Iron Age Mystery of the 'Essex Druid'

By Johnson, Andrew | The Independent on Sunday (London, England), April 2, 2008 | Go to article overview
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Iron Age Mystery of the 'Essex Druid'


Johnson, Andrew, The Independent on Sunday (London, England)


Grave near Colchester could be the first burial site of an ancient mystic ever to be discovered in Britain

As sacred priests, their duties included teaching, law enforcement and possibly even burning people to death in giant wicker men. Druids dominated British culture with their mysterious magical rites in the centuries before the Roman invasion.

For such an important band of men, however - it could take 20 years to train to be a druid, according to some sources - hardly anything is known about them. That could be about to change now, though, after what is thought to be the first discovery in Britain of a druid grave.

The extraordinary find was made at the Essex village of Stanway, near Colchester. It is among a number of graves of eminent people interred around the time of the Roman invasion of Britain in AD43.

Following Queen Boudica's uprising in AD61, Emperor Claudius ordered the druids be wiped out. Their Anglesey stronghold and sacred groves were destroyed, along with their entire history.

In the grave, archaeologists uncovered a board game with the glass counters laid out, medical equipment - the earliest ever found - a tea strainer still containing some kind of herbal brew, and some mysterious metal poles.

The first find at the site was made in 1996. But now, after 12 years of painstaking digging and research, the final report into the unearthing suggests that the grave could be the only one of a druid ever found.

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