Nodens

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Nodens (Nudens, Nodons) is a Celtic deity associated with healing, the sea, hunting and dogs. He was worshipped in ancient Britain, most notably in a temple complex at Lydney Park in Gloucestershire, and possibly also in Gaul. He is equated with the Roman gods Mars, Mercury, Neptune and Silvanus, and his name is cognate with that of the Irish mythological figure Nuada and the Welsh Nudd.[1][2]

Contents

Etymology

The name Nodens probably derives from a Celtic stem *noudont- or *noudent-, which J. R. R. Tolkien suggested was related to a Germanic root meaning "acquire, have the use of", earlier "to catch, entrap (as a hunter)". Making the connection with Nuada and Lludd's hand, he detected "an echo of the ancient fame of the magic hand of Nodens the Catcher".[3] Similarly, Julius Pokorny derives the name from a Proto-Indo-European root *neu-d- meaning "acquire, utilise, go fishing".[4]. Geoffrey of Monmouth relates the Brythonic tale Cyfranc Lludd a Llefelys which states that Llundein London derives from Caer Lludd; 'the City of Lud', traditionally evidenced by the survival of Ludgate from the medieval into the modern era.

Centres of worship

The Lydney Park complex

The temple complex at Lydney Park, situated on a steep bluff overlooking the Severn Estuary, is rectangular, measuring 72m by 54m (80' by 60'), with a central cella measuring 29m by 49.5m (32½' by 55'), and its north-western end is divided into three chambers 6.3m deep. This imposing, Classical style temple building has been interpreted as an incubatio or dormitory for sick pilgrims to sleep and experience a vision of divine presence in their dreams. The site was probably chosen because it offered a clear view of the massive Severn Bore, a tidal wave which, under certain conditions, rises near Gloucester and its position within an earlier Iron Age hill fort must also be relevant.[5]

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