The Dobunni: The Tribe of Witches

As part of the scene-setting for Another Life, Oliver visits a small printing press in the Cotswolds. He is attracted to book on display, bearing the title ‘An Illustrated Account of the Old Religion, its Beliefs and Practices, by a Believer’. The owners of the press relate how they were visited by a stranger who offered his book, describing a covert belief system, rooted in the local area and based on practices and rituals dating back to pre-history.

Since time immemorial, the area has been border country, in the space between England and Wales and home to the Celtic Dobunni tribe. The Dobunni, together with the Cornovii to the north, controlled all of the area adjacent to what was to become Wales, at the time of the Roman invasion of Britain. 

The Romans were not interested in Britannia Secunda, as they called Wales, but they wanted to maintain control over it and at the same time to spread Christianity. It is said that the Dobunni were known as the ‘tribe of witches’. Nonsense, or so you’d think, but you have to remember that, although there were frequent uprisings of the Celtic tribes against the Romans, on the whole, it was better to co-exist and to go along with local practices, including religion. So, you have a mixture of pagan beliefs, completely undocumented, and later conversion to Christianity overlapping. It was natural that elements of a merger, or assimilation, of aspects of each other’s religion, would occur. As the press owner says, ‘It’s like a little Bermuda Triangle here’. 

This chapter introduces a mysterious book, a hidden location, where local practices persist and hints of witchcraft. What is the present-day connection? Find out, in ‘Another Life’, a sad, yet uplifting tale, described as ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ for the 21st Century’. Published by Burton Mayers

Image copyright: Cotswold District Council.