The CeLtic ReoioaL

Two succeeding esthetic movements revived interest in the Celts. In the 18th century, antiquarians and historians portrayed their Celtic forebears as "noble savages," and the study of" the Celtic past became socially acceptable. Queen Victoria's love affair with all things Scottish led to a Celtic artistic revival, and paved the way for a reassessment of Celtic cultural identity.

I lthough a handful of 17th-century ¡antiquarians described aspects of the surviving evidence of Celtic culture, the true revival of

Below: One of several reconstructed Celtic sites, this village near Quin, County Clare, Ireland is a popular attraction for tourists with an interest in the Celtic past.

interest in things Celtic came in the mid- 18th century. Inspired by Rousseau's notion of the "noble savage," European historians began to re-examine their own "savage" forebears. Although the interest was created through contact with the North American Indians, it was felt that anthropological information from America might have parallels in the barbarian cultures of the primitive Europeans. While antiquarians looked at Neolithic monuments such as Stonehenge and Celtic hillforts like Maiden Castle with a renewed interest, academics studied surviving Celtic artifacts for clues about the mysterious people who created them.

Around the same time both theologians and antiquarians tried to reassess the importance of the druids in the world of the Ancient Britons

or Gauls. Lacking other sources, a romantic impression of the druidic order was created based largely on classical references. The 17th-century antiquarian John Aubrey linked the druids with Stonehenge in his unpublished thesis Monumenta Britanica, and a century later the theologian William Stukeley in his Itinerarium Curiosum of 1742 tried to link together stone circles and druidusm with Old Testament patriarchal Christianity.

Although this connection between druids and stone circles has long since been discredited, the two phenomena remained linked until the 19th century. A cultural myth was created around the druids, and in 1781 the Ancient Order of Druids held their inaugural meeting. This semi-masonic order continued into the 20th century, and helped propagate interest in druidism, religious mysticism, and pagan worship. Today, druidism is linked to a late 20th century interest in alternative religions, such as New I'aganism, Wicca, and Shamanism. Popular among supporters of the alternative new-age culture, druidic worship is still practiced.

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