The mysterious history of druids, ancient ‘mediators between humans and the gods’

Druids were religious leaders in what is now Britain and France. They were “philosophers, teachers, judges, the repository of communal wisdoms about the natural world and the traditions of the people, and the mediators between humans and the gods,” Barry Cunliffe, an emeritus professor of European archaeology at the University of Oxford, wrote in his book “Druids: A Very Short Introduction (opens in new tab)” (Oxford University Press, 2010).

Almost everything we know about druids is second-hand knowledge; all surviving texts that mention druids were written by non-druids, often Romans. That poses a problem for modern-day historians who are trying to understand who the druids were and how their role changed over time. 


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