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The Druids (Ancient Peoples and Places) Paperback – May 1, 1985


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Product Details

  • Series: Ancient Peoples and Places
  • Paperback: 214 pages
  • Publisher: Thames & Hudson; New edition edition (May 1, 1985)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0500273634
  • ISBN-13: 978-0500273630
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 5.6 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #960,843 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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I would suggest this book to anyone who thinks Celtic=Wiccan or that the Irish/Celtic natural spirit is anything but Heathen.
Son of Rig and Mil
This is not the author's fault, but simply the result of very, very little reliable (or even semi-reliable) historical data existing that addresses the druids.
M Huston
These remains are present throughout Britain and Ireland as well as in parts of Continental Europe, from France all the way to Czechoslovakia.
New Age of Barbarism

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

95 of 97 people found the following review helpful By Wes McClain on May 23, 1998
Format: Paperback
In "The Druids" Piggott first defines the limits of what can be known about any pre-literate people such as the Druids, and how it can be known. This is not, as so many other books on the topic turn out to be, a romantic description of an ancient people, but rather a history first of the archeological, then the contemporary historical, and finaly the historiographic records of the Druids, who they may have been, and what they may have been about.
Throughout, Piggot continuiously contrasts the three levels of historical knowledge, described as "Druids as known," "Druids as inferred," and "Druids as wished-for." The first third of the book is one of the better examples of conservative (not in a political, but an academic sense) archeological interpretation as Piggot explains the few hard facts that can be discerned from material remains, and the few inferrences which can be made from those facts. To romantics and lovers of "Druids as wished-for" this part will probably seem quite dry and lifeless, but for those interested in real archeology and it's interpretation, this may be the most interesting part of the book.
Piggott then takes us on to contemporary accounts of the Druids from their literate neighbors in the ancient world, while still mainting his contrast between what is known and what is inferred. This is the part of the book that will interest those who want to get the best possible picture of who and what the Druids really were, as these contemporary and near contemporary accounts are the closest things we have to real insight to the culture of the ancient Celts.
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26 of 31 people found the following review helpful By New Age of Barbarism on January 5, 2005
Format: Paperback
_The Druids_ by distinguished archeologist Stuart Piggott, published in the Ancient Peoples and Places series, is an essential source on this ancient Celtic priesthood. This book covers much material dealing with the archeological remains available from the ancient Celts, as well as material from ancient texts (mostly written by Greeks and Romans). The first section of this book covers the archeological remains of the ancient Celts, including tombs and various artifacts which are believed to be connected with the Druids. These remains are present throughout Britain and Ireland as well as in parts of Continental Europe, from France all the way to Czechoslovakia. The second section deals with ancient texts which help inform the archeological discoveries. Important writings from Posidonious, Lucan, and Caesar are explained. To the ancients, the world was believed to have fallen from a lost Golden Age, and thus the ancient barbarian tribes represented this pastoral paradise. Thus, druids were depicted as noble priests and wizards who ruled as philosophers and poets of nature as part of a soft primitivism. However, as part of a hard primitivism it was noted that druids practiced human sacrifice and engaged in ghastly rituals (often involving mistletoe as a sacred plant). Caesar and others were appalled by these cannibalistic rites and had them prohibited. The third section of this book deals with the romantic notions of the druid that sprang up later. These romantic notions again incorporated elements of soft primtivism, presenting the druids as noble savages (much as the inhabitants of the New World were perceived), or hard primitivism, presenting the savagery (especially human sacrifice) of the druids.Read more ›
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By in MN on August 25, 2010
Format: Paperback
From a scholarly standpoint, Piggott does an extremely thorough job of presenting the information in a clearly segregated fashion from purely archeological data, written documentation of the Roman and Greek authors of the time, and the romanticized/revival era later in history. He makes good points in terms of the slanted views of outside cultures that percieved the Celts as well as the gaps in vital information that modern people have in understanding this culture. That being said, he is also looking at it from a purely archeological standpoint and that needs to be taken into consideration when reading this text.

My biggest issue with his work is that he seems to side with Roman viewpoints of the Celts being barbarians and the idea of "noble savage" in his view of civilized nations vs uncivilized nations. He presents this slightly in his presentation of human sacrifice in Celtic culture while not weighing it agains Romans throwing prisoners into the ring to be mauled and killed by lions for the entertainment of the masses and in the tone of his presentation of hard veiws vs soft views of Celtic culture as presented by Nora Chadwick. He also left me with the feeling that Irish literature a few centuries later could not be as trusted for valid information and had less direct merit than the writings of Caesar, Strabo, and others during the actual time of the Celts even though he admits that Ireland was least touched by outside forces during that time. His view is that because Ireland was insular and had no outside body (Romans) to critique it, its merit is questionable.
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