Skip to main content

Finding the archaeological footprint of the Druids

12 October 2021

Award-winning alumna in conversation at Cardiff Archaeology Research Series to launch latest book

Distinguished archaeologist Professor Miranda Aldhouse-Green launches latest work as part of this autumn’s Cardiff Archaeology and Conservation Research Series.

The Emeritus Professor of Archaeology is/went in conversation with fellow Cardiff academics Dr Alan Lane, Dr Louis Rawlings and Professor Paul Nicholson about Rethinking the Ancient Druids: an archaeological perspective in a public virtual event.

Ancient Classical authors have painted the Druids in a bad light, defining them as a barbaric priesthood, perpetrating savage and blood rites in ancient Britain and Gaul in the name of their gods 2,000 years ago. Archaeology tells a different and more complicated story of this enigmatic priesthood, a theocracy with immense political and sacred power.

This new work explores the tangible ‘footprint’ the Druids have left behind: in sacred spaces, art, ritual equipment, images of the gods, strange burial rites and human sacrifice. Their material culture indicates how close was the relationship between Druids and the spirit-world, which evidence suggests they accessed through drug-induced trance.

Speaking ahead of the book launch, alumna and former academic at the School of History, Archaeology and Religion, Professor Aldhouse-Green said:

“This book seeks to provide fresh exploration of the archaeological ‘footprint’ left behind by this enigmatic and powerful priesthood- from shrines to divining spoons and from ritual headdresses to human sacrifice. A new direction taken is to place Wales centre-stage, for the archaeological evidence suggests that this may well have credence. If so, it chimes with Tacitus’s testimony concerning the Druids’ holy of holies on Anglesey”.

Aldhouse-Green’s book Bog Bodies Uncovered, won Society for American Archaeology's Book of the Year award on publication in 2016, with acclaim from archaeologists and crime novelists alike for its radically different approach to existing and new prehistoric peat bog ‘cold’ cases.

Her most recent books also include Sacred Britannia: The Gods and Rituals of Roman Britain, Boudicca Britannia and Caesar’s Druids: story of an ancient priesthood.

Rethinking the Ancient Druids: an archaeological perspective is published by University of Wales Press, with a virtual book launch hosted from Cardiff on 21 October (5pm BST).

Share this story