"Celt, Druid and Culdee"
Isabel Hill Elder
THE EARLY BRITONS
IT has been said that the only excuse for writing a book is that
one has something to say which has not been said before. That
this claim cannot be made on behalf of this little volume will be
very evident to the reader as he proceeds, since it is a
***compilation from a variety of sources,*** from which evidence
has been brought together, to support the belief that the
civilization of the early Britons was of a high standard, and
that they did not deserve that contempt with which they have been
treated by many historians, nor the odious names of 'savages' and
'barbarians' by the supercilious literati of Greece and Rome.
When evidence, admittedly fragmentary, of the real conditions in
these islands, from the earliest times, has been brought to light
throughout the centuries, it seems, almost invariably, to have
been rejected in favour of Roman teaching.
In his History of Scotland, the Rev. J. A. Wylie, LL.D., say:
'We have been taught to picture the earliest conditions of
our country as one of unbroken darkness. A calm
consideration of the time and circumstances of its first
peopling warrants a more cheerful view."
By examining the available evidence it may be possible to obtain
this more cheerful view, and to show that in the darkest eras of
our country the rites of public worship were publicly observed.
It is ever true to say that, 'The history of a nation is the
history of its religion, its attempts to seek after God.'
Wilford states that the **old Indians** were acquainted with the
**British Islands,** which their books described as the sacred
islands of the west, and called one them Britashtan, or the seat
or place of religious duty.
The popular idea that the ancestors of the British were painted
savages has no foundation in fact. It was a custom of the Picts
and other branches of the Celtic and Gothic nations to make
themselves look terrible in war, from whence came the Roman term
'savage'. The 'painting' was in reality tattooing, a practice
still cherished in all primitive crudities by the British sailor
or and soldier.
Far from these ancestral Britons having been mere painted
savages, roaming wild in the woods as we are imaginatively told
in most of the modern histories, they are now, on the contrary,
as disclosed by newly found historical facts given by Professor
Waddell, known to have been, from the very first grounding of
their galley keels upon these shores, over a millennium and a
half before the Christian era, a literate race, pioneers of
civilization. The universally held belief that the mixed race
has prevailed during many centuries; this belief, however, is
now fading out of the scientific mind and giving place to the
exact opposite. Britons, Celts, Gaels, Anglo-Saxons, Danes and
Normans when warring with each other were kinsmen shedding
Professor Sayce, at a later date, in one of his lectures,
observes that he misses no opportunity of uprooting the notion
that the people who form the British nation are descended from
various races, all the branches that flowed into Britain being
branches of the selfsame stock. Not a single pure Saxon is to be
found in any village, town or city of Germany. Our Saxon
ancestors rested there for a time in their wandering to these
Dr. Latham says, "Throughout the whole length and breadth of
Germany there is not one village, hamlet or family which can show
definite signs of descent from the Continental ancestors of the
Angles of England."
It was against this, race, now in possession of the whole of
Southern Britain, that Caesar led his legions. The Belgae, the
Attrebates, the Parisii and the Britanni were all British tribes,
having kinsmen on the Continent, yet moving westward, who had
fought against Caesar in the Gallic wars.
It is noteworthy that during the occupation of Britain by the
Romans the inhabitants led a life as separate as possible from
their invaders and, according to Professor Huxley, when the
Romans withdrew from Britain in A.D.410 the population was as
substantially Celtic as they found it.
Huxley in 1870, in the earlier years of the Irish agitation,
applied the results of his studies to the political situation in
Ireland in the following words in one of his lectures:
"If what I have to say in a matter of science weighs with
any man who has political power I ask him to believe that
the arguments made about the difference between Anglo
Saxons and Celts are a mere sham and delusion."
The Welsh Triads and the 'Chronicum Regum Pictorum' as well as
the 'Psalter of Cashel' give us the chief early information about
the inhabitants of Scotland, and all agree as to the racial unity
of the peoples, much, however, as they fought each other.
This unity is recognized by Thierry Nicholas, Palgrave and Bruce
The Britons were renowned for their athletic form, for the great
strength of their bodies, and for swiftness foot. Clean-shaven,
save for long moustaches, with fair skins and fair hair, they
were a fine, manly race of great height (Strabo tells us that
British youths were six inches taller than the tallest man in
Rome) and powerfully built. They excelled in running, swimming,
wrestling, climbing and in all kinds of bodily exercise, were
patient in pain, toil and suffering, accustomed to fatigue,
to bearing hunger, cold and all manner of hardships. Bravery,
fidelity to their word, manly independence, love of their
national free institutions, and hatred of every pollution and
meanness were their noble characteristics.
Tacitus (the Roman historian - Keith Hunt) tells us the northern
Britons were well trained and armed for war. In the battlefield
they formed themselves into battalions; the soldiers were armed
with huge swords and small shields called 'short targets', they
had chariots and cavalry, and carried darts which they hurled in
showers on the enemy. Magnificent as horsemen, with their
chargers gaily caparisoned, they presented a splendid spectacle
when prepared for battle. The cumulative evidence is of a people
numerous, brave and energetic. Even Agricola could say that it
would be no disgrace to him, were he to fall in battle, to do so
among so brave a people. Farther south similar conditions
prevailed; the Romans, led by Plautius and Flavius Vespasian, the
future Emperor and his brother, assailed the British, and were
met with the british 'stupidity' knows when it is beaten.
The British have been from all time a people apart,characterized
by justice and a love of religion. Boadicea, in her oration as
queen by Dion Cassius, observes that though Britain had been for
centuries open to the Continent, yet its language, philosophy and
usages continued as great a mystery as ever to the Romans
The monuments of the ancient Britons have long since vanished
(with the exception of Stonehenge and other places of Druidic
worship), yet Nennius, the British historian who was Abbot of
Bangor-on-Dee about A.D. 860, states that he drew the greater
part of his information from writings and the monuments of the
old British inhabitants. Our early historians were undoubtedly
acquainted with a book of annals written in the vernacular tongue
which was substantially the same as the Saxon Chronicle.
Nennius disclaims any special ability for the task of historian
set him by his superiors, but is filled with a keen desire to see
justice done to the memory of his countrymen, saying, 'I bore
about with me an inward wound, and I was indignant that the name
of my own people, formerly famous and distinguished, should sink
into oblivion and like smoke be dissipated....It is better to
drink a wholesome draught of truth from a humble vessel than
poison mixed with honey from a golden goblet.'
What were once considered exaggerated statements on the part of
Nennius, Geoffrey of Monmouth and other early historians, are now
discovered to be trust-worthy. In their day these writers were
regarded as historians of repute. Many of the ancient British
writers were professed genealogists, men appointed and patronized
by the princes of the country, who were prohibited from following
other professions. It was left a later age to throw doubt on
their veracity. Since it is the nature of truth to establish
itself it seems the reverse of scholarly to disregard the
evidence of ancient reports as embodied in the Welsh Triads and
the writings of early British historians.
Milton says, 'These old and inborn names of successive kings
never to have been real persons, or done in their lives at least
some part of what so long hath been remembered cannot be thought
without too strict incredulity.'
A great deal of history, so-called has come dow to us from Latin
sources, whose one object was, from the very first to make us
believe that we owe all to Rome, when, in fact, Rome owes a
great deal to us: so much error has been taught in our schools
concerning the ancient Britons that it is difficult for the
average student to realize that the British, before the arrival
of Julius Caesar, were, in all probability, among the most highly
educated people on the earth at that time and, as regards
scientific research, surpassed both the Greeks and the Romans - a
fact testified to by both Greek and Roman writers themselves.
In all the solid essentials of humanity our British ancestors
compare to great advantage with the best eras of Greece and Rome.
Lumisden has shown in his treatise on the 'Antiquities of Rome'
that many of the fine actions attributed by Roman historians to
their own ancestors are mere copies from the early history of
It is unfortunate for posterity that the histories from which
modern historians have drawn their information were written by
hostile strangers. That they have been accepted all along the
centuries as true is a striking tribute to a people who, valiant
in war and fierce in the defence of their rights, think no evil
of their enemies. Truly has it been said that an essentially
British characteristic is the swift forgetfulness of injury.
(Source facts for this chapter by Isabel Hill Elder, were taken
from the following- Keith Hunt)
1 History of Scotland, Vol.I, p.31.
2 Asiatic Researches, Vol.3
3 Origin of Britons, Scots and Anglo-Saxons, p.14.4 Hibbert
5 Ethnology of the British Islands, p.217.
6 Gilbert Stone, England, p.9.
7 Anthrop. Rev. 1870, Vol.8, p.197, Forefathers and Forerunners
of the British People.
8 Norman Conquest, p.20.
9 Pedigree of the English People.
10 Palgrave, English Commonwealth, Ch.I, p.85.
11 Hannay, European and other Race Origins, pp.365,470,371.
12 Pezron, Antiq, de la Nation et de la Langue Gaulaise.
13 Vita Agricolae, c.28.
14 Historiae Brittonum of Nennius, Harleian MS 3859 (British
15 Vide Geoffrey of Monmouth, I, 1. See Cave Hist.Lit. II,18.
16 Nennius, Hist. of the Britons, trans. J. A. Giles, Prol. p.2.
17 Gir. Camb. Cambriae Descript., Cap. XVIII. Anglica Hibernica,
ed. Camden, p.890.
18 History of England, Vol. 8, p. i 1.
19 Strabo, I,IV, p.197. Mela Pom., III, 2,18. N.H., I, 30.
20 Antiq.of Rome, pp.6,7,8.
LAWS AND ROADS
That Britain had an indigenous system of law centuries before the
Christian era is abundantly clear from ancient histories of our
The lawgiver, Molmutius, 450 B.C.(1) based his laws on the code
of Brutus, 1100 B.C. He was the son of Cloton, Duke of Cornwall
(which was and continued to be a royal dukedom) and is referred
to in ancient documents as Dyfn-val-meol-meod, and because of his
wisdom has been called the 'Solomon' of Britain. 'Centuries
before the Romans gained a footing in this country the
inhabitants were a polished and intellectual people, with a
system of jurisprudence of their own, superior even to the laws
of Rome, and the Romans acknowledged this.'(2)
We have it from the great law authorities and from the legal
writers, Fortescue and Coke, that the Brutus and Molmutine laws
have always been regarded as the foundation and bulwark of
British liberties, and are distinguished for their clearness,
brevity, justice and humanity.(3)
'The original laws of this land were composed of such elements as
Brutus first selected from the ancient Greek and Trojan
A Trojan law mentioned by E.O.Gordon, decreed that the sceptre
might pass to a queen as well as to a king; this law was embodied
by King Molmutius in his code and remains an outstanding feature
of the rulership of these islands.(5)
The liberty of the subject, so marked a feature of British
government today, runs from those remote times like a gold thread
through all the laws and institutions in this country.
King Alfred, it is recorded, employed his scribe, Asser, a
learned Welsh monk from St. David's (whom he afterwards made
abbot of Amesbury and Bishop of Sherborne), to translate the
Molmutine laws from the Celtic tongue into Latin, in order
that he might incorporate them into his own Anglo-Saxon code.(6)
'The Manorial system had its beginning in Celtic Britain and was
so deeply rooted in the soil that when the Romans came they were
wise enough in their experience as colonists not to attempt the
redistribution of the old shires and hundreds.'(7)
King Alfred's ideas of rulership maintained the earlier and
sometimes unwritten laws of Britain in these words: 'A king's raw
material and instruments of rule are well-peopled land, and he
must also have men of prayer, men of war and men of work.'
From the earliest Code of Laws known as the Molmutine, the
following are appended as examples:
'There ate three tests of civil liberty; equality of rights;
equality of taxation; freedom to come and go.
'Three things are indispensable to a true union of nations;
sameness of laws, rights and language.
'There are three things free to all Britons; the forest, the
unworked mine, the right of hunting.
'There three property birthrights of every Briton; five British
acres of land for a home, the right of suffrage in the enacting
of the laws, the male at twenty-one, the female on her marriage.
'There are three things which every Briton may legally be
compelled to attend; the worship of God, military service, the
courts of law.
'There are three things free to every man, Briton or foreigner,
the refusal of which no law will justify; water from spring,
river or well; firing from a decayed tree, a block of stone not
'There are three classes which are exempt from bearing arms;
bards, judges, graduates in law or religion. These represent God
and His peace, and no weapon must ever be found in their hands.
'There are three persons who have a right of public maintenance;
the old, the babe, the foreigner who can not speak the British
From time immemorial the laws and customs differed from those of
other nations, and that the Romans effected no change in this
respect is very plainly set forth by Henry de Bracton, a
thirteenth-century English judge of great experience. 'He was
thoroughly acquainted with the practice of the law. His "Note-
Book" is our earliest and most treasured of law reports.'(9)
Judge de Bracton states, 'Whereas in almost all countries they
use laws and written right, England alone uses within her
boundaries unwritten right and custom. In England, indeed, right
is derived from what is unwritten which usage has approved. There
are also in England several and divers customs according to the
diversity of places, for the English have many things by custom
which they have not by written law, as in divers countries,
cities, boroughs and vills where it will always have to be
enquired what is the custom of the place and in what manner they
who allege the custom observe the custom.'(10)
Another point on which Britain differs from other countries is
that she has ever maintained the Common Law which holds a person
under trial innocent until proved guilty, whereas the Continental
nations maintain the Civil Law which holds him guilty until
Molmutius, the first king in these islands to wear a crown of
gold,(11) is said to have founded the city of Bristol, which he
called Caer Odor, 'the city of the Chasm'. His son Belinus, who
succeeded him, built a city where London now stands which he
called Caer Troia, and also the first Thames Embankment. He
constructed a sort of quay or port made of poles and planks, and
erected a water-gate. That age, the only gate admitting into
London on the south side, became Belinus Gate or Belins Gate.
Belinus lived to the age of eighty. When he died his body was
burned (they did not call it cremation in those days) and his
ashes were enclosed in a brazen urn, which was placed on top of
the gate; henceforth it was Belin's Gate and it requires no undue
stretch of imagination to see that Belin's Gate became
Bellingsgate enjoys the proud distinction of being the first Port
of London, the only Port of London at that time, and thus the men
of Billingsgate became the first Port of London Authority.
Cambria Formosa, daughter of Belinus, 373 B.C. greatly promoted
the building of cities. She is said to have taught the women of
Britain to sow flax and hemp and weave it into cloth. Her brother
Gwrgan first built the city of Cambridge which he called Caer
In these early times Britain was a wealthy country, with fine
cities, a well organized national life, and an educated and
The so-called Roman roads in Britain were constructed centuries
BEFORE the Romans came to these islands. The dover to Holyhead
causeway, called Sarn Wydellin or Irish Road, later became
corrupted into Watling Street; the Sarn Ikin, later Icknield
street, led from London northwards through the eastern district,
and Sarn Achmaen from London to Menevia (St. David's).
These were causeways or raised roads (not mere trackways as
sometimes erroneously stated), except where raised road were
impossible, and this accounts for the term 'Holloway' in some
parts of the country.
Our roads were begun by Molmutius (c.450 B.C.) and completed by
his son Belinus. On their completion a law was enacted throwing
open these roads to all nations and foreigners: 'There are three
things free to a country and its borders; the roads, the rivers
and the places of worship. These are under the protection of God
and His peace.' In this law originated the term 'The King's
Writers who maintain that the British roads were simply unmade
trackways seem unaware of the fact that the British were skilled
charioteer this fact, without other evidence, should go a long
way to prove that the roads of ancient Britain were hard and well
made. Charioteering is not brought to perfection on soft, boggy
trackways, nor are chariots built without wheelwrights and other
mechanics skilled in the working of iron and wood.
Only once before, in the war with Antiochus, 192 B.C., the Romans
met with similar chariots, but never in any European country. The
British chariot was built after the Eastern pattern, adorned with
carved figures and armed with hooks and scythes. British chariots
were prized possessions of the Romans.
Diodorus Siculus, 60 B.C., states, 'The Britons live in the same
manner that the ancients did; they fight in chariots as the
ancient heroes of Greece are said to have done in the Trojan
wars.....They are plain and upright in their dealings, and far
from the craft and subtlety of our countrymen.... The island is
very populous.... The Celts never shut the doors of their houses;
they invite strangers to their feasts, and when all is over ask
who they are and what is their business.(15)
Britain, long before the Roman invasion, was famous for its breed
of horses and the daring and accomplishment of its charioteers;
and after the arrival of the Romans the large space given by
their historians to the wars in Britain, demonstrate the interest
felt in them by the whole empire. Juvenal could suggest no news
which would have(16) been hailed by the Roman people with more
satisfaction than the fall of the British king Arviragus
(Caractacus), a direct descendant of King Molmutius.
'Hath our great enemy, Arviragus, the car-borne British
king, Dropped from his battle-throne?'
1. Ancient Laws of Cambria (British Museum, 5805, A.A. 4). Myv.
Arch., Vol. II, Brut Tysillo.
2. Yeatman, Early English History, p.9.
3. De Laudibus Legum Angliae. Coke Preface, third volume of
Pleadings. Fortescue Brit. Laws, published with notes by
Selden, Ch.17, pp.38,39.
5. Prehistoric London, p.115.
6. Summarized by Edmund Spenser, Faerie Queen, Bk.II, Stanza
XXXIX (ed. Morris).
7. A Manor through four Centuries, by A.R.Cook.
8. Triads of Dynvall Moelmud, ap. Walter p. 315 Myv Arch., Vol.
III. Ancient Laws of Cambria, ap. Palgrave and Lappenberg.
9. Gilbert Stone, England from Earliest Times, p.385.
10.Legibus et Consuet, pp.4,5.
11.Holinshed, Chronicles, Ch. XXII, p.117. Geoffrey of Monmouth,
12.E. O. Gordon, Prehistoric London, p.146.
13.Lewis, Hist. of Britain, p.52. See Baker's MSS. in the
University Library, Cambridge,XXIV,249.
14.Ancient Laws of Cambriae (British Museum,A.A.4). Stukely,
15.Dio.Sic., Bk.V,Chap.X. Senchus Mor., IV,237.
16.Juvenal lived through the reigns of Caligula, Claudius, Nero,
Vespasian, Domitian and Trojan, in whose reign he died at the
COMMERCE AND DRESS
Tacitus (the Roman Historian - Keith Hunt) and Strabo describe
Londinium as famous for the vast number of merchants who resorted
to it for its widely extended commerce, for the abundance of
every species of commodity which it could supply, and they make
note of British merchants bringing to the Seine and the Rhine
shiploads of corn and cattle, iron and hides, and taking back
iron, ivory and brass ornaments.(1)
That Londinium was considered by the Romans as the metropolis of
Britain is further established by the fact that it was the
residence of the Vicar of Britain!(2) The abode of such an office
clearly marks London as having been a seat of justice, of
government and of the administration of the finances which
consequently contributed to its extent, its magnificence and its
wealth.(3) Britain was, in fact, from at least 900 B.C. to the
Roman invasion, the manufacturing centre of the world.
The Abbe de Fontenu proved that the Phoenicians, the name by
which the tribe of Asher was known after the Conquest of the
Phoenician territory, had an established trade with Britain
before the Trojan war, 1190 B.C.(4) Admiral Himilco of Carthage,
who visited Britain about the sixth century B.C. to explore 'the
outer parts of Europe', records that the Britons were 'a powerful
race, proud-spirited, effectively skilful in art, and constantly
busy with the cares of trade.(5)
Nor was Ireland less forward than Britain, for from the ancient
Greek records it would appear that trade routes both by sea and
land existed in these very early times, the latter route being
across Europe through the territories of the Scythians. A most
curious belief of the Greeks was that the inspiration which led
to the institution of the Olympic Games was derived from the
observance of ancient Irish festivities.(6)
The British farmer had a market for his produce beyond the shores
of Britain. We learn from Zosimus that in the reign of Julian,
A.D.363, eight hundred pinnaces were built in order to supply
Germany with corn from Britain.(7)
When the Romans invaded Britain in A.D. 43 they found the
inhabitants in possession of a gold coinage, wrought shields of
bronze(8) and enamelled ornaments.(9) Fine specimens of richly
enamelled horses' trappings may be seen in the British Museum,
and the bronze shield found in the Thames, near Battersea,
adorned with enamelled designs, Rice Holmes describes as 'the
noblest creation of late Celtic art.'(10)
The beautiful brooches discovered in different parts of these
islands clearly demonstrated that the Britons were skilful and
artistic metal workers, and in the centuries of Roman
domination(more like "occupation" than "domination" - Keith Hunt)
The Celtic patterns did not die out. A peculiarly Celtic type is
the 'dragon' brooch 'representing a conventionalized writhing
dragon often magnificently inlaid with enamel, and recalling in
its vigorous design and curvilinear motives all the essential
qualities of late Celtic art'. Thus the native tradition of metal
work continued under Roman rule to flourish and to produce types
which were not merely Roman but recognizably Celtic.(11) In a
further description Mr. Collingwood says. 'In the true Celtic
spirit the ornament on the trumpet head is often made with eyes
and nostrils to resemble the head of an animal, but however the
brooch is finished in detail it is always a masterpiece of both
design and manufacture.'(12)
Enamelling was an art unknown to the Greeks until they were
taught it by the Celts.(13)
Dr.Arthur Evans tells us that the Romans carried off some of the
Britons to Rome to teach them the art of enamelling as well as
that of glass-making.
Stukeley, giving an account of a glass urn discovered in the Isle
of Ely in the year 1757,observes the Britons were famous for
The early Britons were workers in pottery, turnery, smeltings and
glasswork.(15) In the excavations at Glastonbury well-made
instruments of agriculture were found such as tools, files,
safety-pins and also the remains of wells and bridges.
The British tin mines were, from the earliest times, world
renowned. Diodorus Siculus states, 'These people obtain the tin
by skilfully working the soil which produces it.'(16)
Herodotus speaks of the British Isles under the general term
'Cassiterides or the Tin Islands.(17) Bede mentions copper,
iron, lead and silver. 'Gold, too, was mined on a small scale in
Wales, and on a large scale in Ireland where was situated in
early times the centre of the goldmining industry.' Bede mentions
also, as semi-precious, the jet for which Whitby is famous even
The lead mines of Britain were worked long before the Roman
occupation, and it is believed that during the partial domination
by Rome, the mining continued to be carried out by Celtic
Dr.John Phillips, the geologist, stated in 1855 that without due
consideration being given to the lead-mining industry, our ideas
'of the ancient British people would be altogether conjectural,
derogatory and erroneous'(20)
Derbyshire was the chief centre of lead-mining, and is so
mentioned in Domesday Book.
Eumemus, A.D.266, private secretary to Constantius Chlores,
states, Britain is full of skilled craftsmen.(21)
The coins of ancient Britain are worthy of more than passing
notice. (Yes, I have a personal friend here in Calgary, Alberta,
who is probably the world's foremost expert on Celtic coinage.
His Website is world famous if you are in that line of study, or
Celtic research in any way. His Website is: writer2001.com and
go to the link which he tells me you cannot miss - Keith Hunt).
Numismatists tell us that our ancient British types cannot amount
to many less than four hundred in number, of which possibly two
hundred may have inscriptions,(22) this variety is to be
accounted for by the fact that each tribe had its own stamped
currency in gold silver and bronze.(my friend John who I have
just talked to on the phone says the number 400 is now way out of
date. He tells me there were at least 1,000 coins that were
"struck" or "used" [some coming from the Europe Celts] in the
Britain - Keith Hunt).
Canon Lysons state, 'It is to be remembered that the earliest
British coins are not imitations of the Roman coinage, they much
resemble the coinage of Philip of Macedon, Alexander the Great,
and the Greek and Eastern mintage.(23)
Dr.Borlase in his Antiquities of Cornwall asserts that the wheel
under the horse seen on Cornish coins intimated the making of a
highway for carts, and that the wheel is common on the coins of
Cunobelinus, 14 B.C., on those of Cassebelinus, 51 B.C., and also
on the Cornish coins which from their character appear to be
older than the rest.
Sir John Evans devotes sixty-four pages of his standard work
"Ancient British Coins" to the coins of Cunobelinus and the
history of his reign.
That Cunobelinus, the Cymbeline of Shakespeare, was a man of
education and refinement is well borne out by his coins,
universally considered to be a true index and reflection of the
mind. Numismatists tell us that the Cunobelinus types are by no
means a Roman type and could hardly have been struck except by
The coins of Arviragus, son of Cunobelinus, are, where they are
included, the gems of every collection. The horse, sometimes
thought to have been introduced as a national emblem by the
Saxons, is one of the most common types upon the coins of the
M. de la Saussaye, in describing the old coin assigned to the
British Druid Abaris, who visited Greece, mentioned by Hecataeus,
states, 'I have been induced to modify my assertion on more than
one point and I particularly recognize religious ideas peculiar
to the Celts expressed on their monetary uninscribed types.(24)
The palm trees on the coins of the Southern Belgae, who settled
in Kent, Sussex, Hants, Wits, Dorset and Devon proclaim the
Eastern origin of these people.
From them modern pictorial representation of our ancestors we are
expected to believe that their dress consisted of an animal skin
fastened round the waist, and that they wandered, thus scantily
clad, about their island home, living on nuts and berries.
Boadicea, Queen of the Iceni (the inhabitants of Norfolk and
Suffolk), was described by Dion Cassius as a woman of commanding
appearance. 'Her stature exceeded the ordinary height of women;
her aspect was calm and collected, but her voice had become deep
and pitiless. Her hair falling in long golden tresses as low as
her hips was collected round her forehead by a golden coronet;
she wore a "tartan" dress fitting closely to the bosom, but below
the waist expanding in loose folds, as a gown; over it was a
chlamys or military cloak. In her hand she bore a spear.'(26)
In these descriptions of native dress it is interesting to note
the early use of the tartan. A British hooded cloak was evidently
regarded by the Romans as a superior garment, for in
Diocletian's Edict of Prices issued in A.D.301, the price of the
British cloak was the highest on the list, with the exception of
the Gallic. If the price was high on account of the quality of
the wool, the statement of the epigrammatist, Martial, A.D.60, is
given as substantiating that among other attractions, Britain was
'for wool past compare.'(27)
Ireland kept pace with Britain in the farming for wool, both for
export and domestic use; the Irish cottiers were always warmly
clad in their own home spun.(28)
The Briton in battledress was an impressive figure being clad
precisely as were the men of Gaul; clean-shaven, save for long
moustaches, with fair skins, fair hair, gorgeously clad in
breeches, bright-colored tunics and woollen cloaks dyed crimson
and often a chequered pattern with torques, armlets and bracelets
of gold, shields of enamelled bronze, and swords of fine
workmanship, they presented a splendid spectacle when prepared
The Britons appear to have been also importers of cloth.
According to one authority, Phoenician cloths of Beyrout were
largely worn by the inhabitants of ancient Britain. At Beyrout
our Patron Saint George held for a time an important post under
the Roman Government.(29)
A torque or gold collar was worn by the wealthier inhabitants and
worn also as a distinguishing sign of eminence.(30) Specimens of
these torques have been discovered from time to time, and may be
seen in various museums, notably Dublin National Museum, and in
private collections. A very good example acquired by the late
Duke of Westminster and deposited at Eaton Hall was found at Bryn
Sion Caerwys Mill; it is thirty-two inches long and weighs
1. Strabo, Geogr. III,175; IV,199.
2. A Roman office.
3. Amm. Marcell, Lib.15, Chaps.8,9.
4. Mem. de Littirature, tome VII, p.126.
5. Fragment preserved by Festus Avienus, Ora Maritama, V, 98-100.
6. C. F. Parker, On the Trail of Irish Identity. National
Message, March 8, 1939.
7. Zosimus, Lib. III, p.43 (Ed. Bas.).
8. Philostratus. A Greek sophist (third century) who resided at
Court of Julia Domna, describes the British process.
9. Gilbert Stone, England from Earliest Times, p.9
10.Anc. Brit., p.244..
11.R.C Collingwood, Roman Britain, p. 76.
12.Archaeology of Roman Britain, p.253.
13.J. Romilly Allen, Celtic Art, p.136.
14.Minutes of Antiq. Soc., March 1762.
15.Gallic Antiq.,p.64 (J. Smith).
16.Bk. V, Chap. X
17.Thalia, Section C, XV (Bel.ed).
18.Gilbert Stone, England from Earliest Times, p.15.
19.Gordon Home, Roman York, p.27
20.YorkPhilos. Soc., Vol.1, p.92
21.Panegyric Constanteus, C, 111.
22.J.Evens, Coins of the Anc.Brit., O, 171.
23.Our British Ancestors, p.41.
24.Coins of Cunobelinus and of the Ancient Britons, p.26
25.La Revue Numismatique, for 1842, p.165
26.Dion Cassius (Xiphilinus Excerpta), p.176, See Strabo,
27.Martial, Lib, 1, ep. 2; and Lib.111, ep.20.
28.Stephen Gwynn, History of Ireland, p.330
29.Rev.Canon Parfitt, M.A., St. George of Merry England, 1917
30.Gibon's Camden, p.653. Hoare, Ancient Wilts,Vol.1,p.202
THE ROMAN INVASION
AT the time of the Roman invasion evidence of prosperity and
culture existed in Britain to arouse the envy of the Romans, and
it is a matter of history that the inhabitants led a life as
separate as possible from them.
It was only after ten years incessant warfare that the Romans in
A.D.43 succeeded in effecting a footing in Britain. This is not
reconcilable with the view that the Romans were invading the
territory of untrained, undisciplined savages. The resistance of
Britain was, in reality, against the whole of the north of
Europe, and was highly creditable to the brave defenders of their
country. In the immortal words of SHAKESPEARE in his "Cymbeline,"
'CAESAR MADE NOT HERE HIS BOAST OF CAME AND SAW AND
To estimate aright the military abilities of the
British general, Caswallon, and the resources of the people at
the period of the first collision of our island with the
Continent, it should be borne in mind that they were engaged
against, perhaps, the ablest general of antiquity. The DOUBLE
REPULSION of the JULIAN expedition, 55 and 54 B.C., remains
UNPARALLELED in British history.
In Britain there was one supreme Crown and three Coronets or
Princes' Crowns; there were numerous other 'kings' who never wore
The sovereign who reigned in Britain at the time of the Claudian
invasion was Cunobelinus, or King Belinus, the CYMBELINE of
SHAKESPEARE. Cuno, Cun and Can have their equivalents in the
Saxon Cynig; in modern German, Konig, and in English, King.
Cunobelinus and his ancestors ha much intercourse with the
Romans; he is said to have spent he greater part of his boyhood
at the Court of the Romans.(2)
The Roman invasion of his reign was met by Cunobelinus and is
sons with a stubbornness of defence and bravery which earned for
them admiration of the enemy an aroused the wonder of all Europe.
Cunobelinus, after a reign of thirty years, abdicated in favour
of his third son, Caradoc (Caractacus), who now became Arviragus
or high king and by this title is most frequently referred to in
the British Chronicles.
Tacitus (the Roman historian of the time - Keith Hunt)reluctantly
tells us that: 'In Britain after the capture of Caractacus
(Arviragus) the Romans were frequently defeated and put to rout
by the single state of the Silures alone.'(3) The Silures, the
inhabitants of south-west Britain were noted for their military
prowess and culture.
It is evident from the partial story furnished by the invaders
themselves that the resistance offered by the Britons to their
invaders was a surprise for which they were ill-prepared, for
this resistance came not from hordes of savages but from a nation
whose leaders were well versed in military tactics. The Britons
were determined to defend their ancient laws and institutions at
all costs. They evinced profound homage for the memory of their
forefathers, and from their inborn love of liberty sprang the
undaunted energy with which they met the mercenary and implacable
plunderers of the world. By no people was every inch of the
country contested with more bravery and surrendered more
stubbornly than by these Britons; on terms, indeed, which
rendered every victory for the Romans little better than
defeat.(4) It is absurd to suppose that such a nation could be
If popular amusements are to be taken as the test the Romans were
themselves the MOST BARBAROUS of the nations of Europe. When the
brutal sports of the gladiators were proposed to be introduced at
Athens even the cynics cried out, 'We must first pull down the
statue to mercy which our forefathers erected fifteen hundred
A similar gulf separated the British from the Roman temper, and
the comparison of the latter people with regard to the former
should be received with the caution which we would exercise today
in receiving the accounts of hostile strangers.
All the evidence supplied by Caesar refutes the
notion of material barbarism. Agriculture was universal, corn
everywhere abundant, pasturage a distinct branch of national
wealth, and the population so numerous as to excite his
astonishment - 'hominum, multitudo infinito' - the surest and
most satisfactory proof of and social state and ample means of
Having effected a landing (and the testimony of their own
historians is that never was a country more dearly purchased nor
held with greater difficulty) the Romans proceeded with their
policy of destruction for which they had become notorious on the
continent of Europe.
One notable instance has come down to us of the Roman spirit of
cruel indifference to human feelings and sufferings. The
immensely wealthy Prasutagus, King of the Iceni, apprehensive, in
the event of his death, of the Roman brutality likely to be
experienced by his queen, BOADICEA, and his two daughters, left
one half of his fortune to the Emperor Nero, endeavouring thus to
secure for them a measure of protection. When, however, his death
took place in A.D.60, the Roman 'praefect,' Caius Decius, seized
the royal hoard on the pretext that it came under the
denomination of public property. Resistance being made, the
legionaries stormed the palace and carried the treasures off to
the Castra.(6) The story of the barbarous treatment meted out to
its inmates need not be repeated here, nor of Boadicea, stung to
frenzy by these atrocities, bravely taking to the field in
defence of her family and her people, the Roman 'praefect'
having, in direct violation of the Claudian treaty, also
confiscated the estates of the Icenic nobility.
Seneca, the usurious, millionaire philosopher, advanced to the
Iceni, on the security of their public buildings, a sum of money
- about two million pounds sterling in modern currency,(Elder
was writing in 1973...so much more than 2 million in 2003 as I
present to you this chapter - Keith Hunt)at ruinous rate,(7) this
loan, suddenly and violently called in, was the indirect cause of
the Boadicean war. It was a disgrace for a Roman to lend to a
Roman for interest; they were permitted, however, to lend to a
foreigner. (sound like the romans had an OT law that Israel was
given by God through Moses - Keith Hunt).
The territories of the Iceni were rich in lead-mines, some of
which were known to have been worked in times of even greater
antiquity; the Romans seized these mines soon after their arrival
in Britain, thus cutting off an important source of the wealth of
the Icenic people and obliging them to borrow money from Seneca
for the maintenance of their state.(8)
Boadicea, before leading her people and the tribe of the
Trinobantes who joined them, to war, to redress her wrongs,
ascended the 'generals' tribunal and addressed her army of
120,000 in these words:
"I rule not like Nitocris, over beasts of burden, as are the
effeminate nations of the East, nor, like Semiramis, over
tradesmen and traffickers, nor like the man-woman, Nero, over
slaves and eunuchs - such is the precious knowledge such
foreigners introduced amongst us - but I rule over Britons,
little versed, indeed, in craft and diplomacy, but born and
trained to the game of war; men who in the cause of liberty stake
down their lives, the lives of their wives and children,
their lands and property - Queen of such a race, I implore your
aid for freedom, for victory over enemies infamous for the
wantonness of the wrong they inflict, for their perversion of
justice, for their insatiable greed; a people that revel in
unmanly pleasures, whose affections are more to be dreaded and
abhorred than their enmity. Never let a foreigner bear rule over
me or over my countrymen; never let slavery reign in this
(As I type and read these words, I have the hairs on the back of
my head stand up. They are words like a "Drake" or a "Nelson" or
a "Churchill" or even as George Bush the second, has used against
the Terrorists that took down the two Trade Towers in New York
city on September 11th 2001. No wonder the British have a
sculptured monument of Boadicea in her chariot to this very day
in London - Keith Hunt).
Boadicea's many SUCCESSFUL engagements with the Roman armies are
RECORDED in our histories, and when her DEATH took place in
Flintshire, after her eventual defeat, the Romans were IMPRESSED
with her EXTRAORDINARY MAGNIFICENCE of her obsequies. According
to Tacitus,(10) Boadicea died by poison; in the course of nature
according to the Greek historian Dion Cassius.
Boadicea's kinsman, Caradoc, on meeting the invading Romans,
displayed a like spirit of bravery and courage; perhaps indeed no
warrior of ancient times succeeded in WINNING so much ADMIRATION
from the enemy as this king of the south-western Britons, better
known by his Latinized name of CARACTACUS.
The Welsh or Cymry, as the eldest tribe, held three
priorities. Priority as the first colonizers of Britain;
priority of government and priority in matters of learning and
culture.(11) From this premier tribe was to be elected the
Pendragon, or military dictator with absolute power for the time
being in the case of national danger or foreign invasion.
Caractacus, third son of Cunobelinus, had now succeeded his
father as Pendragon under the title Arviragus, or 'high king'.
This Pendragon was proudly referred to by his fellow countrymen
as 'The Praiseworthy Opposer'. Arviragus had yet another name,
Gueirydd (Justiciary), from his office of administrator of
justice, and by this name is mentioned in the Welsh Chronicles.
These three titles by which this ancient king of renown was known
have been a source of confusion in the minds of historical
students and others, which would not exist if the custom of the
ancient Britons, that of using titular designations, were better
known. The case under consideration is a good example of this
custom; in elucidation the following may be noted: in seven
genealogical charts setting forth his pedigree, Arviragus is
shown to be the son of Cunobelinus and grandsire of Lucius (in
whose reign Christianity was established as the national
religion); in the pedigree according to the classics, i.e. Julius
Caesar, Tacitus, Suetonius, Dion Cassius and Orosius, Caractacus
is shown to be the son of Cunobelinus; in Rome Caractacus was
known also by his title, Arviragus, and is so referred to by the
poet Juvenal. In the pedigree according to Tysilio and in the
Welsh Chronicles, Caractacus appears under his title Gueirdd
(Justiciary), son of Cunobelinus and grandsire of Lucius.
Further, in the Triads, and some of the Welsh genealogies,
Caractacus appears as the son of Bran and grandsire of Lucius.
Bran, a contraction of Brenhan, i.e. 'King', is mentioned in the
Triads as 'Bran the Blessed' (the Blessed King). This was the
designation of Cunobelinus following his acceptance of
Christianity and his resignation of the crown in favour of his
third son, Caractacus. Bran the Blessed became Archdruid of
Siluria in order to devote the remainder of his life to
Christianity into which Druidism was beginning to merge.
Caradoc (Caractacus) was no rude savage fighting out of mere
animal instinct or in ignorance of the might of his adversary.
Familiar with the Latin language, this king was a true
representative of the higher classes of the Britons,'among whom a
as general taste for literature, a keen susceptibility to all
intellectual gratifications, a minute acquaintance with all the
principles and practice of their own national jurisprudence, and
a careful training in the schools of the rhetoricians, was very
generally diffused. Hence the rejoicing at Rome when this
military leader was BETRAYED and subsequently conducted through
the capital, amidst the excitement of three MILLION inhabitants
who thronged the line of procession to obtain a view of the
formidable captive.' The Senate was convened; the famous trial of
Caradoc followed, in which before the tribunal of the Emperor he
delivered himself thus :
"Had my government in Britain been directed solely with a view to
the preservation my hereditary domains, or the aggrandizement of
my own family, I might, long since, have entered this city an
ally, not a prisoner; nor would you have disdained for a friend,
a prince, descended from illustrious ancestors, and the dictator
of many nations. My present condition, stripped of its former
majesty, is as adverse to myself as it is a cause of triumph to
you. What then? I was lord of men, arms, horses, wealth.
What wonder if at your dictation I refuse to resign them! Does it
follow that because the Romans aspire to universal dominion every
nation is to accept the vassalage they would impose? I am now in
your power, BETRAYED, NOT conquered. Had I, like others, yielded
without resistance, where would have been the name of Caradoc
[Caractacus]? Where your glory? Oblivion would have buried both
in the same tomb. Bid me live. I shall survive for ever in
history, one example at least of Roman clemency."
(Wow....I get goose-lumps reading this. So mighty a warier was
this man, so amazed were the Roman Empire generals, leaders, and
people, by his many battle wins over the Roman armies, that
INDEED the Roman senate granted him and his family their lives -
The preservation of Caradoc forms a solitary EXCEPTION in the
long catalogue of victims merciless policy of Imperial Rome. His
life was spared on condition that he never again bore arms
against Rome. After a residence of SEVEN years in FREE custody in
Rome he was permitted to return to Britain.
The British prince, Caradoc, in maintaining his descent from
illustrious ancestors, could bring from the clan records evidence
of his pedigree; in those remote times genealogies were guarded
with extreme care and recorded with exactitude by the heral-bard
of each clan.(12)
On the public reception of a child, at the age of fifteen, into
the clan, his genealogy was proclaimed and challengers of it
commanded to come forward.
Pedigree and inheritance were so identified in the ancient
British code that an heir even in the ninth descent could redeem
at a valuation by jury any portion of an estate with which his
forefathers had been compelled to part.(13)
All the family of Caradoc were attached to literary pursuits;
copies of the best Greek and Roman authors were circulated in
Siluria and deposited in the chief centres of druidic
Caradoc's daughter, Claudia, who with other members of her family
remained in Rome as hostages during her father's captivity there,
wrote several volumes of hymns and odes.(15) Her praises were
sung by the poet Martial:
"Our Claudia named Rufina, sprung we know
From blue-eyed Britons; yet behold, she vies
In grace with all that Greece or Rome can show.
As bred and born beneath their glowing skies."
In a later epigram Martial writes:
"For mountains, bridges, rivers, churches and fair women,
Britain is past compare."(16)
Caradoc's sister, 'Pomponia Grecina', received her cognomen
through her acquaintance with Greek literature, while her aunt,
Blonwen, daughter of Cunobelinus, is believed to be the Imogen of
Shakespeare in his "Cymbeline." The great poet immortalized this
ancient British king in the lines:
"The lofty cedar, royal Cymbeline personates thee."(17)
The state of the country of the northern Britons is indicated by
the number of large cities beyond the Forth which Agricola
explored with his fleet. This could not mean cities which he had
erected, he having been only six years in the country, nor could
cities have arisen in that period, 'amplas civitates', as we
learn from his biographer, Tacitus.
In a general account of Britain, Ptolemy, in A.D. 110, enumerates
fifty-six cities; later, Marcianus enumerated fifty-nine.
It was not until the reign of Hadrian A.D. 120, that Britain was
INCORPORATED BY TREATY, NOT CONQUEST, with the Roman
dominions,(18) the Britons retained their kings, land, laws and
rights, and accepted a Roman nucleus of the army for the defence
of the realm. These local kings and princes of Britain were
obliged to become lieutenants of the Roman Emperor, just as the
heads of our countries are now styled lieutenants of the
Sovereign. They were bound to permit the construction of a Roman
'castra' garrisoned by Roman legionaries, with their usual staff
of engineers, in their chief city. On the ruins of British
buildings and monuments rose the Roman 'castras' and villas, the
remains of which are treasured by many in this country who
appear to be quite unaware of the earlier civilization. The
buildings erected by the Romans were foreign to British ideas and
never became an integral part of British life.
When Alaric and his Goths were engaged in the sack of Rome, the
Britons remembered their ancient independence and their brave
ancestors; and having armed themselves, they threw off the Roman
yoke, deposed the imperial magistrates and proclaimed their
insular independence. The Emperor Honorius sent letters addressed
to the civitates of Britain, clearing them from the
responsibility of being any part of the Roman world.(19)
The Romans came to a country which was in all its essentials
prosperous and free. They left it in many places devastated.
Roman policy is tersely summed up in the words of the Pictish
sovereign Galgacus, "To robbery, slaughter, plunder, the Romans
give the lying name of Empire; they make a solitude and call it
The Roman imperial system had its strong points, but it had many
weak ones - the two main weak points were WAR and SLAVERY. With
the Romans war became the instrument of progress, but it was a
system fatal to real progress and to the domestic virtues. To
plough the soil and wait for the harvest seemed to them a
spiritless method of acquiring that which might more easily be
obtained, by conquest. Eloquence and the affairs of government as
well as the exciting and barbarous sports of the arena, were
esteemed and valued by Rome more than religion; hence her
basilicas and her amphitheatres were far more spacious and
magnificent than her temples.
(One may wonder how a relatively small in height people, as the
Italians are, could conquer so much of the world. The answer is
given by Tacitus, the Roman historian of the first century A.D. -
the most part of the Roman army was made up of hired Germanic
fighters, who were from ancient times well known for fierce
fighting - Keith Hunt)
The temper of the Britons may be judged by the evidence of the
important part a non-idolatrous religion exercised in their daily
lives; it has been said that the history of Britain is written in
her churches. This truism is applicable from the most remote
times, and from the nature of ancient worship it is possible to
discover the source of the uprightness, the independence and the
tolerance which characterized the early Britons.
These characteristics were noted by the Romans without their
effecting the least check on unprincipled avarice and ambition.
Salvian, A.D.430, does not hesitate to say that the barbarians
(so-called)led better lives than the Romans even of those who
were orthodox. 'Their modesty,' he says. 'purifies the earth all
stained by Roman debauchery.'(21) Amid the calamities and
sufferings of the first invasion of Rome by our Gothic ancestors
in A.D.402, St.Augustine of Hippo remarked upon the marvellous
forbearance of the soldiers of Alaric before the tombs of the
Christian martyrs; he even went so far as to speak of the mercy
and humility of these terrible victors.
To British genius alone we owe the foundation of our modern
civilization, including roads, laws, learning and a culture of
world-wide fame for more than two thousand years. From a more
accurate knowledge of British history we shall gain some notion
of that primeval liberty and self-government, common at first to
the early Britons and preserved today by the British people.
That the Britons adopted anything they thought good from the
romans is perfectly true; they did not, however, abandon any of
their old essential laws and customs and still less their
religion. (Actually, if the truth be known, Christianity entered
Britain during the 30s A.D. not long after Jesus had died and
rose again from the dead. This truth is attested to in the
recorded history of the Roman Catholic Church. Such proof will
need wait for another study on that matter specifically - hence
Britain would indeed NOT give up its religion even when Rome
occupied parts of the British soil in the first centuries of the
present Christian age - Keith Hunt).
But it is untrue to say that the Britons had no previous
civilization of their own as it is to pretend that Roman laws and
customs permanently established themselves in Britain and
remained AFTER the legions were withdrawn. there is sufficient
EVIDENCE to PROVE that the ancestors of the British, centuries
before the Romans gained a footing in these islands, were a
POLISHED and INTELLECTUAL people, skilled in ARMS as well as
LEARNING, with a system of JURISPRUDENCE of their own SUPERIOR
even to the laws of Rome.(22)
To these early Britons we owe what we prize most - FREEDOM,
KNOWLEDGE, and a HIGHER SENSE of RIGHT and WRONG. This goodly
heritage comes to us NEITHER FROM the Roman conquest NOR through
"It is in England that the nobility of man's nature has developed
all its splendour and attained its highest level. It is there
that the generous passion of INDEPENDENCE, united with the genius
of ASSOCIATION and the constant practice of SELF-GOVERNMENT, have
produced those MIRACLES of fierce energy, of dauntless COURAGE
and obstinate HEROISM which have TRIUMPHED over seas and climate,
time and distance, nature and tyranny, exciting the perpetual
envy of all nations, and among the English themselves a proud
enthusiasm. It is not however, for the British to pride
themselves as a SUPERIOR race, but rather that they are a
MINISTERING people, and that through them should FLOW THE
BLESSINGS OF PEACE AND GOODWILL TO ALL THE NATIONS OF THE WORLD;
LOVING FREEDOM FOR ITSELF, and loving nothing without
FREEDOM.....Upon herself alone weighs the formidable
responsibility of her history."(23)
"Love thou thy land with love far brought
From out the storied Past, and used
Within the Present, but transfused
Thro' future time by power and thought
True love turned round on fix'd poles
Love, that endures not sordid ends
For English natures, freemen, friends,
Thy brothers, and immortal souls."
1. Act. V, Sc. i.
3. Annals, XII, 38,39.
4. Beale Post, Britannic Researches, p.74.
5. Rev. R.W.Morgan, St.Paul in Britain, p.79.
6. Tacitus, Annals, XIV, 31.
7. Dion Cassius (Xiphilinus Excepta).
8. Beale Poste, Britannic Researches, P.411.
9. Dion Cassius (Xiphilinus Excepta).
11.Triads of the Cymry.
12.Anglica Hibernia, ed. Camden, p.890.
13.Richard of Cirencester, Bk. I, Chap. III, note.
14.Rev. R.W.Morgan, St.Paul in Britain, p.104.
15.Collier's Eccl. History, Bk. I.
16. Martial, IV, 13; XI, 54.1
17.Cymbeline, Act 5, Sc. I.
18.Spartian's Vita Hadrian, Chap. I.
19. Zosimus VI, pp.376,381. Also du Bos, Gibbon, Procopius
Gildas and Bede.
20.Tacitus, Vita Agricola, XXX.
21.On the government of God, Salvian.
22.John Pym Teatman, Early English History, p. 9.
THE ANGLO-SAXON INVASION
THE Anglo-Saxon invasion, which resulted in the most important
and complete of all the tribal settlements in Britain, took pace
between A.D.446 and 501.
In these incursions the Jutes and Angles were the first to
arrive, and the Angles being numerically the strongest
constituent, gave their name in this country to the entire group.
which on the Continent were known as Saxons.
Curiously enough a belief persists that the Anglo-Saxons on their
first arrival in this country were entirely pagan and that their
conception of the Deity was expressed in the worship of numerous
gods of their own imaginative creation. The exponents of this
belief urge, in support of it, that memorials of these gods still
exist, as, for instance, in the names of the days of the week;
they cite Odin in connection with Wednesday as an outstanding
example. Belief supported on such ground does not hold a position
that is uncontestable. Grimm says: 'Among old Saxon and all
Teutonic nations Odin signifies Divinity'; Peterson likewise:
'Odin's name bears allusion to mind and thought and breathing; it
is the quickening, creating Power; it denotes the all-pervading
spiritual Godhead.'(1) Odin was, therefore, the Scandinavian name
for the Infinite Being.(2)
Confusion on this point arose in the minds of historians, owing
perhaps to the fact that Sigge, son of Fridulph, a pontiff prince
of Azoff in the Crimea, 72 B.C., took the name of Odin when he
assumed the leadership of the early Saxons, spiritually as well
as temporally, and led them with magnetic instinct from Asgard to
north-western Europe.(3) As the Gigla-Saga says, 'Sometimes a
chief's name referred to the Gos he especially worshipped.'(4)
Snorre, in his 'heimskringla' or 'Home Chronicles', tells how
Odin was a heroic prince in the Black Sea region, with twelve
peers and a great people straitened for room and how he led them
across Europe. Odin and his peers became heroes to the
descendants of these early saxons and as such passed into legend
The modem Germans claim a share in the legends and traditions
that have accumulated around the name of Odin; that illustrious
individual, however, belonged exclusively to the Sakian (Saxon)
race, and was in no way connected ethnically with the Germans.(6)
With the anglo-Saxons as with the Britons, the king was the last
resort of justice and the source of all honour and mercy; he was
to be prayed for and revered of all men of their own will without
command, and was the special protector of all churches, of widows
and of foreigners.(7)
The Anglo-Saxon invasion had the effect of gradually pushing the
Celts to the west of England and south-west Scotland. when this
occurred and the Archbishop of Caerleon-on-Usk, London and York,
saw all the churches in their jurisdiction lying level with the
ground, they fled with all the clergy that remained after so
great a destruction, to the coverts of the woods in Wales, and to
Cornwall.(8) From this fact it is easily discernible how it came
to pass that the Culdee or British Church has been associated to
so great an extent with Wales and Southern Scotland.
It has been said of the British Church that it made no effort to
convert the Saxons to Christianity. In connection several facts
stand out very clearly: Druidic religion had not yet died out in
Britain and the Saxons found sufficient similarity between their
own form of worship and that of ancient Britain to permit them to
unite under the ministrations of a Druidic hierarchy,(9) deriving
their religion, it may be concluded, from the same patriarchal
source as the Druids.
The Druidic law of tithing was observed by the Anglo-Saxons, as
by the Britons; the laws of Edward the Confessor speak of them as
claimed by Augustine and conceded by the king, Ethelbert.
The Saxons looked with suspicion on efforts to convert them to
Christianity by those whom they were endeavouring to subjugate,
and who, though worshippers of the Infinite Being, were still
non-Christian when, in 597, the Augustinian mission sent by Pope
Gregory to introduce the Latin form of Christianity, reached
The British Church was not unaware of the errors of Rome, for we
have Columbanus, a saint (whom the Roman Church has calmly
annexed, as they have St.Patrick, St.Columba and other saints of
the primitive Church), writing to Pope Boniface IV 'Your Chair, O
Pope, is defiled with heresy. Deadly errors have crept into it;
it harbours horrors and impieties. Catholic? The true Catholicism
you have lost. The orthodox and the true Catholics are they who
have always zealously persevered in the true faith.'
The civil power of Rome being dead, the ecclesiastical power
began to rise on its ruins; and there may have been a connection
between the two processes. The loss of one sphere of power may
have helped to impel an ambitious people, accustomed to universal
dominion, to seek after another sphere of power. The ambition of
Pope Gregory became that also of the priest an delegate
Augustine, to see the world brought under the sway of the
fast-developing kingdom of Papal Rome, and when, in one day,
Augustine baptized 10,000 Saxons the news of these 'conversions'
created great joy in Rome.
The immediate success achieved by Augustine in Kent so impressed
Pope Gregory that he dispatched more missionaries and with them
Church ornaments and vestments. Among these was the famous
'pallium'. This cloak, of ancient origin, the Roman emperors had
been accustomed to present to anyone whom they wished to mark
with special honour. When the Popes began to assume imperial
authority and to covet all the worldly splendour of the Caesars,
they adopted the practice of bestowing the 'pallium' on those
whom they wished to elevate.
The arrival of the 'pallium' in England for Augustine, was a
significant event. By favour of the Saxon king, Ethelbert, the
Roman Church was set up at Canterbury; it became the chief seat
of episcopal authority and was the origin of the Church known
today as the Church of England.
It will be observed that the origin of the British Church and
that of the Church of England are quite distinct, with an
interval of 560 years, and that the theory that Britain owes her
Christianity to Augustine is without foundation in fact.
The majority of the Saxons converted to Christianity in 597 soon
gave evidence that their hearts were unchanged; they quickly fell
away to their old religion. By 635 the Latin Church in Kent had
become reduced to inactivity through continual hostilities
between the Britons and Saxons, to be revived thirty years later
when Roman teaching and practices were imposed on the British
Church of Northumbria and to spread rapidly over the whole
There was already at Canterbury the British church built by St.
Martin (traditionally the brother of St. Patrick's mother,
Conessa), who founded also various churches in Scotland, i.e.
Kilmartin, and later that of Tours with which he has been
historically associated. In passing it should be noted the
British Church founded the churches of Gaul. The Archbishops of
Treves were, according to the 'Tungrensian Chronicles,' always
supplied from Britain and, coming nearer Rome itself, St. Cadval,
a British missionary, founded in A.D.170 the Church at Tarentum,
after whom the Church at Tarento is still named.
The year 597, memorable alike for the death of St. Columba and
the arrival of Augustine, has other outstanding claims to notice.
When Augustine came he found in the province of the Angles seven
bishoprics and an archbishopric, all filled with most devout
prelates, and a great number of abbeys."(10)
The testimony of many writers that the intrusion of an emissary
of the Pope was resented and resisted by the British Church, is
supported by facts of history.
At a council held shortly after Augustine's arrival he was told
that they 'knew no other Master than Christ', that 'they liked
not his new-fangled customs', and that they refused
subjection.(11) Augustine angrily replied, 'If we may not preach
the way of life to you, you shall at the hands of your enemies,
undergo their vengeance.' At the second conference with Augustine
the British Church was represented by seven of her prelates, and
although Baronius had the assurance to pronounce these bishops
guilty of schism, he allows their governments to have been
regular, and their faith orthodox. Both Augustine and his
successors, by making the submission of the Britons to their
authority, as metropolitans, the primary article of communion,
leave it beyond doubt that they were fully satisfied with the
purity of their doctrine, if not with the canonical succession of
The British Christians scorned the idea that identity in certain
tenets and practices with Papal Rome constituted even the shadow
of title, on the part of Papal Rome, to their allegiance. It is
then no matter for surprise that on their first meeting with
the delegate from Rome they should proclaim with one voice, 'We
have nothing to do with Rome; we know nothing of the Bishop of
Rome in his new character of the Pope; we are the British Church,
the Archbishop of which is accountable to God alone, having no
superior on earth.'
The Britons told Augustine they would not be subject to him, nor
allow him to pervert the ancient laws of their Church. This was
their resolution and they were as good as their word, for they
maintained the liberty of their Church for five hundred years
after his time, and were the last of all the Churches of Europe
to give up their power to Rome.(12) This fact cannot be set aside
in an unprejudiced study of British Church history: Rome found
here a Church older than herself, ramifications of which struck
into the very heart of the continent of Europe. The farther we go
back into British history, the clearer shines forth in all our
laws the fact that the British Crown, Church and people were
entirely independent of all foreign authority.(13)
All our great legal writers concur on this point. 'The ancient
British Church', writes Sir William Blackstone, 'by whomsoever
planted was a stranger to the bishop of Rome and all his
The Christians of Britain could never understand why the Church
of Rome, because she professed certain truths, should arrogate
spiritual despotism over all who held the same. When Augustine
demanded of Dionoth, Abbot of Bangor Iscoed or Bangor-on-Dee,
that he acknowledge the authority of the Bishop of Rome the reply
of the Briton was a memorable one: 'We desire to love all-men,
but he whom you call "Pope" is not entitled to style himself
the "father of fathers" and the only submission we can render him
is that which we owe to every Christian.'(15)
Cadvan, Prince of wales, A.D.610, expresses himself thus to Abbot
of Banjor: 'All men may hold the same truth, yet no man can
hereby be drawn into slavery to another. If the Cymry believed
all that Rome believes, that would be as strong a reason for Rome
obeying us, as for us to obey Rome. It suffices for us that we
obey the Truth. If other men obey the Truth, are they therefore
to become subject to us? Then were the Truth of Christ made
slavery and not freedom.' (16),
Wilfrid, a clever young priest, who had been brought up in the
school of Iona, but had afterwards travelled to Rome and had
become fascinated by her customs and grandeur, threatened, in his
long-drawn suit with the See of Canterbury, in 670, to appeal to
Rome. The threat was received with laughter as a thing never
before heard of in England.(17)
The British church recognized the Scriptures alone for its rule
of faith,(18) was subject to no other Church on earth, and firmly
resisted the unwarranted intrusion of a Pope.
For almost two centuries Britain had been free from the
domination of Imperial Rome; this fact enabled the supporters of
the British Church at this time to quote the second canon of the
Council of Constantinople, held in A.D.381, which ordained that
the Churches that are without the Roman Empire should be governed
by their ancient customs.(19) But the canon was not held
sufficient by Augustine and his successors to justify the British
Church in its contention.
Though the doctrinal controversies which divided British and
Roman Churches may seem unimportant to us, they plainly show our
original ecclesiastical independence, and the stubborn resistance
of our Church fathers to papal pretensions to supremacy.(20)
Beyond all question, to the national Church of Britain belongs
that pre-eminence which the old British Triads claimed for it of
being 'primary in respect to Christianity'.
The most famous of the British monasteries at the coming of
Augustine was the monastery of Bangor-on-Dee, Wales. Bishop
Dionoth presided over a flourishing body of Christians (numbering
some thousands) whose headquarters were at this monastery.(21)
The youths there educated were trained in Christian doctrine and
sent forth as missionaries and teachers. Bangor, like Iona, was
renowned for its zeal in propagating Christianity abroad. The
refusal of its bishop, Dionoth, to acknowledge the authority of
the Pope was the first of a long series of denials of the
authority of the Pope in Britain.(22)
At the Synod of Chester held in 601, there were present, besides
Augustine and some of his followers, seven British bishops and
many men of great learning from the monastery of Bangor-on-Dee.
Augustine, at this Synod, suffered a second defeat; the general
assembly spoke out against the encroachments of Rome. 'The
Britons', they exclaimed, 'cannot submit either to the
haughtiness of the Romans, or the tyranny of the Saxons.'(23)
Augustine did not live to take vengeance on these early
protestors; it was left to his successor to lead the Saxons
against them, and in the massacre of Bangor, A.D.613, twelve
hundred Christians perished.(24)
William of Malmesbury, A.D.1143, describes the ruins of Bangor
Abbey in his day as those of a city - the most extensive he had
seen in the kingdom.(25) Two other foundations in Britain
retained their superiority over all others of a later date, under
every change of ruler till the Reformation - St. Albans and
The next, interference of papal Rome with British customs took
place in A.D.664, the excuse for this attempt being the correct
date for the observance of Easter.
King Oswy of Northumbria, with his brother Okwald, was converted
by missionaries from Iona while in exile for seventeen years in
Scotland, during the reign of the rival king, Edwin. Oswy
adhered, naturally, to the usages of the Culdee Church, having
been taught by the Scots. His queen, daughter of Ethelbert, King
of Kent, had been brought up to observe the Latin way of
reckoning, and each year the strange anomaly occurred of the king
and his followers, observing one day and the queen observing
another day for the Easter festival.
The queen's chaplain, Romanus, and Wilfrid, tutor to the princes,
were priests of the Roman Church, and urged the acknowledgment of
the Roman calculation for Easter as being correct. At last the
king resolved that the whole question would be debated May
and settled once and for all at the Synod of Whitby.(26)
Bishop Colman (Culdee Church of Northumbria) pleaded the British
cause as having been derived from his forefathers and originating
in the teaching of St. John. Wilfrid, a cleverer man, was on the
papal side and ridiculed British custom as compared with that of
the Apostle 'to whom Christ had given the keys of heaven'. The
king, eager to learn the truth, inquired further into this
statement. Colman, simpleminded and honest, admitted that these
words applied to St.Peter. The king then asked Wilfrid whether
Christ had really given the keys of authority to Peter. Wilfrid
answered in the affirmative, whereupon the king decided in favour
of the papal party. Colman resigned his bishopric, and with many
of his clergy went back to Iona, from which monastery he had come
to Northumbria, and where the ancient British Easter continued to
be observed for many years.
From the day of the historic Synod of Whitby the province ruled
to observe Easter the Latin way; the British Church, though
proven to be the oldest national Church in the world, as
confirmed by the Councils of Arles, Basle, Pisa, Constance and
Sienna, was more and more coerced into conforming to papal
customs and claims. For a time there were in Britain two Churches
- the old British and the new Roman.
At the Council of Hertford, A.D.673, only nine years after the
Synod of Whitby, presided over by Archbishop Theodore, the
British Church was condemned as non-Catholic.(27)
Wilfrid, at an assembly at Nesterfield, near Ripon, A.D.705,
declared, 'Was not I the first after the death of those great men
sent by St.Gregory, to root out the poisonous seeds sown by
Scottish missionaries? Was it not I who converted and brought the
whole nation of the Northumbrians to the true Easter and an
In A.D.705 Adelm wrote to the Britons as being outside the
'Catholic' Church. 'The precepts of your bishops', he says, 'are
not in accord with Catholic faith.(29) . . . We adjure you not to
persevere in your arrogant contempt of the decrees of St.Peter
and the traditions of the Roman Church by a proud and tyrannical
attachment to the statutes of your ancestors.'(30)
The British Church, now openly declared heretical by Rome,
struggled on for a time as a separate Church, and was known,
particularly from this time, by the original title, 'The Culdee
Church', as distinct from the Roman, and its ecclesiastics
referred to by the Latin intruders as the 'British clergy'.
Adamnan, the first of the Ionian Culdees to swerve from the
faith, strained every nerve to reduce the monks of Iona to Roman
Catholic obedience. Bede says that Adamnan in A.D.679 visited the
churches of Northumbria and Ireland and brought almost all of
them that were not under the domination of Hii (Iona) to the
The resistance of the premier monastery (Iona), the abbot of
which was viewed as the primate of all the Hibernian bishops,
prevailed for a time to retain their liberties. By the eleventh
century, however, the Iona Church had become thoroughly Romanized
and had sunk into comparative unimportance.
Of Palladius, a Culdee of the fifth century who had visited Rome
and had become a Romanizing bishop, Fordun says: 'Before whose
coming the Scots had, as teachers of the faith and administers of
the Sacraments, presbyters only and monks, following the order of
the primitive Church.'(31)
Kentigern (St.Mungo), A.D.514, is numbered among those who
adorned the name of Culdee: for many years he was the disciple
of St.Servan at Culross who taught and preached there as a
Christian missionary, according to the system of the ancient
The Culdees or British clergy were, from Augustine's day, in
constant collision with the, Raman clergy; the Culdees seem to
have been too much in love with simple Bible truth to find favour
with those who aimed at wealth and power. Even the Venerable Bede
could not escape the prejudices of his 'modern' times, saying:
'The Culdees followed uncertain rules in the observance of the
great festival (Easter) practising only such works of piety and
chastity as they could learn from the prophetical, evangelical
and apostolical writings.'(32)
It is of consequence to note that in the early accounts which we
have of the state of the Church, the final appeal in all
doctrinal questions is to the Scriptures. It was remarked by
Polydore Vergil that Gildas, in his long letter on the state of
the Britons, quoted no book but the Bible,(33) and certainly his
quotations from it show on the part of the British historian a
very thorough acquaintance with the Word of God. At this period
the Church (fifth century) the Scriptures were very generally
disseminated,(34) and men used such translations of the sacred
text as commended themselves to their own judgment. The
withholding of the Bible from the people and the exclusion of
every translation from use but the Latin translation, even among
the ministers of the Church, belonged to the ecclesiastical
legislation of a later and more corrupt age; an age when
ecclesiastical power came to be based not on the intelligence but
on the ignorance of the people.(35)
The Culdee or British Church had pervaded Britain with the
knowledge of the Gospel, and for centuries after the domination
of Rome the Culdees continued to hold services frequently in the
same Church with Roman priests.
The catalogues of their books show beyond a doubt that the
ancient British ecclesiastics were not destitute of literary
culture.(36) Corruption was powerfully retarded by the firmness
of the hierarchy of the Culdees; they were looked up to as the
depositaries of the original national faith, and were most highly
respected for sanctity and learning. They acquired great
missionary zeal and great numbers of them went forth as
missionaries and Christianized the whole of Europe from Iceland
to the Danube.(37) This is a fact of history which has been
diligently suppressed, but it is a fact which cannot be denied.
It is remarkable that while the Church of Rome was sending her
emissaries to "Christianize" the Saxons, the Celtic Church was
sending her missionaries to convey the Gospel of salvation to
Dr.Wylie says: 'It was the Culdee lamp that burned at Constance,
at Basle, at Ypres, at Worms and Mainz. Boniface, the emissary of
Rome, came afterwards to put out these lights. The real apostle
of the provinces was the Culdee Church.'
A study of the history of the Culdee Church shows that wherever
the influence of Rome prevailed its clergy were removed; not,
however, without resistance. But the struggle was a hopeless one.
The Charter of David of Scotland (1084-1155), who was an adherent
of the Latin Church, runs thus: 'David rex Scotorum, etc. Be it
known, that we have granted to the Canons of St.Andrews the
Canonical Order; and if the Culdees who shall be found there,
remain with them, living according to rule, they may continue to
do so in peace; but if any one of them resist, we order hereby
that he be ejected from the island.'
In this high-handed manner was the property of the Church
transferred to the Roman hierarchy. Only a century earlier
Macbeth and his queen are recorded in the register of this same
Priory of St.Andrews as the liberal benefactors of the Culdee
monastery at Loch Leven.(39)
The property which the Culdees held in their own right was
gradually confiscated by the Latin hierarchy until the day came
when they were dispossessed of everything, including their
ancient privileges, and were absorbed into the Cathedral Chapters
of the Roman Church.(40)
Ledwich, the Irish antiquarian, says: 'The Culdees did not adopt
the corruptions and superstitions which had contaminated
Christianity for centuries. They preserved their countrymen from
the baleful contagion and, at length, fell a sacrifice in defence
of the ancient faith. Superstition found in them her most
determined foes. The Culdees continued until a new race of monks
arose, as inferior to them in learning and piety as they
surpassed them in wealth and ceremonies, by which they captivated
the eyes and infatuated the hearts of men. The conduct of the
Romanizers towards the Culdees was uniformly persecuting; and by
force, cunning and seduction of every kind, by degrees bereft
them of their privileges and institutions.'(41)
The monks of the papal Church were almost wholly employed in
metaphysical or chronological disputes, legends, miracles and
martyrologies - a sad contrast to the pure Scriptural teaching
disseminated by the Culdees.
The history of the Culdee Church in Ireland is largely the
history of that church in England, Scotland and Wales, except
that in the case of Ireland she did not come, national, under the
domination of rome until 1172, five centuries later than in
From this fact may be accounted the theory held by many
historians that the Culdee and Irish Church were synonymous
terms, and that from it the Culdees spread to other parts of
Britain and, further, it accounts for the strength of that Church
in Ireland centuries after its submission to papal claims in
England and elsewhere.
O'Driscoll, a noted Roman Catholic writer, states 'The ancient
Order of the Culdees existed in Ireland previous to Patrick; and
all their institutions proved that they were derived from a
different origin from that of Rome.'(42) This celebrated Order
gave many eminent men to the Irish Church, and to Scotland and to
other parts of the world, among whom Columbkill has still a name
in Ireland as venerable and revered as that of Patrick himself.
The Church discipline of the Culdees seems to have afforded the
model for the modern Presbyterian establishment of Scotland.'(43)
The mission of Palladius in A.D.421 signally failed. His effort
to introduce papal Christianity in Wicklow met with firm
resistance, and shortly afterwards he left the country.(44)
The following year, St.Patrick, who belonged to the Culdee
Church, began his work as a missionary revivalist. Christianity,
according to Gildas, had been introduced to Ireland three and a
half centuries earlier and, according to tradition, about the
same date by Caradoc, the Silurian king. Caradoc, is said, while
a prisoner at Rome, was converted to Christianity by St.Paul, and
it is to his children, Linus and Claudia, and his son-in-law
Pudens that St.Paul sends a greetings in his second letter
From the days of St. Patrick to the reign of Henry II the Church
in Ireland was renowned, not only for its learning but for its
missionary zeal. Its evangelists spread the light of Truth
wherever they travelled in Britain and to many places on the
Continent, where the monasteries (afterwards Romanized) were set
up on Culdee foundations. To these, many of the Culdee monks fled
for refuge in the ninth and tenth centuries when Ireland was so
sorely ravaged by the Danes. They took with them, for safety,
many of their precious manuscripts, which may, in a future day,
should they be discovered, throw valuable light on the early
Christian Church in these Islands.
O'Driscoll presents a true picture of the early Irish Church when
he says: 'The Christian Church of that country, as founded by St.
Patrick, existed for many centuries free and unshackled. For
about seven hundred years this Church maintained its
independence. It had no connection with England, and differed on
points of importance from Rome. The first work of Henry II was to
reduce the Church of Ireland into obedience to the Roman Pontiff.
Accordingly he procured a Council of Irish Clergy to be held in
Cashel in 1172, and the combined influence and intrigues of Henry
and the Pope prevailed. This Council put an end to the ancient
Church of Ireland; she submitted to the yoke of Rome. This
ominous apostasy has been followed by a series of calamities
hardly to be equalled in the world. From the days of Patrick to
the Council of Cashel was a bright and glorious career for
Ireland. From the sitting of the Council to our own times the lot
of Ireland has been unmixed evil and all her history a tale of
The following letter tells a curious story. It is from the Bishop
of Mentz to Shane O'Neill, the Irish chief and rebel, dated from
Rome, April 28th, 1528, in the name of the Pope and Cardinals:
'My dear Son O'Neill - Thou and thy fathers are all along
faithful to the Mother Church of Rome. His Holiness Paul
III, now Pope, and the Council of the Holy Fathers there,
have lately found a prophecy of one St.Lazerianus, an Irish
Bishop of Cashel, wherein he saith that the Mother Church of
Rome falleth, when in Ireland the Catholic faith is
overcome. Therefore, for the glory of the Mother Church, the
honour of St.Peter, and your own secureness, suppress heresy
and His Holiness's enemies, for when the Roman faith there
perisheth, the See of Rome falleth also. Therefore, the
Council of Cardinals have thought fit to encourage your
Country of Ireland as a Sacred Island; being certified,
whilst the Mother Church hath a son of worth as yourself,
and those that shall succour you and join therein, that she
will never fall, but have more or less hold in Britain, in
spite of fate.'(46)
This letter was written in the reign of Henry VIII when the first
indications were received with alarm by the Roman hierarchy, of
the approaching end of papal domination and of the mighty change
about to take place in these realms.
1. Oxford Icelandic Dictionary.
2. See Prelim. Dissert. Laing's 'Heimskrongla,' p.86.
3. See H. Munro Chadwick, 'The Origin of the English,' p.32
4. Oxford Icelandic Dictionary.
5. Rollaston, Mazzaroth, III, 23.
6. Bruce Hannay, 'European and Other Race Origins,' p.456.
7. 'Annals of England,' Vol. I, p.164.
8. Geoffrey of Monmouth, Bk. XI, Chap. X.
9. Palgrave, 'History of the Anglo-Saxons,' p.44.
10.Geoffrey of Monmouth, Bk. XI, Chap. XII.
11.Brit. MSS. quoted in the second volume of the Horae
Britannicae, p.267. Spelman's 'Concilia,' p.108.
12.Bede, E. H., Chap. II, 2. Haddan and Stubbs, 'Councils,'
III, 38 'Hist. of Wales' (1911), p.173.
13.Bacon, 'Government of England,' p.13.
14.'Laws of England,' Vol.IV, p.105.
15.Hengwst MSS. Geoffrey of Monmouth, Bk. XI, Chap. XII. Humphrey
Lloyd, 'Sebright' MSS.
17.Paton, 'Brit. History and Papal Claims,' p.4.
18.Bede, 'Eccles.History,' Bk. III, Chap. 4.
19.Paper in the 'Ecclesiastic' for April 1864 on Dr. Todd's 'St.
Patrick.' Concilia Constantiano Theodore-Martin (Lovar), 1517.
20.McCallum, 'History of the Culdees,' pp.60,61.
21.Ban-gor, 'Magnus Circulus.'
22.MS. in the Mostyn Collection.
23.'Annals Cambraiae,' CLVII.
24.D'Aubigne, 'History Reform,' Vol. V. Milman, 'History of Latin
Christianity,' Vol. II, p.234. 'Annales Cambraiae,' VLXIX.
25.Malmes, History of the Kings, p.308.
26.Malmes, 'History of the Kings,' p.308.
27.Haddon & Stubbs, III, pp.256 ff.
28.Montalembert, 'Monks of the West,' Vol. IV, p.79.
29.Adelmi opp., ed. Giles, pp.24 ff. Monumenta Germ. History
Tom, III, pp.231 ff.
30.'Monks of the West,' Vol. IV, p.233.
31.Scotichron, Lib. III, Chap. VIII.
32.'Eccles. History,' III, Chap. IV.
33. 'De Excid. Britt.'
34.Williams, 'Early Christianity in Britain,' p.447. Ulphilos,
Bishop of the Goths (A.D.38), MS. in the Library of Upsal
Naseau, VIII, 40.
35.'Vide' Ussher's 'Historia Dogmatica.'
36.Keith Bish. App., p.5871. 'Regist Priorat,' St.Andree,
37.Dasent, Introduction to 'Burnt-Nyal,' p. vii. 'De Mensura
Orbis,' written by Dicuil an Irish monk, in the year A.D.835.
38.D'Aubigne, 'Hist. of the Reformation,' Vol. IV. McLauchlan
'The Early Scottish Church,' p.216: 'There was a Continental
mission scheme in Scotland as early at 588.'
39.Registrum Prioralus St. Andree, p.188, Keith Catalogue of
Scottish Bishops, p.9.
40.Alexander, 'Ter-Centenary of the Scottish Reformation' (Edin.
42.'Vide' Reeve's 'Culdees,' p.25.
43.'Hist. of Ireland,' pp.26,27.
44.Bury, 'Life of St. Patrick,' pp.44,45.
45.'Views of Ireland,' Vol. II, p.84.
46.Mant's, 'History of the Irish Church,' p.140.
THE popular belief that Druidism was the religion of ancient
Britain and nothing more is entirely erroneous. Duidism was, in
fact, the centre and source from which radiated the whole system
of organized civil and ecclesiastical knowledge and practice of
The Order constituted its church and parliament; its courts of
law, its colleges of physicians and surgeons, its magistracy and
clergy. The members of the Order were its statesmen, legislators,
priests, physicians, lawyers, teachers and poets.
The truth about the Druids, to be found amongst fragments of
literature and in folk-memory, is that they were men of culture,
well-educated, equitable and impartial in the administration of
justice. These ancient leaders of thought and instruction in our
islands had lofty beliefs as to the character of the one God,
Creator and Preserver, and of man's high origin and destiny.
There is reason to believe that this doctrine included the need
for atonement or sin and the resurrection of the body.
To reverence the Deity, abstain from evil and behave valiantly
were, according to Laertius, the three grand articles enjoined by
In Druidism the British nation had a high standard of religion,
justice and patriotism presented to it, and a code of moral
teaching that has never ceased to influence national character.
It has been frequently stated that the name 'Druid' is derived
from Drus, an oak; the oak was held by the Druids to symbolize
and eternal. The idea arose from the apparent similarity of the
two words, Drus and Druid, and was merely incidental. A much more
likely derivation is from Druthin, a 'servant of Truth.'(3)
The motto of the Druidic Order, "The Truth Against the World" was
the principle on which Druidism was based and by which it offered
itself to be judged.
"It, may be asked," says the Venerable Archdeacon Williams, "how
has it come to pass, if great events marked the epoch between the
departure of the Romans and the death of Bede, that the whole
history is so obscure, and that no literary documents remain to
prove the wisdom of the teachers and the docility of the people?
The answer is very plain. Such documents do exist; they have been
published, for more than half a century but have hitherto wanted
an equate interpreter."(4)
The published compositions of the Druids and remains of their
works. The Myvyrian MSS. a alone, now in the British Museum,
amount to 47 volumes of poetry, containing about 4,700 pieces of
poetry, in 1,600 pages, besides about 2,000 epigrammatic stanzas.
Also in the same collection a 52 volumes of rose, in about 15,300
pages, containing many curious documents on various subjects,
being 17th or 18th compilations embodying early writings.
Besides there are a vast number of collections of Welsh MSS in
London and in private libraries in the Principality.(5)
In A.D. 383 Druidism, while accepting Christianity, submitted to
the judgment and verdict of country and nation the ancient
privileges and usages; the ancient learning, science and
memorials were confirmed, lest they should fail, become lost and
forgotten - this was done without contradiction or opposition.(6)
The education system adopted by the druids is traced to about
1800 B.C., when Hu Gadarn Hysicion (Isaacson),(7) or Hu the
Mighty, led the first colony of Cymri into Britain from
Defrobane, where Constantinople now stands.(8)
In the justly celebrated Welsh Triads, Hu Gadarn is said to have
mnemonically systematized the wisdom of the ancients of these
people whom he led west from the Summerland. He was regarded as
the personification of intellectual culture and is commemorated
in Welsh archaeology for having made poetry the vehicle of
memory, and to have been the inventor of the Triads. To him is
attributed the founding of Stonehenge and the introduction of
several arts including glass-making and writing in Ogham
characters. On Hu Gadarn's standard was depicted the Ox; in this
possibly may be discovered the origin of the sobriquet, 'John
Bull.' Hu established, among other regulations, that a Gorsedd or
Assembly of Druids and Bards must be held on an open, uncovered
grass space, in a conspicuous place, in full view and hearing of
all the people.
Concerning the educational facilities available to the so-called
barbarous people of these islands, there were at the time of the
Roman invasion forty Druidic centres of learning which were also
the capitals of the forty tribes; of these forty known centres
nine have entirely disappeared. These forty college were each
presided over by a Chief Druid (9) There were also in Britain
three Archdruids, whose seats were at York, London and
The territories of the forty tribes (the original of our modern
counties) preserve for the most part the ancient tribal limits.
Yorkshire, for instance, retains the same disproportionate
magnitude to our other counties - the territory of the large and
powerful tribe, the Brigantes.
The students at these colleges numbered at times sixty thousand
of the youth and young nobility of Britain and Gaul. Caesar
comments on the fact that the Gauls sent their youth to Britain
to be educated. One notable instance has been mentioned by J. O.
Kinnaman,D.D., in his work on Archaeology: "Pilate was not a
Roman by nationality, but by citizenship. He was born a Spaniard
and educated in Spain as far as the schools of that country could
take him. Then he went to Britain to study in the universities of
that country under the administration of the Druids. How long he
studied in England is not now known; it was Pilate's ambition to
become a Roman lawyer and the future governor of Palestine
studied long enough in Britain to achieve not only this ambition
but to absorb the Druidic philosophy rather than the Greek and
Roman. 'Vide' Pilate's question to our Lord as they were walking
out of the Praetorium, 'What is Truth?'(10) This was a question
which the Druids were accustomed to debate."(11)
It required twenty years to master the complete circle of
Druidic knowledge. Natural philosophy, astronomy, mathematics,
geometry, medicine, jurisprudence, poetry and oratory were all
proposed and taught - natural philosophy and astronomy with
severe exactitude. (12)
Caesar says of the Druids:
"They hold aloof from war and do not pay war taxes; they are
excused from military service and exempt from all liabilities.
Tempted by these great advantages, 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. They
do not think it proper to commit these utterances to writing,
although in almost all other matters, and in their public and
private accounts they make use of Greek characters. I believe
that they have adopted the practice for two reasons - that they
do not wish the rule to become common property, nor those who
learn the rule to rely on writing, and so neglect the cultivation
of the memory; and, in fact, it does usually happen that the
assistance of writing tends to relax the diligence of the student
and the action of memory.... They also lecture on the stars in
their motion, the magnitude of the earth and its divisions, on
natural history, on the power and government of God; and instruct
the youth on these subjects."(14)
While the Druids used writing for all other subjects taught in
their colleges, they never used this in connection with the
subject of religion To the spread of Christianity we owe most of
the information we possess of the Druidic religion; their secret
laws gradually relaxed as they became Christian, and some of heir
theology was then committed to writing.
Dr. Henry, in his 'Histor of England,' has observed that
collegiate or monastic institutions existed among the Druids.(15)
Caesar several times calls the Druidic institution a
'disciplina,'(16) a term that implies a corporate life
organization as well as the possession of learning. Mela speaks
of the Druids as 'teachers of wisdom,'(17) The affirmation of
Diodorus that 'some whom they call Druids, are very highly
honoured as philosophers and theologians' is repeated by
Not only the supreme king, but every other king
had his Druid and Bard attached to his court. This Druidic
chaplain had charge of the education of the youthful members of
the house, but was also allowed to have other pupils. He taught
and lectured on all appropriate occasions, often out-of-doors,
and when travelling through the territory of his chief, or from
one territory to another, his pupils accompanied him, still
receiving instruction; when, however, the pupils exceeded in
number that which he was entitled by law on such occasions to
have accommodated as his own company at a house, those in excess
were almost always freely entertained by neighbours in the
The chief poet seems to have been always accompanied by a number
of assistants of various degrees, who had not yet arrived at the
highest attainment of their profession.(19)
The theological students were given a particularly long course of
training, and no Druidic priest could be ordained until he had
passed three examinations in three successive years before the
Druidic college of his tribe. The head of the clan possessed a
veto on every ordination.(20)
By very stringent laws the number of priests was regulated in
proportion to the population; and none could be a candidate for
the priesthood who could not in the previous May Congress of the
tribe prove his descent from nine successive generations of free
forefathers. Genealogies, therefore were guarded with the
greatest care. This barrier to promiscuous admission had the
effect of closing the Order almost entirely to all but the
Blaenorion or aristocracy, making it literally a 'Royal
Degrees were conferred after three, six and nine years training.
The highest degree, that of Pencerdd or Athro (Doctor of
Learning), was conferred after nine years. All degrees were given
by the king or in his presence, or by his license before a
deputy, at the end of every three years.(21)
Druidic physicians were skilled in the treatment of the sick;
their practice was far removed from the medicine-man cult, so
unfairly ascribed to them by their contemporary enemies, and
lightly followed ever since. They prayed to God to grant a
blessing on His gifts, conscious that it should always be
remembered that no medicine could be effective nor any physician
successful without Divine help. The chief care of the
physicians was to prevent rather than to cure disease. Their
recipe for health was cheerfulness, temperance and exercise.(22)
Certainly the power of physical endurance displayed by the early
Britons was a strong testimony to the salutary laws of hygiene
enforced and the general mode of life encouraged by the Druids.
Human bones which had been fractured and re-set by art have been
found in Druidic tumuli.(23)
Astronomers were deeply versed in every detail of their
profession; such classic judges of eminence as Cicero and Caesar,
Pliny and Tacitus, Diodorus Siculus and Strabo, speak in high
terms of the Druid astronomers.
Strabo has left us a vivid description of the dress of the
Britons of his day. On the visit to Athens of the British Druid
astronomer Abaris (Hebrew Rabbi) the Greek geographer writes:
"He came not clad in skins like a Scythian, but with a bow in his
hand, a quiver hanging on his shoulders, a plaid wrapped about
his body, a gilded belt encircling his loins, and trousers
reaching down from the waist to the soles of his feet. He was
easy in his address; agreeable in his conversation; active in his
dispatch and secret in his management of great affairs; quick in
judging of present accuracies, and ready to take his part in any
sudden emergency; provident withal in guarding against futurity;
diligent in the quest of wisdom; fond of friendship; trusting
very little to fortune, yet having the entire confidence of
others, and trusted with everything for his prudence. He spoke
Greek with a fluency that you would have thought that he had been
bred up in the Lyceum; and conversed all his life with the
academy of Athens. This visit oft was long remembered at Athens."
This visit of the British Druid was long remembered at Athens.
Abaris travelled extensively in Greece; Greek fancy transformed
the magnetic needle by which he guided his travels into an arrow
of Apollo which would transport him at wish whithersoever he
Ammianus Marcellus, A.D. 350, says, "The Druids are men of
penetrating and subtle spirit, and acquired the highest renown by
their speculations, which were at once subtle and profound.(25)
Pomponius Mela(26) plainly intimates that the Druids were
conversant with the most sublime speculations in geometry and in
measuring the magnitude of the earth
Stonehenge, 'the Greenwich Observatory' and great solar clock of
ancient times, was pre-eminently an astronomical circle.
Heliograph and beacon were both used by the ancient British
astronomer in signalling the time and the seasons, the result of
observations, for the daily direction of the agriculturist and
The unit of measure employed in the erection of Stonehenge, and
all other works of this nature in our islands was the cubit, the
same as used in the Great Pyramid.(27)
The supposed magic of the Druids consisted in a more thorough
knowledge of some of the sciences than was common. - astronomy,
for instance. Diodorus Siculus states that the Druids used
telescopes (28) - this evidently is the origin of the story that
the Druids could by magic bring the moon down to the earth.
Many of the wells on Druidic sites, known today as holy wells,
were the old telescope wells of the Druids, connected with their
astronomical observations.(29) The old saying, 'Truth lies at the
bottom of a well', comes down to us from those ancient times.
British architects trained in Druidic colleges were in great
demand on the Continent. In this country the profession of
architect was legally recognized. There were three offices of
chief Architect,(30) the holders of which were privileged to go
anywhere without restriction throughout the country, provided
they did not go unlawfully.
James Ferguson, the writer of one of our best histories of
architecture, says: "The true glory of the Celt in Europe is his
artistic eminence, and it is not too much to assert that without
his intervention we should not have possessed in modern times a
church worthy of admiration, or a picture, or a statue we could
look at without shame, and, had the Celts not had their arts
nipped in the bud by circumstances over which they had no
control, we might have seen something that would have shamed even
Greece and wholly eclipsed the arts of Rome. . . . The Celts
never lived sufficiently long apart from other races to develop a
distinct form of nationality, or to create either a literature or
a policy by which they could be certainly recognized; they mixed
freely with the people among whom they settled and adopted their
manners and customs ."(31)
C.J.Solinus, the Roman geographer, in his description of Britain,
mentions the hot springs of Bath, and the magnificence with which
the baths at that place had already been decorated by the use of
The primitive religion of Britain associated in so many minds
with the worship of the heavenly bodies, was the worship of the_
'Lord of Hosts,' the Creator of the Great Lights, the sun and
moon, not the worship of the heavenly bodies themselves. The
Universe was the Bible of the ancients, the only revelation of
the Deity vouchsafed them. The wonders of nature were to them as
the voice of the All-Father, and by the movement of the heavenly
bodies they ordered their lives, fixed religious festivals and
all agricultural proceedings.
The way to Christianity for the early inhabitants of Britain was
traced by Nature herself, and from Nature to Nature's God. St.
Paul, in his letter to the Corinthians, writes, "Howbeit that was
not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and
afterward that which is spiritual."
Strabo observes that the care of worshipping the Supreme Being is
great among the British nation; and the history of Hume records
that no religion ever swayed the minds of men like the
It has been said that the Druidic Circles cannot, in strictness,
be termed temples, for the Druids taught that there were but two
habitations of the Deity - the soul, the invisible - the
universe, the visible. The word 'temple,' in its primitive
meaning, is simply a place cut off, enclosed, dedicated to sacred
use, whether a circle of stones, a field or a building. In the
old British language a temple or sanctuary was called a 'caer',
a sacred fenced enclosure. The stone circles or caers of Britain
were therefore, essentially temples and held so sacred by the
people that reverent behaviour in their vicinity was universal.
Joshua, it will be remembered, by God's command, erected a circle
at Gilgal (circle) immediately upon the arrival of the chosen
People in the Promised Land.
The British 'caer' has no connection with 'castra.'
There seems, however, to be no doubt that generally the chambered
barrows and cairns of Britain were used as temples; several
points in their construction lead to this assumption.
Mr.MacRitchie, in his "Testimony of Tradition," mentions several
of these points, among them fireplaces and flues for carrying
Sir Norman Lockyer (34) states: "Mr. Spence has pointed out the
extreme improbability of Maeshowe (Orkney) being anything but a
temple and, I may now add, on the Semitic model. There was a
large central hall and side-rooms for sleeping, a stone door
which could have been opened or shut from the inside, and a niche
for a guard, janitor or hall porter.(35)
The great circle and temple known as Avebury ('Ambresbiri, the
Holy Anointed Ones') is of special interest as the Westminster
abbey of ancient times,(36) the last resting place of princes,
priests and statesmen, warriors, poets and musicians. One of the
old Druids alluding to Avebury calls it 'The Great Sanctuary
The Circles or temples were composed of monoliths upon which the
employment of metal for any purpose was not permitted. Druidic
worship was without figure or sculpture of any kind.(38)
The monolithic avenues, symbolic of the sun's path through the
Zodiac, were in some instances seven miles long. The national
religious procession moved through these to the circle on the
three great festivals of the year. In several of our own
cathedrals we have the signs of the Zodiac, represented as sacred
emblems on the tiles of the sanctuary floor, for instance at
Canterbury and Rochester.
In his description of the temple at Jerusalem, Josephus states:
"The loaves on the table, twelve in number, symbolized the circle
of the Zodiac."(39)
Druidic services were held while the sun was above the horizon;
the performing of ceremonies at any other time was forbidden by
law.(40) The Chief Druid, or the Archdruid when he was present,
occupied a position by a large central stone, approaching it with
a sword carried by its point to signify his own readiness to
suffer in the cause of truth.(41) This central stone
called 'Maen Llog,' or the Stone of the Covenant, and now
distinguished by the name of Cromlech, was in Ireland called
'Bethel.'(42) or the house of God. Near to it was another, which
received in a cavit water direct from the clouds. This water, and
the waters the river Dee (called Drydwy, the Divine water), the
Jordan of ancient Britain, were the only waters permitted to be
used in Druidic sacrifices.
In the 'Faerie Queen' Spenser speaks of the:
' . . Dee which Britons long ygone
Did call divine, that doth by Chester tend.'
For centuries after Druidism had merged into Christianity the Dee
continued to be regarded as a sacred river. A striking instance
of folk-memory is recorded in connection with the Battle of
Britain, A.D.613, when Dionoth, Abbot of Bangor, delivered an
oration to the defeated Britons (who had retreated along the
banks of the river), and concluded by ordering the soldiers to
kiss the ground in commemoration of the body of Christ, and to
take up the water in their hands out of the river Dee and drink
it in remembrance of His sacred blood. This act gave the men
fresh courage; they met the Saxons bravely, and Ethelfrid, the
Northumbrian invader, was defeated.(43)
The Bards of Britain, whose office it was to cultivate the
art of music and poetry as well as literature are referred to by
Strabo as hymn-makers,(44) they were responsible for the temple
music and for the conduct of the musical part of the temple
services. On these occasions they wore white robes - from this
custom has descended our English Church custom of clothing the
choristers in white surplices.(45)
It was not until the fist century A.D. that the Jews
introduced the wearing of surplices into their services.
Josephus states: "Now as many of the Levites as were singers of
hymns persuaded the king (Agrippa) to assemble a Sanhedrin and to
give them leave to wear linen garments as well as the priests;
for, they said, this would be a work worthy of the times of his
government, that he might have a memorial of such a novelty as
being his doing; nor did they fail of obtaining their
Referring to Stonehenge, Hecataeus, a Greek writer, 320 B .C.,
says that the people living these islands worshipped in a
beautiful temple, whose minstrels hymned with their golden
harps,(47) the praise of the god they adored, and whose
priesthood was a regular descent from father to son.
While every British subject was entitled at birth to five
British(ten English) acres of land for a home in the hereditary
county of his clan, priests were entitled to ten acres (twenty
English),(48) exemption from combative military service,
permission to pass unmolested from one district to another in
time of war, maintenance when absent on duty from their home, and
contribution from every plough in their district.
The ceremonial dress of the Archdruid was extremely gorgeous, no
metal but gold being used on any part of it. The Cymric Cross was
wrought in gold down the length of the back of the robe; he wore
a gold tiara and a breastplate of the same precious metal.(49) A
breastplate was found in an excavated cist at Stonehenge, on the
skeleton of an important Briton,(50) Five similar breastplates
have been found in Britain and Ireland.
The Chevron Bead, a bead encased in gold was worn by the
Archdruid as a symbol of the Deity(51) and designated by the
Roman historians the 'Druid's Egg', around which so much legend
has been woven by the imaginative uninformed, who saw in the
symbol only a talisman endowed with most magical powers.
The stories that are told and believed of human sacrifice by
the Druids are pure inventions of the Romans to cover their
own cruelty and to excuse it. The Druids sacrificed sheep, oxen,
deer and goats; charred remains of these have been found at
Avebury, Stonehenge and in the vicinity of St.Paul's Cathedral.
NO TRACE OF HUMAN SACRIFICE HAS EVER BEEN DISCOVERED IN
(The modern authority on the Druids, Peter Ellis, upholds Isabel
Elder's words that human sacrifice by the Druids was an invention
of the beastly Roman mind - who were indeed far more to be
involved in human sacrifice via their blood-thirsty games and
gladiator spectacles, and later Christians thrown to the lions
etc. than anything near this ever taking place where the Druid
order prevailed - Keith Hunt).
It is very generally believed that the Celts were nature
worshippers, that they gave Divine honours to rivers, mountains
and woods. It is entirely a mistake to believe that they did so.
They were nature love - never nature worshippers; neither had
they a multitude of gods and goddesses, as is often affirmed. The
gods and goddesses were mere mascots, and even their
descendants(53) 53 mascots and charms have lost none of their
Other nations never obtained a proper comprehension of Druidism;
they corrupted what they had learned of the Druidism of Britain,
blending with it religions less pure. It is recorded by Caesar
that those in Gaul who wished to be perfectly instructed in
Druidism crossed the sea to what they believed to be its birth-
In the Christian era St. Patrick used the shamrock to instruct
the people in the doctrine of the Trinity, and in earlier days
the Druids used the oak for same the same purpose. They sought a
tree having two principal arms springing laterally from
the upright stem, roughly in the form of a cross. Upon the right
branch they cut the name Hesus; upon the middle or upright stem
Taranis; upon the left branch Belenis; over this they cut the
name of God - Thau.(54) The Hebrew prophets, it will be noted,
referred to their expected Messiah as 'The Branch.'
The mistletoe was another form of representation to them of their
Hesus, to whose coming they looked forward with as great
expectancy as did the Jews in the East to their Messiah - the
Britons were actually in advance of the Jews, for while the
Britons believed in the resurrection of the body, many of the
Jews did not. (It is indeed remarkable that one branch of God was
called "Hesus" - it is only a very small step to the word
"Jesus." And maybe when we understand all that Isabel Elder
writes about here, we can gain a better insight into how and why
we had "wise men" coming from the East, to worship Jesus the baby
who was born to be King Messiah. These wise men of the East (and
the Druids we have seen came originally from the "east") knew a
whole lot more than most of the rest of the world about the
things of God and His word and His prophecies of the one who was
"The Druids," writes Caesar, 54 B.C. "make the immortality of
the soul the basis of all their teaching, holding it to be
the principal incentive and reason for virtuous life."(55)
(Yes the Druids like many religious orders from the East, held
the false doctrine of the immortality of the soul. I do not want
you to think the Druids had some "perfect" religion and
understanding of the full truths of God, they did not! I just
want you to realize the Druids were not in many respects the way
many have assumed they were or have been misled to believe they
were by the scanty writings of some, who really had never studied
in any detail, the FULL historical facts on what the Druids were
all about - Keith Hunt).
The similarity of the Semitic and British forms of worship has
been commented upon by archaeologists and others who have
explored megalithic remains in this country.
Sir Norman Lockyer states:
"I confess, I am amazed at the similarities we have come
and Edward Davies:
"I confess that I have not been the first in representing the
Druidical as having had some connection with the patriarchal
William Stukeley, from a close study of the
"I plainly discerned the religion professed by the ancient
Britons was the simple patriarchal religion"(58) an opinion which
every critical and candid student of Druid ritual, customs, and
teaching must endorse.
The unity of the Godhead was the very soul and centre of
Druidism, and this unity was a Trinity.
Procoius of Caesarea, A.D. 530, states :
"Jesus, Taran, Bel - One only God. All Druids acknowledge one
Lord God alone."(59)
The indisputable fact is that the Druids proclaimed
to the universe, 'The Lord our God is One!' WHEN CHRISTIANITY
PREACHED JESUS AS GOD, DRUIDISM HAD THE MOST FAMILIAR NAME OF ITS
OWN DEITY PRESENTED TO IT!!
In the ancient British tongue Jesus had never assumed its Greek,
Latin or Hebrew form, but remains the pure Druidic Yesu. It is
singular that the ancient Briton never changed the name of the
God he and his forefathers worshipped, nor has he ever worshipped
but one God.(60)
In the Cornish folk-lore whole sentences were treasured up
(without being understood), and when written down were found to
he pure Hebrew, Three of these rendered into English are:
"Lift up your heads, O ye gates, and be ye lift up ye everlasting
doors, and the King of Glory shall come in"; "Who is this King of
Glory?"; "The Lord Yesu, He is the King of Glory."(61)
(Wow....to hear all this makes my heart take a leap....God KNEW
that His people Israel, the House of Israel, would one day be
centred in the British Isles, that NT Christianity would FLOURISH
in Britain, that the Kingdom would be taken away from the Jews,
and given to a people to protect and proclaim....yes not only the
spiritual Israel, but spiritual Israel centred in the British
Isles, and from there Christianity would be preached, published,
and proclaimed around the world. The English speaking people have
done MORE to teach and proclaim God's Holy Word and the New
Testament, than any other peoples in the last 2,000 years. We
shall see in further studies the truth that Christianity came to
the British Isles not many years after Jesus had died and was
resurrected again. God was already in ancient Britain preparing a
people, parts of his people Israel who had broken away from the
main trunk centuries before, to receive Christianity and the New
Testament Word of God - Keith Hunt).
Druidism with its self-evident Old Covenant origin, which latter
was, indeed, the great 'oral secret' transmitted by Druid sages
from generation to generation, its doctrine of the Trinity,
worship entirely free from idolatry, furtherance of peace and
contribution to the settling of disputes among the laity, high
moral tone, and insistence on the liberty and rights of the
subject, was a perfect (the word "perfect" maybe an over-
statement, but how Britain received and welcomed Christianity,
and the news of Hesus or Jesus, cannot be over-stated, for all
historical writings and facts, only prove it to be so - Keith
Hunt) preparation for the reception of Christianity.
Upon the introduction of Christianity the Druids were called
upon, not so much to reverse their ancient faith, as to "lay it
down for a fuller and more perfect revelation." No country can
show a more rapid, and natural merging of a native religion into
Christianity, than that which was witnessed in Britain in the
first century A.D. The readiness with which the Druids accepted
Christianity, the facilities with which their places of worship
and colleges were turned to Christian uses, the willingness of
the people to accept the new religion are facts which the modern
historian has either overlooked or ignored.(62)
1. Ed.Davies, "Celtic Researches," pp.171,182.
2. Diogenes Laertius in proem., p.5. In proem., p.6.
3. Macpherson, "Dissertations," p.341.
4. Gomer.A Brief Analysis of the Language and Knowledge of
Ancient Cymry. London,1854.
5. Matthew Arnold, "Celtic Literature," p.254.
6. Triodd Braint a Defod, Walter, op. cit. p.33. Lloyds "History
of Cambria," ed. Powell, praef. p.9.
7. Myvy Arch., II, 57.
8. "Traditional Annals of the Cymry," p.27. Triad H. Sharon
Turner,"History Anglo Saxon," Vol.1.
9. Gildas, MS. (Julius, D.XI), Cottonian Library. Morgan's
11."Diggers for Facts," pp.226-229.
12.Strabo, I, IV, p.197. Caesars Comm. Lib. V. Sueotonius, V.
Calegula. E. Campion, "Account of Ireland," p.18.
13.See Toland's "History of the Druids," p.50.
14.De Bell Gall. VII, 15, x6.
15.Vol. I, Chap. II, p.142, Amm. Marcel, "History," IV,9.
16.De Bell Gall, VI, 13,14.
17.Pompon Mela, III, 2,
19.O'Curry's "Manners and Customs of Anc. Irish," Vol. II. School
of Simon Druid on O'Mulconry's Glossary: M.S.H. 2, 16 (Coll.
116),in Trinity College Library, Dublin. See also Reeve's
20.Stanihurst, "De Rebus in Hibernia," p.37.
21."Book of Lecain," folio 168. Toland, "History Druids," p.223.
22.J.Smith, "Gal. Antiq," p.8o.
23.S.Lysons, "Our British Ancestors," p.44.
24.Hecat. ab. Diod. Sicul, Lib. III. Avienus, "The Britannia."
Smith, "History of the Druids," pp.69,70, Cartes, "History
England," Vol.I, p.52.
25.See note 3,p.35.
27.Vide Sir Norman Lockyer, "Stonehenge," 1906.
28.Wm.Stukeley, "Stonehenge," p.1l.
29.Strabo, Bk. XVIL Chap. I, Sir G. Cornwall. Lewis "Ast. of the
31."History of Architecture," p.73.
32."Momumenta Historica Britanica," p.12
33."History of England," Vol.1. p,6
35."Standing stones and Maeshowe of Stennes," 1894.
36.Stukley, "Abury," p.40.
37.P.Llyod, "Island of Mona," p.41.
38.Origen on "Ezekiel," Homily 1V.
39.Josephus, "Jewish Wars," Bk.V, p.132.
40.Myo.Arch., Vol.III (laws of dynwal Moelmud).
42.Vallancy, "Collectanea de Rebus Hibernicus," p.211. Lysons,
"Our British Ancestors," p.196.
43.King's "Vale Royal," p.2. Annales Cambriae, CLXIX.
44.Strobo, "Geogr," 1V, 4,5; XV, 1,5.M.F. Cusack, "History of
Ireland," p.116, note.
45.E.Wilson, "Light and Shadows," p.262. Triad 233.
46.Josephus, Antiq., Bk.XX, p.9.
47.Dio.Sic.Tom.I, p.158. Taliesen, "Bards and Druids of Britain,"
48."Ancient Laws of Cambria" (British Museum).
49.Crania Britannicaw, Vol.I,p.78.
51.See E.Wilson's "Lights and Shadows," pp.6,7.
52.Hulbert's "Religions of Britain," p.37. Hen.Huntingdon
History, Lib.III, apud res Anglia Script, p.322, ed. Saville.
53.See Stukley, "Abury," pp.2,38,49,76.
54.Schedius, "Treatise de Mor. Germ," XXIV. Thomas Maurice,
"Indian Antiquities," Vol.VI, p.49.
55.De Bell. Gall.Lib., VI, chap.XIII.
56."Stonehenge and other British Monuments," p.252.
57."Mythology and Rites of the British druids as ascertained from
National Documents," Pref. p.vii.
58."Abury," Pref. p.i. G.Smith, "Religion of Ancient Britain,"
59.Origen on "Ezekile." (Richardson's "Godwin de Presulibis.")
60.Dr.Henry, "History of Great Britain," I, 2.
61.Rev.Dr.Margoliouth, "Jews in Britain," Vol.1, p.23; Vol III,
62.Rolleston, Mazzaroth, 113.
To trace the history of the Culdees from the days of St. Columba
is a comparatively easy task; to find their origin is more
difficult. In the minute examination which such an investigation
involves the name Culdee is discovered to have quite a different
origin from that usually assigned to it.
The obscurity of the origin of the Culdich (Anglicized Culdees)
has led many writers to assume that their name was derived from
their life and work. The interpretations 'Cultores Dei'
(Worshippers of God) and 'Gille De' (Servants of God) are
ingenious but do not go far to solve the problem. Culdich is
still in use among some of the Gael, of Cultores Dei and Gille De
they know nothing.(1)
John Calgan, the celebrated hagiologist and topographer,
translates Culdich 'quidam advanae' - certain strangers(2) -
particularly strangers from a distance; this would seem an
unaccountable interpretation of the name for these early
Christians were it not for the statement of Freculphus(3) that
certain friends and disciples of our Lord, in the persecution
that followed His Ascension, found refuge in Britain in A.D.
37.(4) Further, here is the strong, unvarying tradition in the
West of England of the arrival in this country in the early days
A.D. of certain 'Judean refugees'. It seems impossible to
avoid the conclusion that Colgan's Culdich, 'certain strangers',
were one and the same with these refugees who found asylum in
Britain and were hospitably received by Arviragus (Caractacus),
king of the West Britons or Silures and temporarily settled in a
Druidic college. Land to the extent of twelve hides or ploughs,
on which they built the first Christian church, was made over to
them in free gift by Arviragus. This land has never been taxed.
Of the twelve hides of land conferred by Arviragus on this
church, the Domesday Survey, A.D. 1088, supplies conformation.
'The Domus Dei, in the great monastery in Glastonbury. This
Glastngbury Church possesses in its own villa XII hides of land
which have never paid tax.(5)
In Spelman's 'Concilia'(6) is an engraving of a brass plate which
was formerly affixed to a column to mark the exact site of the
church in Glastonbury.(7) 'The first ground of God, the first
ground of the Saints in Britain, the rise and foundation of all
religion in Britain, the burial place of the Saints.'(8) This
plate was dug up at Glastonbury and came into Spelman's
From a 'mass of evidence' to which William of Malmesbury gave
careful study, the antiquity of the Church of Glastonbury was
unquestionable. He says:
'From its antiquity called, by way of distinction, "Ealde
Chirche", that is the Old Church of wattlework at first,
savoured somewhat of heavenly sanctity, even from its very
foundation, and exhaled it all over the country, claiming
superior reverence, though the structure was mean. Hence,
here assembled whole tribes of the lower orders, thronging
every path; hence assembled the opulent, divested of their
pomp; hence it became the crowded residence of the religious
and the literary. For, as we have heard from men of elder
times, here Gildas, an historian, neither unlearned nor
inelegant, captivated by the sanctity of the place, took up
his abode for a series of years. This Church, then, is
certainly the oldest I am acquainted with in England, and
from this circumstance derives its name. Moreover there are
documents of no small credit, which have been discovered in
certain places, to the following effect: No other hands than
those of the disciples of Christ erected the Church at
Glastonbury .... for if Phillip the Apostle reached to the
Gauls, as Freculphus relates in the fourth chapter of his
second book, it may be believed that he also planted the
word on the hither side of the channel.'(19)
The first converts of the Culdees were Druids. The Druids of
Britain, in embracing Christianity, found no difficulty in
reconciling the teaching of the Culdees, or 'Judean refugees',
with their own teaching of the resurrection and inheritance of
Numerous writers have commented upon the remarkable coincidence
which existed between the two systems - Druidism and
Christianity. (Amongst the Druidic names for the Supreme God
which they had in use before the introduction of Christianity
were the terms: 'Distributor', 'Governor', 'The Mysterious One',
'The Wonderful', The Ancient of Days', terms strictly of Old
Taliesen, a bard of the sixth century, declares :
'Christ, the Word from the beginning, was from the beginning
our teacher, and we never lost His teaching. Christianity
was a new thing in Asia, but there never was a time when the
Druids of Britain held not its doctrines.'(11)
From 'Ecclesiastical An Antiquities' of the Cymry we learn that
the Silurian Druids embraced Christianity on its first
promulgation in these islands, and that in right of their office
they were exclusively elected as Christian ministers, though
their claims to national privileges as such were not finally
sanctioned until the reign of Lles ap Coel (Lucius), A.D. 156.
Even so all the bardic privileges and immunities were recognized
by law before the reign of this king.
'And those Druids that formerly had dominion of the Britons'
faith become now to be helpers of their joy and are become
the leaders of the blind, which through God's mercy hath
continued in this Island ever since through many storms and
dark mists of time until the present day.'(12)
A Welsh Triad mentions Amesbury (Avebury) in Wiltshire as one of
the three great Druidic 'Cors' or colleges of Britain, and one of
the earliest to be converted to Christian uses. In the church
attached to this college there were two thousand four hundred
'saints', that is, there were a hundred for every hour of the day
and night in rotation, perpetuating the praise of God without
intermission. This mode of worship was very usual in the early
The Christian king Lucius, third in descent from Winchester, and
grandson of Pudens and Claudia(14) built the first minister on
the site of a Druidic Cor at Winchester, and at a National
Council held there in A.D.156 established Christianity the
national religion as the natural successor to Druidism, when the
Christian ministry was inducted into all the rights of the
Druidic hierarchy, tithes included.(15)
The change over from Druidism was not a mere arbitrary act of the
king, for, according to the Druidic law, there were three things
that required the unanimous vote of the nation:
deposition of the Sovereign, suspension of law, introduction of
novelties in religion.(16)
Archbishop Usher quotes twenty-three authors, including Bede and
Nennius, on this point and also brings in proof from ancient
British coinage.(17) So uncontested was the point that at the
Council of Constance it was pleaded as an argument for British
'There are many circumstances', writes Lewis Spence,
'connected with the Culdees to show that if they practised a
species of Christianity their doctrine still retained a
large measure of the Druidic philosophy, and that indeed
they were the direct descendants of the Druidic caste....
The Culdees who dwelt on Iona and professed the rule of
Columba, were Christianized Druids, mingling with their
faith a large element of the ancient Druidic cultus. . . .
But all their power they ascribed to Christ - Christ is my
Druid, said Columba.'(18)
Toland says that:
'...the Druidical college of Derry was converted into a
Culdee monastery. In Wales Druidism cease to be practised by
the end of the FIRST century, but long after the advent of
St.Patrick the chief monarchs of Ireland adhered to
Laegaire and all the provincial kings of Ireland, however,
granted to every man free liberty of preaching and
professing the Christian religion if he wished to do
The cumulative evidence of early historians leaves no shadow of
doubt that Britain was one of the first, if not THE FIRST country
to receive the Gospel, and that the apostolic missionaries were
instrumental in influencing the change whereby the native
religion of Druidism merged into Christianity.(20)
It is a remarkable circumstance that while statues of gods and
goddesses prevail throughout the heathen sites of Egyptian,
Greek, Roman, Hindu and other idolatrous nations, NOT A VESTIGE
of an IDOL or IMAGE has been found in Britain.
If Mithraism is argued to contest this statement it should be
observed that invaders were not free from idolatry. Mithra
worship was a Roman importation. The British were entirely free
from all forms of idolatry; they never adopted Mithraism.
The Druids' invocation was to ONE all-healing and all-saving
power. Can we be surprised that they so readily embraced the
gospel of Christ?
Further support for the early introduction of Christianity to
Britain is gathered from the following widely diverse sources:
EUSEBIUS of Ceasarea speaks of apostolic missions to Britain as
matters of notoriety. 'The Apostles passed beyond the ocean to
the isles called the Brittanic Isles.'(21)
TERTULLIUS of Carthage, A.D.208, the embodiment of the highest
learning of that age, tells us that the Christian Church in the
second century extended to 'all the boundaries of Spain, and the
different nations of Gaul and parts of Britain inaccessible to
the Romans but subject to Christ.'(22)
ORIGEN, in the third century states: 'The power of Lord is with
those who in Britain are separated from our coasts.'(23)
'From India to Britain', writes St.JEROME, A.D.378, 'all nations
resound with the death and resurrection of Christ.'(24)
ARNOBIUS, on the same subject, writes: 'So swiftly runs the word
of God that within the space of a few years His word is concealed
neither from the Indians in the East nor from the Britons in the
CHRYSOSTOM, Patriarch of Constantinople, A.D.402, supplies
evidence in these words: 'The British Isles which lie beyond the
sea, and which lie in the ocean, have received the virtue of the
Word. Churches are there found and altars erected. Though thou
should'st go to the ocean, to the British Isles, there thou
should'st hear all men everywhere discussing matters out of the
GILDS, the British historian, writing in A.D.542, states: 'We
certainly know that Christ, the True Sun, afforded His light, the
knowledge of His precepts, to our Island in the last year of the
reign of Tiberias Caesar, A.D.37.'(27)
Sir HENRY SPELMAN states: 'We have abundant evidence that this
Britain of ours received the Faith, and that from the disciples
of Christ Himself soon after the Crucifixion',(28)
POLYDORE VERGIL observes: 'that Britain was of all kingdoms the
first that received the Gospel'.(29)
The fact that Lucius established Christianity as the State
religion excludes the claim of the Latin Church to that eminence.
That this early establishment was acknowledged beyond the
confines of Britain is well expressed by Sabellius, A.D.250.
'Christianity was privately expressed elsewhere, but the first
nation that proclaimed it as their religion, and called itself
Christian, after the name of Christ, was Britain';(30) and Ebrard
remarks, 'The glory of Britain consists not only in this, that
she was the first country which in a national capacity publicly
professed herself Christian, but that she made this confession
when the Roman Empire itself was pagan and a cruel persecutor of
The writer of 'Vale Royal' states: 'The Christian faith and
baptism came into Chester in the reign of Lucius, king of the
Britons, probably from Cambria, circa A.D.140.'(31)
Missionaries are said to have come from Glastonbury, only thirty
miles distant, to instruct the Druids of Amesbury in the
Christian faith. When the Druids adopted and preached
Christianity, their universities were turned into Christian
colleges and the Druid priests became Christian ministers;
the transition was to them a natural one.
In the days of Giraldus Cambrensis (twelfth century), as a result
of Roman Catholic doctrine, martyrdom and celibacy were much
overrated, and it was thought a reproach to the Druids that none
of their saints had 'cemented' the foundation of the Church
with their blood, all of them being confessors, and not one
gaining the crown of martyrdom.(32)
An absurd charge, blaming the people for their reasonableness,
moderation and humanity, and taxing the new converts for not
provoking persecution in order to gain martyrdom.
It is not contended that every individual Druid and bard accepted
Christianity on its first promulgation in Britain Even after
Christianity had become a national religion, petty kings, princes
and the nobility retained, in many instances, Druids and bards.
Druidism did not entirely cease until almost a thousand
years after Christ.
Had the large collection of British archives and MSS deposited at
Verulum as late as A.D.860 descended to our time, invaluable
light would have been thrown on this as on many other subjects of
We read in an historical essay, 'The Ancient British Church', by
the Rev.John Pryce, which was awarded the prize at the National
Eisteddfod of 1876, these words:
'In this distant corner of the earth (Britain), cut off from
the rest of the world, unfrequented except by merchants from
the opposite coast of Gaul, a people who only conveyed to
the Roman mind the idea of untamed fierceness was being
prepared for the Lord. Forecasting the whole from the
beginning and at length bringing the work to a head, the
Divine Logos unveiled Himself to them in the person of
Christ, as the realization of their searching instincts and
the fulfilment of their highest hopes. It would be difficult
to conceive of Christianity being preached to any people for
the first time under more favourable conditions. There was
hardly a feature in their national character in which it
would not find a chord answering and vibrating to its touch.
Theirs was not the sceptical mind of the Greek, nor the
worn-out civilization of the Roman, which even Christianity
failed to quicken into life, but a religious, impulsive
imagination - children in feeling and knowledge, and
therefore meet recipients of the good news of the kingdom of
To a people whose sense of future existence was so absorbing
that its presentiment was almost too deeply felt by them,
the preaching of Jesus and the Resurrection would appeal
with irresistible force.
There was no violent divorce between the new teaching and
that of their own Druids, nor were they called upon so much
to reverse their ancient faith to lay it down for a fuller
and more perfect revelation.
Well has the Swedish poet, Tegner, in 'Frithiofs Saga',
pictured the glimmerings of the dawn of Gospel day, when he
described the old priest as prophesying
'All hail, ye generations yet unborn
Than us far happier; ye shall one day drink
That cup of consolation, and behold
The torch of Truth illuminate the world,
Yet do not us despise; for we have sought
With earnest zeal and unaverted eye,
To catch one ray of that ethereal light,
Alfader still is one, and still the same;
But many are his messengers Divine.'
1. Rev. T. McLauchlan, 'The Early Scottish Church,' p.431.
2. Trias Thaumaturga, p.156b.
3. Freculphus apud Godwin, p.10. See Hist. Lit.,II,18.
4. Baronius add. ann. 306. Vatican MSS. Nova Legenda.
5. Domesday Survey Fol., p.449.
6. See Epistolae ad Gregorium Papam.
7. See Joseph of Arimathea, by Rev.L.Smithett Lewis.
8. Concilia, Vol.I, p.9.
9. Malmes., 'History of the Kings,' pp.19,20.
10.G.Smith, 'Religion of Ancient Britain,' Chap. II, p.37.
11.Morgan, 'St.Paul in Britain,' p.73.
12.Nath. Bacon, 'Laws and Government of England,' p.3.
13.Baronius ad Ann 459, ex. Actis Marcelli.
14.Moncaeus Atrebas, 'In Syntagma,' p.38.
15.Nennius(ed.Giles), p.164. Book of Llandau, pp.26,68,289.
16.Morgan's 'British Cymry.'
17.Ussher (ed.1639), pp.5,7,20.
18.'The Mysteries of Britain,' pp.62,64,65.
19.Dudley Wright, 'Druidism,' p.12.
20.Holinshed, 'Chronicles,' p.23.
21.'De Demostratione Evangelii,' Lib. III.
22.'Adv.Judaeos,' Chap. VII. Def. Fidei, p.179.
23.Origen, 'Hom. VI in Lucae.'
24.'Hom. in Isaiah,' Chap. LIV and Epist. XIII ad Paulinum.
25.'Ad Psalm,' CXLV, III.
26.Chrysostom, 'Orat O Theo Xristos.'
27.'De Excidio Britanniae,' Sect. 8, p.25.
28.'Concilia,' fol., p.1.
30.Sabell. Enno, Lib. VII, Chap. V.
31.King's 'Vale Royal,' Bk. II, p.25.
32.Topograph. Hibern Distinct. III, Cap. XXIX.