One of the things I’ve noticed about Ellis and that I truly, immediately like, is that he points out that nearly all of the sources we have for Druids come from essentially hostile witnesses. I believe everything should be taken with a grain of salt – even that which was written down later by the Celts themselves, for they, as Ellis points out, had been Christianized, and could scarcely be considered unbiased.
Ellis also points something out that I had always felt to be true, because it seemed like logical human nature, but since I’m not an eminent Celtic Scholar, my opinion is really worth Jack in the scheme of things. He talks about the reasons the Romans worked so hard to eliminate the Druids, not because they were ‘horrified’ by the Druids’ ‘barbaric sacrifices’ (THIS, from the ROMANS???!!! Seriously!), but because they recognised that, as the intellectuals and spiritual leaders of the Celtic culture, resistance would be orchestrated by the Druids. What a logical move. Put down any potential insurrections by cutting off the leadership. Now, THAT makes sense.
Although it was Pliny the Elder who makes reference to the repression of the Druids, Ellis seems to feel that it was less repression and more the adoption of Christianity that allowed a transformation and assimilation of the Druids into what became Celtic Christianity.
I’ve read from many sources – and, again, this makes logical sense – that the early Christian missionaries didn’t attempt to eradicate Druid customs and beliefs; they attempted to lay claim to them by incorporating key features right into Christianity. Holy wells and other sacred sites, deities; they received Christian names and Christian identities, and were just subsumed.