Yale £16.99 (491pp) £15.29 from the Independent Bookshop: 08430 600 030
Blood & Mistletoe, By Ronald Hutton
Friday 13 May 2011
The reliable Hutton has produced a vast, enthralling history of a mysterious cult. "The Druids may have been the most prominent magico-religious specialists... and that is all we can say with reasonable certainty. They left no account of their beliefs and practices."
The fragmentary, possibly invented reports of Roman invaders were tantalising, scary and sexy: human sacrifice, sorcery. Hutton shows how this blank canvas proved irresistible for the mystically inclined. They ranged from the 18th-century proto-archaeologist William Stukeley, whose speculations continue to provoke dispute, to modern Druids, who for some years tootled Tibetan trumpets at Stonehenge. Hutton describes the alignments of the stones as "nothing very remarkable"
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