Druids: A Very Short Introduction

ISBN : 9780199539406

Barry Cunliffe
160 Pages
111 x 172 mm
Pub date
May 2010
Very Short Introductions


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  • Examines the origins of the Druids and the evidence for their beliefs and practices, in particular asking what can and can't be known about them
  • Explains how the nature of the Druid caste changed quite dramatically over time
  • Considers current revivals of Druidism and analyzes different attitudes towards them

Who were the Druids? What do we know about them? Do they still exist today? 

The Druids first came into focus in Western Europe - Gaul, Britain, and Ireland - in the second century BC. They are a popular subject; they have been known and discussed for over 2,000 years and few figures flit so elusively through history. They are enigmatic and puzzling, partly because of the lack of knowledge about them has resulted in a wide spectrum of interpretations. 

Barry Cunliffe takes the reader through the evidence relating to the Druids, trying to decide what can be said and what can't be said about them. He examines why the nature of the druid caste changed quite dramatically over time, and how successive generations have interpreted the phenomenon in very different ways.


1: The Druids in time and space
2: The European theatre
3: The archaeology of religious practice at the time of the Druids
4: Enter the Druids: the first contacts
5: Altars steeped in human blood
6: Twilight in the far west
7: Renaissance and rediscovery
8: Romanticism and the rise of nationalism
9: Neo-druids and the neo-pagans
10: So, who were the Druids?
Further reading

About the author: 

Professor Barry Cunliffe is Emeritus Professor of European Archaeology at Oxford. He is the Commissioner of English Heritage and has been a Trustee of the British Museum, Governer of Museum of London, and President of the Society of Antiquaries. His previous publications include The Celts: A Very Short Introduction (1997) and Facing the Ocean (2001).

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