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Ancient Celtic Coin Art

32 33 The Iron Age spiritual hierarchy of druids, bards and oracles was at the centre of tribal politics and power play. An intellectual elite, the spindoctors of their day, they were the only members of society who could move freely from patron to patron, as arbiters, advisors and masters of ritual. The Romans understood the central role the druids played in maintaining the independent spirit of the tribes and went to great lengths to eradicate them. It can be argued that this was the strategic reason for the invasion of the British Isles. The fivepointed pentacle was known in later times as the druids foot and certain animals were also associated with druidic learning and wisdom, snakes in particular and also the wren, possibly because of its combination of small size with loud and piercing voice. Coins were placed in the liminal gateways and boundary ditches of religious sites, at tribal boundary sites where markets were often held and in Iron Age ritual pits. These pits contain carefully dismantled animal bones and other items, that seem to have been offerings to ancestor spirits after ritual feasting. Different sets of imagery are found at different sites. For example, warrior images are rarely found in pits but are very common in watery deposits along with weapons and other war regalia. It seems that coin offerings were made privately by individuals rather than as part of communal ritual acts because they are often associated with personal items like brooches and jewellery. SIGNS OF THE dRuIdS and magical talismans a. b. c. d. e. f.
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