Religion in Britain from the Megaliths to Arthur

An Archaeological and Mythological Exploration


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About the Book

The Druids and the Arthurian legends are all most of us know about early Britain, from the Neolithic to the Iron Age (4500 BC–AD 43). Drawing on archaeological discoveries and medieval Welsh texts like the Mabinogion, this book explores the religious beliefs of the ancient Britons before the coming of Christianity, beginning with the megaliths—structures like Stonehenge—and the role they played in prehistoric astronomy. Topics include the mysterious Beaker people of the Early Bronze Age, Iron Age evidence of the Druids, the Roman period and the Dark Ages. The author discusses the myths of King Arthur and what they tell us about paganism, as well as what early churches and monasteries reveal about the enigmatic Druids.

About the Author(s)

Robin Melrose is a retired senior lecturer in English and linguistics at England’s University of Portsmouth. He lives on the Isle of Wight in southern England.

Bibliographic Details

Robin Melrose
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 284
Bibliographic Info: 99 photos, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2016
pISBN: 978-1-4766-6360-9
eISBN: 978-1-4766-2426-6
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Preface: Routes to the Past 1
Introduction: Celts, Druids and the Age of Arthur 5
1: The Age of Megaliths (1): Stone Monuments and Neolithic Astronomy 15
2: The Age of Megaliths (2): Rich Burials and More Astronomy in the
Early Bronze Age 34
3: The Age of Depositions (1): Water, Fire and Earth in the Late Bronze Age 53
4: The Age of Depositions (2): The Sky God and Iron Age Hillforts 78
5: The Age of Depositions (3): Chariot Burials, Lunar Eclipses and Wooden Buckets in the Later Iron Age 111
6: The Romans in Britain: Roman Gods and British Gods, Roman Burials and Decapitated Burials 134
7: The Beginnings of the Age of Arthur: Arthur the ­Bear-Man 162
8: Arthur in the Underworld 176
9: Arthur the ­Witch-Slayer, Warrior and King 186
10: Arthur and the Early Medieval World: Holy Islands and the Arthurian Cycle in Cornwall 203
11: Druids and the Early Medieval World: the ­Bear-Druid of Welsh Mythology 224
Chapter Notes 249
Bibliography 263
Index 275