Friday, 11 March 2016

Another step in the evolution of the British Celtic sword pommel: part four

The tumulus near Vattingstone Lane
© Copyright Michael Murray and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence
"Alveston stands on a ridge of high ground 325 feet above sea level, with magnificent views over the Severn Valley. It has been inhabited as far back as the Stone Age, as indicated by relics of the past such as the tumulus near Vattingstone Lane. The name derives from ‘Alwihs Stone’, probably associated with a megalithic stone.". Parish Trails
The Parish of Alveston shows signs of occupation going back as far as the Neolithic but its history starts with the Domesday Book. The Iron Age seemed underrepresented, that is, until a bizarre find in a cave in 2000. We do not usually associate cannibalism with the Celts.
"Dr Horton said: 'This was a highly structured deposit that can only have got there as a result of some form of ritual activity. This region was an important centre for underworld cults during the later Iron Age, some of which survived into the Roman period; in particular the Celtic Hound God, Cunomaglus, was represented as a dog guarding the underworld in local temple sculpture.'"
Disease and deformity are present in the human remains and the cattle bones might be indicative of the cow sacrifice associated with matters of health. The dog remains linked to Cunomaglus  "Hound  Lord" who is an Apollo correlate and is also connected with matters of health might suggest that some outbreak of disease required extraordinary measures and superstitions that occasionally surround human deformity could also warrant drastic measures. We cannot know, but we can connect.

Caves, as entrances to the Underworld was recorded by the Greeks in their Mysteries which became syncretized with Celtic beliefs and formed the new religion marked by the emergence of La Tène art. The hound Cerberus guarded the entrance to the Underworld and Persephone, as the husband of Hades was guarded there in her cave by serpents. Zeus, in serpent form, managed to sneak in and impregnated her and the dark divinity of the first-born Dionysos was born. His emblem was the ivy but being reborn after most of him had been eaten by the Titans, he became the resurrected god of the grape vine. Even Jesus referred to himself as the vine:
“Thus in the Gospel of John Jesus repeats the water-to-wine miracle of Dionysos (2: 1-11) and describes himself, like Dionysus, as the life-giving grapevine (15: 1-10). (Of course the Synoptics bear many of the same traces of Dionysus influence: Jesus’ blood is wine, his flesh bread, since he is a Dionysian corn king.)”. 
Robert M. Price, Deconstructing Jesus, Amherst, New York, 2000, p.234.
The Celtic Marnian vine-scroll is not the vine of the grape, but that of the ivy. It often takes the form of a triskelion composition which is the composition of both the Alveston and Oxfordshire pommel. The Celtic syncretized myth is played out on the Procession plate of the Gundestrup cauldron. For more information I have written about this topic see these articles. Everything, of course, is connected and, as my own "hell-hound" is requiring some attention right now, I will be back on Monday with even more connections to the discovery of the Alveston sword pommel. Have a bizarre weekend.

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