The famous Gundestrup Cauldron found in a peat bog at Gundestrup, Denmark is believed to be of Celtic or La Tene art. It is thought to have been produced in the late La Tene period after 120 BC because the ornamentation on it is not as extravagant as that of the earlier period.
Due to the size of the vessel it is clearly recognized to have been used for sacrificial purposes. This is also in keeping with the Celtic religion of Druidism of that time. Its measurements are fourteen inches high, twenty-eight inches in diameter, and weighs twenty pounds.
Some claim the figures on the sides of the cauldron amount to the primitive Celts’ version of their own hell. But, others dispute this interpretation because of the peoples’ Druidic religion by which they held a strong belief in reincarnation. The drawings may, however, account for these peoples’ collective subconscious.
Although some may consider the cauldron grotesque and a depiction of the cruel nature of the early Celtic people, since one of the drawings on the cauldron depicts an uprooted tree-trunk being carried by sinister warriors to a priest who is pushing some man into the pot; but, the cauldron itself is in keeping with the nature of other magical cauldrons. This is especially true in connection of the folklore of ancient Ireland. The early Celts associated cauldrons with fertility, abundance, and the revival of the dead.
This is why the Celtic god Cernunnous is depicted on the Gundestrup Cauldron since he is the god of all of these things. He was thought to be the god of fertility, abundance, death and rebirth.
The Gundestrup Cauldron now stands in the National Museum in Copenhagen, Denmark. A.G.H.
Guiley, Rosemary Ellen, The Encyclopedia of Witches and Witchcraft, New York: Facts On File, 1989
Hern, Gerhard, The Celts: The People who Came out of the Darkness, New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1975.
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