A History of the Druids, Their Origin and Connection with the Stonehenge Stone Circle

It was in the 17th century when John Aubrey wrote about his probability that stone circles “were Temples of the Druids.” He even called the text like the ones on Stonehenge as the Templa Druidum. Another writer who joined his analysis was William Stukeley during the 18th century as he published his first book in 1740 entitled “A Template Restored to the British Druids” about Stonehenge. This was followed by the second book in 1743 entitled “A Template of the British Druids.”

During the 19th century, Sir John Lubbock (1843-1913) made a further analysis of the period of Stonehenge. His studies included a time period that is much earlier to the time of the Druids, which is in 2000 B.C.E. However, the Druids did not appear in historical records until 1800 years later. Nevertheless, the minority still insisted that the Druids were part of the pre-Celtic inhabitants of Britain. They also believe that the Celtic Druids followed the religious beliefs and practices made that were true to Stonehenge.

At the start of Christianity, though, Druids were identified as soothsayers and wizards. During the pre-Christian Celtic era, the Druids consisted of judges, philosophers, historians, seers, doctors, astronomers, astrologers, and educators which puts them at the top of the class.

During the 2nd century B.C.E, the word Drudae became the earliest surviving reference to Druids., which is of a Celtic origin. Gaius Plinius Secundus or “Pliny the Elder” from the 23/24-79 CE who is also a Roman writer believed that Drudae came from a combination of Greek words. Drus meaning an oak. Dru-wid is a combination of oak and knowledge as wid means “to know” or “ to see.” The Druids are known to acknowledge oaks as a very important and sacred tree. Their intellectual class that was given titles were said to have “oak knowledge or “oak wisdom.”

Another group of scholars argued that the Druids belonged to the pre-Celtic ‘non-Aryan which originally came from Ireland and Britain as there are no discoveries about Celts in Spain, Galatia and Cisalpine Italy. Others also believed that the Druids truly belong to the Celtic people and is indigenous to Celtic intelligentsia and the reason that it is hard to acknowledge where they really belong is because they had other names.

Another factor in the interest of knowing where the Druids came from is also knowing how they look like. In 1676, Aylett Sammes presented the Druids dressed in hazy classical garb. He showed in his illustrations about a Druid being barefoot in a knee-length garment with a cloak. Similar to a wizard, as he holds a stick in one hand and a book in another with a twig of mistletoe. He wears a belt with a bag hanging from it.

Pliny originally associated the Druids with their fascination of mistletoe and oak groves when he wrote his Naturalis Historia (XVI, 95). According to the Roman writer, the Druids acknowledge the sacredness of the mistletoe, where it came from, which is the oak tree. Their religious rites also included forming groves of oaks as they don’t hold religious ceremonies without its tree leaves. Pliny also included that they used a “gold prunning hook” to collect the mistletoe.

For the Druids, anything that came from the oak tree is sacred as they believed that the gods sent it. With regards with the mistletoe, they provided a grand ceremony on the 6th day of the moon as it is so difficult to find. Together with the ritual are a sacrifice of two white bulls and a festival under the tree. They had a priest who would conduct the ritual by cutting the mistletoe with the golden prunning hook which a white cloth would catch. The festivity would be followed by sacrificing the bulls and praying that their animals would be fertile and would be immune to sickness.