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Dressing The Stones
Raising The Foreign Stones
Salisbury Plain
Stonehenge Summarised Useful Facts For The Attention Of Visitors
Tenons And Mortices
The Barrows Of Salisbury Plain
The Building Of Stonehenge
The Druid Question
The Earthwork
The Foreign Stones
The Hele Stone Or Friar's Heel
The Legend Of The Friar's Heel
The Lithology Of Stonehenge
The Men Of The Barrows
The Process Of Erection
The Round Barrows
The Slaughtering Stone
The Stones Without The Circle
The Story Of The Sarsens
What Was Stonehenge?
When Was Stonehenge Erected?

The Druid Question

Perhaps one of the most persistent traditions which has been passed on
from generation to generation is that which connects Stonehenge with
the Druids. There is, indeed, a vast literature on the subject of
Druidism, but the actual knowledge of the subject is limited, and the
entire question is very obscure. Much of the information existing is
derived from a time when Christianity had long been established. The
early Celtic religion has in fact been overlaid and embellished by so
many later theories as to be particularly confusing to the modern
student. Benedictine historians have discovered in Druidism traces of
revealed religion by the simple process of confusing similarity with
identity. The Gaul adored the oak tree, therefore this must have been
a far-off remembrance of the plains of Mamre.

Another class of writers have invented for the Druids the mission of
preserving in the West the learning of Phoenicia and Egypt. The cults
of Baal and Moloch have been grafted upon them, and so forth, until
the very Druid himself is lost in a mass of crystallisations from
without. The insular Druids, to which our national traditions refer,
were far more likely to be mere wise men, or witch doctors, with
perhaps a spice of the conjuror. This, at all events, seems to be the
case at the time when we first acquire any positive information
concerning them. Theirs it would be to summon the rain clouds and to
terrify the people by their charms. The Chief Druid of Tara, decked
out in golden ear-clasps and his torque of heavy gold, is shown us as
a leaping juggler as he tosses swords and balls in the air, and
like the buzzing of bees on a beautiful day is the motion of each
passing the other.

Amazing as is the bulk which has been written about the Druids, their
beliefs, knowledge, and ethics, it seems even more remarkable that so
much should have been said to connect them with the building of the
stone circles which they are credited with having constructed as
astronomical observatories and temples. As has already been indicated,
Stonehenge belongs to an epoch far earlier than any Druidism of which
record remains. This fact rests upon the evidence of both the
archŠologist and the astronomer. It is, therefore, not a little
puzzling that Sir Norman Lockyer, after fixing the date of Stonehenge
at about 1700 B.C., should cite the Druids and their late Celtic cult
in dealing with a monument which, on his own showing, was built in
early Bronze times. There must exist a very wide gap of anything from
seven hundred to a thousand years between the May Year Druids of
whom he writes, and the builders of Stonehenge, and an interval
possibly as great or even greater between Stonehenge and Avebury and
those other north-east and south-east temples to which he attributes a
Druidic form of worship. It is even a matter of grave question if the
race who built the Stone Circles was not entirely different to the
late Celtic inhabitants of the plain. Avebury has been classed as a
Neolithic monument, built by the long-headed race whose remains are
usually found in the Long Barrows; Stonehenge belongs to a bronze
period, but at a very early date in that culture; its builders would
probably belong to the round-headed type of man whose barrows are
studded very closely round about it.

Next: The Barrows Of Salisbury Plain

Previous: What Was Stonehenge?

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