In Gaulish religion, Nantosuelta was a goddess of nature, the earth, fire, and fertility. The Mediomatrici (Alsace, Lorraine) depicted her in art as holding a model house or dovecote, on a pole (a bee hive). Nantosuelta is attested by statues, and by inscriptions. She was sometimes paired with Sucellus. Nantosuelta was also the Goddess of Nature in Lusitanian mythology. In addition, her symbol the raven symbolized her connection as a goddess of the dead.
In this relief from Sarrebourg, near Metz, Nantosuelta, wearing a long gown is standing to the left. In her left hand she holds a small house-shaped object with two circular holes and a peaked roof. Her right hand holds a patera which she is tipping onto a cylindrical altar.
To the right Sucellus stands, bearded, in a tunic with a cloak on his right shoulder. He holds his mallet in his right hand and an olla in his left. Above the figures is a dedicatory inscription and below them in very low relief is bird, of a raven. This sculpture was dated by Reinach (1922, pp.217-232), from the form of the letters, to the end of the first century or start of the second century.
An altar from Metz has a carving of a woman with similar dress to the Sarrebourg example, also holding a small house on a pole, thus presumed to be Nantosuelta. Sucellus is not shown on this example.
She was associated with the cornucopia.
The inscription (Jufer & Luginbühl p.129) on the Sarrebourg altar (CIL XIII, 4542) reads:
To the God Sucellus and to Nantosuelta, Bellausus, son of Massa, willingly and deservedly fulfilled his vow.
The inscription on the Metz altar (AE 1896, 0049) says:
Here the dedication is to the Imperial house, and Nantosuelta is not explicitly mentioned. The visual depiction makes the identification secure.
This theonym was previously thought to mean 'winding river' and to be derived from Proto-Celtic *nanto-swel-tā meaning 'valley-turned' (CAWCS pp. 63,79), of which meandering river valleys could have been a manifestation. However, more recent scholarship understands it to mean 'sun-warmed valley' as follows:
nantu- or nanto- in Gaulish means a valley, as seen in the glossary of Vienna, in placenames such as Trinanto (three valleys), Nantiacum, Nantu-ialon (light valley), Diou-nanto (sacred valley), Nant-Aror on the Berne zinc tablet, in personal names such as Nantonos, and in the Carjac inscription (RIG L-49) in uertamon nantou(s) (at the head of the valley) (Delamarre p. 231). The name passed into Vulgar Latin and is preserved in some French dialects such as those of Savoie, where the valley has come to mean the river that flows through the valley, or a torrent (Delamarre p. 232). The same double sense is found in later Celtic languages; Breton has nant meaning a valley, Welsh has nant meaning a valley, water-course or stream. The root is IE *nem- meaning a curve or slope (Porkorny p.764). Thus, while it later came to mean a river or stream, it originally meant a valley.
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