"the property of the cauldron is that if you throw into it one of your men who is killed today, then by tomorrow he will be as good as ever except that he will not be able to speak"

The cauldron seems to have been of great importance within ancient Celtic cultures. One highly significant artifact is the Gundestrup cauldron, a richly-ornate Iron Age silver vessel, found in a peat bog in Denmark in 1891. Amongst its carved figures is one that appears to represent Cernunnos, the horned Celtic deity. More intriguingly still, another carving shows a line of upright men being tipped into a cauldron and re-emerging  on horseback, a situation which bears a striking resemblance to that involving the ‘Cauldron of Rebirth’  in 'The Second Branch of the

Detail of horned figure on Gundestrup Cauldron
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeDetail of horned figure on Gundestrup Cauldron - Credit: Bloodofox


Material that appeared in late medieval Welsh manuscripts (but which stems from a much earlier period) also features cauldrons. For example, the Cauldron of Dyrnwch the Giant is listed amongst 'The Thirteen Treasures of the Island of Britain' (Tri Thlws ar Ddeg Ynys Prydain), and Ceridwen’s cauldron is central to the story of the poet Taliesin. In the Irish tradition, a cauldron known as the Dagda’s Cauldron is one of the four treasures of the  mythological people known as the Tuatha Dé Danann.


Detail of Gundestrup Cauldron
GNU Free Documentation LicenseDetail of Gundestrup Cauldron - Credit: Malene Thyssen, http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Malene