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Durham e-Theses
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Dreaming the Ancestors: An Investigation into Contemporary British Druidry and the Ritualisation of Death.

UZZELL, JENNIFER,SUSAN (2023) Dreaming the Ancestors: An Investigation into Contemporary British Druidry and the Ritualisation of Death. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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This thesis is an investigation into the various ways in which Druids in the opening decades of the 21st Century think about and ritualise death. Section A begins with a detailed discussion of the nature of modern British Spiritual Druidry; tracing it from its origins at the end of the 18th Century to the diverse ways in which it manifests in modernity. It will attempt to reach some conclusions about how Druidry is best understood through a consideration of Druids’ own understandings of their identity and their place in the modern world. In particular, it will consider the extent to which Druidry in Britain can be categorised as indigenous religion in Britain.
Section B consists of a broad overview of the ways in which modern Druids approach death. Particular consideration is given to the concept of Ancestors in Druidry, and the role they play in the spiritual lives and practices of Druids, as well as in funeral and other rituals concerned with the dead. The section concludes with an investigation into the phenomenon of ‘new barrows’ that are currently being built in various locations in the south of England. These are built in deliberate imitation of the chambered burial mounds of the Neolithic and Bronze Ages and are designed to take human cremated remains interred in niches in the walls. The significance of these barrows as funeral venues, both to Druids and in wider society will be discussed at length. The thesis will conclude that there are several aspects of the way that death is understood and ritualised in Druidry that are highly distinctive in contemporary Western society. It will further suggest that much can be learnt from both Druidry and the new barrows as models for the construction of meaningful and useful funerals.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:Druids Druidry Death Death Ritual Funerals Indigenous Religion Natural Burial New Barrows Continuing Bonds Dividuality
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Theology and Religion, Department of
Thesis Date:2023
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:29 Nov 2023 18:35

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