Monday, December 8, 2014

A guarding goose maybe

Celtic Sanctuaries

 


This picture is taken from Celtic Mythology by Proinsias MacCana - 1970  a Hamlyn book. This book has been typeset  on rough, faintly cream paper and all the photos have an air of grainy ghastliness that is so evocative of the Celtic period (that is probably why I love it).
But the thing that brought this particular image to mind was the supposed goose on top of the pediment, even Miranda Green calls it a goose, but later minds think that it is a raptor, actually I am quite happy with a goose, or maybe a vulture, given the fact that geese are used to guard one's property.  What is so striking though when I went to investigate this Portico of the Celto-Ligurian temple of Roquerpertuse, was the restoration work that had taken place in the succeeding years after the above photo was taken...


The horror of the gaping mouths of the skulls have gone, if you know about Celtic mythology, the head of one's enemies is respected and therefore becomes one of the trophies of war, the 'head cult' was one of the distinctive features of  the Celtic tribes, as was the symbolism of animals and birds part of their artistic culture.
When you look at these pillars, it becomes obvious how far we are removed from their world, almost alien one might think.  War and fighting was normal, and the mysterious otherworld held stories we can only dream about.  There is a photo in Miranda Green's book of a Roman carving of a baby in a cot with a dog sleeping at its feet, again so different.
And then again there is this fearsome Celtic head guarding the Roman temple of Aqua Sulis on the portico.....


4 comments:

  1. I love that last photograph Thelma. It reminds me rather of the greenman who is on the wall outside my kitchen door.

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    1. Someone had fun creating that carving, it is one of the finest Celtic heads in this country. Often think of using him as my avatar - frighten anyone..

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  2. The goose appears on some of the Pictish carved stones and I wonder what it represented? Those pillars looked pretty scary with the skulls in, if they are the ones I am thinking of.

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    1. It must have been a common bird, and with its distinctive flight patterns across the skies probably foretold some truths, and of course was a good food source.

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