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The Life and Death of a Druid Prince (1989)

by Anne Ross, Don Robins

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The life and death of a Druid prince is the story of the Lindow man who was found in a peat bog in the early 1980's; other bodies were found in the same location and all were at least 1000 years old or more. The authors, Anne Ross and Don Robins, both experts in Celtic England and the Druids, have taken the bare "bones" of the story and hypothesized the rest. All we really know from the remains found is that he was a relatively healthy male in his 20s wearing nothing but an armband. He was brutally killed, using torture devices, and his last meal was identified. Ross and Robins have gone beyond the facts to posit a story about a Druid priest or other high ranking official from Ireland named Llovernio who came to England during the dark time when the Romans battled the Celts in Britain. Through a retelling of ancient history as well as a multitude of maps, the authors make their case. I believe it is a well crafted story, not fact.

In addition to the maps and the many illustrations, there is a bibliography and index. The text is not footnoted, as it would have been if this were a serious scholarly work. The bibliography has many books of interest listed, all published before 1989. There are many newer articles and books including a recent one by The British Museum. If you want to know the real facts about the Lindow man, you need to read more than this book. ( )
  fdholt | Aug 13, 2019 |
In 1984, peat cutters on Lindow Moss (about 15 miles south of Manchester) came up with a human leg along with the peat. Which must have been disconcerting. The local police were called in, and after some examination and probing around some more remains were found. Interestingly, the body was, in fact, a murder victim – he’d been garroted (the noose was still around his neck), bashed on the head hard enough to fracture his skull, and had his throat cut – somebody really wanted him dead – but the murder was committed in the first century AD.

The gentlemen picked up the name “Lindow Man” and is currently entertaining visitors in the British Museum.

The Life and Death of a Druid Prince purports to be the story of Lindow Man, but stretches the evidence way beyond what it justifies. The authors claim to know Lindow Man’s name (Lovernios), his ethnic origins (Irish), the exact date of his death (April 30, 61 AD) and why he was killed (as a human sacrifice to placate Celtic gods and persuade them to intervene against the Roman conquest).

None of the authors’ arguments for each step of their theory is particularly farfetched – for example, Lindow Man was naked except for a fox fur armband and “Lovernios” means “fox” in Gaulish Celtic – but the odds of stringing together so many hypotheses to make a theory like this is vanishingly small, even if each individual hypothesis is fairly likely. Some of the data collected is quite interesting – the possibly survival of various Celtic rituals into recent times as folk traditions, for example – and the simple facts about Lindlow Man – height, weight, facial reconstruction, gut contents, etc. – are worth reading. The rest of it, however, reads like the authors had suddenly begun channeling Eric von Daniken. ( )
  setnahkt | Dec 21, 2017 |
Here is a book that will give the reader a good feel for what the Roman invasion of Britain was like to the Celtic inhabitants of the island at the time. Most of the information is (admittedly) taken from Tacitus' historical essays, but there is also a lot of Celtic info derived from archaeological sources. Plus the reader gets to see what bog bodies are about and how they are handled. What arcanophile could ask for more? ( )
1 vote Farree | Dec 25, 2014 |
Interesting results on the scientific investigation of Lindow Man and some good folklore material, but also a great deal of Olympic-caliber jumping-to-conclusions regarding the practices of the ancient Druids. ( )
  gwernin | Sep 9, 2011 |
Admittedly, I haven't read this book in about 15 years, but I found it a romantic reconstruction of the life and circumstances of a bog body that had little hard evidence supporting it. On the other hand, it was a fun read, so I gave it an extra 1/2 star. ( )
  IreneF | Nov 3, 2008 |
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Robins, Donmain authorall editionsconfirmed
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This text recounts the discovery of "Lindow Man" and how this transformed the archaeological tradition of understanding Celtic Britain. The "Pete Marsh" story hit the media and public attention when a well-preserved and ancient body was discovered in a peat bog in Cheshire in 1984. This book unfolds the story of the discovery and, by the use of modern scientific and archaeological techniques, demonstrates that certain facts can now be ascertained: that the "Lindow Man" was ritually murdered; that he was probably a high ranking Druid; that his death was a last attempt by the Celts to win back favor from their Gods and help them to rid their country from the Roman Empire; and that Celtic society was one where the Druids played a leading economic as well as religious role.
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