The Britons known as Celtic Britons or Ancient Britons, were Celtic people who inhabited Great Britain from the British Iron Age into the Middle Ages, at which point their culture and language diverged into the modern Welsh and Bretons. They spoke the ancestor to the modern Brittonic languages; the traditional view that the Celtic Britons migrated from the continent across the English Channel, with their languages and genes in the Iron Age has been undermined in recent decades by the contention of many scholars that Celtic languages had instead spread north along the Atlantic seaboard during the Bronze Age, the results of genetic studies, which show a large continuity between Iron Age and older British populations, suggesting trans-cultural diffusion was very important in the introduction of the Celtic languages. The earliest evidence for the Britons and their language in historical sources dates to the Iron Age. After the Roman conquest of Britain in the 1st century, a Romano-British culture emerged, Latin and British Vulgar Latin coexisted with Brittonic.
During and after the Roman era, the Britons lived throughout Britain. Their relationship with the Picts, who lived north of the Firth of Forth, has been the subject of much discussion, though most scholars now accept that the Pictish language was related to Common Brittonic, rather than a separate Celtic language. With the beginning of Anglo-Saxon settlement and Gaelic Scots in the 5th and 6th centuries, the culture and language of the Britons fragmented, much of their territory was taken over by the Anglo-Saxons and Scots Gaels; the extent to which this cultural and linguistic change was accompanied by wholesale changes in the population is still a matter of discussion. During this period some Britons migrated to mainland Europe and established significant colonies in Brittany, the Channel Islands as well as Britonia in modern Galicia, Spain. By the beginning of the 11th century, remaining Brittonic Celtic-speaking populations had split into distinct groups: the Welsh in Wales, the Cornish in Cornwall, the Bretons in Brittany, the Cumbric speaking people of the Hen Ogledd in southern Scotland and northern England, the remnants of the Pictish people in the north of Scotland.
Common Brittonic developed into the distinct Brittonic languages: Welsh, Cumbric and Breton. The earliest known reference to the inhabitants of Britain seems to come from 4th century BC records of the voyage of Pytheas, a Greek geographer who made a voyage of exploration around the British Isles between 330 and 320 BC. Although none of his own writings remain, writers during the time of the Roman Empire made much reference to them. Pytheas called the islands collectively αἱ Βρεττανίαι, translated as the Brittanic Isles; the peoples of these islands were called the Πρεττανοί, Pritani or Pretani. The group included Ireland, referred to as Ierne "inhabited by the race of Hiberni", Britain as insula Albionum, "island of the Albions"; the term Pritani may have reached Pytheas from the Gauls, who used it as their term for the inhabitants of the islands. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, compiled by the orders of King Alfred the Great in 890, subsequently maintained and added to by generations of anonymous scribes until the middle of the 12th century, starts with this sentence: "The island Britain is 800 miles long, 200 miles broad, there are in the island five nations: English, Scottish and Latin.
The first inhabitants were the Britons, who came from Armenia, first peopled Britain southward." The Latin name in the early Roman Empire period was Britanni or Brittanni, following the Roman conquest in AD 43. The Welsh word Brython was introduced into English usage by John Rhys in 1884 as a term unambiguously referring to the P-Celtic speakers of Great Britain, to complement Goidel. "Brittonic languages" is a more recent coinage intended to refer to the ancient Britons specifically. In English, the terms "Briton" and British for many centuries denoted only the ancient Celtic Britons and their descendants, most the Welsh and Bretons, who were seen as heirs to the ancient British people. After the Acts of Union 1707, the terms British and Briton came to be applied to all inhabitants of the Kingdom of Great Britain, including the English and some Northern Irish; the Britons spoke an Insular Celtic language known as Common Brittonic. Brittonic was spoken throughout the island of Britain, as well as offshore islands such as the Isle of Man, Scilly Isles, Hebrides, Isle of Wight and Shetland.
According to early medieval historical tradition, such as The Dream of Macsen Wledig, the post-Roman Celtic-speakers of Armorica were colonists from Britain, resulting in the Breton language, a language related to Welsh and identical to Cornish in the early period and still used today. Thus the area today is called Brittany. Common Brittonic developed from the Insular branch of the Proto-Celtic language that developed in the British Isles after arriving from the continent in the 7th century BC; the language began to diverge.
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
The gods and goddesses of the pre-Christian Celtic peoples are known from a variety of sources, including ancient places of worship, engravings, cult objects and place or personal names. The ancient Celts appear to have had a pantheon of deities comparable to others in Indo-European religion, each linked to aspects of life and the natural world. By a process of synthesism, after the Roman conquest of Celtic areas, these became associated with their Roman equivalent, their worship continued until Christianization. Ancient Celtic art produced few images of deities, these are hard to identify, lacking inscriptions, but in the post-conquest period many more images were made, some with inscriptions naming the deity. Most of the specific information we have therefore comes from Latin writers and the archaeology of the post-conquest period. More tentatively, links can be made between ancient Celtic deities and figures in early medieval Irish and Welsh literature, although all this was produced well after Christianization.
The locus classicus for the Celtic gods of Gaul is the passage in Julius Caesar's Commentarii de Bello Gallico in which he names six of them, together with their functions. He says that Mercury was the most honoured of all the gods and many images of him were to be found. Mercury was regarded as the inventor of all the arts, the patron of travellers and of merchants, the most powerful god in matters of commerce and gain. After him, the Gauls honoured Apollo, who drove away diseases, who controlled war, who ruled the heavens, Minerva, who promoted handicrafts, he adds. In characteristic Roman fashion, Caesar does not refer to these figures by their native names but by the names of the Roman gods with which he equated them, a procedure that complicates the task of identifying his Gaulish deities with their counterparts in the insular literatures, he presents a neat schematic equation of god and function, quite foreign to the vernacular literary testimony. Yet, given its limitations, his brief catalog is a valuable witness.
The gods named by Caesar are well-attested in the epigraphic record of Gaul and Britain. Not infrequently, their names are coupled with native Celtic theonyms and epithets, such as Mercury Visucius, Lenus Mars, Jupiter Poeninus, or Sulis Minerva. Unsyncretised theonyms are widespread among goddesses such as Sulevia, Sirona and Epona. In all, several hundred names containing a Celtic element are attested in Gaul; the majority occur only once, which has led some scholars to conclude that the Celtic gods and their cults were local and tribal rather than national. Supporters of this view cite Lucan's mention of a god called Teutates, which they interpret as "god of the tribe"; the multiplicity of deity names may be explained otherwise – many, for example, may be epithets applied to major deities by extended cults. Evidence from the Roman period presents a wide array of gods and goddesses who are represented by images or inscribed dedications. Certain deities were venerated across the Celtic world, while others were limited only to a single religion or to a specific locality.
Certain local or regional deities might have greater popularity within their spheres than supra-regional deities. For example, in east-central Gaul, the local healing goddess Sequana of present-day Burgundy, was more influential in the minds of her local devotees than the Matres, who were worshipped all over Britain and the Rhineland. Among the divinities transcending tribal boundaries were the Matres, the sky-god Taranis, Epona. Epona, the horse-goddess, was invoked by devotees living as far apart as Britain and Bulgaria. A distinctive feature of the mother-goddesses was their frequent depiction as a triad in many parts of Britain, in Gaul and on the Rhine, although it is possible to identify strong regional differences within this group; the Celtic sky-god too had variations in the way his cult expressed. Yet the link between the Celtic Jupiter and the solar wheel is maintained over a wide area, from Hadrian's Wall to Cologne and Nîmes, it is sometimes possible to identify tribal, or sub-tribal divinities.
Specific to the Remi of northwest Gaul is a distinctive group of stone carvings depicting a triple-faced god with shared facial features and luxuriant beards. In the Iron Age, this same tribe issued coins with three faces, a motif found elsewhere in Gaul. Another tribal god was Lenus, venerated by the Treveri, he was worshipped at a number of Treveran sanctuaries, the most splendid of, at the tribal capital of Trier itself. Yet he was exported to other areas: Lenus has altars set up to him in Chedworth in Gloucestershire and Caerwent in Wales. Many Celtic divinities were localised, sometimes occurring in just one shrine because the spirit concerned was a genius loci, the governing spirit of a particular place. In Gaul, over four hundred different Celtic god-names are recorded, of which at least 300 occur just once. Sequana was confined to her spring shrine near Dijon, Sul belonged to Bath; the divine couple Ucuetis and Bergusia were worshipped at Alesia in Burgundy. The British god Nodens is associated above all with the great sanctuary at Lydney.
Two other British deities and Belatucadrus, were both Martial gods and were each worshipped in defined territories in the area of Hadrian’s Wall. There are many other gods. Vosegus presided over the mountains of the Vosges, Luxovius over the spa-settlement of L
Lugus was a deity of the Celtic pantheon. His name is directly attested in inscriptions, but his importance can be inferred from place names and ethnonyms, his nature and attributes are deduced from the distinctive iconography of Gallo-Roman inscriptions to Mercury, believed to have been identified with Lugus, from the quasi-mythological narratives involving his cognates, Welsh Lleu Llaw Gyffes and Irish Lugh Lámhfhada; the exact etymology of Lugus is unknown and contested. The Proto-Celtic root of the name, *lug-, is believed to have been derived from one of several different Proto-Indo-European roots, such as *leug- "black", *leuǵ- "to break", *leugʰ- "to swear an oath", It was once thought that the root may be derived from Proto-Indo-European *leuk- "to shine", but there are difficulties with this etymology and few modern scholars accept it as being possible; the god Lugus is mentioned in a Celtiberian inscription from Peñalba de Villastar in Spain, which reads: ENI OROSEI VTA TICINO TIATVNEI TRECAIAS TO LVGVEI ARAIANOM COMEIMV ENI OROSEI EQVEISVIQVE OGRIS OLOCAS TOGIAS SISTAT LVGVEI TIASO TOGIASThe exact interpretation of the inscription is debated, but the phrase "to Luguei" indicates a dedication to the god Lugus.
Additionally, the name is attested several times in the plural, for example: nominative plural Lugoues in a single-word inscription from Avenches and dative plural in a well known Latin inscription from Uxama, Spain: Lugovibus sacrum L. L Urcico collegio sutorum d d"L. L. Urcico dedicated this, sacred to the Lugoves, to the guild of shoemakers" The plural form of the theonym is found in the following Latin inscriptions: Lugo, Spain: Luc Gudarovis Vale Cle. V L SOuteiro de Rei, Galicia, Spain: Lucoubu Arquieni Silonius Silo ex votoSober, Galicia, Spain: Lucubo Arquienob C Iulius Hispanus V L S MNemausus, France: Rufina Lucubus v s l mThe majority of the known inscriptions dedicated to Lugus come from the Iberian Peninsula indicating this deity's particular importance and popularity among the Iberian Celts. An inscribed lead plate found in Chamalières in France includes the phrase luge dessummiíis, tentatively interpreted by some scholars as "I prepare them for Lugus", though it may mean "I swear with/by my right".
His name was commemorated in numerous place-names, such as Lugdunum, capital of the Roman province of Gallia Lugdunensis. Other such place-names include Lugdunum Luguvalium, it is possible that Lucus Augusti is derived from the theonym Lugus, but Lucus in that place may in fact be purely Latin. Other places which are named after him include: Loudun and Montluçon in France. Julius Caesar in his De Bello Gallico identified six gods worshipped in Gaul, by the usual conventions of interpretatio romana giving the names of their nearest Roman equivalents rather than their Gaulish names, he said that "Mercury" was the god most revered in Gaul, describing him as patron of trade and commerce, protector of travellers, the inventor of all the arts. The Irish god Lug bore the epithet samildánach, which has led to the widespread identification of Caesar's Mercury as Lugus. Mercury's importance is supported by the more than 400 inscriptions referencing him in Roman Gaul and Britain; such a blanket identification is optimistic – Jan de Vries demonstrates the unreliability of any one-to-one concordance in the interpretatio romana – but the available parallels are worth considering.
The iconography of Gaulish Mercury includes birds ravens and the cock, now the emblem of France. He is armed with a spear, he is accompanied by his consort Rosmerta, who bears the ritual drink with which kingship was conferred. Unlike the Roman Mercury, always a youth, Gaulish Mercury is also represented as an old man. Gaulish Mercury is associated with triplism: sometimes he has three faces, sometimes three phalluses, which may explain the plural dedications; this compares with Irish myth. In some versions of the story Lug was born as one of triplets, his father, Cian, is mentioned in the same breath as his brothers Cú and Cethen, who nonetheless have no stories of their own. Several characters called Lugaid, a pop
Nodens is a Celtic deity associated with healing, the sea and dogs. He was worshipped in ancient Britain, most notably in a temple complex at Lydney Park in Gloucestershire, also in Gaul, he is equated with the Roman gods Mars and Silvanus, his name is cognate with that of the Irish mythological figure Nuada and the Welsh Nudd. The name Nodens derives from a Celtic stem *noudont- or *noudent-, which J. R. R. Tolkien suggested was related to a Germanic root *neut- meaning "acquire, have the use of", earlier "to catch, entrap". Making the connection with Nuada and Lludd's hand, he detected "an echo of the ancient fame of the magic hand of Nodens the Catcher". Julius Pokorny derives the name from a Proto-Indo-European root *neu-d- meaning "acquire, utilise, go fishing". Ranko Matasović has proposed that the name of this deity may come from Proto-Celtic *snoudo-, meaning "mist, clouds". According to his proposal, the transition from *snoudo- to Nodons happened because the particle sN was changed to N in P-Celtic languages, such as Gaulish and Brittonic.
Furthermore, Nodons' name –, in the nominative case – appears in inscriptions as Nodontī due to a change to the dative case. However, sN- was not reduced in Old Irish, in which the cognate is attested as Núada ~ Núadat, not *Snúada, which evidence weakens Matasović's derivation; the temple complex at Lydney Park, situated on a steep bluff overlooking the Severn Estuary, is rectangular, measuring 72 by 54 m, with a central cella measuring 29 by 49.5 m, its north-western end is divided into three chambers 6.3 m deep. This imposing, Classical style temple building has been interpreted as an incubatio or dormitory for sick pilgrims to sleep and experience a vision of divine presence in their dreams; the site was chosen because it offered a clear view of the massive Severn Bore, a tidal bore which, under certain conditions, rises near Gloucester and its position within an earlier Iron Age hill fort must be relevant. The complex was archeologically excavated in the 1920s by Sir Mortimer Wheeler, who established that it was built some time after AD 364, with occupation continuing well into the 5th century.
It has produced several inscriptions to Nodens. One, on a lead curse tablet, reads: It is conjectured that this lost ring is the ring of Silvianus found in the 19th century far away from Lydney. Another, on a bronze plate, identifies Nodens with the Roman god Mars: Another plate, bearing the image of a baying hound, makes the same equation: There is evidence of at least one temple priest; the cella has a mosaic floor, the surviving fragments of which depict dolphins and sea monsters. The floor dates to the 4th century and was dedicated to the temple of Nodens by one Titus Flavius Senilis; the artifacts recovered include a bronze object, which may be a headdress or a vessel, showing a sea-god driving a chariot between torch-bearing putti and tritons. Miranda Green speculates. Other artifacts include bronze reliefs depicting a sea deity and tritons, nine stone or bronze statues of dogs, one of which has a human face, some of which are similar to Irish Wolfhounds, a bronze plaque of a woman, a bronze arm, an oculist's stamp, about 320 pins, nearly 300 bracelets, over 8,000 coins.
The iconography shows a clear association with the sea, while the dogs and bracelets and bronze arm, which shows signs of disease, indicate a healing function: the dog is a companion of the healing aspect of Mars, dogs were symbols of healing throughout the classical world and Celtic world because they were observed to heal their own wounds by licking them. Images of pilgrims and deities holding dogs occur at many Gaulish spring sanctuaries; the pins are associated with childbirth. The dogs, the equating of Nodens with Silvanus suggest a connection with hunting. According to Cook, the toponym Lydney derives from the Old English *Lydan-eġ, ‘Lludd’s Island.’ However, alternative etymologies of Lydney are offered in other sources. A silver statuette found at Cockersand Moss, Lancashire, in 1718 but now lost, had an inscription on the base which read: LVCIANVS • D M N • COL LIC APRILI VIATO • RIS V S To the god Mars Nodontis, the College of Lictors Lucianus Aprilis the traveller, in fulfilment of a vow Another inscription from Vindolanda on Hadrian's Wall reads "DEO NO/NEPTU", interpreted as "To the god Nodens Neptune".
The god Noadatus, equated with Mars in an inscription found at Mainz in Germany may be the same deity. The placename Maynooth, a town in north Co. Kildare, Ireland, is an anglicisation of "Magh Núad", which means " plain of Núadu"; the Gaelic-Irish surname Ó Nuadhain is believed to derive from the forename Nuadha. Found in County Galway, County Mayo and County Roscommon, the family were a sept of the Uí Fiachrach who settled in Cálraighe, in what is now County Sligo, it is distinct from Ó Nuanáin, a corruption of Ó hIonmhaineáin. The name Nodens is cognate with Old Irish Nuada, an important figure from the Irish Mythological Cycle. Nuada was the first king of the Tuatha Dé Danann, disqualified from kingship after losing his hand in battle, but restored after he was given a working silver one by the physician Dian Cecht and the wright Creidhne
In Celtic mythology, the Otherworld is the realm of the deities and also of the dead. In Gaelic and Brittonic mythology it is described as a supernatural realm of everlasting youth, health and joy; the Otherworld is elusive, but various mythical heroes visit it either through chance or after being invited by one of its residents. They reach it by entering ancient burial mounds or caves, or by going under water or across the western sea. Sometimes, the Otherworld is said to exist alongside our own located beyond the edge of the earth and intrudes into our world. An otherworldly woman may invite the hero into the Otherworld by offering an apple or a silver apple branch, or a ball of thread to follow as it unwinds; the Otherworld is called Annwn in Welsh mythology and Avalon in Arthurian legend. In Irish mythology it has several names, including Mag Mell and Emain Ablach. In Irish myth there is Tech Duinn, where the souls of the dead gather. In Irish mythology, the Otherworld has various names. Names of the Otherworld, or places within it, include Tír nAill, Tír Tairngire, Tír na nÓg, Tír fo Thuinn, Tír na mBeo, Mag Mell, Mag Findargat, Mag Argatnél, Mag Ildathach, Mag Cíuin, Emain Ablach.
It is described as a supernatural realm where there is everlasting youth, health and joy, where time moves differently. It is the dwelling place of the gods as well as certain ancestors, it was similar to the Elysium of Greek mythology and both may have a shared origin in ancient Proto-Indo-European religion. The Otherworld is elusive, but various mythical heroes—such as Cúchulainn and Bran—visit it either through chance or after being invited by one of its residents. In Irish myth and folklore, the festivals of Samhain and Beltane are liminal times, when contact with the Otherworld was more likely. In the tales, the Otherworld is reached by entering ancient burial mounds, such as those at Brú na Bóinne and Cnoc Meadha; these were known as sídhe and were the dwellings of the gods called the aos sí or daoine sí. Irish mythology says. In some tales, the Otherworld is reached by going under the waters of pools, lakes, or the sea, or else by crossing the western sea. In Irish Immrama tales, a beautiful young Otherworld woman approaches the hero and sings to him of this happy land.
Sometimes she offers him the promise of her love in exchange for his help in battle. He follows her, they journey over the sea together and are seen no more, their journey may be in a chariot, or on horseback. Sometimes the hero returns after what he believes is a short time, only to find that all his companions are dead and he has been away for hundreds of years. Sometimes the hero sets out on a quest, a magic mist descends upon him, he may find himself before an unusual palace and enter to find a warrior or a beautiful woman who makes him welcome. The woman may be the goddess Fand, the warrior may be Manannán mac Lir or Lugh, after strange adventures the hero may return successfully; however when the mortal manages to return to his own time and place, he is forever changed by his contact with the Otherworld. The Otherworld was seen as a source of authority. In the tale Baile in Scáil, Conn of the Hundred Battles visits an Otherworld hall, where the god Lugh legitimizes his kingship and that of his successors.
In Irish myth there is another otherworldly realm called Tech Duinn. It was believed. Donn is portrayed as a god of the ancestor of the Gaels. Tech Duinn is identified with Bull Rock, an islet off the west coast of Ireland which resembles a portal tomb. In Ireland there was a belief that the souls of the dead departed westwards over the sea with the setting sun. West-ward being the location of the phantom island, anglicized as, Hy-Brasil. In Welsh mythology, the Otherworld is called Annwn or Annwfn; the Welsh tale of Branwen, daughter of Llyr ends with the survivors of the great battle feasting in the Otherworld, in the presence of the severed head of Bran the Blessed, having forgotten all their suffering and sorrow, having become unaware of the passage of time. Annwn is ruled by Gwyn ap Nudd. In the First Branch of the Welsh tales known as The Mabinogion, entitled Pwyll, Prince of Dyfed, the eponymous prince offends Arawn, ruler of Annwn, by baiting his hunting hounds on a stag that Arawn's dogs had brought down.
In recompense, Pwyll swaps defeats Arawn's enemy Hafgan. Meanwhile, Arawn rules Dyfed. During this year, Pwyll does not sleep with Arawn's wife. On his return, Pwyll becomes known by the title Pen Annwn, "Head of Annwn"; the Gauls divided the universe into three parts: Albios, Bitu ("world of the living be
The Morrígan or Mórrígan known as Morrígu, is a figure from Irish mythology. The name is Mór-Ríoghain in Modern Irish, it has been translated as "great queen", "phantom queen" or "queen of phantoms". The Morrígan is associated with war and fate with foretelling doom, death or victory in battle. In this role she appears as a crow, the badb, she can help bring about victory over their enemies. The Morrígan encourages warriors to do brave deeds, strikes fear into their enemies, is portrayed washing the bloodstained clothes of those fated to die, she has some connection with sovereignty, the land and livestock. In modern times she is called a "war goddess" and has been seen as a manifestation of the earth- and sovereignty-goddess, chiefly representing the goddess's role as guardian of the territory and its people; the Morrígan is described as a trio of individuals, all sisters, called'the three Morrígna'. Membership of the triad varies, it is believed. The three Morrígna are named as sisters of the three land goddesses Ériu, Banba and Fódla.
The Morrígan is said to be the wife of The Dagda, while Badb and Nemain are said to be the wives of Neit. She is associated with the banshee of folklore. There is some disagreement over the meaning of the Morrígan's name. Mor may derive from an Indo-European root connoting terror or monstrousness, cognate with the Old English maere and the Scandinavian mara and the Old East Slavic "mara"; this can be reconstructed in the Proto-Celtic language. Accordingly, Morrígan is translated as "Phantom Queen"; this is the derivation favoured in current scholarship. In the Middle Irish period the name is spelled Mórrígan with a lengthening diacritic over the o intended to mean "Great Queen". Whitley Stokes believed. There have been attempts by modern writers to link the Morrígan with the Welsh literary figure Morgan le Fay from the Matter of Britain, in whose name mor may derive from Welsh word for "sea", but the names are derived from different cultures and branches of the Celtic linguistic tree; the earliest sources for the Morrígan are glosses in Latin manuscripts, glossaries.
In a 9th century manuscript containing the Vulgate version of the Book of Isaiah, the word Lamia is used to translate the Hebrew Lilith. A gloss explains this as "a monster in female form, that is, a morrígan". Cormac's Glossary, a gloss in the manuscript H.3.18, both explain the plural word gudemain with the plural form morrígna. The 8th century O'Mulconry's Glossary says; the Morrígan's earliest narrative appearances, in which she is depicted as an individual, are in stories of the Ulster Cycle, where she has an ambiguous relationship with the hero Cú Chulainn. In Táin Bó Regamna, Cúchulainn encounters the Morrígan, but does not recognise her, as she drives a heifer from his territory. In response to this perceived challenge, his ignorance of her role as a sovereignty figure, he insults her, but before he can attack her she becomes a black bird on a nearby branch. Cúchulainn now knows who she is, tells her that had he known before, they would not have parted in enmity, she notes. To his response that she cannot harm him, she delivers a series of warnings, foretelling a coming battle in which he will be killed.
She tells him, "it is at the guarding of thy death. Cúchulainn defends Ulster by fighting a series of single combats at fords against Medb's champions. In between combats the Morrígan appears to him as a young woman and offers him her love, her aid in the battle, but he rejects her offer. In response she intervenes in his next combat, first in the form of an eel who trips him as a wolf who stampedes cattle across the ford, as a white, red-eared heifer leading the stampede, just as she had warned in their previous encounter; however Cúchulainn defeats his opponent despite her interference. She appears to him as an old woman bearing the same three wounds that her animal forms sustained, milking a cow, she gives Cúchulainn three drinks of milk. He blesses her with each drink, her wounds are healed, he regrets blessing her for the three drinks of milk, apparent in the exchange between the Morrígan and Cúchulainn, "She gave him milk from the third teat, her leg was healed.'You told me once,' she said,'that you would never heal me."Had I known it was you,' said Cúchulainn,'I never would have.'"
As the armies gather for the final battle, she prophesies the bloodshed to come. In one version of Cúchulainn's death-tale, as Cúchulainn rides to meet his enemies, he encounters the Morrígan as a hag washing his bloody armour in a ford, an omen of his death. In the story, mortally wounded, Cúchulainn ties himself to a standing stone with his own entrails so he can die upright, it is only when a crow lands on his shoulder that his enemies believe he is d