This now leaves us with the following terms: Druid, Vates, Vergobretus, Bard, and perhaps fili.
Let us take a look at what their jobs were.
The specialised function of the "druid" is described in Strabo IV, 4 as the science of nature and moral philosophy (pro\s te physiologi/a kai\ ten ethiken philosophi/an). The term "druid" itself is probably derived from IE *dru-uid- "highly wise" - which might be the reason for why it was also used as a catchover term for all the religious functions.
The specialised functions may allow us to assume that the druids in fact are the class who worked as medics and who were knowledgeable in herbal lore as described by Pliny the Elder. A grave of such a "druid" we know from the cemetery of Pottenbrunn, object 520, which contained the burial of an adult male of the early La Te\ne Period, which carried, additionally to the usual equipment, a medical instrument and a propellor-shaped bone object of unknown function, which could be an item used in rituals.
The function of the vates is described by Strabo as "interpreters of sacrifices and natural philosophers" (hieropoioi\ kai\ physiolo\goi). This fits quite well with what we know of as the function of the Irish fa/ith, whose job was to carry out the divinations. The description of Strabo allows us to assume that also the vates were the diviners, and as such probably also the calender of Coligny falls into their field of work (the Claender has been interpreted as a solar/lunar predictor by Olmsted), so the vates would be the ones who were the astrologers and mathematicians amongst the "priests"
We know little about the actual function of the Vergobretus, of whom we only have one short notice in the ancient literary sources which only gives us that title. However, as the term has the same root as the Irish breithem, whose function we know was judging in lawcases, we may assume that the Vergobretus was a similar function. As Caesar reckons the judging in lawcases to the druidical functions it can be assumed that it was a "religious" function as well.
Not much has to be said about the bards. Strabo (IV, 4) describes them as "singers and poets" (hymnetai\ kai\ poietai\), which fits quite well with what we know about the Irish bards. As a possible etymology for *bardos could be derived from the IE root *gur-d(h)o-s which is translated as "Praise Giver" this function could have been religious as well.
WHAT ELSE WE KNOW
Well, actually not much. (accentuation by Eilthireach) We do not know which of the above if any carried out which of the rituals we know or can guess at. However, we know that, according to Caesar (BG VI, 14-2), "Many young men assemble of their own motion to receive their training; many are sent by parents and relatives. Report says that in the schools of the druids they learn by heart a great number of verses, and therefore some persons remain twenty years under training.".
Raimund Karl: "Celtic Religion - What Information Do We Really Have"
http://www.thehealinghealers.com/bos/my ... igion.html
A grave of such a "druid" we know from the cemetery of Pottenbrunn, object 520, which contained the burial of an adult male of the early La Te\ne Period, which carried, additionally to the usual equipment, a medical instrument and a propellor-shaped bone object of unknown function, which could be an item used in rituals.
The cemetery of Pottenbrunn seems to take a special place among the iron age cemeteries of the Traisen Valley. This shows in several graves with unusual equipment. Besides several sword carriers a "druid", a metal worker and a warrior with above-average weaponry could be identified.
But back to the topic. An interesting question came to my mind. If a Druid was placed into a grave with a sign of his office 2,500 years ago - would we recognize that sign today? Was there such a sign at all, or was the authority of the Druids a natural one?
Was there such a sign at all, or was the authority of the Druids a natural one?
Was there such a sign at all, or was the authority of the Druids a natural one?
Serius wrote:My own thoughts are that 'Druids' in the Iron Age and Roman times (before Anglesey) would have been distinguishable only during those periods...maybe by wearing particular clothing or amulets...burials would maybe only be noticeable from grave goods. Would their distinguishing regalia have been handed down?......would they have anything in particular to make them stand out?
Or would they have been Shamen like , wearing clothing of the period?
Just some thoughts.
What evidence is there for Druidry in Iron Age Ireland?
The Iron Age is not well defined in Ireland, so I use the term pre-Christian to refer to Iron Age Ireland.
In Britain and in Europe the Iron Age is generally considered considered to include from 800-600 BCE to the Roman Period.
What evidence is there for Druidry in Iron Age Europe and Britain?
Another concern is could Druidry have been introduced later by the Celts so it was not actually present in the Iron Age.
I too find myself influenced by the idea that the “Celts” were not a people but a culture – I think the genetic evidence for the idea that the "native Britons" first arrived after the Ice Age and remained without being killed off (or "diluted") by invaders is strong and increasing.DaRC wrote: Personally I have been heavily influenced in thought by the genetic history work of Stephen Oppenheimer on the Origins of the British. This would mean that the belief in the genocidal invasion events of the past will be viewed in a different light i.e. they did not happen as such. …This would then push towards Celt not meaning a people but a culture. … what are now called the 'Insular Celts' … were formed from an Atlantic Celtic culture that had it's own sophisticated spiritual continuum. It is this continuum, rooted in Britain and Ireland & going back in time to the Neolithic, that produced Druidry.
I am, however, not convinced that “History is truth” and tend more to the view that a convincing story is just as valid ( ). My own story, at present, is that Druid was a name given to members of an elite class among the Celtic culture. The “Atlantic façade” peoples had a knowledge and belief system that predated the Celtic culture but was seen as valuable and was respected. Hence, as Celtic culture began to unite the tribes of Western Europe, those of higher caste who wanted knowledge travelled to the main centre of that knowledge, particularly western Britain (and Ireland perhaps). So from the “religion” point of view I’m inclined to think that there was a “proto-druidry”, possibly dating back to Neolithic times, that was particularly strong in western Britain and that provided the basis for the Iron Age practices and, subsequently, those which the Romans classed as practiced by Druids, Vates and Bards. I think we may have physical evidence of the religious practices but without contemporary explanation of the significance we’re back in the realms of a good story.“Y-chromosome patterns in Atlantic Europe show little evidence of central European influence,” … “… new mtDNA data from Ireland and a novel analysis of a greatly enlarged European mtDNA database … show that mtDNA lineages, when analyzed in sufficiently large numbers, display patterns significantly similar to a large fraction of both Y-chromosome and autosomal variation. These multiple genetic marker systems indicate a shared ancestry throughout the Atlantic zone, from northern Iberia to western Scandinavia, that dates back to the end of the last Ice Age.” http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1182057/
If Strabo’s claims that Druids could intervene between armies to stop a battle are to be believed then it is likely that they had some symbol which allowed them to be recognised by both sides though we have no way of knowing what he symbols were or if they were buried with their owners.CelticCross wrote: Was there such a sign at all, or was the authority of the Druids a natural one?What I would ask is: did they need to have a sign of their office? Communities being smaller, would not everyone really just know who the local druid was? Unless I'm way off base, the druid would be an integral part of the community, not the far off manor lord who you'd maybe see once a year. There would even be a tactical advantage to the druids looking like everyone else: it makes it difficult for enemies to target them (as the Romans did).Serius wrote:My own thoughts are that 'Druids' in the Iron Age and Roman times (before Anglesey) would have been distinguishable only during those periods...maybe by wearing particular clothing or amulets...burials would maybe only be noticeable from grave goods. Would their distinguishing regalia have been handed down?......would they have anything in particular to make them stand out? Or would they have been Shamen like , wearing clothing of the period? Just some thoughts.
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