Did the druids sacrifice humans?

Author : Philippe Lanoë / July 2023

In his Géographie (IV, 4-5) Strabon (64/63 B.C. - 24/25 A.D.)  clarified the role of the druids:

“The Romans did succeed however in making them renounce many of their sacrificial and soothsayer practices which they found so revolting. It was customary for instance, that the unfortunate wretch nominated as the victim would receive a blow from a sabre to where the false ribs are and his future would then be predicted according to his convulsions (and this in the presence of the druids) seeing as they never offered sacrifices without the druids’ attendance. They also had other forms of human sacrifices: sometimes, for example, the victim would be killed (slowly) pierced by arrows, other times they would crucify him in temples or occasionally they would construct a colossal human shape model from wood and hay and make livestock and animals of all sorts enter pell-mell with humans, this would then be set on fire and they would subsequently consume the burnt offering.”

Source : http:// www.remacle.org

Archaeological digs carried out in the sanctuaries in Gournay-sur-Aronde and Ribemont-sur-Ancre in Picardie allowed us to gain an insight into the religious practices of the Gauls. In Ribermont, the decapitated and dismembered bodies on display were most likely conquered enemies and were therefore not linked to human sacrifices at all.

However, it is probable that sacrifices took place and that the victims were most likely prisoners of war or convicts. Discoveries made in peat bogs in the United Kingdom and Ireland brought to light some sacrificial practices.

Latin and Greek authors deliberately classified the Celtic civilisation as savage as a way of better justifying Roman superiority.

During the conquest of Gaul, led by Caesar, human sacrifices were already part of the past, since it is likely that Strabon and Caesar drew their information from Posidonius (135 B.C., around 51 B.C.) considerably earlier.

This vision of a Celtic society carrying out human sacrifices has been etched upon our minds and has been associated for centuries past, entirely without founding, with megalithic monuments which have been imagined into sacrificial altars.



Author : Philippe Lanoë, « Did the druids sacrifice humans? », Bécédia [en ligne], ISSN 2968-2576, mis en ligne le 24/07/2023.

Permalien: https://bcd.bzh/becedia/en/did-the-druids-sacrifice-humans



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