In Celtic polytheism, Belisama was a goddess worshipped in Gaul. She is identified with Minerva in the interpretatio romana; the etymology of her name has been taken to translate to "brightest one", i.e. containing a superlative suffix -isama attached to the root bel "bright". But the root bel has been interpreted differently, e.g. as bel "strong". A Gaulish inscription found at Vaison-la-Romaine in Provence shows that a nemeton was dedicated to her: СΕΓΟΜΑΡΟС/ ΟΥΙΛΛΟΝΕΟС/ ΤΟΟΥΤΙΟΥС/ ΝΑΜΑΥСΑΤΙС/ ΕΙѠΡΟΥ ΒΗΛΗ/СΑΜΙ СΟСΙΝ/ ΝΕΜΗΤΟΝ Segomaros Ouilloneos tooutious Namausatis eiōrou Bēlēsami sosin nemēton "Segomarus Uilloneos, citizen of Namausus, dedicated this sanctuary to Belesama"The identification with Minerva in Gallo-Roman religion is established in a Latin inscription from Saint-Lizier, Ariège department: Minervae / Belisamae / sacrum / Q Valerius / Montan / x vThe French toponyms Beleymas and Bellême are based on the theonym; the presence of the goddess in Britain is more difficult to establish.
Based on Ptolemy listing a "Belisama estuary", River Ribble in England seems to have been known by the name Belisama in Roman times. Belisama: a Gaulish and Brythonic goddess
Ancient Celtic religion
Ancient Celtic religion known as Celtic paganism, comprises the religious beliefs and practices adhered to by the Iron Age people of Western Europe now known as the Celts between 500 BC and 500 AD, spanning the La Tène period and the Roman era, in the case of the Insular Celts the British and Irish Iron Age. Little is known with any certainty about the subject, apart from documented names that are thought to be of deities, the only detailed contemporary accounts are by hostile and not-well-informed Roman writers. Celtic paganism was one of a larger group of Iron Age polytheistic religions of the Indo-European family, it comprised a large degree of variation both geographically and chronologically, although "behind this variety, broad structural similarities can be detected" allowing there to be "a basic religious homogeneity" among the Celtic peoples. The Celtic pantheon consists of numerous recorded theonyms, both from Greco-Roman ethnography and from epigraphy. Among the most prominent ones are Teutatis and Lugus.
Figures from medieval Irish mythology have been interpreted as iterations of earlier pre-Christian Insular deities in the study of comparative mythology. According to Greek and Roman accounts, in Gaul and Ireland, there was a priestly caste of "magico-religious specialists" known as the druids, although little is known about them. Following the Roman Empire's conquest of Gaul and southern Britannia, Celtic religious practices began to display elements of Romanisation, resulting in a syncretic Gallo-Roman culture with its own religious traditions with its own large set of deities, such as Cernunnos, Telesphorus, etc. In Roman Britain this lost at least some ground to Christianity by the time the Romans left in 410, in the next century began to be replaced by the pagan Anglo-Saxon religion over much of the country. Christianity had resumed missionary activity by the 5th and the 6th centuries in Ireland, the Celtic population was Christianized supplanting the earlier religious traditions. However, polytheistic traditions left a legacy in many of the Celtic nations, influenced mythology, served as the basis for a new religious movement, Celtic Neopaganism, in the 20th century.
Comparatively little is known about Celtic paganism because the evidence for it is fragmentary, due to the fact that the Celts who practiced it wrote nothing down about their religion. Therefore, all we have to study their religion from is the literature from the early Christian period, commentaries from classical Greek and Roman scholars, archaeological evidence; the archaeologist Barry Cunliffe summarised the sources for Celtic religion as "fertile chaos", borrowing the term from the Irish scholar Proinsias MacCana. Cunliffe went on to note that "there is more, evidence for Celtic religion than for any other example of Celtic life; the only problem is to assemble it in a systematic form which does not too oversimplify the intricate texture of its detail." The archaeological evidence does not contain the bias inherent in the literary sources. Nonetheless, the interpretation of this evidence can be colored by the 21st century mindset. Various archaeological discoveries have aided understanding of the religion of the Celts.
Most surviving Celtic art is not figurative. Surviving figurative monumental sculpture comes entirely from Romano-Celtic contexts, broadly follows provincial Roman styles, though figures who are deities wear torcs, there may be inscriptions in Roman letters with what appear to be Romanized Celtic names; the Pillar of the Boatmen from Paris, with many deity figures, is the most comprehensive example, datable by a dedication to the Emperor Tiberius. Monumental stone sculptures from before conquest by the Romans are much more rare, it is far from clear that deities are represented; the most significant are the Warrior of Hirschlanden and "Glauberg Prince", the Mšecké Žehrovice Head, sanctuaries of some sort at the southern French oppida of Roquepertuse and Entremont. There are a number of Celtiberian standing "warrior" figures, several other stone heads from various areas. In general early monumental sculpture is found in areas with higher levels of contact with the classical world, through trade.
It is possible. Small heads are more common surviving as ornament in metalwork, there are animals and birds that may have a religious significance, as on the Basse Yutz Flagons; the Strettweg Cult Wagon is associated with libations or sacrifices, pairs of metal "spoons" used for divination have been found. Celtic coinage, from the late 4th century BC until conquest copies Greek and Roman examples, sometimes closely, but the heads and horses that are the most popular motifs may have a local religious significance. There are the coins of the Roman provinces in the Celtic lands of Gaul, Raetia and Britannia,Most of the surviving monuments and their accompanying inscriptions belong to the Roman period and reflect a considerable degree of syncretism between Celtic and Roman gods. A notable example of this is the horned god, called Cernunnos.
In ancient Celtic religion, Maponos or Maponus is a god of youth known in northern Britain but in Gaul. In Roman Britain, he was equated with Apollo; the Welsh mythological figure Mabon ap Modron is derived from Maponos, who by analogy we may suggest was the son of the mother-goddess Dea Matrona. The Irish god Aengus known as the Mac Óg, is related to Maponos, as are the Arthurian characters Mabuz and Mabonagrain. In Gaulish, mapos means a son; the suffix -onos is augmentative. Besides the theonym Maponos, the root mapos is found in personal names such as Mapodia and Maponius; the root is Proto-Indo-European makʷos.. In Insular Celtic languages, the same root is found in Welsh and Breton mab meaning son, derived from Common Brythonic *mapos. In Old Irish, macc means son, he therefore personified youthfulness, which would explain the syncretism with the Graeco-Roman god Apollo. The evidence is epigraphic. Maponos is mentioned in Gaul at Bourbonne-les-Bains and at Chamalières but is attested chiefly in the north of Britain at Brampton, Corbridge and Chesterholm.
Some inscriptions are simple such as Deo Mapono from Chesterholm. At Corbridge are two dedications Apollini Mapono and one / apo / Apo; the inscription at Brampton by four Germans is to the god Maponos and the numen of the emperor:. Deo / Mapono / et n Aug / Durio / et Ramio / et Trupo / et Lurio / Germa/ni v s l m"To the god Maponos and to the Numen of Augustus, the Germani Durio, Ramio and Lurio have fulfilled their vow willingly, as is deserved." This inscription by a unit of Sarmatians based at Ribchester shows the association with Apollo and can be dated to the day and the year. Deo san / pollini Mapono / o salute d n / n eq Sar/ Bremetenn / ordiani / el Antoni/nus | leg VI / vic domo / Melitenis / praep et pr / v s l m / dic pr Kal Sep / p d n Gord/ug II e Ponno cosThe preceding inscriptions are all in Latin; the name is found on the inscription from Chamalières, a long magical text written in Gaulish on a rolled lead sheet. The second line calls for the help of Maponos (here in the accusative singular, Maponon: artiu maponon aruerriíatin.
Two items of place-name evidence attest to Maponos in Britain. Both are from the 7th-century Ravenna Cosmography. Locus Maponi or "the place of Maponos", is thought to be between Lockerbie. Maporiton or "the ford of Maponos" is thought to be Ladyward, near Lockerbie; the Lochmaben Stone lies near Gretna on the farm named Old Graitney, the old name for Gretna. The name Clachmaben, meaning ` stone of Maponos', has become corrupted to Lochmaben; this stone was part of a stone circle and the area is thought to have been a centre for the worship of Maponus. An inscription from Birrens in Scotland mentions a lo Mabomi, regarded as a stone-cutter's error for locus *Maponi. In Britain, dedications have been found to Apollo Anextiomarus, Apollo Anicetus Sol, Apollo Grannus and Apollo Maponus, it can thus be difficult to tell from a simple dedication to Apollo whether the classical deity is meant or whether a particular Celtic deity is being referred to under a classical name. The situation in Gaul is more complicated, with at least twenty epithets being recorded..
Maponos surfaces in the Middle Welsh narrative, the Mabinogion, as Mabon, son of Modron, herself the continuation of Gaulish Matrona. The theme of Maponos son of Matrona and the development of names in the Mabinogi from Common Brythonic and Gaulish theonyms has been examined by Hamp and Meid. Mabon features in the tale of a newborn child taken from his mother at the age of three nights, is explicitly named in the story of Culhwch ac Olwen, his name lives on in Arthurian romance in the guise of Mabon and Mabonagrain. His counterpart in Irish mythology would seem to be Mac ind Ó‘c, an epithet of Angus or Oengus, the eternally youthful spirit to be found in Newgrange called Bruigh na Bóinne, a pre-Celtic Neolithic barrow or chambered tomb. Irish mythology portrays him as the son of the Dagda, a king of the Irish gods, of Boann, a personification of the River Boyne. In Irish mythology, the Macc Óc features as a trickster and a
Coventina was a Romano-British goddess of wells and springs. She is known from multiple inscriptions at one site in Northumberland county of England, an area surrounding a wellspring near Carrawburgh on Hadrian's Wall, it is possible that other inscriptions, two from Hispania and one from Narbonensis, refer to Coventina, but this is disputed. Dedications to Coventina and votive deposits were found in a walled area, built to contain the outflow from a spring now called "Coventina's Well"; the well and the walled area surrounding it are nearby the site variously referred to as Procolita, Brocolitia, or Brocolita, once a Roman fort and settlement on Hadrian's Wall, now known as Carrawburgh. The remains of a Roman Mithraeum and Nymphaeum are found near the site; the well itself was a spring in a rectangular basin 2.6m x 2.4m in the centre of a walled enclosure 11.6m x 12.2m within a wall 0.9m thick. The contents of the well included 13487 coins from Mark Anthony to Gratian, a relief of three water nymphs, the head of a male statue, two dedication slabs to the goddess Coventina, ten altars to Coventina and Minerva, two clay incense burners, a wide range of votive objects.
The site near Coventina's Well was excavated by British archaeologist, John Clayton, in 1876. The date of the wall at Coventina's Well is uncertain, but some have theorized that it was built sometime after the completion of the Roman fort. Since Hadrian's Wall does not deviate to avoid the well, this may suggest that the boundary wall around the well was built some time after in order to control the flow of water in a marshy area. Evidence from coin hoards and stones which covered them and those blocking the well suggest a abrupt end around 388 due to events linked to anti-Pagan edicts of Theodosius I. Excavation of the site revealed several inscribed altars, some with depictions of Coventina in typical Roman nymph form - reclining clothed and associated with water. On one, Coventina is either depicted with two attendants. At least ten inscriptions to Coventina are recorded from Carrawburgh. Several stone altars contained dedications to Coventina. An example of an inscription from the site reads: Deae Coventinae / T D Cosconia / nvs Pr Coh / I Bat L M“To the Goddess Coventina, Titus D Cosconianus, Prefectus of the First Cohort of Batavians and deservedly.”
Three altars dedicated to Mithras were placed there by the Prefects of the military garrison. In his book The Skystone, Jack Whyte represents Coventina as the inspiration for The Lady of the Lake. Seamus Heaney's poem "Grotus and Conventina" from his 1987 collection'The Haw Lantern'. Tehomet.net has historical, folkloric and literary resources for Coventina, plus photographs of the archaeological site and the artifacts found there. Includes directions to the site and associated museum. Brocolita at Roman-Britain.org
Toutatis or Teutates is a Celtic god, worshipped in ancient Gaul and Britain. On the basis of his name's etymology, he has been interpreted to be a tribal protector. Today, he is best known under the name Toutatis through the Gaulish oath/catchphrase "By Toutatis!", invented for the Asterix comics by Goscinny and Uderzo. The spelling Toutatis is attested by about ten ancient inscriptions. Under the spelling Teutates, the god is known from a passage in Lucan; the name "Teutates" is derived from the stem teutā-, meaning "people" or "tribe", cognate with the Germanic *þeudō. Teutates was one of three Celtic gods mentioned by the Roman poet Lucan in the 1st century AD, the other two being Esus and Taranis. According to commentators, victims sacrificed to Teutates were killed by being plunged headfirst into a vat filled with an unspecified liquid. Of two commentators on Lucan's text, one identifies Teutates with Mercury, the other with Mars. Toutatis was worshipped in Gaul and in Roman Britain. Inscriptions to him have been recovered in the United Kingdom, for example that at Cumberland Quarries, dedicated to Jupiter Optimus Maximus and Mars Toutatis.
Two dedications have been found in Noricum and Rome. As noted above, among a pair of scholiasts on Lucan's work, one identifies Teutates with Mercury and Esus with Mars. At times the Gaulish “Mercury" may have the characteristic of a warrior, while the Gaulish “Mars" may act as a god of protection or healing. Paul-Marie Duval argues. A large number of Romano-British finger rings inscribed with the name "TOT", thought to refer to Toutatis, have been found in eastern Britain, the vast majority in Lincolnshire, but some in Bedfordshire and Leicestershire; the distribution of these rings matches the territory of the Corieltauvi tribe. In 2005 a silver ring inscribed DEO FELIX was discovered at Hockliffe, Bedfordshire; this inscription confirms. In 2012 a silver ring inscribed "TOT" was found in the area where the Hallaton Treasure had been discovered twelve years earlier. Adam Daubney, an expert on this type of ring, suggests that Hallaton may have been a site of worship of the god Toutatis. Interpretatio Romana Germanic Mercury 4179 Toutatis The dictionary definition of Toutatis at Wiktionary Media related to Toutatis at Wikimedia Commons
Brigantia was a goddess in Celtic religion of Late Antiquity. Through interpretatio Romana, she was equated with Victoria; the tales connected to the characters of Brigid and Saint Brigid in Irish mythology and legend have been argued to be connected to Brigantia although the figures themselves remain distinct. The name is derived from Proto-Celtic *Brigantī and means "The High One", cognate with the Old Irish name Brigit, the Old High German personal name Burgunt, the Sanskrit word Bṛhatī "high", an epithet of the Hindu dawn goddess Ushas, Avestan bǝrǝzaitī; the ultimate source is Proto-Indo-European *bʰr̥ǵʰéntih₂, derived from the root *bʰerǵʰ-. Seven inscriptions to Brigantia are known, all from Britain. At Birrens and Galloway, in Scotland, is an inscription: Brigantiae s Amandus / arcitectus ex imperio imp. Brigantia is assimilated to Victoria in two inscriptions, one from Castleford in Yorkshire and one from Greetland near Halifax in Yorkshire; the may be dated to 208 AD by mention of the consuls: D Vict Brig / et num Aauugg / T Aur Aurelian/us d d pro se / et suis s mag s // Antonin / III et Geta / cossAt Corbridge on Hadrians Wall - in antiquity, Coria - Brigantia has the divine epithet Caelestis and is paired with Jupiter Dolichenus: Iovi aeterno / Dolicheno / et caelesti / Brigantiae / et Saluti / C Iulius Ap/olinaris / | leg VI iuss deiThere is an inscription at Irthington, Yorkshire DEAE NYMPHAE BRIGANTIAE—"divine nymph Brigantia".
Garret Olmstead noted numismatic legends in Iberian script, BRIGANT_N inscribed on a Celtiberian coin, suggesting a cognate Celtiberian goddess. At Birrens, archaeologists have found a Roman-era stone bas-relief of a female figure; the inscription mentioned above assures the identification of the statue as Brigantia rather than Minerva. A statue found in Brittany seems to depict Brigantia with the attributes of Minerva. There are several placenames deriving from'Brigantium', the neuter form of the same adjective of which the feminine became the name of the goddess. Association of these with the goddess is however dubious, since the placenames are explained as referring to a "high fort" or "high place" in the literal sense. Lisa Bitel noted a wide spread through toponymy: The town of Bregenz, at the eastern end of Lake Constance in Austria, retains the older name of Brigantion, a tribal capital of a people called the Brigantii after a goddess Brigant; the rivers Brent in England, Braint in Wales, Brigid in Ireland are all related linguistically and maybe religiously to the root Brig/Brigant...
Ptolemy, a second-century geographer, did mention a tribe calling itself the Brigantes in Leinster. But nothing remains of the Irish Brigantes except this single tribal name on a Greek's map, the river Brigid, much literary references to saints and supernatural figures named Brigit. Other towns which may preserve this theonym include Brigetio in Hungary Brianconnet and Briançon, both in Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur, France. In antiquity, Briançon was the first town on the Via Domitia, it is attested by an inscriptions mentioning munic Bri/gantione geniti. At Brianconnet, an inscription mentions ord Brig. There, oak trees were venerated; the ancient name of Bragança in Trás-os-Montes, was Brigantia. The inhabitants today are still called brigantinos. Braga is another town in Portugal, it is the capital of the district of the same name in the province of Minho. A short distance up the coast, the cities of A Coruña and Betanzos in present-day Galicia were named Brigantia and Brigantium. According to the Lebor Gabála Érenn Breogán found the city called Brigantia, built a tower there from the top of which his son Íth glimpses Ireland and sets sail across the Celtic Sea to invade and settle it.
Brigantes, Celtic tribe associated with Northern England Isurium Brigantum Breton language Breton people Année Epigraphique, yearly volumes. Bitel, Lisa M. "St. Brigit of Ireland: From Virgin Saint to Fertility Goddess" on-line) Claus, Manfredd. Online epigraphic search tool Ellis, Peter Berresford Dictionary of Celtic Mythology Oxford Paperback Reference, Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-508961-8 Gree, Miranda The Gods of the Celts. Stroud, Sutton Publishing. ISBN 0-7509-1581-1 Green, Miranda Celtic Goddesses: Warriors and Mothers New York, pp 195–202. MacKillop, James Dictionary of Celtic Mythology. Oxford, Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-280120-1. Olmstead, Garret The Gods of the Celts and Indo-Europeans Budapest, pp 354–361 Roman Inscriptions of Britain. Wood, Juliette The Celts: Life and Art. Thorsons. ISBN 0-00-76
Celtic mythology is the mythology of Celtic polytheism, the religion of the Iron Age Celts. Like other Iron Age Europeans, the early Celts maintained a polytheistic mythology and religious structure. For Celts in close contact with Ancient Rome, such as the Gauls and Celtiberians, their mythology did not survive the Roman Empire, their subsequent conversion to Christianity and the loss of their Celtic languages, it is through contemporary Roman and Christian sources that their mythology has been preserved. The Celtic peoples who maintained either political or linguistic identities left vestigial remnants of their ancestral mythologies that were put into written form during the Middle Ages. Although the Celtic world at its height covered much of western and central Europe, it was not politically unified nor was there any substantial central source of cultural influence or homogeneity. Inscriptions of more than three hundred deities equated with their Roman counterparts, have survived, but of these most appear to have been genii locorum, local or tribal gods, few were worshiped.
However, from what has survived of Celtic mythology, it is possible to discern commonalities which hint at a more unified pantheon than is given credit. The nature and functions of these ancient gods can be deduced from their names, the location of their inscriptions, their iconography, the Roman gods they are equated with, similar figures from bodies of Celtic mythology. Celtic mythology is found in a number of distinct, if related, subgroups corresponding to the branches of the Celtic languages: Ancient Celtic religion mythology in Goidelic languages, represented chiefly by Irish mythology Mythological Cycle Ulster Cycle Fenian Cycle Cycles of the Kings mythology in Brittonic languages Welsh mythology Cornish mythology Breton mythology As a result of the scarcity of surviving materials bearing written Gaulish, it is surmised that the most of the Celtic writings were destroyed by the Romans, although a written form of Gaulish using Greek and North Italic alphabets was used. Julius Caesar attests to the literacy of the Gauls, but wrote that their priests, the druids, were forbidden to use writing to record certain verses of religious significance while noting that the Helvetii had a written census.
Rome introduced a more widespread habit of public inscriptions, broke the power of the druids in the areas it conquered. Although early Gaels in Ireland and parts of modern Wales used the Ogham script to record short inscriptions, more sophisticated literacy was not introduced to Celtic areas that had not been conquered by Rome until the advent of Christianity. Indeed, many Gaelic myths were first recorded by Christian monks, albeit without most of their original religious meanings; the oldest body of myths stemming from the Heroic Age is found only from the early medieval period of Ireland. As Christianity began to take over, the gods and goddesses were eliminated as such from the culture. What has survived includes material dealing with the Tuatha Dé Danann and the Fomorians, which forms the basis for the text Cath Maige Tuired "The Battle of Mag Tuireadh", as well as portions of the history-focused Lebor Gabála Érenn; the Tuatha Dé represent the functions of human society such as kingship and war, while the Fomorians represent chaos and wild nature.
The leader of the gods for the Irish pantheon appears to have been the Dagda. The Dagda was the figure on which male humans and other gods were based because he embodied ideal Irish traits. Celtic gods were considered to be a clan due to their lack of specialization and unknown origins; the particular character of the Dagda was as a figure of burlesque lampoonery in Irish mythology, some authors conclude that he was trusted to be benevolent enough to tolerate jokes at his own expense. Irish tales depict the Dagda as a figure of power, armed with a club. In Dorset there is a famous outline of an ithyphallic giant known as the Cerne Abbas Giant with a club cut into the chalky soil. While this was produced in modern times, it was long thought to be a representation of the Dagda; this has been called into question by recent studies which show that there may have been a representation of what looks like a large drapery hanging from the horizontal arm of the figure, leading to suspicion that this figure represents Hercules, with the skin of the Nemean lion over his arm and carrying the club he used to kill it.
In Gaul, it is speculated that the Dagda is associated with Sucellus, the striker, equipped with a hammer and cup. The Morrígan was a tripartite battle goddess of the Celts of Ancient Ireland, she was known as the Morrígan, but the different sections she was divided into were referred to as Nemain and Badb, with each representing different aspects of combat. She is most known for her involvement in the Táin Bó Cúailnge