High stone pillar adjacent to the Druid’s Temple near Ilton
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
A druid was a member of the priestly and learned class active in Gaul, and perhaps in Celtic culture more generally, during the final centuries BCE. They were suppressed by the Roman government from the 1st century CE and disappeared from the written record by the 2nd century, although there may have been later survivals in Britain and Ireland, since druids feature prominently in Irish mythology.
Little contemporary evidence about druids exists, and thus little can be said regarding them with assurance. It is known that they held the cultural repository of knowledge in an oral tradition, using poetic verse as a mnemonic device and to ensure the fidelity of the transmission of knowledge over time. Most of what is known about them comes from the Roman writers. Similar to the monks of the Christian era following, they combined the duties of priest, judge, scholar, and teacher. The core points of druidic doctrine reported in Roman sources is their belief in metempsychosis, and their practice of human sacrifice. However, reports of atrocities used to justify imperial conquest are to be considered critically throughout history. Their reported reverence for various aspects of the natural world, such as the ritual of oak and mistletoe described by Pliny the Elder, has also been associated withanimism.
The earliest record of the name druidae (Δρυΐδαι) is reported from a lost work of the Greek doxographer Sotion of Alexandria (early 2nd century BCE), who was cited by Diogenes Laertius in the 3rd century CE.
Merlin is a legendary figure best known as the wizard featured in the Arthurian legend. The standard depiction of the character first appears in Geoffrey of Monmouth‘s Historia Regum Britanniae, written c. 1136, and is based on an amalgamation of previous historical and legendary figures. Geoffrey combined existing stories of Myrddin Wyllt (Merlinus Caledonensis), a North British madman with no connection to King Arthur, with tales of the Romano-British war leaderAmbrosius Aurelianus to form the composite figure he called Merlin Ambrosius (Welsh: Myrddin Emrys).
Geoffrey’s rendering of the character was immediately popular; later writers expanded the account to produce a fuller image of the wizard. Merlin’s traditional biography casts him as a cambion; born of mortal woman, sired by an incubus, the non-human wellspring from whom he inherits his supernatural powers and abilities. Merlin matures to an ascendant sagehood and engineers the birth of Arthur through magic and intrigue. Later authors have Merlin serve as the king’s adviser until he is bewitched and imprisoned by the Lady of the Lake.
The Winter King
by Bernard Cornwell
The Winter King begins with Derfel, an elderly monk living at the monastery of Dinnewrac in the Welsh kingdom of Powys (the fictional Dinnewrac is sited near modern Welshpool). He is in the service of Bishop Sansum, who is revered by the monastery as a saint. The queen of Powys, Igraine, has come to the monastery to pray for a child. When she learns that Derfel was one of King Arthur’s warriors, she commissions him to write Arthur’s story. As Bishop Sansum is an enemy of both Arthur and Derfel and has denounced Arthur’s tale as pagan heresy, Igraine convinces him that Derfel is translating the Gospel into the Saxon language in the hope of converting the Saxons to Christianity. Sansum depends on the warriors of Powys to protect his monastery, so he accepts the deception, which is aided by the fact that Sansum cannot read.