The Druid Appeal & Heritage Fund

£14,000 goal

Campaign created 8 months ago
Hi, I'm Edi Diong and I've set up the Druid Appeal & Heritage fund to investigate and document research findings into the Druid history.

There is a lot of mystery shrouding the actual history of the Druids, as our knowledge is based on limited records. Druidism is thought to have been a part of Celtic and Gaulish culture in Europe, with the first classical reference to them in the 2nd century BC.

Druids were people in ancient Britain and France who served a wide variety of roles — “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,” writes Barry Cunliffe in his book “Druids: A Very Short Introduction” (Oxford University Press, 2010). He notes that, curiously, the ancient texts don’t call them “priests” directly.

Their practices were similar to those of priests today, connecting the people with the gods, but their role was also varied and wide-ranging, acting as teachers, scientists, judges and philosophers. They were incredibly powerful and respected.
One of the earliest accounts of Druids was written by Julius Caesar in 59-51 B.C. He wrote it in Gaul, where prestigious men were divided into Druids or nobles. It was from the Roman writers that historians have gained most of their knowledge of the Druids.

Almost everything we know about druids is second-hand knowledge. Surviving texts that mention them were written by non-druids, something that poses a problem to modern-day historians trying to understand who they were and how their role changed over time. Indeed, Julius Caesar, who conquered Gaul, is among the principal sources of information about druids. He wrote that druids preferred oral teaching to writing.

Regardless of who exactly the druids were, it is clear that they were often revered. Druids could be found in Britain and Gaul (modern-day France), as well as other parts of Europe and perhaps even in the Middle East. The writer Dio Chrysostom, who lived about 1,900 years ago, compared druids to the Magi and the Brahmans of India. The “Celts appointed those whom they call druids, these also being devoted to the prophetic art and to wisdom in general,”

Their places of worship (‘Temples of the Druids’) were quiet, secluded areas, like clearings in woods and forests, and stone circles. Probably the most famous stone circle in Britain is Stonehenge, an ancient megalithic monument dating back to about 2400 B.C. Most people’s first thoughts about the Druids might be of them congregating around Stonehenge and casting magical incantations. There is indeed thought that this was a place of worship for them, as it still is today for pagans and other neo-druids. There is disagreement though, about whether the Druids built Stonehenge or not. It is not clear exactly when the Druids came to Britain, but it is likely that they actually arrived after Stonehenge was built.

The Isle of Ynys Mon, Anglesey, and Wistman’s Wood in Dartmoor are both believed to be Druidic sites. Indeed, Anglesey was supposedly a place where Druids were taught. It took about 20 years to learn the lore, as it was complex and had to be learnt off by heart as they rarely used a written language. This is one reason why we know so little about them. The Gaul’s had a limited written language, involving Greek characters, and then with Caesar’s rule this became Latin and old records were lost. Some legends must also be treated with caution as they may have even been altered by subsequent Christian influence or exaggeration.

In the 1st century AD, Druids were facing oppression from the Romans. Indeed, Tiberius banned Druidism because of the supposed human sacrifices. After this, in 2nd century, Druidism appeared to end. There are a couple of theories to try and explain this. The first is that, as with many ancient societies, disease, famine or warfare could have wiped them out. The second implicates the arrival of Christianity in the decline. Might they have been converted? In the 1700s though, a Druid revival occurred in England and Wales. The famous William Blake (an Arch-druid) even took part in this.

Some religions today, like Christianity and Wicca have been influenced by Druidry. The number three was considered greatly significant in Druid lore, and also by these religions. For example, the Triscale was a symbol involving 3 lines coming together to form a circle. Circles were key to many Druid beliefs; the circle of life, the seasons, light and darkness.

By the year 50AD most of southern England had fallen to the soldiers of Rome. In the wild areas of the west, however, the legions had made little progress and the Welsh tribes, the Silures and the Ordovices in the south, the Demaete in the north, kept up an almost constant guerilla campaign against the invaders.

The date is not exactly clear but in around 57AD the Roman general Suetonius Paulinus decided that enough was enough. He led his legions out from the fortress town of Chester, heading for a final reckoning on the island of Anglesey, or Mona as it was then known.

The island was doubly significant for the defending tribesmen. To begin with Anglesey was the sacred home of the druids, the spiritual leaders of the native people. Many, if not most, of the druids actually lived there and were certainly on the island when Suetonius attacked.

Secondly, the island was a very handy bolt hole where tribesmen fleeing from the Roman rule - or persecution, as they saw it - could find a home and shelter. The place was, the Romans felt, therefore a potential source of unrest.

In addition, the Romans – always a superstitious people – believed that on Anglesey the druids practiced all sorts of weird and evil rituals. Magic and soothsaying, even human sacrifice, they told themselves, were carried out on this distant island. The Romans were hardly paragons of virtue but such beliefs were commonly held amongst the troops at this time.

And so Suetonius Paulinus set off. What happened next was described in some detail by the Roman historian Tacitus.

Tacitus was probably not present at the battle, but he was a scrupulously accurate researcher and historian, and would have used first hand accounts from men who were there, at both the campaign and the eventual battle, to lend credibility to his account.

The Romans headed steadily westwards and the tribesmen of the area, realising they could not stand against such a mass of highly trained and well-equipped soldiers, simply slipped away into the hills. They might have made the occasional foray against isolated units of the advancing army but, other than that, there was little opposition.

Eventually Suetonius Paulinus and his legions reached the shores of the Menai Straits. Knowing that the time had come to make a final stand, the tribesmen and their priests gathered on the opposite shore of the island.

Tacitus gave the following description: "On the shore stood the forces of the enemy, a dense array of arms and men, with women dashing through the ranks like the furies --- The druids pouring forth dire imprecations with their hands uplifted towards the heavens, struck terror into the soldiers."

The druids, the supposedly human-sacrificing enemy priests, struck a chill in everyone's hearts, but it was the appearance of the women, wild haired and all bearing torches, that most frightened the legionaries. They were not used to facing such an enemy.

Such fear did not last long. Urged on by their officers, the Roman cavalrymen swam their horses across the Straits while the infantry made the crossing in small, flat-bottomed boats. And when they reached the Anglesey side, their blood-lust knew no bounds.

Tacitus simply said: "they bore down upon them, smote all who opposed them to the earth and wrapped them in the flames they had themselves kindled."

What happened was a massacre. Men, women and children - armed and unarmed, young and old - fell under the swords of the Romans. The bodies of the dead and dying were unceremoniously hurled onto makeshift funeral pyres.

Suetonius and his soldiers then roamed across the island, destroying the druids sacred oak groves, smashing their altars and temples and killing anyone they could find.

The Roman general next proceeded to establish a garrison on Anglesey, a military fortress that kept the native tribes in total subjugation. Rebellion in other parts of Britain soon took Suetonius away from the western lands and it was another 20 years before Wales was totally conquered.

Yet by his actions on Anglesey, Suetonius Paulinus smashed the heart out of Welsh resistance and with the demise of the druids the people of Britain had lost their spiritual driving force.

The story of the massacre of the druids and their defending tribesmen is one of barbarity and outright cruelty. It was undoubtedly fostered by superstition and ignorance on the part of the invaders – but then, so many crimes against humanity usually are.

The Druids  are now considered extinct hence why the Druid appeal & heritage fund has been setup.

The Druid appeal is an appeal for resources, funding and information; towards the mission of identifying any remaining druid heritage/s, where ever that may be, in search of vital clues and with an objective of discovering factual information and evidence about the druids & their heritage.

Information gathered will  be combined together to provide a better overview and explanation of the  Druid history & apparent extinction, including any physical evidence, landmarks or existing druid heritages.

Funds raised will primarily go towards research, travelling, documenting & preparing a finished report on findings.

I would also like to request from viewers, any relevant information that ca help shed some light on Druid history.

I believe that humanity as a whole gains a lot more if we learn from the past, rather than  making the same mistakes from the past. I strongly belief that the extinction of a community of learned community movers as a matter of national interest  can be beneficial for information  purposes, clearing confusion & settings records straight.

Thank you for your support.

Edi Diong
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£14,000 goal

Campaign created 8 months ago
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