Irish History Blog: Gundestrup Cauldron

19 Sep

While exploring the National Museum of Ireland, I came across a glass encased cauldron in which depicted the Celtic myth of the creation of the universe. The artifact which was entitled The Gundestrup Cauldron, was found dismantled, in 1891 within the bogs near Himmerland, Denmark. The dismantled thirteen pieces, seven inner and five outer preserved various pictures of pagan figures in 98% pure silver, making it one of the largest surviving pieces of metallurgy from the Iron Age. Dating back to 2nd or 1st century BC the cauldron was most likely used in pagan religious ceremonies similar to the Greek and Roman traditions. A caldron used by the oracle at Delphi, in Ancient Greece is a prime example connecting the various pagan rituals of the Western world. In regards to Irish culture the artifact shows us the emphasis as well as understanding the Celts had about the Earth itself and celestial bodies in space. 


 Overall, the myth smelted onto the cauldron described the creation of three worlds, or regions in which the Celts believed to encompass the entire universe. The Midgaard, Asgaard and Vadgaard    preserved the tale of creation and revealed the Celtic perception of the universe. A view in which also resembles both ancient Greek and Christian ideas. The cauldron also reveals the Celtic transformation from religious paganism to a more Catholic ideals later in history. From this artifact it becomes clear that the Celtics had a heavy emphasis on both nature, animals and the stars. All three of these aspects has a major affect on daily life in regards to travel, food and shelter and it becomes evident that through this relic and others like it that they had sophisticated interest in higher level ideas including creation of earth and man.  

As a student, it is always interesting to see relics from the past that involve the idea of mythology. In most cases, even if the story of the myth is considered not true today, it can still portray aspects of human behavior that Celtic ancestors had. Concepts like creation, love, war, etc are preserved through these ancient Celtic myths, and myths in general. In regards to literature these myths are the foundations of Northern European intellect in the field of writing. And lastly it is a even by today’s standards a elegant piece of craftsmanship, which I hope will last through the ages. 

“Myths of Creation.” Myths of Creation. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Sept. 2013.

“Gundestrup Cauldron.” The Gundestrup Cauldron Mytho- Cosmology. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Sept. 2013.


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