Mid West and Wales is a large District, varied in every sense of the word. The District encompasses South Cheshire, Staffordshire, Shropshire, Hereford, Worcester and Wales.
Our region is large and varied. It contains some of the most ancient rocks in the world and some of the greatest rivers of Britain – the Severn, Wye, Dee, and the headwaters of the Trent. Stone circles, pillars and hill-forts abound, especially in the western hills. There are many layers of Paganism in our region. The oldest recognisable layer is that of the ‘beaker folk’ – the Bronze / Iron age peoples. They left no written remains, but they have left a rich diversity of stone monuments too numerous to mention here. (Aubrey Burl’s ‘Stone Monuments of Great Britain’, 1997, is an excellent introduction) Their use of metal aided them in this, as it did in their introduction of agriculture.
Next to arrive were the Celts from northern and central Europe. Like their kinsfolk the Gauls in what was to be France, they were ruled by Druids, masters of the magical and mystic arts, who were superior to the kings and chieftains.
The Celts were called ‘teutones’ by the Romans from which the word ‘teuton’ comes. It comes in turn from a Celtic word ‘tuath’ which means a ‘people’. The Romans, Pagans of a Mediterranean kind, were tolerant of and indeed interested in Celtic Paganism. The Pagans could believe and do what they liked – providing that they accepted Roman authority. But the Druids of Anglesey repudiated that, rather unwisely. The Roman general Suetonius Plotinus – the first Roman leader to lead his army across the Atlas mountains – invaded Anglesey in 61 AD., faced up to the warrior army – which was mixed with priestesses in ceremonial dress, all surrounded with the burning smell of human sacrifices – and defeated them. It was the end of organised Druidry in Britain.
Thereafter many Celts, especially the younger, brighter ones, became romanised. Paulinus then went on to defeat Boudicca, queen of the Iceni, and became governor of Britain for almost twenty years. This battle took place somewhere in the Midlands, almost certainly in our region. So when you visit us, keep your eyes open!
The Roman empire became officially Christian under Constantine in 324 AD. But Pagans of dfferent kinds continued to pour into Britain from northern Europe. Danes, Vikings,and especially Saxons , settled on the North and Irish sea coastlands, pushing the Celts, both Pagan and romanised, into the uplands of the west. This mixed Pagan heritage is very noticeable in our region. We have the 71 acre hill-top bronze age fort on the top of Titterstone Clee hill, abundant Celtic stone monuments in the hills and lowlands, the splendid Roman city of Uriconium (Wroxeter) which is only partly excavated, and the fascinating and strange AbbotÂ’s Bromley horn dance in Staffordshire every September.
There is very much more of our region’s Pagan heritage which could be mentioned. And a great deal more which needs to be discovered.