Getting Close to the Druids

We don’t know where the Iron Age Druids plied their trade, apart from Anglesey in north Wales. But two good possibilities are the Late Bronze Age/Early Iron Age middens at All Cannings Cross and Potterne, both near Devizes in Wiltshire. These middens (and the one at East Chisenbury on the River Avon to the north of Amesbury), are huge rubbish dumps with large quantities of pottery, much of it high-status pottery suitable for feasting, a huge number of animals bones, and a few human bones, mostly skulls and thigh bones. These middens must have remained in the collective memory, since there was a late Roman middem at Wayside Farm near Devizes, with large quantities of pottery and animal bone, mostly the skulls and jaw bones of oxen. It is perhaps no coincidence that one of the earliest Anglo-Saxon churches we know of in Wiltshire was established at Potterne – a 10th century timber church. The church does not survive, and it was replaced in the late 15th century by a bishop’s palace, today called Porch House. You can see it in this photo (with roadworks!) – the “new” 12th century church is just visible in the background.

Porch House 1

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