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Freemasonry and the Druids
No contemporary historian would seriously suggest that Stonehenge was built by Druids, nor would any reputable masonic historian suggest that Druids founded or practiced Freemasonry. But both theories have had their supporters.
Stonehenge, currently considered to have been built in three major phases during the late Neolithic Period and Early Bronze Age (c.1800-1400 BCE) is located some 13 kilometres north of Salisbury, England. Archaeological evidence based on excavations by the society of Antiquaries of London from 1919 suggest influence from Mycenaean Greece and Minoan Crete. Any conjecture regarding the religious and astrological significance of the structure to its builders is simply that: conjecture.
Responsibility for the popular identification of Stonehenge with the Druids, and perhaps the current interest in Druidism, can be assigned to William Stukeley who followed John Aubrey’s lead and published several books on the subject. Although a gifted field archaeologist, his interpretations and conclusions were highly imaginative.1.
The earliest known records of the Druids come from the 3rd century BCE although the principle source of information is Julius Caeser. The Druids are believed to have constituted the priest caste for the Gauls, or Celts, as well as the educated class; studying verse, natural philosophy, astronomy and the lore of the gods. Their use of annual assemblies and election of leaders is confirmed by early Irish sagas. Suppressed by the Romans, they survived in pre-Christian Ireland as poets, historians and judges. There is some suggestion that the Celtic Druid was a lateral survival of an ancient Indo-European priesthood.
Preston in the eighteenth century, and Lawrie, Hutchinson and Oliver in the nineteenth, wrote about a perceived link between the Druids and Freemasonry. 2.
"The most fanciful representation of this school appears to have been Cleland, though Godfrey Higgins 3. treads closely at his heels. The former, writing in 1766, presents a singular argument, which slightly abridged is as follows: 'Considering that the May (Maypole) was eminently the great sign of Druidism, as the Cross was to Christianity, is there anything forced or far-fetched in the conjecture that the adherents to Druidism should take the name of Men of May or May’s-sons?'" 4. Mackey notes the prevalence of this belief:
A writer in the European Magazine for February, 1792, who signs himself George Drake, attributing to Masonry a Druidical origin, derives Mason from what he cals ma’s on, or the men of May, on being men as in the French on dit, and may’s on are, therefore, the Druids, whose principal celebrations were in the month of May. 5.
This theory has rightfully been relegated to history’s dustbin with the many other unfounded ideas about the origins of freemasonry, only to be periodically dusted off and displayed as an historical curiosity on pages such as this.

1.Cf. Stonehenge a temple restor'd to the British druids, William Stukeley. London : Printed for W. Innys and R. Manby, 1740. 1 v : ill (fol.) ; Itinerarium curiosum: or, an account of the antiquities and remarkable curiosities in nature or art observed in travels through Great Britain ... Centuria I. 2nd ed, with large additions. Fo. London : printed for Messrs. Baker and Leigh, 1776 [With 101 engraved plates]. Medical doctor, Anglican priest, field archeologist and antiquarian, the Rev. Dr. William Stukeley (1687/11/07-03/03/1765) was made a freemason in 1721, at the Salutation Tavern, London. ^
2. Illustrations of Freemasonry, William Preston. F. and T. Wilkie, London: 1775; Alex Lawrie, History of Freemasonry, drawn from authentic sources of information; with an account of the Grand Lodge of Scotland, The Longman and Rees, London: 1804; William Hutchinson, Spirit of Freemasonry, J. Wilkie and W. Goldsmith, London: 1775; George Oliver, Antiquities of Freemasonry, G. and W. B. Whittaker, London: 1823, Signs and Symbols, Macoy Publishing and Supply Company, New York, 1906, History of Initiation, Richard Spencer, London: 1841, The Theocratic Philosophy of Freemasonry, R. Spencer, London: 1856. ^
3. Cf. Smith, Use and abuse; Borlase, Antiquities of Cornwall, pp. 53-146; Godfrey Higgins, Analalypsis, pp. 715-718; Higgins, The Celtic Druids, passim; and Fort, p. 296. ^
4. History of Freemasonry, Gould. p. 6. Cf. Clelend, Essay on the Real Secret of the Freemasons, 1766, p. 120. ^
5. Lexicon of Freemasonry, Albert G. Mackey. McClure Publishing Co., Philadelphia: 1911. p. 299. ^


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