INNER PLATE OF THE GUNDESTRUP CAULDRON
Silver, first century bc
Attempts have been made to interpret this scene by comparing it to an episode from the Irish epic, ('the Cattle Raid of Cooley'). According to this theory, the smaller figure gripping the wheel is Cu Chulainn, the hero of the epic. He is shown attacking the bearded giant, Ferghus mac Roich, using a broken chariot as a weapon. Earlier, Cu Chulainn had faced the war goddess Morrigan, who had fought him as a wolf, a hornless red heifer and an eel. Cu Chulainn had defeated her in this final guise, by cracking her ribs with his toes, it may be that this incident is reflected in the way the warrior is jumping over a ram-horned snake.
The wheel was a widespread solar symbol among the Celts and featured frequently in their burial rites, but its meaning in this context is unclear.