According to this Wikipedia post on Rome’s conquest of Britain, the conquest began under Emperor Claudius in 43 AD. The historical context within The Prodigal Band Trilogy however isn’t really about conquering England or trying to conquer Scotland or keep the “Picts” as the Scots were called from trying to get rid of the Romans (one reason Hadrian’s Wall was built just north of the Tyne River, to keep out the “Picts”). The historical context is about conquering Wales, home to the fictitious Crag-Dweller sect of Celtic cannibals led by the pagan priest Crynnwagg in the fictitious “Craggy Mountains”. According to Wikipedia, when the Romans conquered Wales they had to put down the Druids as well. Unfortunately, Wikipedia does not have a post about Druids in Wales, but just Druids, a sect of priests that worshiped various pagan gods of the Celts, throughout Celtic areas including Scotland, Ireland, England, Breton (now part of France), Gaul (most of present-day France) and Cornwall, which has its own Cornish dialect.
The trilogy states the year 50 AD as the time when Rome invaded Wales, but that is not true, yet not far off either. According to the map on the Wikipedia page, the Romans entered Wales in 54 AD, and, by 96 AD, Wales was pretty much conquered completely. I chose the year 50 AD, not knowing exactly when Rome tried to invade Wales, because it’s a ‘round number’ so to speak—plus, there was a new Roman Emperor in 54 AD, Nero. And another thing—that fact that Rome conquered Wales and most of the rest of Britain really doesn’t play into the novels. Yet, the fact is (which I knew was fact for years) that the Druids did try to keep the Romans out of Britain (as they’d tried in Gaul and other places they inhabited, but under Julius Caesar in his time—Caesar did conquer Gaul and did visit Britain for a bit). Therefore, since the trilogy features the evil Crynnwagg as the high priest of the Crag Dwellers who lived in the ‘Craggy’ Mountains of Wales and fought Druids, and since Druids did try to keep out the Romans, it figured that the Roman invasion under Claudius needed to be referenced. From Wikipedia:
“…Late in 47 the new governor of Britain, Publius Ostorius Scapula, began a campaign against the tribes of modern-day Wales, and the Cheshire Gap. The Silures of southeast Wales caused considerable problems to Ostorius and fiercely defended the Welsh border country. Caratacus himself was defeated in the Battle of Caer Caradoc and fled to the Roman client tribe of the Brigantes who occupied the Pennines. Their queen Cartimandua was unable or unwilling to protect him however, given her own truce with the Romans, and handed him over to the invaders. Ostorius died and was replaced by Aulus Didius Gallus who brought the Welsh borders under control but did not move further north or west, probably because Claudius was keen to avoid what he considered a difficult and drawn-out war for little material gain in the mountainous terrain of upland Britain. When Nero became emperor in 54, he seems to have decided to continue the invasion and appointed Quintus Veranius as governor, a man experienced in dealing with the troublesome hill tribes of Anatolia. Veranius and his successor Gaius Suetonius Paulinus mounted a successful campaign across North Wales, famously killing many druids when he invaded the island of Anglesey in 60. Final occupation of Wales was postponed however when the rebellion of Boudica forced the Romans to return to the south east in 60 or 61.”
Most of Wales was conquered in the 70s AD, according to Wikipedia.
“…The new governor was Agricola, returning to Britain, and made famous through the highly laudatory biography of him written by his son-in-law, Tacitus. Arriving in mid-summer of 78, Agricola completed the conquest of Wales in defeating the Ordovices…He then invaded Anglesey, forcing the inhabitants to sue for peace.”
Further down scrolling indicates in red all of Wales was conquered up to around where Hadrian’s Wall would be located, in 96 AD. As for the Druids, from the Wikipedia page on Druids:
“A druid was a member of the high-ranking class in ancient Celtic cultures. Druids were religious leaders as well as legal authorities, adjudicators, lorekeepers, medical professionals and political advisors. Druids left no written accounts. While they were reported to have been literate, they are believed to have been prevented by doctrine from recording their knowledge in written form. Their beliefs and practices are attested in some detail by their contemporaries from other cultures, such as the Romans and the Greeks. The earliest known references to the druids date to the fourth century BCE. The oldest detailed description comes from Julius Caesar’s Commentarii de Bello Gallico (50s BCE). They were described by other Roman writers such as Cicero, Tacitus, and Pliny the Elder. Following the Roman invasion of Gaul, the druid orders were suppressed by the Roman government under the 1st-century CE emperors Tiberius and Claudius, and had disappeared from the written record by the 2nd century….Pomponius Mela was the first author to say that the druids’ instruction was secret and took place in caves and forests. (Caves? Crags in mountains? A crag is like a division within rocks or parts of mountains and could lead to caves–DL). “…Greek and Roman writers frequently made reference to the druids as practitioners of human sacrifice. According to Caesar, those who had been found guilty of theft or other criminal offences were considered preferable for use as sacrificial victims, but when criminals were in short supply, innocents would be acceptable. A form of sacrifice recorded by Caesar was the burning alive of victims in a large wooden effigy, now often known as a wicker man. A differing account came from the 10th-century Commenta Bernensia, which claimed that sacrifices to the deities Teutates, Esus and Taranis were by drowning, hanging and burning, respectively.”
That the Druids tended to sacrifice “criminals” in their eyes over innocents would explain why the Druids sacrificed their enemy high priest, Crynnwagg, and drank ‘Crynnwagg’s Cup of Blood’ (a song written by guitarist-producer Mick who was obsessed with the Druids and their Crag-Dweller enemies, who were cannibals, and would exact retribution onto the Druids later by tying fourteen Druid students to oak trees and then burning them.) Druids were mostly in the Iron Age prior to Rome’s invasion but they did try to get Briton’s Celtic tribes to stop the Romans. According to Wikipedia, when Wales, Ireland, etc. were Christianized, the Druids were made into a pagan cult of sacrificers, etc.
“…During the Gallic Wars of 58–51 BCE, the Roman army, led by Julius Caesar, conquered the many tribal chiefdoms of Gaul, and annexed it as a part of the Roman Republic. According to accounts produced in the following centuries, the new rulers of Roman Gaul subsequently introduced measures to wipe out the druids from that country. According to Pliny the Elder, writing in the 70s CE, it was the emperor Tiberius (who ruled from 14–37 CE), who introduced laws banning not only druid practices, and other native soothsayers and healers, a move which Pliny applauded, believing that it would end human sacrifice in Gaul.” Later, Emperor Claudius completely banned their religious practices. “…While the druids as a priestly caste were extinct with the Christianization of Wales, complete by the 7th century at the latest, the offices of bard and of “seer” (Welsh: dryw) persisted in medieval Wales into the 13th century.”
But whether Druids ‘were made into a pagan cult of sacrificers’ or not, or called that by Roman pagans or Christians, doesn’t matter within the context of the trilogy except for one thing: they did sacrifice the Crag-Dweller high priest Crynnwagg, and then the Crag-Dwellers burned 14 Druid children as retribution. Sacrificed to the Crag-Dweller god, Corion, the ‘Satan’ figure of the trilogy. As to the gods of the Celts:
“…Evidence from the Roman period presents a wide array of gods and goddesses who are represented by images or inscribed dedications. Certain deities were venerated widely across the Celtic world, while others were limited only to a single region or even to a specific locality.” (For instance, the Crag Dwellers god was Corion, a fictitious god of course.) “The gods and goddesses of the pre-Christian Celtic peoples are known from a variety of sources, including ancient places of worship, statues, engravings, cult objects and place or personal names. The ancient Celts appear to have had a pantheon of deities comparable to others in Indo-European religion, each linked to aspects of life and the natural world.”
In other words, while I did not know the details about the Roman invasion of Wales or the religions of the Celts and Druids, I had a rough idea and was guided accordingly. Now, onto the snippets. The first one is from Chapter One of Battle of the Band and deals with Crynnwagg, the Druids, and Crynnwagg’s god Corion.
The Beforetime. The Creator. Sons of the Creator.
The light. Then…
The dark. When Corion, His wayward son, used his serpent fire to make off with the Light, his Father banished him.
“Be gone to the Darkness, Evil one, where your only sight will emanate from this.”
A gold chain from which hung a red crystal beacon was flung around Corion’s neck.
“But you will not be alone, errant son. Your Demons will sit beside you. And you will use your crystal sight to capture fellow souls. Playthings for your evil designs. To make sure you can’t wage war on Me again, My angelic muses, The Tooters, will guard over you.”
The Tooters three sang as Corion and his Demons were cast into the Abyss.
Livin’ fast and full they forgot one rule,
For every pleasure there’s a measure of life, so slow and cruel.
Corion never escaped the Abyss. He grew in strength and prospered there, the world below unknowing of his Evil.
Until one day in 50 A.D. when Crynnwagg, High Priest of the Celtic Crag-Dwellers of Wales, came back from the dead, his blood having been drained by Druid priests.
Crynnwagg brought back from the Abyss Corion’s legacies. And with the red crystal, the Crag-Dwellers dealt retribution on the Druids. They tied fourteen children to fourteen trees and burned them.
In the unification of Norman-ruled Britain in the eleventh and twelfth centuries, the First Duke of Effingchester stole Crynnwagg’s treasure—and with it, the power to summon the Evil.
I’ll get to the Norman invasion of Britain and the context within the trilogy in the next post. The second snippet mirrors the first one, adding more context. From Chapter One of The Prodigal Band:
Before God created mankind, He created angels, the ‘Sons of God’ as told in the Book of Genesis. Administrators—Principalities and Powers—for His plans on Earth He created. They were given powers over the creatures of the Earth according to His Will. Except the ‘Light Bearer,’ Satan, didn’t want to serve God. He wanted to be God, and God simply wouldn’t allow it. So Satan, with the ‘fallen angels,’ fought against God and His angels, lost the battle, and was cast down as far as they could be into the Abyss.
Called Satan in many instances within the Bible, God’s chief adversary had other names, such as Lucifer, mentioned in Isaiah 14. But a tribe of cannibals conquered by the Romans in 50 AD known as the Crag-Dwellers, who lived in the Craggy Mountains of Wales, called him Corion, as referenced by a Roman historian. Corion was their god. The Druids were their enemies.
The last snippet shows the context of Crynnwagg-Corion-Druids regarding the prodigal band, which is meeting to discuss their next tour album featuring the Crynnwagg-Druid sacrificial themes, as well as the seeming disunity within the band over whether to follow the evil Corion-worshiping Swami Negran, or ‘the Code,’ supposedly given to the residents of their home town in the year 1136 by angels and ‘the witch of the Hovels.’ From Chapter Six of Battle of the Band:
October 14, 1991
As Sound Unltd’s producer, Mick had the opportunity to be their spiritual leader he’d never have as a mere musician. For the purposes of seeing if Sound Unltd were together enough to begin working on their next world tour album, Seccond Coming, as well as to establish himself as the sextet’s pundit, he called a special meeting at his fancy London parkside townhouse. They sat atop or around his sacrificial altar collection.
(Later, after late-comer drummer Tom shows up)
“Look, Mick,” Keith said with agitation as he flicked a cigarette ash down into an altar-top ashtray, “what about all our cults? If we divided on anything it’s because we have all these different influences driving us. We need one single spirit guiding us, like—”
“Right, Keith, and we have one.” Mick lay flat on his back atop an altar.
“Corion. My Druid Family cult, Tom’s channeling, Swami Negran. Even some of the biker groups, eh Bry?”
“Yeh. The Biker Gang out in California.”
“I meant The Code.”
“Corion. He’s part of our insignia, he’s part of our individual spirituality, and we dig him, eh? He’s the god of light born in darkness. He was Satan’s disciple, but he changed, Keith. I mean, who the hell speaks for your Code? Your Code is just a belief system that sustained you when you were a child back home. We’ve all moved beyond that, man. We’re all world citizens now. We have nothing in common with the friends we left behind.”
Jack, leaning against a flat stone upon which Mullock sat, looked up at the bewildered bassist. “Look, brother Keith. I personally still believe in The Code. But, as a group, we stopped following The Code a long time ago. It doesn’t fit in with our ambitions anymore. But the Corionic concepts of the Foundation do, eh? If it feels good, do it. If it furthers our cause, do it. We in the business of maintaining our elite status, right? Relying on ourselves, doing what’s best for us. That’s how we made it, that’s how come we’re still up there. The different cults we’re in haven’t broken us, eh? That’s because all our cults have Corion in common. That’s our point of unity right there. Besides, man, how you know Corion isn’t the Keeper of The Code?”
No one else spoke up to refute Jack or Mick.
A defeated Keith had nowhere else to turn. Resigned, he hung his head with a snort. “Yeh, yeh, I dunno, either.” And what the hell am I being so self-righteous about? I really haven’t followed The Code in years anyway. If I did, I wouldn’t be giving in so easily for unity sake.
Mick carried on, leaving Keith dazed and confused. “Okay. Now we gotta talk about our next album. I’ve been thinking about some magical music with horror tales, seeing as how we’re into that line now. Remember I told you about Crynnwagg? About how the Druids drained his blood? Then the Crag-Dwellers tied fourteen of their children to trees and burned them? You know, stuff like that.”
Mick then looked at Jack, expecting the guitarist to protest his usurpation of the leading role. Lubin didn’t.
Nor did Keith rail against mystical themes. “Now that’s a trendy thing to do,” was all the strapping bassist said.
Use the menu above to purchase the books (Bookstore) or download the FREE PDF The Prodigal Band.
The Prodigal Band Trilogy © 2019 by Deborah Lagarde, Battle of the Band © 1996 by Deborah Lagarde, The Prophesied Band © 1998 by Deborah Lagarde and The Prodigal Band © 2018 by Deborah Lagarde. Permission needed to copy any materials off this page.
One thought on “Snippets of The Prodigal Band Trilogy: Historical Context, Part One: Rome Invades Britain Under Emperor Claudius; Druids”