Druids in medieval Irish sources
Druids were the magical and religious specialists of at least some Celtic-speaking peoples in the two or three centuries on either side of the birth of Christ. Discussion of the druids tends to start with the classical accounts by Greek and Roman authors, but awareness has grown of the ways in which those accounts are not to be relied upon. People sometimes turn, therefore, to medieval Irish sources, hoping that the vivid and dramatic depictions of druids therein might offer us a more convincing glimpse of druidic practice and ancient Celtic religion. This talk sets out those sources, explaining why they are just as problematic—if not more so—than the classical accounts.
Dr Mark Williams is Fellow and Tutor in English at St Edmund Hall, University of Oxford. He is a specialist in the medieval languages and literatures of Wales and Ireland, and the author of Ireland’s Immortals: A History of the Gods of Irish Myth (Princeton, 2016), and The Celtic Myths that Shaped the Way We Think (Thames & Hudson, 2021). He is in training as a Jungian psychoanalyst
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