Main content
Sorry, this episode is not currently available

History of the Druids

Matthew Sweet and historian Ronald Hutton discuss the Druids in Britain, looking at how for the last 300 years they have been reinvented by visionaries, radicals and fraudsters.

Matthew Sweet and Ronald Hutton, professor of History at Bristol University discuss the 2,000-year history of the Druids in Britain, looking at how they have been continually reinvented over the last 300 years by visionaries, radicals and fraudsters.

Crushed by the Romans in the first century AD, the ancient Druids left almost no reliable evidence behind. Because of this, succeeding British generations have been free to reimagine, reinterpret and reinvent them. Druids have been remembered at different times as patriots, scientists, philosophers and priests. They have been portrayed as corrupt, bloodthirsty and fomenters of rebellion. And during the 19th century, they dominated Romantic notions of British prehistory and identity.

Prof Hutton explores the evolution of English, Welsh and Scottish attitudes towards these ambiguous celtic figures and asks why the distinctive robes worn by today's Druids at Welsh Eisteddfods and Stonehenge rites were dreamt up by Hubert Herkomer - a Bavarian designer - in the 1890s.

45 minutes

Last on

Mon 27 Apr 2009 21:15


Free Thinking

Free Thinking

Radio 3’s new home for arts and ideas.