CELTIC GODDESS -OUTER PLATE OF
THE GUNDESTRUP CAULDRON
Silver, first century bc
Originally, there were eight plates on the outside of the Gundestrup Cauldron, seven of these have survived. Each of them is dominated by the large, mask-like face of a god or goddess. These were beaten out of a sheet of silver and tiny pieces of glass were inserted into the vacant pupils. On one of the plates, these 'eyes' are still in place.
None of the iconography on the cauldron can be interpreted with certainty and the imagery of the outer plates is less clear than those of the inner ones. However, the presence of three birds in this scene may allude to one of the war goddesses. As scavenging birds, they had obvious associations with war and death, so it is hardly surprising that Morrigan was habitually described as the ' battle crow'. The songs of the magical birds were supposed to be so enticing that they could wake the dead in their graves, while lulling the living to sleep.