Washington, Feb 12 : The first historical evidence of the existence of a mysterious ancient sect known as the Druids, might have been found in the form of a series of graves discovered in a gravel quarry at Stanway near Colchester, Essex, in UK.
According to a report in Discovery News, these graves have been dated to 40-60 AD, and at least one of the burials, it appears, may have been that of a Druid.
For the research, Mike Pitts, an archaeologist, studied classical Greek and Roman texts that mention the Druids in early France and Britain. The most detailed description, Pitts found, dates to 55 B.C. and comes from Roman military and political leader Julius Caesar.
"Druids were prestigious ritual specialists who performed human sacrifices, acted as judges in disputes, were excused action in battle and taught the transmigration of souls," he said.
Within the wooden, chambered burial site, researchers have excavated a wine warmer, cremated human remains, a cloak pinned with brooches, a jet bead, divining rods (for fortune-telling), a series of surgical instruments, a strainer bowl last used to brew Artemisia-containing tea, a board game carefully laid out with pieces in play, as well as other objects.
According to Mike Pitts, an archaeologist, "This person was clearly a specialist and also clearly wealthy and powerful, as indicated by the special grave and its apparent location within the compound of a 'chief.'"
The surgical kit found in the grave includes iron and copper alloy scalpels, a surgical saw, hooks, needles, forceps and probes. According to Pitts, the collection mirrors basic medical tools from other parts of the Roman world.
The board game and its arranged pieces, however, are anything but common. None other like it has ever been found at Roman-era sites in Great Britain.
Pitts believes the game may have been another "divination tool," along with the rods, jet bead and scent bottles also excavated at Stanway.
According to Philip Crummy, director of the Colchester Archaeological Trust, the person in the burial could very well have been a Druid "given the healing and divination attributes - assuming that Druids could be trained in these skills."
Because of site's age and location, researchers are 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.