Blood and Mistletoe


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The History of the Druids in Britain

Ronald Hutton

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Crushed by the Romans in the first century A.D., the ancient Druids of Britain left almost no reliable evidence behind. Because of this, historian Ronald Hutton shows, succeeding British generations have been free to reimagine, reinterpret, and reinvent the Druids. Hutton’s captivating book is the first to encompass two thousand years of Druid history and to explore the evolution of English, Scottish, and Welsh attitudes toward the forever ambiguous figures of the ancient Celtic world.

Druids have been remembered at different times as patriots, scientists, philosophers, or priests; sometimes portrayed as corrupt, bloodthirsty, or ignorant, they were also seen as fomenters of rebellion. Hutton charts how the Druids have been written in and out of history, archaeology, and the public consciousness for some 500 years, with particular focus on the romantic period, when Druids completely dominated notions of British prehistory. Sparkling with legends and images, filled with new perspectives on ancient and modern times, this book is a fascinating cultural study of Druids as catalysts in British history.

Ronald Hutton is professor of history at Bristol University and a leading authority on the British Isles in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, on ancient and medieval paganism and magic, and on the global context of witchcraft beliefs. He is the author of eighteen books.

Blood and Mistletoe is undoubtedly the most extensive and systematic account of its subject ever written…essential for any scholar interested in the way ideas about Druids have developed over the past 300 years.’ — William Whyte, Times Literary Supplement

"Written with great verve, this is a sparkling account of how the Druids were reinvented over the last four centuries." — Jeremy Black, BBC History Magazine

"A magisterial and eminently readable account of the druids and how they have been continually reinvented over the last three hundred years by visionaries, political radicals, angry academics and downright fraudsters. Recommended reading for anyone who has driven down the A303 late at night, slowed down as they approached Stonehenge and wondered for a moment if the original druids really did process round those gigantic stones wreathed in mistletoe and clutching blood-stained knives!" - Tony Robinson

"Lucid, open-minded, encyclopaedic and yet still fascinating - almost perfect history if such a thing were possible." - Terry Jones

"Everything that is known about the druids plus everything that is known about knowing about them! Ronald Hutton uses the quest for the druids as a mirror of how Europeans have seen themselves through the last thousand years. It's an enormous undertaking performed with even-handedness and a sense of joy in history." - Terry Jones

‘Hutton’s volume is a tour de force. The author is at his very best in his sheer breadth and depth of scholarly research of this period, and his work is laced with elegance and humour…The book is an overwhelmingly positive contribution to scholarship.’ — Miranda Aldhouse-Green, Antiquity Vol 83 Issue 322, December 2009

". . .engaging, learned, evenhanded, and abundantly rewarding book. . . .This is a substantial piece of work."—John Carey, Europe: Early Modern and Modern

"Compelling... [Hutton is] a master storyteller..." — Christopher Catling, Current Archaeology

"This is an ably researched and well-written book... Blood and Mistletoe is the saga of a miraculous transformation." — Peter Ackroyd, The Times

" engrossing, endlessly thought-provoking read." — Michael Kerrigan, The Scotsman

`This book is a tour de force: surely the definitive work on our perception of the Druids.' — David V. Barrett, The Independent

"[Hutton] takes a refreshingly even-handed view." — Noel Malcolm, Sunday Telegraph

"All the difficult and contentious answers are now assembled in Ronald Hutton's erudite, humane and compelling study...." — Rosemary Hill, The Sunday Times

"…my only regret is that although it extends to a quarter of a million words, it is not a few score thousand longer." — Tom Shippey, London Review of Books

"...[a] scholarly and enlightening work ... indispensable for anyone wishing to discover the origins of Druidry today." — Geoff Ward, Western Daily Press (West Country Life)

"...not only examines faith and superstition in Celtic society...but also looks closely at the many revivals... It makes for an invigorating brew." — Good Book Guide

"This is an effective study of a complex subject, presented with tact, sympathy and a high level of academic rigour." — Stephen Toase, Fortean Times

'It's a comprehensive account of the Druids...full of fascinating detail and has some splendid illustrations.' — Meic Stephens, Cambria Magazine

'…should be a copy of this important, occasionally sensational and highly entertaining book in every Welsh library… Hutton's scholarship is not only breathtakingly thorough but also ruthlessly critical.' — Timothy Mowl, Times Higher Education Supplement


'... a tour de force ... a scrupulous, scholarly dissection in a masterful fashion ... [It] is fascinating ... [A] definitive book.' — Penny Billington, Touchstone

'Anyone ... interested in the evolution of the modern druidic movement will find [this] a fascinating read. Very highly recommended.' — The Cauldron

`[A] densely erudite yet splendidly readable book... Worth reading.' — Michael Ostling, History Today,

'…Hutton has created what he calls a book about the British, with a scholarly perception, grace and wit.' — British Archaeology

“….a vast, enthralling history of a mysterious cult.”—The Independent

Shortlisted for the 2009 Katherine Briggs Folklore Award
ISBN: 9780300267754
Publication Date: August 9, 2022
492 pages, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4
32 b/w illus.
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