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Blood and Mistletoe: The History of the Druids in Britain (2009)

door Ronald Hutton

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2143129,152 (3.94)13
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.… (meer)
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Toon 3 van 3
Hutton has out-done himself with this definitive, meticulous, and respectful look into the 2,000 year history of the Druids. There's so much that history has misinterpreted, misunderstood, assumed and forgotten about them.

Turns out, the earliest reference to Druids isn't in Britain, but in Gaul, and described by Julius Caesar. However his writings are based completely on hearsay! Since then, Druids went from being regarded as "savages and menaces to being romantic and admirable, once the civilization that was doing the viewing had absorbed them." In France, Germany, Ireland and Wales. The English, in fact, were the last to incorporate them into their ancient history due to their association with the Irish.

The word "Druid" being related to "oak" remained an unsupported fact until the mid-20th c., now largely abandoned. If one has to choose a Druidic tree per se, it's likely to be the rowan. The white robes and their worship of naturally forming henges is also unfounded. Even the famous Lindow Man, when discovered in 1984, was immediately assumed to have been ritualistically killed by Druids. The history of the Druids is full of these kinds of scenarios, bending the evidence to fit the conclusion. By the late 18th c. into the 19th c. once Britain has taken hold, the full romantic Druid is born. There are Druidic poetry clubs, societies with initiation ceremonies and regalia, much like the Freemasons. But where there are free thinkers, there is revolution. Hutton explores this trend through poet Iolo Morganwg. In 1853, Britain even saw its first Noble Order of Female Druids!

Throughout, Hutton isn't trying to slight modern Druids, but instead explores the evolution and creation of something new and our ever growing affection for this mystical and ancient group. ( )
  asukamaxwell | Jan 3, 2023 |
Long and somewhat tedious for casual reading, Ronald Hutton's Blood and Mistletoe is an intriguing history not of the ancient Celtic Druids (which, as Hutton points in the first chapter, we know very little of), but of how the ancient Druids have been perceived, imagined, and re-created by historians, archaeologists, scholars, clergymen, poets, forgers, rebels, and eccentrics in the centuries since ancient Celtic times. This is not a book about modern Druidry or paganism, but a history of modern Druidry's origins and a useful antidote to the pseudo-histories that are sometimes still repeated by some modern Druids and Druid orders. I was most impressed with how Hutton treated modern Druids and Druidry both seriously and respectfully, and with how he described how the way we perceive history can be shaped by the personalities of those who present it to us. I would recommend this book, but with the caveat that it is somewhat dry and academic in tone for the casual reader. ( )
1 stem Heather39 | Mar 18, 2022 |
This volume could more accurately be considered a history of ideas about the Druids. Hutton meticulously traces the literary and historical use of the idea of Druid as it supports various attitudes toward history, religion and political power. The work is somewhat dry, as the detailed expostion relies on citation of numerous sources. Hutton has included some of the same material in an earlier volume, _The Druids_, intended for the popular audience ( )
2 stem ritaer | Aug 7, 2011 |
Toon 3 van 3
toegevoegd door Shortride | bewerkLondon Review of Books, Tom Shippey (betaal website) (Jul 9, 2009)
 
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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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