Being a set of talks
on Folklore, Myths, and Prehistoric Religion


18 Walbrook, London, E.C.4
183 West George Street, Glasgow


It is feared that unless sufficient funds are subscribed without delay that the Temple may have to be abandoned by the Explorers, which would be an unforgivable national disgrace. 

Donations, however small, should be sent to Mr. J. Eric Ferguson, Chartered Accountant, 166 Buchanan Street, Glasgow. 



The essence of ancient religion and philosophy may be explained simply.  It pivoted around the fight between evil and good forces; the overcoming of darkness by light, night by day, dusk by dawn, winter by spring. 

The most vicious and sudden, yet calculated and premeditated attack by the powers of evil against those of goodness was illustrated at an Eclipse—a vivid and, to the ancients, a terrorizing event—its rarity emphasizing its importance. 

In the same category of dualities were the personal episodes of sleep and wakefulness; but more important was death and life which touched the individual to the core.  These positive and negative all-prevalent phenomena were marked as a rule by the success of the benevolent powers. 

As the day overcame the night, so did the dead recover at resurrection, and the Eclipsed Moon or Sun emerged as a restored and fully lighted disk. 

The art and magic of the prehistoric priest concerned chiefly the repulse of evil and the preservation of the Cosmos—the giant machine of a monotheistic and benevolent and miraculously wise Mechanic. 

Prehistoric monuments were put up to celebrate the birth of a new day when the rising Sun defeated the night; the birth of a new month as heralded by a new crescent; the birth of the young year and the death of the barren year. 

Other early monuments were erected to celebrate the success of Sun or Moon after an attack upon them at an Eclipse. 

Some prehistoric memorial shrines were of multiple character and commemorated all such successes of the good forces in conflict with those of evil. 

The episodes were non-personal, fundamental to humanity, astronomical and cosmical.  Such a shrine was the Druid Temple recently revealed near Glasgow, Scotland. 

Its central and important part has been reconstructed, full-size, at the Scottish section of the San Francisco Exposition.  Moreover, full-size copies of its associated rock-carvings, mostly illustrating Eclipses, have been placed round the replica—an arresting and unique spectacle. 



The Scottish “Druid” Temple was built on a perfectly horizontal platform of sandy soil on the Clyde shore just above the launching place of the gigantic “Queen Mary.”

The place was chosen because it commanded a fine widespread view, ranging all round to a far-off low horizon.  The sub-soil is entirely sandy, and was therefore easily dug into and became a favourite place for burials. 

Since the Temple was erected much dark soil or humus has accumulated over the prehistoric surface.  The depth of the top layer varies and there is good evidence that the first job of the old architects was to make the surface almost as smooth as that of a bowling green or a tennis court. 

Their plan must have been carefully pre-calculated and the harmonies and geometrical features of their buildings have astonished the modern explorers who have expressed the highest appreciation of the mathematical, astronomical, geometrical and artistic attainments of the great architects who, in the Late Stone Age, put up the monument. 

The ground chosen by the old builders has a history going much further back than that of the monument which is some 5000 years old.  One has to go back about ten times that interval, or some 50,000 years, to get at the period when this platform of fine sand came into being.  It was formed as a tidal, submerged, shallow shoal in the estuary of the Clyde.  After many emergencies and submergencies of the land-mass of Western Scotland it was left high and dry above the estuary waters at a height of about 170 feet.  During these many crustal oscillations, relative to an immovable sea-level, the climate changed slowly and regularly from warm to cold and from cold to warm conditions. 

During some of these great alterations and during mild intervals Palæolithic man inhabited Scotland and many of his stone tools have been found deeply embedded in the body of the old sandbank.  These tools of his belong to the Older Stone Age and antedate by many thousands of years the stone implements used during the New Stone Age by the builders of the Temple.  The Palæolithic tools are water-rolled and many of them are ice-scratched.  The New Stone Age tools of the Temple are, however, as good as new. 



The now famous Stone Age sanctuary, popularly called the “Druid” Temple, is one of the easiest places to get at in Scotland.  It is on the edge of a big arterial roadway running from Glasgow into the Highlands and almost touching the great shipbuilding yards at Clydebank. 

Tourists to Glasgow can run out to the Temple in about twenty minutes, and some 40,000 people visited the place in 1938. 

For two years it has been under close examination by a body of experts who are much astonished at the disclosure of many unique features. 

The summer of 1939 will see the excavations continued.  Only about one-third of the sacred area has so far been examined.  The work comprises two departments.  First comes the uncovering and the plotting of the ground-plan of the structures, as indicated by the wooden foundations, now much decayed yet readily detected.  The woodwork has carbonised in the course of forty to fifty centuries and its black colour can easily be seen against the light colour of the yellowish sand surrounding the socket-holes of the wooden standards. 

The other department concerns the graves which have been found placed under the flooring.  These were built largely of stones and the archeologists in charge have meantime resisted the great temptation to dig into them, as such work might injure the lay-out. 

Many hundreds of graves are known to exist in the place, but only a few so far have been opened to satisfy the curiosity of visitors. 

The graves so far examined indicate that much new and astonishing information will be secured as to the mode of life and the practice of religion which prevailed in Scotland from 5000 to 4000 years ago. 

The cemetery, it is now known, was in continuous use for some twenty-five centuries, as proved by the various types of clay pots found in the graves, but it fell out of use before the beginning of the Early Iron Age, that is some 700 years before the intrusion of the Romans into Scotland. 



In mid-July, 1937, when digging sand for building purposes near Glasgow, in Scotland, workmen disclosed burials set in deep, stone-lined shafts. 

Placed with the dead were clay pots with traces of food inside.  There were also stone implements and ornaments.  The relics showed that a few of the graves date back some 5000 years, while others were somewhat later, but all were older than 3000 years. 

As the sand digging proceeded more and more graves were accidentally revealed.  Archæologists were then called to the scene, when they found the graves were inserted under the flooring of a very large church or sanctuary founded in the Stone Age. 

The burials had been placed in this holy arena just as has been customary in churches of later ages. 

The burial-shafts were laid out on a stereotyped ground-plan and with great accuracy.  The Temple was circular and built without roofing, and was thus open to the sky.  The ground-plan was recovered by carefully scraping away the old surface in which were found rows of post-holes which once contained timber uprights. 

Link: Model of circular central area (inside front cover) Model These holes were set in curved lines so as to delineate very large circular and serpentine figures made of earth and turf.  These figures thus represented have been rebuilt with new earth and new timber, and now present a wonderful and unique picture. 

A close study of them has enabled the European prehistorian and scientist to recover some knowledge of the ceremonies, ritual and philosophy which prevailed in Scotland and indeed in Europe for some thousands of years before the advent of the classical civilisation. 

Late in 1938 a portion of a group of intact serpentine and circular earthen effigies was noticed at Formakin, Renfrewshire, on unploughed ground.  Their metric and angular lay-out and general disposition were found on survey to be identical with those at the Druid Temple. 

The Formakin site confirms the correctness of the method of reconstruction of the Druid Temple by the rebuilding of the effigies with earth and turf. 



The timber structures are found to extend over a circular area of not less than 129 feet diameter.  At the centre is to be seen a stone structure which conceals a small rectangular chamber.  Though graves closely surround this central point, it seems to have been an altar and not a burial-place.  It is closely encompassed by a curved setting of socket-holes which outline the figure of a coiled serpent.  The large head of the serpent envelops the altar.  Beyond this serpent figure, as brought out by an examination of the post-holes, there is an oval penannular structure similar in aspect to the inner horse-shoe at Stonehenge.  At its western side the horse-shoe structure has been pressed inward by storm action, indicating that the upright posts were once lintelled. 

Outside of the encompassing horse-shoe there are five monster serpentine figures; while still farther out, symmetrically arranged, are several coiled serpents. 

In concentric zones beyond these are other apparently similar configurations, but these have not yet been fully examined.  Beyond these are traces of a ring of 19 large pillar-stones set apart at equal distances. 

The groups of snake figures which surround the altar illustrate an episode similar to that described in Egyptian and other ancient writings.  They tell of a monster dragon or serpent rising from the dark underworld and swallowing the Sun God.  At this crisis the Sun God called for the help of his colleagues in the celestial pantheon, the Moon deity and the five planet divinities. 

The first came in crescent form or as two crescents conjoined like a horse-shoe, while the other five divinities assumed the guise of serpents.  These allies of the Solar monarch at last vanquished the black serpent; when once more light and truth prevailed over darkness and evil, and a new astronomical era began. 

Within the outer concentric zones of the Temple are placed a series of gigantic water snakes, symbols of the god Mars who defended all good people against evil forces.  Each Martian figure is seen guarding the discs of sun and moon, and repelling the intrusion of bad influences into the shrine. 

This valorous mythical planet divinity—the red, fighting Cat and Lion God—became the Saint George and the Saint Martin of early Christian centuries.  Both of these heroes killed dragons. 



In building the Stone Age sanctuary popularly called the “Druid” Temple, discovered recently near Glasgow and Clydebank, in Scotland, the architects and priests of 5000 years ago went to immense trouble in the working out of the details of the many curious buildings. 

Judging from the details revealed by the archæologists who have been uncovering the structures during the last two years, it is estimated that at least 3300 pieces of dressed timber were used. 

During many centuries after the foundation of the Temple, the sacred area was used for the burial of the dead, as in the case of our present-day cathedrals, abbeys and parish churches. 

The structures erected were low earthen banks in the form of rings, hemispheres and solid serpentine figures.  Their margins were all neatly outlined by curved lines of wooden vertical posts averaging about 18 inches in height and set firmly in the earth.  The lower ends were often secured by a packing of clay and small stones were jammed round the posts. 

Link: Maze of low earthen mounds, groundplan “Maze” The aspects of the many mounds, all separated by winding alleys, one from the other, is like that of an old English garden maze but without its sheltering and meandering hedges.  Perhaps these mediæval mazes and that at Knossos in Crete have a common origin with the Scots “Druid” Temple. 

The excavators have set a piece of new wood in each of the old socket-holes and have rebuilt the interior of the several figures with earth and turf, the height of a mound being in keeping with its width at ground-level.  Thanks to the accumulation of vegetable mould and humus to the depth of some feet during many centuries the whole of the prehistoric surface has remained intact and, being well below plough level, the foundations of the old buildings have escaped interference by farming operations.  Occasionally the burrowing of moles has slightly disturbed the old post-holes.  Fortunately, owing to the sandy and stoneless nature of the soil no large trees have ever flourished on the spot.  Their roots could not get any grip of the ground.  Young and seedling trees were soon blown over, or uprooted by grazing animals. 

Owing to these circumstances, which are exceedingly rare in Scotland, the remnants of this unique and remarkable Temple and Sanctuary have been preserved for the education and delectation of posterity. 



The significance of the Temple’s earthworks, built in circular and serpentine forms, has now been ascertained. 

The meaning was got at by a method perhaps more wonderful and more romantic than that used in the reading of the Mid-American Maya Glyphs or the Babylonian cuniform inscriptions or the writing on the Rosetta Stone. 

The effigies set up in the Scots “Druid” Temple are portrayals of symbols representing the celestial gods and are associated with the Sun, Moon and the five planets.  Each of these seven celestial bodies, as seen from the Earth, took so many days to go round the heavens. 

A certain linear measure was given to the interval of one day. 

The dimensions of the effigy representing a particular celestial body were made directly in proportion to the number of days taken by that body to complete its circuit in the sky.  Thus a picture or symbol associated or standing for the moon deity was made on a scale carefully calculated so as to involve a linear measure representing 29½ days.  This is, of course, the time taken by the moon to traverse the heavens from the first crescent moon to the next following new crescent moon, or from one full moon to the next following full moon. 

If, therefore, for example, a snake-like figure cut on a rock-surface or built as an earthen mound is found to measure along its medial line so many linear units each representing one interval of 29½ days, then the student may be sure that he is dealing with a portrayal of a lunar emblem.  Likewise, using the same linear unit for one day, symbol pictures of the Sun god were drawn so as to embody a linear unit equal to 365¼ days. 

The little planet Mercury, for instance, was observed to take 116 days to go round the heavens and its symbol figure was made to a size equal to 116 linear units, each standing for one day.  So also were shown drawings of symbols representing deities supposed to be related to Mars, Jupiter, Venus and Saturn.  And, furthermore, the unwelcome eclipse-causing dragon which visited the sky at regular intervals is also portrayed by the same ingenious system. 

This system of associating time and space was as well understood, and as often practised, in North, Middle and South America as it was in prehistoric days throughout the various territories of the Old Hemisphere. 



In exploring the Temple, the surface soil to a depth of about 2 feet had first of all to be removed.  It had accumulated in relatively modern times and contained no relics of antiquity.  This was done by a spade.  The soil beneath it forming the surface of prehistoric times, had to be sliced horizontally by a small knife and sifted with great care.  Some hundreds of stone implements, a few of them of flint, were then disclosed. 

Most of the tools are of native Scottish rock material.  They were found embedded in the old surface with fragments of pottery, both of the New Stone Age and the Bronze Age. 

White quartz (flint being rare in most parts of Scotland) was a favourite material for the making of the prehistoric tools.  Spokeshaves of stone used by the timber workers in the shaping of the wooden standards were recovered in large numbers. 

Link: Polished flint chisel found in Bronze Age grave Chisel Inside the graves many kinds of relics were found deposited and were evidently intended to be used by the deceased in his life after death. 

Some of the tools are symmetrically and beautifully outlined, while the surface of the flint or other stone is often highly polished. 

Beads of green vitreous paste and lignite have been found.  In one grave of the Bronze Period a dagger of bronze was discovered fitted by bronze rivets to what appears to have been a bone handle.  Some bodies were cremated and others inhumed. 

Some of the latter were apparently placed in wicker baskets shaped rather like a pannier.  A few of the graves indeed were cut into this shape. 

Some Stone Age sanctuaries in Britain still show their boundary lines conforming to that of a pannier in vertical cross-section. 

There is good evidence to show that many of the inhumed bodies were conveyed to the cemetery from the place of the death, some considerable interval after the date of the death.  During the intervening period the bodies were allowed to dry up and the bones permitted to fall out of their natural positions.  There are also satisfactory reasons for believing (as many legends relate) that young bulls with curved horns (symbolic of the new crescent moon, the deity of resurrection) carried the bones in panniers to the final place of burial in a communal cemetery where the graves were placed precisely in pre-calculated positions. 

Such apparently was the case at the “Druid” Temple.  The pannier was probably one of the symbols of the god Mercury, whose function it was to take charge of the souls of the dead and guide them into paradise. 



Some peculiar features in the architecture of the Temple graves have not yet been explained.  While three of the vertical walls of a shaft grave were sometimes built of stone, the fourth side was panelled in wood, which is now very much decayed.  It does not seem that this was done to save stone material by substituting timber.  Both materials were equally common and both were easily manipulated.  Did wood more readily than stone afford access, out and in, of the migratory soul? 

The tops of the shafts were usually covered with stones. 

Occasionally near the centre of this setting was placed a carefully shaped, small, quadrate stone block having on its upper surface near its centre the sculpturing of an egg-shaped cavity, thought to be a symbol of resurrection and new life.  In one grave, believed to be that of a child from its small size and shallowness, the egg emblem was cut on a top central stone of rather smaller size than usual.  The lower portion of the stone had been intentionally smashed off.  The message conveyed to posterity was apparently that of the broken pillar often to be seen in modern churchyards marking the grave of a young person. 

In one interment, a specially deep one, were found remains of a round-based wooden dish of the same size and shape as the round-based clay pots of the New Stone Age.  A similar find was made in a neighbouring grave.  While the woodwork in both cases was much decayed and carbonised, the contour of each vessel and its measurements could be recorded without difficulty.  These two graves also contained the remains of a pannier wicker basket and a number of implements chiefly of white quartz.  In one grave was found a small, artificially shaped stone generally thought from its size and sub-divisions to be gauge for the old standard linear units used in all parts of the Temple structure and its lay-out. 

Perhaps the grave was that of the architect of the Temple.  Gauges of the same character have been found in other ancient places in Scotland. 



The study of the philosophy, ritual and religion which prevailed in Scotland during the Stone Age has been greatly assisted by discoveries recently made at the “Druid” Temple near Glasgow. 

Link: Stone axe blade with lunar crescent horns Axe Among the grave furnishings are fetish stone relics resembling horned bovine heads.  These represent the Moon deity because the horns resemble the new crescent moon. 

The crescent was a symbol of new life.  The dead were supposed to rise again should the lunar divinity be willing. 

To attract and propitiate that deity his symbols were deposited with the dead body.  He was thought to have the power to resuscitate the dead, just as he was able to come to life himself every month as a newly born crescent moon. 

Other symbolic relics were placed with the body.  These were related to the Mercury planet god who was thought to carry the resurrected soul up into heaven. 

Some of the inscriptions on the headstones found in the graves have been deciphered as recitals addressed to the Moon and to Mercury, to bring to life the deceased and to transport him safely into Paradise. 

The key to the reading of these inscriptions has recently been discovered.  The written story can now be read as easily as that in the printed page of a modern book.  The writing is not in the form of Egyptian hieroglyphs, or Mid-American, or Mayan picture-writing or glyphs. 

These newly interpreted writings are known as “cups-and-rings.” These written messages cut on rock surfaces were in the form of groups of small round or oval cavities, winding gutters and serpentine bands. 

They are found cut on stones on both sides of the Atlantic, as for instance, on the glaciated rock-surfaces in Central Park, New York. 

Full-size accurate copies of these American carvings are now shown in the Treasure Island Exposition, in association with the reconstructed Scots “Druid” sanctuary there. 

The American and Scottish “cups-and-rings” are almost identical in size, groupings and disposition.  This points to an enormously ancient culture widespread over the world tens of thousands of years ago. 

In this connection may be noted the finding in April, 1939, in various American drift deposits of Palæolithic stone implements identical with those of the Old Hemisphere. 



Link: Oldest pottery type Oldest
pot type
The contents of the graves found under the floor of the “Druid”’ Temple, make it perfectly clear that the Stone Age and succeeding Bronze Age philosophers in Scotland had a firm belief in the immortality of the human soul.  The vessels of pottery placed there with the dead were found to have a deposit of hard, black carbonised matter at the foot of the interior surface.  This carbonised material has been laboriously examined by expert analysts and by a process of comparison with various kinds of artificially burned foodstuffs, and it has been proved that the sepulchral pots were once filled with a kind of porridge, which is still the staple food of the modern Scot in the more rural districts. 

It has recently been proved that cereals were cultivated in Scotland towards the close of the Stone Age and throughout the Bronze Age. 

This custom of depositing food with the dead survives even to-day in some places and seems to have been general throughout early times, both in the Old and New Hemispheres. 

As the Scottish pots placed with the dead contained only sufficient porridge for one breakfast, it may be inferred that the post-mortem journey was not considered to be a lengthy one. 

The exquisite technique of the objects placed within the graves at the Scots “Druid” Temple show that the workmanship some five thousand years ago was excellent.  In many cases the modern craftsman cannot compete, in skill or type, with his prehistoric forerunners. 

The cemetery at the Temple, it is estimated, contains many hundreds of graves.  It was in use for more than 2000 years after its foundation. 

The fashions in the shapes of the pots varied from century to century, and practically the whole range of fashions from the Stone Age into the Bronze Age is represented in the Temple’s collection of relics. 

Link: Food vessel, with Mann’s interpretation of the design Food
The Stone Age pots have a round base while the Bronze Age specimens have a flat base.  They were all made by hand before the invention of the potter’s wheel.  They are, however, very beautifully shaped, each pot having been moulded by hand to standard linear sizes, and some are richly decorated.  The capacity of each vessel is likewise standardised.  Some of these stereotyped measures of capacity are found to prevail with other prehistoric pots in Scotland and survive to the present day in modern gills, pints and other measures of volume. 



About 3000 b.c. an eclipse of the Sun, probably a total one, was seen in the West of Scotland. 

This rare and important event was commemorated in several rock-carvings and in the building of shrines.  One of these constructions seems to be the so-called “Druid” Temple near Glasgow. 

In other countries at a remote period eclipses were likewise recorded and they are often referred to in folk-tales, as in the case of the Egyptian myth of Horus and Set. 

Set was the eclipse-causing demon, and is referred to by various titles, such as Apepi, Suti, or Satan. 

This great battle between the forces of goodness and of evil is often seen in ancient pictures done in various allegorical styles. 

The cat under the Persea tree when the brave animal cuts off the head of the black serpent is often to be seen in ancient Egyptian drawings. 

This theme is noted in the Book of Revelation where a “war in heaven” is mentioned. 

Sanctuaries were erected to remind the populace of the victory of light over darkness and the triumph of the Sun and Moon divinities at the time of an eclipse. 

The fight is mentioned in Celtic, Teutonic and other legends.  The Sun, or it might be, the Moon divinity when in dire distress at an eclipse called for help to his colleagues, the planet gods, who were asked to come in the guise of serpents.  Surrounding the dark and evil serpent they chased him, defeated, back into the dark depths of hell. 

Perhaps the most beautiful and detailed portrayal of this battle scene has been found on a rock-carving a little to the north of the Scots “Druid” Temple. 

A 1/8th scale drawing of one of the most notable panels is annexed. 

The sculpturings cover an area of 2000 sq.  ft., and represent an extraordinary diversity of symbol pictures relating to important episodes in the heavens. 



The question may well be asked—what is the meaning of the assemblage of earthworks in the shape of tadpoles, serpents, rings and hemispheres, which the visitor to the “Druid” Temple sees when he enters the sacred area? 

At the centre there is presented to his view a closely coiled snake with a sharp tail and a large head which envelops a small rectangular stone-built chamber.  This is supposed to picture an eclipse-causing dragon, or monster, which has swallowed the disc of the Sun at an eclipse.  The disc, it is believed, was represented by some emblem probably of a circular or globular aspect, which had been housed within the chamber and was a symbol of the Sun God. 

In ancient times it was universally believed that some evil serpent or dragonesque monster, emerging at regular intervals from the nether world, attempted to devour the Sun or the Moon and thus begin a crusade which would eventually, if successful, destroy the cosmos and render anything good non-existent and bring permanent pitch darkness and the destruction of all created things. 

Legend, all-prevalent in prehistoric times, had as its main theme the fight between good and evil, light and darkness.  Believing that sooner or later an eclipse of either Sun or Moon might preface complete and permanent darkness, the priests in many countries sought to thwart the danger. 

When an eclipse was over great must have been the jubilation of the saviour-priests and the terror-stricken populace. 

Temples were here and there set up to commemorate the futile and ephemeral eclipse. 

Rocks were sculptured with curious portrayals to celebrate the defeat of the eclipse-causing monster.  The “Druid” Temple near Glasgow was set up to celebrate such an event and elaborate rock-carvings in the near neighbourhood record the defeat of the monster of darkness. 

Much exploration work has still to be done in the intact area to the south and west, where test diggings have revealed curious prehistoric buildings and trackways.  One is a circular ringed stone pavement 43 ft. in diameter associated with a stone-built altar-like setting.  These outliers are 215 ft. from the centre of the main structure.  A circular dwelling with domestic pottery fragments and domestic stone tools has also been disclosed. 



Results of Latest Diggings, July, 1939

Much of the Temple area awaits examination.  Test diggings in the still intact and unexplored ground indicate the presence of many curious structures. 

A circular dwelling 21 ft. in diameter and probably of wood and wattle walls, with a substantial wooden central standard 7 ins. in diameter, has been revealed.  On the floor were found prehistoric pottery fragments and many domestic stone tools, chiefly pounders. 

To the west, some 215 ft. from the main Temple building, have been excavated circular stone pavements each 43 ft. in outer diameter.  These overlap, like circular links on a chain, and constitute a unique feature.  From their centres, which form small pavements, radiate rows of stone and timber pillars which mark quite positively points on the distant hill horizons where the Sun sets and rises at the solstices and equinoxes, thus registering the important stations in the Sun’s yearly journey. 

The old alignments differ slightly from the modern owing to the precessional changes, the amount of which shift being about 10¾ ins. to the east at a radius of 50 ft. from the observer’s station. 

Traces of fires, probably ceremonial, occur along the Midsummer alignment. 

The Ordnance survey sheets betray field junction points and other features on these old sighting lines over distances of many hundreds of yards.