Blood and Mistletoe: The History of the Druids in Britain

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Yale University Press, 2009 - History - 491 pages
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Crushed by the Romans in the first century A.D., the ancient Druids of Britain left almost no reliable evidence behind. Because of this, historian Ronald Hutton shows, succeeding British generations have been free to reimagine, reinterpret, and reinvent the Druids. Hutton’s captivating book is the first to encompass two thousand years of Druid history and to explore the evolution of English, Scottish, and Welsh attitudes toward the forever ambiguous figures of the ancient Celtic world.

 

Druids have been remembered at different times as patriots, scientists, philosophers, or priests; sometimes portrayed as corrupt, bloodthirsty, or ignorant, they were also seen as fomenters of rebellion. Hutton charts how the Druids have been written in and out of history, archaeology, and the public consciousness for some 500 years, with particular focus on the romantic period, when Druids completely dominated notions of British prehistory. Sparkling with legends and images, filled with new perspectives on ancient and modern times, this book is a fascinating cultural study of Druids as catalysts in British history.

 

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Contents

1 The Raw Material
1
2 The Druids Take Shape
49
3 The Druids Take Over
86
4 The Druids Take Flesh
125
5 Iolo Morganwg
146
A Pair of Williams
183
7 The Apogee of the English Druids
210
8 Iolos Children
241
9 The Downfall of the Druids
287
10 Druidic Afterglow
313
11 The Universal Bond
348
12 Druids and Archaeologists
374
Conclusion
418
Notes
423
Index
473
Copyright

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About the author (2009)

Ronald Hutton is professor of history, University of Bristol, and the author of many books including Witches, Druids, and King Arthur: Studies in Paganism, Myth, and Magic, and Debates in Stuart History. He lives in Bristol, UK.

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