Tuesday, September 26, 2000

The Life and Death of a Druid Prince, summary

Klar, Celtic Romanticism 170

The Story of Lindow Man, an Archaeological Sensation
by Anne Ross & Don Robins

Taking a scant handful of facts, archaeologists Anne Ross and Don Robins create a mytho-archaeological sensation by interpreting a possible scenario of the Lindow Man, a rare 2000-year old bog body (the oldest preserved body in Britain) found near Manchester.

Using solid Sherlockian deductive reasoning, they resurrect and name him as a druid prince sacrificed under extreme and catastrophic duress on Beltine, ca. 60 AD, after the rebellion of Boudicea, on the evidence of a burnt finemeal griddlecake (ritual meal), mistletoe pollen, a noose, forensic data (3-fold death), manicured nails and an armband of unidentified fur. 

Perhaps the clue as to how to interpret this text is embedded in the title: Sensation. I am reminded of Marija Gimbutas’ construct of Old Europeans as matriarchal, egalitarian, and peaceful (unlike warlike Indo-European horsemen) on the basis of archaeological evidence found in burial mounds. 

Pots may not speak, but I find my credulity stretched to the limit by Ross’ and Robin’s post-mortem analyses, though in retrospect, their weird logic seems to make sense—which makes me distrust deductive reasoning. I found the appendices more reassuring.

It is true that warriors would have scars, be clean-shaven and that the learned/princely class would be well-nourished, unblemished, manicured (and hairy). Safe to say, that the Lindow Man was not a warrior, craftsman or serf, though he could have been a poet (but not a bard—no long nails, etc.) 

That the authors pin Lindow Man’s death to a specific date is even more incredulous. However, the authors’ deductions as to where the body was found is interesting. By contrast, they compare Lindow Man with other bog bodies—including those found in Scandinavia, many of which were mere executions rather than ritual death. 

Another interesting factoid was their concept of Celtic warlords ruling in Scandinavia, as I’ve always had trouble accepting the notion that there was a pan- Celtic or Germanic tribal homogenaity east or west of the Rhine.

One thing that did excite me was the way that the authors tied in the three-fold death with the three gods of the elements (air/Esus, fire/Taranis, and water/Teutates, and by extension, earth, with Lindow Man as consort of the bride/goddess/Anu, and the limnal boundary of the underworld). 

Linguistically tying in Lindow with Dublin (though according to Professor Melia, Dublin is a grammatically incorrect construct), was also of interest, as was the trade connection. The authors’ tying in with the folk tradition was brilliant (reminding me of Professor Dundes’ description of the Palio), but I wonder how intact a folk tradition would remain after 2000 years (considering that’s the half-life of a language).

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