machine, as above described ; and after 
they have commenced, they continue night and day until they have 
forced fire by the friction of two sticks. Every person must perform 
a portion of this labour, or touch the machine in order not to break 
the charm. During the continuance of the ceremony, they appear 
melancholy and dejected, but when the fire, which they say is 
brought from heaven by an angel, blazes in the tow, they resume 
their wonted gaiety ; and while one part of the company is employed 
in feeding the flame, the others drive all the cattle in the neigh- 
bourhood over it. When this ceremonv is ended, they consider the 
cure complete ; after which they drink whisky, and dance to the 
bagpipe or fiddle round the celestial fire till the last spark is 



The Druidical religion and philosophy were so like to the Pythagorean 
system that some writers have arrived at the conclusion that the one was 
borrowed from the other, but the borrower is assumed generally to be 
Pythagoras, and not the Druids. Dr. Abraham Rees, in his Cyclopaedia, 
is of opinion that Pythagoras himself learned and adopted some of the 
opinions of the Bards, and imparted to these some of his own thoughts 
and discoveries. Milton states that : " The studies of learning in the 
deepest sciences have been so eminent among us that writers of good 
antiquity have been persuaded that even the school of Pythagoras and 
the Persian wisdom took beginning from the philosophy of this island." 
Borlase, in his Antiquities of Cornwall, expressed the belief that long 
before Greece could boast of her wise men, Britain was famous for 
learning, philosophy, and wisdom, and that the Greek philosophers were 
really beholden to our Bards whom they copied in many particulars. 
In the opinion of Toland, no heathen priesthood ever attained the per- 
fection of the Druidical, which he describes as being " far more exquisite 
than any other system, as having been much better calculated to beget 
ignorance and an implicit disposition in the people, no less than to 
procure power and profit to the priests." 

Both the Druidic and Pythagorean alphabets were Etruscan in 
character. The three Orders of Druidism correspond to the three orders 
of Pythagorics, Pythagoreans, and Pythagorists. Each cultivated the 
study of theosoph)', metaphysics, ethics, physics, the magnitude and 
form of the earth, the motions of the heavens and stars, medicine, and 
magic. Pythagoras enjoined the rule of conceaUng philosophy from the 
uninitiated and forbade it to be written down. 

The points of resemblance between Druidism and Brahmanism are 
very striking. In ancient times, according to Brahmanical lore, a great 
intercourse existed between India and the countries in the West, and the 
British Isles are said to have been described in the Puranas as Breta- 


sfhan, or " The Place of Religious Duty." Faber, in his Cabiri, gives 
expression to the opinion that the undoubted resemblance which existed 
between Brahmanism and Druidism originated probably from the Asiatic 
extraction of the Druids. The various Japhetic tribes which peopled 
Europe all came out of the widely-extended regions of Tartary ; and 
many of them, among whom were doubtless the Celtic Druids, came 
from the neighbourhood of the Indian Caucasus. The Brahmans made 
it a rule never to reveal to the uninitiated the secret doctrine of their 
religion and, in like manner, the Druids concealed from strangers and 
the uninitiated, even of their own country, the sacred mysteries of their 
religion. There was throughout India a veneration for the serpent, 
and amongst the Druids there was a superstitious reverence for the 
Anguinum, or serpents' egg, and many of their temples were constructed 
in serpentine form. The Druids regarded it as unlawful to eat ducks, 
hens, and other winged animals. The Brahmans, of course, looked 
upon the kilhng of any live animal as unlawful and abstained from 
eating anything that had been killed. The Brahmans carried a sacred 
staff and a consecrated wand or magic rod was carried by every Druid 
as a sign of his initiation. Brahma is generally represented as holding 
in his hand a wheel or circle, and the circle was regarded by the Druids 
as a symbol both of the sun and of eternity. Each had a veneration 
for white horses and for vast pyramidical heaps of stones. The Indian 
stone temples were, for the most part, uncovered or in the open, like 
Stonehenge, Abury and many other sites. Each had solemn rites of 
initiation ; in each religion the priests wore tiaras and white robes, 
not unlike the Persian Mithra. Just as the Brahmans were the most 
venerated caste in India, so the Druids were regarded as superior even 
to the nobility of Britain. Belief in the immortality of the soul was 
the basic article in each creed, combined in both with the belief in trans- 
migration. Each had severities of discipline and penitential exercises. 
Maurice is of the opinion that " it is impossible to doubt that at some 
remote period the two orders were united, or, at least, were educated in 
the same grand school with the Magi of Persia and the seers of Babylon," 
while Sir W. Jones contends that a race of Brahmans anciently sat on 
the throne of Persia. Barrow, in Volume II. of Asiatic Researches, 
says : "' That the Druids were Brahmans is beyond the least shadow 
of a doubt, but that they were all murdered and their sciences lost, is 
out of aU bounds of probability : it is much more likely that they turned 
schoolmasters. Freemasons, and fortune-tellers ; and, in this way, part 
of their sciences might easily descend to posterity, as we find they have 

Francklin, in his Tenets and Doctrines of the Jeynes and Boodhists, 
sums up the striking similarity in the following words : 


" The similarity of the laws and customs of the Druids and 
ancient Brahmans has been remarked by a variety of writers, and 
it is beyond doubt that the hierarchy of the Druids was a rami- 
fication of the worship of the Hindoos : their ofhces and privileges 
were of a similar nature, they administered all the religious ceremonies, 
they managed the sacrifices, and instructed the people, by whom 
to the present day, among the Hindoos, they were considered as the 
oracles and depositaries of everything learned and instructive 
which belonged to the times ; above all, Abaris, or Bladud, the 
high priest of the Druids, who is said to have instructed Pythagoras, 
the Samian philosopher, was, in fact, no other than the Puttee 
Cooroo (lord of priests) of Hindoostan, and the Archimagus, or 
Peer-i-Moghaun of the Persians." 

There is also a striking resemblance between Druidism and Judaism. 
Not only did each religion inculcate a belief in a Supreme Being, but the 
name given to that Supreme by each is akin. The Jewish name for 
the Supreme Being, Jehovah, means " The Self-Existent," or, to adopt 
the term employed by Maimonides, " The Eternal." Among the Druids, 
Bel was the name given to the Supreme, the meaning of which is " He 
that is." The name Ptah, also, it may be pointed out, means " I am 
all that has been, is, or shall be." The Hebrews were accustomed to 
worship the Eternal under the name of Baal. Thus we read in Hosea ii., 
15 : "And it shall be at that day, saith the Lord, that thou shalt call 
me Ishi, and shalt call me no more Baal." This was because the Israelites 
had become idolaters and served other deities under the name of BaaUm. 
Each possessed a priest vested with supreme authority, and had three 
classes or orders of sacred men. The Jews had their priests or judges, 
prophets, and scribes, while among the adherents of the Druidical faith 
there were the Druids, Bards, and Vates. Each measured time by night 
and day. Grove worship was common to both Israelite and Druid, and 
it is clear from the many references to the oak in the Old Testament 
that it was regarded as a sacred tree. The same Hebrew word which 
signifies " oak " also means " an oath," and the root of this word is 
" mighty," or " strong," the root of the name given to the Deity in 
many languages. The angel (or messenger) of the Eternal came and sat 
under the oak at Ophrah when sent to deliver a message to Gideon 
(Judges vi., 11). A similar incident is recorded in I. Kings xiii., 14. 
in Ezekiel vi., 13, and Hosea iv., 13, reference is made to the practice 
of offering up incense under the oak. It was at the oak of Moreh 
(Genesis xii., 6, R.V.) that the Eternal appeared to Abram, and it was 
there that Abram built an altar. Joshua (xxiv., 26) wrote particulars 
of the covenant in a book of the law of God and took a great stone and 
set it up under an oak tree, by the sanctuary of the Eternal. Amongst 


the Jews the oak was occasionally a burying-place. Deborah, Rebekah's 
nurse, was buried beneath Bethel, under an oak (Genesis xxxv., 8), and 
Saul and his sons were buried under an oak (I. Chronicles x., 12). 
Abraham planted a grove of trees as a retreat of silence and solitude 
and prayer, but, in latter times, the denunciations of heaven were 
launched against groves, because they were used by idolaters, or the 
followers of a different religion. The May Day festival was in honour 
of Spring, when the sun entered the sign of Taurus, the bull. Hence 
the calves or bulls adored by the Israelites were golden, because gold 
was a fitting representation of the benign sun, then beginning to shed 
his glittering beauties at the approach of Spring. By the ancient 
Britons, says Faber, in his Pagan Idolatry, the bull was not only reverenced 
in a very high degree, but he was likewise exhibited by them exactly 
in the same manner as he was by the Egyptians, the Hindoos, and the 
Greeks. He was the symbol of their great god, Hu, the whole of whose 
character and attributes prove him to be one with Osiris, Siva, and 
Bacchus, all of which deities were represented by living bulls. The oak 
also has ever been held in veneration by all nations and peoples. In 
Rome an oaken garland or crown was called corona civica, and was 
bestowed only upon him who had saved a citizen's life, though in process 
of time it came to be bestowed upon an official if he spared a Roman 
citizen when he had power to kill him. In Ovid's time the Emperor 
had always standing before his gates an oak tree, in the midst of two 
laurels, as an emblem denoting two worthy virtues, required in all 
emperors and princes ; first, such whereby the enemy might be con- 
quered ; secondly, such whereby the citizens might be saved. In 
Sweden, the ancient inhabitants held in reverence and awe the sacred 
groves and trees, because they regarded them as given by the Supreme 
as ornaments to his noble creation, as well as to afford protection to the 
husbandman and cattle against the scorching heat of the midday sun. 
The Dryopes, who lived near to Thibet, are said to have been named 
from drus, an oak, and ops, the voice, and Pococke claims that they 
are identical with the Druids. Dr. Stukeley, as already noted, calls 
Abraham " the first Druid," in reference to the oak grove at Beersheba. 
Although Dr. Stukeley has been vindicated so amply by Mr. Crawford, 
care must be exercised in accepting some of his theories, which arc 
rather fanciful. 

The affinity between Druidism and the religion of the Persians is 
also strongly marked. The Druids held that the Supreme Being was 
too exalted to be confined within temples made with hands. Their 
open-air temples were circular in form, and in their worship they made 
use of the circle to intimate that God was to be found in every direction. 
Cyrus, in Xenophon, sacrifices to Jupiter, the sun, and the rest of the 


gods, upon the summits of mountains, " as the Persians were wont to 
sacrifice." The Persians taught that the celestial expanse was their 
Jupiter, whom they worshipped in the open air. In like manner to the 
Druids, the Persians forbade the introduction of images into their temples, 
for they held that the Supreme was too refined to be represented by 
any figure, a belief also taught by Mohammed and held firmly by all Moslems 
to the present day. The Druids were not idol worshippers, and they 
would not sanction the setting up of any image or statue, although 
certain stones, rough as taken from the quarry and consecrated according 
to ritual, are said to have been erected in retired spots to represent 
Isis, or Ceridwen, British divinities whose merits were eulogised by the 
Bards. Some of the Persian temples were caverns in rocks, either natural 
or artificial. They had likewise Puratheia, or open temples, for the 
celebration of their rites of fire. The Persians also venerated the serpent, 
which they regarded as a representation of their god Mithras, who, 
according to their teaching, was born from a rock. The Druids had 
their sacred fires and the Persians had their holy flame, to which they 
paid divine honours, and they, like the Druids, lighted festal fires at 
the return of the consecrated season. The Druids considered their 
fires to be antidotes against the diseases of cattle, and the Persians 
extended their powerful influence to the human body, placing their sick 
within the range of the gentle heat of the fire, in order that they might 
recover the more quickly. The Druids compelled the Britons at a 
certain season of the year, to extinguish all their fires and to re-kindle 
them from the sacred fire, a toll being exacted, and, with some trifling 
variations, a similar custom prevails in Persia to the present day. In 
the art of divination both the Druids and the Persians are said to have 
been proficient ; both also regarded the mistletoe as a sacred plant. 
The Druids regarded it as unlawful and a sacrilege to cut the mistletoe 
with anything but a golden scythe, and the Persians used a knife con- 
secrated and set aside for that special purpose. Both knew the power 
of excommunication and cast out and expelled from their communion 
the abandoned and impenitent transgressors of their holy laws. In 
Mithraic worship there were ceremonial bull fights annually on the 
first of May, but the maypole festival was common to all ancient countries 
and is generally believed to have had a Phallic origin. Cicero says that 
none was qualified to be king of Persia who had not first learned the 
doctrine and science of the Magi. The Persians, even in ages when 
temples were common in all other countries, had no temples made with 
human skill, which was the reason, some think, why Xerxes burned and 
demolished the temples of Greece. Borlase, as did Strabo, saw much 
similarity between the Magi and the Druids ; each carried in the hand 
during the celebration of sacred rites, a bunch of plants : that of the 


Magi was the Horn, or Barsum, which closely resembled the mistletoe. 
Dr. Stukeley is of opinion that this parasite is the same as that mentioned 
in Isaiah vi., 13. It is generally agreed by commentators that the 
" tiel " tree of the translators should be rendered " oak," or a species 
of sacred lime, having purple flowers, like those of the vine, growing 
in bunches, with a fruit of ruddy purple, the size of a juniper berry. 
It will be noticed that it is winter time with this tree, and Dr. Stukeley 
maintains that the passage should be translated : "As an oak, whose 
plant is alive upon it," which, says Isaiah, " shall be eaten," so that 
here we have the same idea in regard to the all-heal, or mistletoe, as 
was the case with the Hom. 

A similarity also existed, both in belief and practice, between 
Druidism and the religion of the Phoenicians. Pinkarton, in his Enquiry 
into the History of Scotland, says that Druidism was palpably Phoenician, 
and Sammes remarks that " the customs, religion, idols, offices, and 
dignities of the ancient Britons are all clearly Phoenician." 

There are many points of affinity between Druidism and the religion 
of Greece. The Greeks worshipped their gods upon the tops of mountains. 
Jupiter, in Homer, commends Hector for the many sacrifices he had offered 
upon the top of Ida. 

" My heart partakes the generous Hector's pain ; 
Hector, whose zeal whole hecatombs has slain, 
Whose grateful fumes the gods received with joy, 
From Ida's summits and the towers of Troy. 

They also worshipped in groves of trees, and looked upon the oak as 
the oldest tree. It was so common to erect altars and temples in groves, 
and to dedicate them to religious uses, that all sacred places, as we 
learn from Strabo, even those where no trees were to be seen, were 
called groves. The solitude of groves was regarded as creative of religious 
awe and reverence in the minds of the people. Pliny says that in groves 
the very silence of the place became the object of adoration. Ovid says : 
" A darksome grove of oak was spread out near. 
Whose gloom oppressive said : 'A god dwells here.' " 
The number three was commonly observed in the rehgious ceremonies 
of the Greeks. Thus, in Ovid : 

" Jerque senem flamma, ter aqua, ter sulphure lustrat." 
It was customary for the Greeks on some occasions to dance round 
the altars while they sang their sacred hymns, which consisted of three 
stanzas or parts, the first of which, called strophe, was sung in turning 
from east to west ; the other, named antistrophe, in returning from west 
to east ; then they stood before the altar and sang the epode, which was 
the last part of the song. The Greeks practised divination by the entrails 


of animals slain. If the entrails were whole and sound, had their natural 
place, colour, and proportion, then all was well ; but if any part was 
decayed, or wanting, if anything was out of order or not according to 
Nature, evil was portended. The palpitation of the entrails was a very 
unfortunate omen. P)thagoras, the soothsayer, is said to have foretold 
the death of Alexander because his victim's liver had no lobes. Among 
the Greeks the oak of Dodona was the seat of the oldest Hellenic oracle, 
whose priests sent forth their declarations on its leaves. 

Carte, in his History of England, says that the Druids agreed so much 
with the Curetes of Greece in the rites and ceremonies of their religion, 
in the methods they used to raise the wonder and veneration of the 
people ; in the nature of their studies ; as well as in their manner of 
life, customs, and institutions, that Pezron makes no difficulty in pro- 
nouncing the Druids to be the immediate descendants of those Curetes, 
or, at least, their successors ; being admitted into their society, initiated 
into their mysteries, and charged with the care of rehgion in the Gomarian 
colonies settled in the western parts of Europe. 

The Egyptians worshipped the sun and the serpent was sacred among 
them as representing the eternal existence of the Deity. At the temple 
of Isis at Dendera there is a representation of a procession of men and 
women bringing to Isis and Osiris, who stands behind her, globes sur- 
rounded with bulls, horns, and mitred snakes. The Egyptians had a 
Tauric festival and even went so far as to embalm cattle. They were 
firm believers in the doctrine of metempsychosis. They also offered up 
both human and animal sacrifices. 

If not Druidism, it was a rehgion of a very similar character which 
was followed by the inhabitants of a considerable part of Italy. The 
Sabin country Ues about twenty miles to the north of Rome, on the 
west side of the Tiber. On the top of the mountain Soracte, in that 
country, were the grove temples and cam of Apollo. Hirpins was the 
name given to the race of people inhabitating that district, and they 
held annually a sacrifice similar in every respect to that of the Druids. 
It is thus referred to in Dryden's version of Virgil's Aeneid : 
" O Patron of Soracte's high abodes, 

Phoebus, the ruling pow'r among the gods 

Whom first we serve, whole woods of unctuous pine 

Burnt on thy heap, and to thy glory shine ; 

By thee protected, with our naked soles 

Thro' flames unsinged we pass, and tread the kindi'd coals. 

Give me, propitious pow'r, to wash away 

The stain of this dishonourable day. 
The priests of Moloch also walked through the fires they lighted in 
honour of their god. 


John Keeson, in The Cross and the Dragon, relates how that the 
Franciscan missionaries when they reached the court of the Prince of 
Batou, situated on the Volga, had first to pass through two fires in order 
to destroy any malign influence they might have brought with them. 
Two lances erected by the side of these fires supported a stretched cord, 
from which depended several pieces of rag ; and, beneath this cord, to 
be purified, had to pass men, beasts and goods. Two females, one on 
each side, sprinkled them with water at the same time, reciting certain 
words in performing the act. 

It was the custom among many ancient peoples to erect a stone 
in commemoration or remembrance of any benefit received at the hands 
of the Supreme. Such practice was particularly observed among the 
Jews. Jacob, after his wonderful vision, " rose up early in the morning 
and took the stone that he had put for his pillow and set it up as a pillar 
and poured oil upon the top of it " (Genesis xxxviii., i8). He did the 
same thing when he entered into a covenant with Laban (Genesis 
xxxi., 45), and when he is said to have talked with God at Bethel 
(Genesis xxxv., 14). Joshua built at Gilgal (a word which means a 
circle) a temple composed of twelve stones, and when he had assembled the 
children of Israel within this temple he told them that when their children 
should ask them the meaning of the stones they were to make answer 
that it was the acknowledgment of the power of the Eternal. The 
custom of venerating baetyla, or consecrated stones, and worshipping 
under oaks was diffused over both hemispheres in the remotest periods. 
The existence of stone monuments, whose antiquity is undoubted by 
archaeologists, is proof that learning and culture existed in Britain long 
prior to the Roman invasion, before even the foundation of Rome. 
Stone circles are common in America, in the province of Coimbatoor in 
India, and over all northern Europe, as well as in several of the islands 
of the Mediterranean. Sir John Chardin says that he saw in Media a 
circle of stones which the traditions of the people living near, in singular 
conformity with Grecian and Celtic customs, ascribed to Caous, or giants, 
who wishing once to hold a council respecting some matter, brought 
each his official seat and left it, when the meeting broke up, as a wonder 
to men. The explorations of the Ordnance Survey of 1869 proved the 
existence in Palestine and Arabia of circles " nearly identical in character 
with those which in England and Scotland are commonly called Druidical 
circles." In Germany, as in England, the oak was long regarded as a 
sacred tree ; solemn assemblies were held beneath it, and decrees were 
often dated sub qucrcibus or sub annosa quercu. Scandinavian folk-lore 
ascribed man's origin to the oak or ash, a myth also prevalent among 
the Romans. The Arcadians believed their ancestors were oaks before 
they became men. 


Whenever possible the tops of hills were chosen by the Druids for 
their services and worship ; their temples of initiation and the scenes 
of the performance of their secret and sacred rites being in caves. 
Mountain worship is referred to frequently in the Old Testament as 
being a patriarchal practice, just as afterwards it was adopted by non- 
Israelitish nations. The Persians also worshipped on mountain tops. 
When Philip II. made war against the Spartans he sacrificed on the 
mountains of Olympus and Eva. Cyrus sacrificed to the gods on the 
mountain just before his death. So, in China, 2,300 years before the 
Christian era, sacrifices were offered to the Supreme and Chan-Ti on 
the four great mountains with the four Yo. Cicero tells us that when 
Xerxes made his expedition into Greece, the Magi commanded that 
all the Grecian temples should be destroyed " because the Grecians 
were so impious as to enclose those gods within walls who ought to have 
all things round them open and free — their temples being the universal 

The principal deity of the Germans was Mercury ; they sacrificed 
human victims, they had open temples, they consecrated groves and 
venerated oaks, and computed by nights instead of by days, and this 
last-named practice was common to all the northern nations of Europe. 

It has been a practice from time immemorial to build temples in 
the form of crosses. The crux ansata of the Egyptians was the hiero- 
glyphic of life. A serpent joined to the cross symbolises the immortality 
of the soul. 

The close affinity between the doctrines of the newly-established 
Christian faith, as taught by the early missionaries, and the beliefs of 
Druidism, will warrant the assertions of several writers that the followers 
of the doctrines of the old religion were without difficulty persuaded to 
embrace Christianity. It was a question really of merging of beliefs, 
rather than an entire change of faith. O'Donovan, in his Annals oj 
the Four Masters, says : " Nothing is clearer than that Patrick en- 
grafted Christianity on the pagan superstition with so much skiU that 
he won the people over to the Christian religion before they understood 
the exact difference between the two systems of belief, and much of 
this half-Pagan, half-Christian rehgion will be found, not only in the 
Irish stories of the Middle Ages, but in the superstitions of the peasantry 
of the present day." The cross, as a symbol, was known to and revered 
by the Druids, and their mode of consecrating an oak tree was first to 
fasten a cross beam upon it if the two main horizontal arms were not 
sufficiently prominent. Upon this right branch they cut in the bark, 
in fair characters, the word " Hesus "; upon the middle or upright 
stem the word " Taramis " ; and upon the left branch the word "Belenus." 
Over all, and above the branching out of the arms, they inscribed the 


word " Thau " (see Ezekiel ix., 4), and, according to Schedius, " This 
tree so inscribed, they make their Kebla in the grove cathedral, or 
summer church, towards which they direct their faces in the offices of 
religion, as to the ambre-stone or the cove in the temple of Abury, like 
as the Christians do to any svmbol or picture at the altar." St. Columb, 
when in Deacon's Orders, is said to have placed himself under the instruc- 
tion of an aged Bard named Gemman. A miracle wrought by St. Brigit 
in the production of butter is given as the cause of her Druidical master 
becoming a Christian. Richards, in his Poems Lyric and Pastoral, 
published in 1794, says in the preface : 

" The patriarchal religion of ancient Britain, called Druidism, 
but by the Welsh most commonlv called Barddas, Bardism, although 
they speak of Dirwydditacth, Druidism, is no more inimical to 
Christianity than the religion of Noah, Job, or Abraham ; it has never, 
as some imagine, been quite extinct in Britain ; the Welsh Bards 
have, through all ages down to the present, kept it alive. There 
is in my possession a manuscript synopsis of it by Llewellyn Sim, 
a Bard, written in the year 1560; its beliefs are corroborated by 
innumerable notices and allusions in our Bardic manuscripts of 
every age up to Taliesin in the sixth century, whose poems exhibit 
a complete system of Druidism. By these (undoubted authentic) 
writings it will appear that the ancient British Christianity was 
strongly tinctured with Druidism. The old Welsh Bards kept up 
a perpetual war with the Church of Rome and therefore experienced 
much persecution. Narrow understandings might conceive that 
they were the less Christian for having been Druids. The doctrine 
of the metempsychosis is that which of all others most clearly 
vindicated the ways of God to man. It is safely countenanced by 
many passages in the New Testament and was believed in by many 
of the primitive Christians and the Essenes amongst the Jews." 

Dr. Stukeley boldly asserted that Druidism and Christianity were 
identical. It is clear that Christianity assimilated Druidism to a great 
extent, but it is difficult to say how much the newer faith was indebted 
to the older religion. There is no evidence that the Druidical Britons 
gave other than a welcome, and, it may be, a hearty welcome to the 
exponents of the newer creed : in fact, Christian historians state that 
the Britons embraced the new teachings with more alacrity than any 
other nation. There is, indeed, a legend to the effect that Edwin was 
persuaded to embrace the Christian faith by Corfe, the chief of the 
Druids. At that time, also, it must be remembered, the Christian 
religion had not developed many of the corruptions and sacerdotal 
elements which have afflicted it in later times. 


Hu, whether considered as the god of Arabia, India, or Greece, all 
of which countries have claimed him, is described as having been the 
first to teach his people to build, plant, and enter into societies, and also 
to have given them laws ; and Grecian mythology also represents him 
as having been exposed in an ark at sea, and miraculously preserved. 
Similar characteristics are also ascribed to Menu, the great patriarch 
of Hindustan, as also to Vishnu, in his ninth incarnation, under the 
name of Buddha. Buddha was worshipped in Japan under the name 
of Hudso, and Sir William Jones is of opinion that this deity was also 
the Odin or Woden of Scandinavia and the Fo-Hi of China. Buddha 
and Woden are likewise to be identified with the Mercury of the Romans 
and Greeks. Hence Bhood-War, Wednesday, and Dies Mercurii are 
used to denote the same say of the week. Hu is recorded not merely 
as having colonized Britain, but as having colonized it in equity and peace, 
rather than by means of bloodshed and violence. This praiseworthy 
distinction is also ascribed alike to Vishnu, Fo-Hi, and Manco Capac, 
while Phoroneus is also described by Bryant, in his Ancient Mythology, 
in the following words : 

" He lived in the time of the fiood, he first erected altars, he 

first collected men together and formed them into petty communities, 

he first gave laws and distributed justice, he divided mankind by 

their families and nations over the face of the earth." 

The same term was used in the Hebrew as one of the Divine names. 

" He " and " Hu " are also used in the Arabic version of the Scriptures, 

once for El (Psalm xcix., 2), and another time (Genesis xlix., 10) for 


Jxemainina uprioi 
cf Grsaf Tnltfk 
ujitn tenon on top 


Lintel y Great 

Jell in 1791 

Fallen upright 

Mustcru forcion stone 
will? 2 mllows.posmlu 
once a capstone 

The hi far' 

Usual direction cf 



Otanaing Sarsen Stone ^ 

Fallen • - CD 

Standing Foreign ■■ • 

Fallen ^ • gs 

to J BuaRoivc CO 








Antient Laws of Ireland 
Antient Laws and Institute; 

of Wales 
Appleyard, E. S. 
D'Arbois de Jubainville 

Armstrong, R. R. 
Astle, Thomas 
Aubrey and Jackson 
Avebury, Lord 
Barclay, Edgar 

Barnes, W. 
Beauford, William 

Beaumont, Barber 
Beauties of England and Wales 

Betham, Sir William 
Bonwick, J. 

Bottrell, WiUiam 
Bouche, J. B. 
Bowles, W. L. 

British Association Report, 1916 
Brown, Thomas 

Life of Columba. 

Perambulations of Dartmoor. 

A Description of Stonehenge, 1809. 

Conjectures on Stonehenge, 1821. 

A Complete History of the Druids, 1810. 

A Guide to the Stones of Stonehenge, 1840. 

Stonehenge, its Origin, 1892. 

Welsh Sketches. 

Les premiers habitants de l' Europe. 

Irish Mytlwlogical Circle. 

Gaelic Dictionary. 

Origin and Progress of Writing 

Wiltshire Collections. 

Prehistoric Times. 

Stonehenge and its Earthworks. 

The Ruined Temple, Stonehenge. 

Mythology and Fables of the Ancients. 

Notes on Ancient Britain. 

Vestiges of the Antiquities of Derhys. 

Druidism Revived. 

Origin and Learning of the Irish Druids. 

Suggestions on the Ancient Britons. 

Archeologie Celtique et Gauloise. 

Nos Origines, La Religion des Gaulois. 

The Gael and the Cymhri. 

Guide to the Channel Islands. 

Guide to Cornwall. 

History of Scotland. 

Irish Druids and Old Irish Religion. 

Antiquities of Cornwall. 

Stories and Folk Lore of West Cornwall. 

Druides et Celtes. 

Hermes Britannicus. 

Popular Antiquities. 

Beauties of Wiltshire. 

Dissertation about the Mona of Ccesar and Tacitus. 


Bryant, Jacob 

Burke, Oliver J. 


Bury, J. B. 

Calendar of the Saints of Ireland 

Cambrian Journal 

Cambrian Quarterly Magazine 

Cambridge Mediaeval History 


Campbell, J. F. 

Carew, R. 


Catholic Encyclopaedia 

Celtic Magazine 

Celtic Review 





Cooke, WUliam 

Cordiner, Charles 


Cromwell, Thomas 
Dalyell, Sir J. G. 
Davies, E. 

Diogenes Lartius 
Duke, E. 

Dubhn Penny Journal 

Evans, D. Delta 
Faber, G. S. 
Forlong, J. G. R. 
Giles, J. A. 
Gomme, G. L. 

Gordon, E. 0. 

Greenwell, W. and RoUeston ( 
Gregory, Lady 
Guest, Edwin 
Haddon and Stubbs 
Hall, Mr. and Mrs. S. G. 

Ancient Mythology. 
The South Isles of Arran. 
History of Scotland. 
Life of St. Patrick. 

Popular Tales of the West Highlands. 

Survey of Cornwall. 
Manx Folk-Lore. 

Chorea Gigantum. 

Signs and Symbols of Primordial Man. 
On Divination. 
Hindoo Mythology- 
Inquiry into Patriarchal and Druidical Religion. 
Antiquities of the North of Scotland. 
Remarkable Ritins of North Britain. 

The Druid ; a Tragedy. 
Darker Superstitions of Scotland. 
Celtic Researches. 

Mythology and Rites of British Druids. 
Manuel d'Archeologie prehistoriqtie. 
Lives of the Philosophers. 
Druidical Temples of Wiltshire. 
Manuel pour servir a I' etude de I'antiquite ccllique. 


Origins of English History. 

The Ancient Bards of Britain. 

Origin of Pagan Idolatry. 

Rude Stone Monuments. 

Rivers of Life. 

Jeynes and Boodhists of India. 

Golden Bough. 

History of the Ancient Britons. 

Ethnology in Folk-Lore. 

Village Communily. 

Prehistoric London. 


British Barrows. 

A Book of Saints and Wonders. 

Origines CelticcB. 


Ireland, its Scenery, Character, etc. 

Christianity and the Roman Government. 




Herbert, Algernon 

Hughes, John 
Hutchinson, W. 
Identity of the ReUgions called 

Dniidical and Hebrew 
James, Sir Henry- 
Jones, Edward 
Jones, George 
Jones, Inigo 
Jones, Owen 
Joyce, P. W. 
Keane, Marcus 
Keating, G. 
Kennedy, Patrick 
Leslie, Forbes 
Lockyer, Sir N. 
Lang, Andrew 
Lloyd, J. E. 
Long, William 

M' Alpine 

Macbain, Alexander 
MacCulloch, J. A. 
Mackey and Singleton 
Maclean, D. 
MacLauchlan, T. 

Martin, Jacques 

Moore, A. W. 
Morgan, Owen 
Myvrian Archaiology of Wales 
Napier, James 
Nash, D. W. 
O'Brien, Henry 

O'Curry, Eugene 
O'Donovan, Dr. John 
O'Flaherty, Roderic 

History of Great Britain. 

Cyclops Christianus. 

Essay on neo Druidic Heresy. 

Celtic Church in Ireland. 

Celtic Druids. 

HorcB BritanniccB. 

History of Cumberland. 

Druidical Structure at Callernish. 

Plans and Photographs of Stonehenge. 

History of the Culdees. 

Musical and Poetical Relics. 

Druidism Historically Considered. 

Most Noble Antiquity of Ancient Britain. 

Myfrian Archaiologv. 

Social History of Ancient Ireland. 

Towers and Temples of Ireland. 

History of Ireland. 

Legendary Fictions of Irish Celts. 


Antiquities of Ireland. 

Early Races of Scotland. 

Stonehenge and other Monuments. 

History of Scotland. 

History of Wales. 

Ahury Illustrated. 


Monumental Christia^iity. 

Gaelic Dictionary. 

Celtic Mythology and Religion. 

Religion of Ancient Celts. 

History of Freemasonry. 

History of Celtic Language. 

Early Scotch Church. 

Scenery and Antiquities of Wales. 

La Religion des Gaulois. 

Ancient History of Hindoostan. 

Indian Antiquities. 

History of Cardigan. 

Folk-Lore of Isle of Man. 

Light of Britannia. 



Round Towers of Ireland. 

Dissertation on History of Ireland. 

Manners and Customs of Ancient Irish. 

Annals of Kingdom of Ireland by Four Masters 


1 88 


Oliver, Dr. George 

O'Reilly, E. 

Parsons, James 
Petrie, Flinders 

Pictet Adolphe, 
Pike, L. Owen 
Pokorny, Julius 
Poste, Beale 

Potter, Dr. John 
Pratt, John B. 
Pughe, Owen 
Reade, W. Winwood 
Reinach, S. 

Rhys. J. 



Richards, William 

Royston, Peter 
Rust, J. 

Sibbald, Sir Robert 
Simpson, W. 

Smiddy, R. 
Smith, Dr. George 
Smith, Dr. John 

Stokes, Dr. Whitley 
Stone, Gilbert 
Stukeley, WiDiam 

Thackeray, Francis 
Train, Joseph 

History of Initiation. 

Existing Remains of Ancient Britain. 

Irish-English Dictionary. 


Remains of Japheth. 

Histoirc des Celtes. 


Antiq. dc la Nat. et de la Langue des Celtes. 

La Mystere des Bar des de I' He de Bretagne. 

The English and their Origin. 

Origin of Druidism. 

History of Cornwall. 

Britannic Researches. 

Celtic Inscriptions. 

Archceologia Grceca. 

Treatise on Study of Antiquities. 

The Druids. 

Ancient Laws of Cambria. 

Cambrian Biography. 

The Vale of Isis. 

Cults, Myths, and Religions. 


Celtic Britain. 

Celtic Folk-Lore. 

Celtic Heatliendom. 

Origin and Growth of Religion. 

Cambro- British Biography. 

Mona Antiq ua Restorata. 

History of Isle of Anglesea. 

Rudston, its History and Antiquities. 

Druidism Exhumed. 

Survey of Isle of Man. 

Britannia Antiqua Illustrata. 


History of Fife. 

Circular Movements in Custom and Ritual. 

Four A ncient Books of Wales. 

Celtic Scotland. 

Essay on the Druids. 

Religion of Britain Historically Considered. 

Choir Gawr of Stonehenge. 

Gaelic Antiquities. 

Lives of Saints from Book of Lismore. 


Traditions and Legends of Devonshire. 



Ancient Britain. 

History of the Druids. 

Les pretcndes Druidesses gauloises. 

History of Isle of Man. 


Trevelyan, Marie 
Tripartite Life of St. Patrick 
Turner, Sharon 
VaUancey, Charles 


Walker, J. Cooper 

Ware, Sir James 
Weaver, Robert 
Wilde, Lady 
Williams, Edward 
Williams, J. 

Wilson, Daniel 
Wise, T. A. 

Woodward, E. H. 
Zeitschrift fiir celtique philologie 

Folk-Lore of Wales. 

Vindication of Ancient British Poems. 

Vindication of Ancient History of Ireland. 

Collectanea dc Rebus Hibernicus. 

Grammar of Irish Language. 

Popular Songs of Brittany. 

Historical Memoirs of Irish Bards. 

Historical Essay on Dress of Irish. 

Antiquities and History of Ireland. 

Monianenla A ntiqua. 

Antient Cures, Charms, and Usages of Ireland. 

Poems, Lyric and Pastoral. 


Druidic Stones. 

Prehistoric Annals of Scotland. 

History of Paganism in Caledonia. 

Traces of Elder Faiths of Ireland. 

History of Wales. 

Chronicles of Ancient British Church. 


Abaris . . 


Colleges, Bardic 

. 84 



Coligny Calendar 

• 36 

Achaia, Druidical remains . . 



• 12, 5° 

Ahmedabad, Druidical remains 




Aidus Animrens 








Alawn . . 



• 13, 17 





Arabia, Druidical remains . . 


Criomthan Sciathbeil. . 


Attius Patera . . 




Avebury, Druidical remains 



. 38 

Curriculum, Druidical 






Banba . . 


Bardic Colleges 


Daire Domtheach 


Bardic Degrees and Duties . . 


Dearg . . 


Bards, Payment for Services 





Degrees, Bardic 




Deities, Druidical 


Bienus . . 




Boxhednan Ring, Druidical remain 

s 133 

Deluge legend 

• 38 

" Bridestones " Druidical remains . 


Derbyshire, Druidical remains 

■ 134 

Brimhams Rock, Druidical remain 

s 130 


. los 

Brittany, Druidical remains 



• 3,34 

Brude (son of Milcoin) 




Buckland Down, Druidical remains. 




Cadwaldr (Hu) . . . . 37 

, 38, 42 


. 98 

Caicer . . 


Druidheath, Druidical remains 

. 136 

CaiUin . . 

. 141 

Druidical alphabet . . 



Druidical curricvilum 


Calendar, Coligny 

. 36 

Druidical deities 


Carn Leskez, Druidical remains 

• 133 

Druidical divinations 




Druidical knowledge . . 

• 56 



Druidical Sabbath and tithes 



• 37, 42 

Druidical Seats 


Ceres . . 


Druids as judges 


Chief Bard's prayer . . 

. 116 

Druid's Stone, Nottingham . . 


Ciaran . . 


Druids-town . . 




Druids' Vestments and Insignia 


Circles of existence . . 


Druid's Wand 





. 160 





Dubthach (father of Brigit) 

.. 103 



Duties, Bardic 




Dyllro-banu . . 




Dynwal Moelmud 


Inohei Seeine . . 


Insignia (Druids) 


Egg as a Druidical symbol . . 



Eithir . . 



Insignia (Ovates) 

lona, " Isle of the Druids " 

Ireland, Druidical remains . 

•• 139 
■■ 139 

Isle of Man, Druidical remains .. 128 



Eloi Eligius 


Jadh Morain . . 


Eochaid Airem 


Joseph of Arimathea 


Eochoid 6 Flinn 

.. 83 

Judges, Druid 


Eolus . . 


Erws (measure of land) 

.. 78 

Keswick, Druidical remains 

.. 132 



Knowledge, Druidical 

.. 56 

Ethics and Morals 

.. 89 

Evolution (Druidical theory) 


" Lambswool " 

.. 16s 

L'Ancresse Bay, Druidical remains . . 127 





Fail's wheel 


Laws of Dynwall 



.. 141 

Laws of Howel Dda . . 


Fiachadh Muilleathan 




Fiech . . 

.. 160 

List of Druidical Seats 




12,95, 159 



" Long Meg and her daughter 

3" .. 131 











Llyn Llion 


Llyn Savaddan 





.. 129 

Gambia, Druidical remains . . 

•• 143 

Lucan . . 









12, 104 

ains 133 



Gvvron . . 

.. 117 

Gwyddon Genhedon . . 

86, 116 

Mac Tail 

. .. 96 


. .. 98 



. . 104 


.. 69 

Malabar, Druidical remains . 

.. 142 

Hesus . . 


Malta, Druidical remains 

. . 142 



Mannanan (Little) 

. .. 96 

Holed Stone, Lamorna 

•• 133 

Measure of land 


Hu (Cadwaldr) 

37, 38, 42 

" Meetings of the Circle " 

.. IIS 

Hu Gadarn 

86, 116 



Hui Figente . . 

.. 96 

Merddin (or Merhn) . . 



Merrivale Bridge, Druidical 

remains 126 

" Hurlers " at Liskeard 

■■ 133 

Midhe .. 

. .. 165 





Hymn of the Deluge 


Milk (remedy against poison) 






Mistletoe (magical powers) . . 

. 166 

Scota . . 


Modha Nuagat 

■ 105 

Scotland, Druidical remains 

.. 136 

Modhrauith . . 


Seats, Druidical 


Mog Ruith 


Senan . . 

.. 96 

Mona . . 


Serpent's Egg 


Morals and Ethics 

• 89 

Simon the Druid 






Myfyr Morganwg 

. 158 

Sliabh Eibhhne 


SUabh Mis 


Nemedius . . . . . . . . 8 


.. 98 

Nemia . . . . . . . . lo 

Spain, Druidical remains 

.. 142 

Nennius . . . . . . . . 1 24 

Stanton Drew Circles 

■ • 133 

" Nine Stones," Winterboume Abbas 133 


.. 117 



Odran . . . . . . . . . . 50 


.. 84 

.. 36 



Ogdoad . . . . . . . . 24 


OUamhFodhIa 82 

Origin of Bardism .. .. 86, 1 17 

Templebrien . . 


Theutates (or Taut) . . 

• ■ 23, 35 

Palestine, Druidical remains . . 143 



Parthalonus . . . . . . . . 10 

Toknen Stone 

•• 133 

Payment for Services, Bards' . . 82 

Trial by Ordeal 


Penius 2j, 37 



Penweth Circles, Druidical remains . . 132 

Tuath.i-de-Danann . . 


Plennydd 117 

Tuatha Fiodhga 


Pomponius Mela . . . . . . 8 


154, 164 

Prayer (Chief Bard's) . . . . 116 


86, 116 

Prophecy of St. Patrick's coming . . I03 

Ty Ilhtud 


Quamell Down, Dniidical remains . . 133 




.. 165 

Rocking Stones . . . . . . 144 

Urien Rheged 


RoUright Stones, Druidical remains 132 

Rombald's Moor, Druidical remains 130 

Vale Church, Druidical remain 

s . . 126 

Roscarbury .. .. .. .. 12 

Vervain (magical powers) 


Vestments and Insignia 


Sabbath observance . . 




Sacred Circle, Scorhill Down 



■ 48 

Wales, Druidical remains 

.. 136 

St. Fachnan . . 


Wand, Druid's 


St. Heliers, Druidical remains 


Water (as a symbol) . . 


St. Maughold . . 

. 129 

"Wedding," Staffs., Druidical r 

emains 134 

St. Patrick (prophecy of coming) . 

■ 103 

Scilly Isles, Druidical remains