Druids sun worshipers




IN our last, we spoke of the ancient look of some of the buildings of Liverpool. Be it remembered we are now treading upon part of the soil of ancient Rome, that part which was left from Rome by the Saxons and Angles in A. D. 476.  Julius Caesar, B. C. 55, made a descent upon Britain, and revealed to the Roman world some knowledge of these islands, with their various resources. It was about a century after this, however, before the Emperor Claudius attempted its definite conquest. In A. D. 78-84, Julius Agricola carried the Roman frontier to the Friths of Forth and Clyde. He did not, however, plant his standards of silver Roman eagles in the highlands and islands of Scotland, but in the western Hebrides, in the great bay of Loch-na-keal, on the island of Iona, still so called. The ancient name of this island was "The Island of the Druids."

The Druids were worshipers of the sun. To this they soon added the worship of the serpent. The Druids were chosen from the oldest and wisest of the people. They were the priests of the people and advisers of kings. They added to their power over the people, by preparing medicines from plants, with which they healed various maladies and wounds. 

What these medicinal plants were, and how prepared, was kept a secret among themselves. One thing, which they used was the ripe berries of the mistletoe. This is a plant, which grows out of the branches of the oak-tree. 

They taught the people that God lived in these oak-trees. When the mistletoe berries were ripe, a great feast was made, to which all the people were called; and while they sang songs under the oaks, and prayed to the sun and serpents, the oldest Druid, with his long, venerable, white beard, and a white band around his head, himself dressed in white, would ascend the trees and gather the mistletoe berries with a golden sickle.

The serpent's egg was the crest of the Druid, and actual living serpents lay entwined at the foot of their altars. 

These ancient Druid priests from Iona spread their idolatry over these islands, and there are many relics of these ancient Druids and their worship still to be seen in different parts of the kingdom. One of the most remarkable of these remains is found in Avefury, in Wiltshire, some sixty miles from Southampton. This relic consists of four hundred and sixty-one great stones which once composed the figure of a coiled serpent, extending for two and a half miles over the green hills, and serving as approaches to circles within a circle, supposed to be the place of their altar and worship. The head and tail of the serpent are still plainly to be seen. 



WHEN Caesar set out for his conquest of Britain, B. C. 55, he sailed from Calais, France, crossed the Straits of Dover, and first planted his standard in what is now the county of Kent, on a point of land where stands the town of Deal.

The Romans found the Britons a strong, well-formed, and good-tempered people, and wished to have them for slaves and soldiers. But all though the weapons of the Britons consisted of only bad swords, weak spears, poor bows and arrows, and shields of basket work covered with leather, they were so fierce as to be a terror even to the bold Roman soldiers, who had good swords and spears, and shields covered with iron, and were also clothed in armor, consisting of pieces of iron covering their backs, breasts, arms and legs. For this reason the only effective weapon of the Britons was their bow and arrows.

The Romans, however, with all the advantage of superior weapons, found it a difficult task to conquer the fierce Britons; and they were obliged to build very strong walls around their houses, and maintain a constant watch, lest they lose even what they had gained.

Before the coming of the Romans, the Britons formed their houses with sticks, and smeared them over with mud. They would build several of these mud huts near together and surround them with a high fence, composed of the trunks and limbs of trees, to keep the bears, wolves, and foxes from coming in the night to destroy their children, their flocks, and poultry. 

These clusters of houses constituted their towns.

Where now stands London, the largest city in the world, then stood their mud-hut London-town, on the river Thames. Some authors claim that there has been a settlement on the site of London since the year 1107 B. C. There are authentic records that B. C. 54, London was the capital of the Trinobantes and the royal seat of their sovereigns.

When London was conquered by the Romans, it was so hidden away among the trees of the wilderness that it could hardly be seen. They cut down the large trees around it, built large houses of stone for dwellings, established a market, and, to facilitate traffic, introduced money made from the silver and copper they had found in Britain. Tacitus, the Roman historian, tells us that in A. D. 51 it contained "many merchants and much merchandise." In A. D. 61 the Romans called it Lundinium, or Colona Augusta. They built a strong stonewall around their possession, with four principal gates. They built a strong tower in the town, in which they could place their women, children, and treasures, in case of an attack.

But how unlike the ancient is the modern London! All these early walls and towers have passed away. Hills have been leveled, and some of the ancient Roman floors and streets have been found twenty feet below the present streets. The mud-hut town hid in the wilderness has grown to a city eighteen miles in length by eleven in breadth, with over 4,000,000 inhabitants and 1700 sub-post-offices for their accommodation.




THE ancient Romans not only made London the capital of their British dominion, but it became the center of all their measurements and descriptions of places in the kingdom; and in order to secure complete accuracy, there was erected in the very center of London a stone post, which was the point from which all their measurements were counted. This Roman stone still remains as a relic of "ye olden time." 

It is walled into the side of a building, yet so as to be seen. It is on Canon street, just opposite the Canon-street Railway Passenger-station.

When the Romans had subdued the Britons, they employed them in building their houses of brick and stone, in plowing and sowing the land, and in digging the tin, copper, and other materials from the mines. Although it seemed hard to them to be thus ruled over by others, yet in this very servitude they were taking steps in civilization. Learning how to perform useful labor was not all, for the Romans brought teachers and established schools, and taught the youth of Britain to read and write. But greater benefit still came of this Roman occupation, for after a time good men came bringing to these islands the Bible, the knowledge of the true God, and the glad news of salvation through his Son. They taught the people to love and serve God instead of savagely fighting one another.

In the early writings of the Welsh, called "triads," it is said that Bran was the first who brought the Christian faith to the Welsh. Bran, with his son Caractacus, was sent to Rome, and retained there as a hostage for seven years. In A. D. 56, according to Eusebius, St. Paul was sent to Rome by Nero, and according to St. Luke (Acts 28:30), he had his own hired house in Rome for two years, and taught all that came to him. It is claimed that Bran received the gospel from St. Paul while he was in Rome. It is certain that he received the religion of Christ while there. 

These "triads" of the Welsh, state that when Bran was released, in A. D, 58, and returned to Britain, he brought with him three Christian teachers, Illtid, an Israelite; Cyndaf, and Arwystli, which is the Welsh for Aristobolus, to whom St. Paul sends salutation, 

Romans 16:10.

These early British Christians were numerous in Wales, Northumberland, and Cornwall. Through their teachings many of the Druids were converted to Christ, and the true worship of God was established in their stone circles, where previously the sun and serpent had been worshiped. One of these circles thus used still remains in Carn-y-groes, in Glamor-gan-shire. 

Near to it stands also a stone cross, erected by these early Christians. By degrees the Britons forgot the Druids, and ceased to pray under the oaks; and in fact the college of the Druids, in the island of Iona of the Hebrides, where Druid priests had been instructed without books, and where their kings had been buried, became a safe retreat for the Christians from the strife of war in lower Britain, and a spot where they could study the Holy Scriptures, and from whence they sent forth at last their missionaries to all parts of Britain.




DOWN to the opening of the fourth century the Romans went on improving scores of towns in Britain, among which York and Bath were the largest. At the latter place, which was a pretty site, they had excellent gardens, and built many beautiful houses to live in, and constructed fine places for bathing. The great men, and many of the Roman ladies delighted to live in Bath.

While these temporal improvements were going on, those who had embraced the Christian religion were zealous in their work of spreading the gospel. Rapidly the Britons gave up their idols, and erected churches in various parts of the Island. Everything seemed to be flourishing and prosperous until Diocletian commenced his, the tenth of the Pagan persecutions against the Christians. 

It was in A. D. 303 that he began this ten years of terrible slaughter of all such as adhered to the religion of Christ. He avowed his determination to hunt up and put to death every Christian in his kingdom, and to establish again the worship of Jupiter. He was so confident of accomplishing this that he caused some of his medals to be struck with this inscription on them, "Having everywhere subdued the Christian superstition, and restored the worship of the gods."

Of this persecution of the Christians in Britain the historian says, "Diocletian, by striking the disciples of Jesus in Britain, only increased their number. Many took refuge in Scotland, where, under the name of Culdees, they prayed for those who sheltered them. When the surrounding Pagans saw the holiness of these men of God, they left their sacred oaks, and abandoned the worship of the sun and serpent, to obey the gentle voice of the gospel."

These Christians went also to the little island of Iona (this island we have mentioned in another article as the island of the Druids). Here they built a church, and called it the Church of the Saviour. Its walls still exist among the stately ruins of latter ages.

Some of the Christians were driven into Ireland. Among them was a youth by the name of Succat, who was et to keeping swine. "Here," says the historian, "as he led his herds over the mountains and through the forests, by night and by day, he called to mind the instructions of a pious mother, which, up to this time of distress, he had forgotten."  Here he found the Saviour, and when liberated from his captivity, he went to the Island to preach Christ. He would call the pagan tribes together in the open fields, by beat of drum, and tell them in their own language the history of the Son of God. In short, he evangelized the Island, so that it was afterward called "The Island of Saints." 

The Catholic Church has since canonized Succat as the "Patron Saint" of Ireland, under the name of St. Patrick. Succat was no Catholic, but did his noble work before the "Emerald Isle" had heard of such a thing as the pope as Christ's vicar.

Soon after Diocletian's persecution, Constantine came to power in Rome; and great changes, both civil and religious, occurred in the Roman kingdom, which, as we shall see, gave a different turn to all the affairs of Britain.