My family’s (national) treasure

Families are tied together by many things – blood, anecdotes, tradition etc. In my family one of the strong bonds is the Gundestrup cauldron. My father’s grandfather was a poor farmer who worked in the peat bogs of a wealthy landowner. One day, his spade struck a plate that would prove to be one of the most important silver finds in Europe. The National Museum of Denmark awarded him a finder’s fee, which allowed him to buy his own land and a small farm (quite a sum for a man who pretty much didn’t own anything), thus paving the way for the future of his family. The 2,100 year old vessel was originally made out of 14 plates, but only 13 were recovered – rumours abound that it was actually there on the day of the find, but if so, where is it now …?

The cauldron is absolutely marvelous – here’s a couple of quotes from Wikipedia:

The decorations on the walls of the cauldron depict Celtic deities and rituals. (diameter 69 cm, height 42 cm).

The Gundestrup cauldron is the largest known example of European Iron Age silver work. The style and workmanship suggest Thracian origin, while the imagery seems Celtic (torques, horned God, carnyx). This has opened room for conflicting theories of Thracian vs. Gaulish origin of the cauldron.

And also this:

Plate E apparently displays a sort of initiation ritual. In the lower half, a line of warriors bearing spears and shields, accompanied by carnyx players march to the left. On the left side, a large figure is immersing a man in a cauldron. In the upper half, heading away from the cauldron, and probably having completed the initiation ritual are warriors on horseback. Interestingly, later Celtic myth, such as that of Bran the Blessed, features resurrection themes based on immersion of dead warriors in cauldrons.

I am the only current freemason in my family, but considering the fascination the vessel inspires – its richness of symbolism, depiction of ritual, initiation, the union of man and divine, and more – that is actually something of a small wonder.

I guess you can lead them to the cauldron, but you can’t make them drink …

Pictures from Wikimedia; the whole cauldron and ‘Plate E’.


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s