Celtic healer

Excavations at Stanway, Colchester (Camulodunum) U.K. which date at latest, to just before the Romans arrived in England have provided a very exciting glimpse back into the Celtic past. The site is unique because of the finds in the grave of an individual dubbed the doctor who was buried with...

Mysterious rods and ringsMysterious rods and rings...an array of instruments which are easily identifiable as those used by modern surgeons. They are different enough from typical Roman medical 'kits' that have been found elsewhere, and appear to be Celtic (Briton) variations. The doctor was probably a healer, one of the Druid class. He was buried with other interesting items, including feast-ware and a gaming board of a kind heretofore unknown with white and blue glass pieces laid out 'in play'. One of the most intriguing finds may have served some kind of function for divination. Eight rods four made of iron (in two slightly different sizes) and four of copper (also in two sizes) seem to be arranged as if laid in a long narrow box. These were found in proximity to eight rings whose arrangement seem to indicate that they were once connected to a now disintegrated wooden box via cloth or leather loops in some way (perhaps to hold on a flap cover?). The druid/healer/doctor might have used the rods to determine if a certain course of action was likely to be good or ill-omened.

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more on the Druid find

This story is popping up here and there now because the research has finally been published in the journal British Archaeology. The San Francisco Sentinel story has this to add:

Because of site’s age and location, Pitts is more inclined to believe the person was indeed a Celtic Druid and could have been closely related to Cunobelin, a chief or king of the Catuvellauni tribe.

William Shakespeare immortalized Cunobelin as Cymbeline in a play of that same name. Cunobelin’s sons led a heroic, yet failed, resistance against Roman Emperor Claudius’ invasion of England in 43 A.D.

Comyn's picture

more on the druid

Der Spiegel posted an article about the find entitled Possible Druid Grave Enchants Archaeologists on Feb 20.

The doctor of Camulodunum was evidently a rich and respected man. If one assumes that the surgical instruments and divining rods in his tomb weren't just for decorative purposes, healing and soothsaying must have been part of his job description. It's the closest anyone is likely to get to a druid in archaeological terms. Crummy is aware of this, of course. "We know nothing about the dead person. Anything is possible. We don't even know whether the bones belonged to a man or a woman."