Irish, Welsh, and Scottish Myth and
Religion
• Druids as the learned class
– Physicians, astronomers, philosophers, seers,...
Nemeton place names
Head cults and human sacrifice
Pillars from site at Roquepertuse

• Entremont
• Roquepertuse
– Both sites destroyed
c. 120...
• Lindow Man, Britain
(circa 3rd-2nd century
BC)
• Danebury Fort burial,
Britain (3rd-2nd century
BC)
• Gordion, Galatia
•...
Gordion, Turkey burials
Photos by Mary M. Voigt, Gordion Project. Left—two women buried in one
grave, the bottom under gri...
Image from The Wicker Man (1973),
British Lion Films
Stonehenge
Constructed c. 2500 BC (pre-Celtic)
Modern druidism
• Dr. William Price,
d. 1893
– Welsh nationalist,
Chartist, and neo-druid
Modern druidism
•

Modern druids commemorating a
solstice at Tower Hill, London, 1964

•

Winston Churchill’s initiation o...
Epona
Top carving from Hesse, Germany;
bottom from Auvergne, France

• A horse goddess but also
associated with fertility
...
Mercury (center) flanked by Epona
Carving from Alsace, France
The Uffington Horse,
Chalk carving from Wiltshire, England, dated to 1200-800 BC (by optical
stimulated luminescence (OSL)...
Lugus, Lugh, Lleu
Statue from Berlin Staatliche Museum

• Associated with the sun
and crafts
• Place names associated
with...
Cernunnos, the horned god
Carving from Cluny Museum, Paris, France

• Known as the
horned god
• Associated
with animals of...
Cernunnos
Detail from Gundestrup Cauldron, Denmark
Aquae Sulis (Bath, England)
• Sulis linked to
Sequana, a Gaulish
goddess associated
with the River Seine
• A goddess assoc...
Brigindo, Brigantia, Brigit
Carving in National Museum of Scotland

• Associated with fertility
• Tribal names
– Brigantes...
Dagda
Detail from the Gundestrup Cauldron, Denmark

• Irish god of destruction
and regeneration
• Associated with a
cauldr...
The Morrigan
Painting by Laura Cameron, Northwest Visions Studio

• The Morrigan, the
Phantom Queen, Irish
goddess of war
...
Medb (Maeve)
Painting by Joseph Christian Leyendecker, 1916
• A character in the Irish Táin Bó
Cualinge (Cattle Raid of Co...
Esus
Carving from Cluny Museum, Paris, France

• Known as Lord and
Master
• Associated with
sovereignty goddess
Rosmerta
•...
Taranis
Statue from National Archaeological Museum, France

• God of thunder and
storms
• Associated with human
sacrifice ...
Tarvus Trigarantes
Carving from Cluny Museum, Paris, France

• A Continental Celtic
bull god
What Irish and Welsh myths and
histories tell us
• Irish Lebor Gebála, 7th-8th century AD
– Book of Invasions

• Tuatha de...
What Irish and Welsh myths tell us about the
Otherworld

• Where to find it
– Mists or fog

• The Mists of Avalon

– Hoste...
British White calf with red points
Important heroes
• CuChulainn, the hound of Ulster
– The Ulster Cycle and Táin Bó Cualinge

• Finn Mac Cumaill and the Fia...
Left—Statue of CuChulainn in Dublin post office, Oliver Sheppard, 1911.
Right—Clive Owen as King Arthur in King Arthur (20...
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Osher History of Ireland, Scotland and Wales Lecture 3

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We will examine Irish, Scottish, and Welsh history and culture from 500 BC to the present. Osher Lifelong Learning at UNM Continuing Education offers classes specifically for learners age 50+.

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  • Epona carving from Hesse, Germany; carrying fruit or bread
  • Mercury and Epona, Alsace, France
  • Carving in chalk hillside, Uffington, England; roughly 370 ft in length
  • Lugh, Lugus, Lleu—god of crafts and a sun god, associated with Mercury by Romans and Apollo
  • Image of the horned god Cernunnos, Cluny Museum, Paris
  • Cernunnos? Detail from Gundestrup Cauldron, 1st century BCE Denmark
  • Aquae Sulis in Roman Britain, Bath in modern England. Site associated with the British goddess Sulis, goddess of healing and bodies of water (associated with Sequana, goddess of Seine R, Gaul)
  • Image of Brigit, Irish god of fertility possibly the same as St. Brigit?
  • Detail from Gundestrup Cauldron, might be Continental version of Irish Dagda , the good god.
  • Esus, known as Lord and Master. Associated with mother goddess Rosmerta. Equated to Mercury. Cluny Museum, Paris. In this image he’s cutting down a tree, possibly the tree of life.
  • Gallic god of thunder, associated by Romans with Jupiter
  • Image from Cluny Museum, Paris. Dates to the period of Tiberius rule in Rome, 14-38 CE
  • Osher History of Ireland, Scotland and Wales Lecture 3

    1. 1. Irish, Welsh, and Scottish Myth and Religion • Druids as the learned class – Physicians, astronomers, philosophers, seers, priests, and keepers of tradition • Druidic place names – – – – Drunemeton (Galatia) Nemetobriga (northern Spain) Medionemeton (southern Scotland) Nemed in Irish = sacred place • Meaning of the word druid – From Indo-European words for ‘oak’ (drus) and ‘know’ (wid) • Attested in the works of Julius Caesar and Pliny
    2. 2. Nemeton place names
    3. 3. Head cults and human sacrifice Pillars from site at Roquepertuse • Entremont • Roquepertuse – Both sites destroyed c. 120 BCE • Continuing evidence of heads – The head of Bran the Blessed, in Branwen ferch Llyr, Second Branch of the Mabinogi – The head of Finn MacCumhail
    4. 4. • Lindow Man, Britain (circa 3rd-2nd century BC) • Danebury Fort burial, Britain (3rd-2nd century BC) • Gordion, Galatia • Wicker Men
    5. 5. Gordion, Turkey burials Photos by Mary M. Voigt, Gordion Project. Left—two women buried in one grave, the bottom under grinding stones, top with neck broken and blows to the head; right—skull of a teenager placed next to the remains of a dog.
    6. 6. Image from The Wicker Man (1973), British Lion Films
    7. 7. Stonehenge Constructed c. 2500 BC (pre-Celtic)
    8. 8. Modern druidism • Dr. William Price, d. 1893 – Welsh nationalist, Chartist, and neo-druid
    9. 9. Modern druidism • Modern druids commemorating a solstice at Tower Hill, London, 1964 • Winston Churchill’s initiation of the Albion Lodge of the Ancient Order of Druids, 1908
    10. 10. Epona Top carving from Hesse, Germany; bottom from Auvergne, France • A horse goddess but also associated with fertility • Attested in art in Europe and in myth in the British Isles – Welsh Rhiannon – Irish Macha (Emain Macha/Armagh) • Popular with Roman troops, who may have spread the image
    11. 11. Mercury (center) flanked by Epona Carving from Alsace, France
    12. 12. The Uffington Horse, Chalk carving from Wiltshire, England, dated to 1200-800 BC (by optical stimulated luminescence (OSL))
    13. 13. Lugus, Lugh, Lleu Statue from Berlin Staatliche Museum • Associated with the sun and crafts • Place names associated with Lugh – Lugdunum (Lyon, France) – Lugdunum Batavorum (Leiden, Netherlands) – Luguvallium (Carlisle, England) • Equated by Romans to Mercury and Apollo
    14. 14. Cernunnos, the horned god Carving from Cluny Museum, Paris, France • Known as the horned god • Associated with animals of the forest • Attested in images from India, Turkey, Greece, Gaul and in Irish character Conall Cernach
    15. 15. Cernunnos Detail from Gundestrup Cauldron, Denmark
    16. 16. Aquae Sulis (Bath, England) • Sulis linked to Sequana, a Gaulish goddess associated with the River Seine • A goddess associated with healing • Sulis equated by Romans to Minerva
    17. 17. Brigindo, Brigantia, Brigit Carving in National Museum of Scotland • Associated with fertility • Tribal names – Brigantes of northern Britain • Possibly Christianized in Irish St. Brigit – Imbolc, February 1st
    18. 18. Dagda Detail from the Gundestrup Cauldron, Denmark • Irish god of destruction and regeneration • Associated with a cauldron of rebirth • Name means “the good god”
    19. 19. The Morrigan Painting by Laura Cameron, Northwest Visions Studio • The Morrigan, the Phantom Queen, Irish goddess of war – Often depicted as a trinity with goddesses Nemain and Badb, who represent Panic and Death – Irish Badb associated with Cathabodua in Continental Celtic lore – Other battle goddesses include Welsh Agrona (River Aeron) and British Andraste
    20. 20. Medb (Maeve) Painting by Joseph Christian Leyendecker, 1916 • A character in the Irish Táin Bó Cualinge (Cattle Raid of Cooley) • Said to have been Queen of Connaught • Sovereignty goddess? – Her name translates as “drunkenness” • Similar names – Asvamedha (PIE ekwo-meydho), “horse-drunk” – Gaulish personal name Epomeduos, “horse mead” • Rosmerta (Continental goddess) also a sovereignty goddess, linked to Esus
    21. 21. Esus Carving from Cluny Museum, Paris, France • Known as Lord and Master • Associated with sovereignty goddess Rosmerta • Equated by Romans to Mercury
    22. 22. Taranis Statue from National Archaeological Museum, France • God of thunder and storms • Associated with human sacrifice on Continent • Equated by Romans to Jupiter
    23. 23. Tarvus Trigarantes Carving from Cluny Museum, Paris, France • A Continental Celtic bull god
    24. 24. What Irish and Welsh myths and histories tell us • Irish Lebor Gebála, 7th-8th century AD – Book of Invasions • Tuatha de Danaan (people of the goddess Danu) versus the Milesians – Tuatha de Danaan driven out/underground, becoming the Sidh (pronounced Shee) – Burial mounds as home of the Sidh • Welsh mythology speaks of the Twyleth Teg (the fair folk) – Caer Sidi (fortress of the Sidh), a name for the Otherworld – God, goddesses, and the Otherworld in the Welsh Mabinogi
    25. 25. What Irish and Welsh myths tell us about the Otherworld • Where to find it – Mists or fog • The Mists of Avalon – Hostels (The Destruction of Da Derga’s Hostel) – Wilderness areas—mountains, islands, lakes • The Lady of the Lake and Excalibur • La Tene and Lake Neuchâtel, Switzerland – Burial mounds • Newgrange, Ireland – Associated with white animals with red ears or red people • When to find it – Samhain (Sov-whin), October 31st – Beltaine (Bel-tinne), May 1st
    26. 26. British White calf with red points
    27. 27. Important heroes • CuChulainn, the hound of Ulster – The Ulster Cycle and Táin Bó Cualinge • Finn Mac Cumaill and the Fianna – The Finn Cycle • King Arthur – Origin of name? • Roman—Lucius Artorius Castus, fl. 2nd century AD • Welsh/British—Artos/Artaius, the Celtic bear god – Evidence of 5-6th century AD British warleaders • Gildas mentions Ambrosius Aurelianus as “descended from the purple” • Sidonius Apollinarus writes a letter to Riothamus, a British warleader active in Gaul/France • First mention of Arthur by name comes in early 7th century poems Y Goddoddin, written in north Britain: “he glutted ravens on the wall though he was no Arthur.”
    28. 28. Left—Statue of CuChulainn in Dublin post office, Oliver Sheppard, 1911. Right—Clive Owen as King Arthur in King Arthur (2004), Touchstone Pictures

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