Boar - Brahan Seer

The figures beneath each entry give reference numbers for the Bibliography


# 701: The Boar was sacred to the Celtic Goddess Arduinna, patroness of the forests of the Ardennes. He was sacrificed as the Yule pig with an apple in his mouth, and his blood begot gods both east and west, in the primitive times when men still believed that only blood could generate offspring because that seemed to be how women did it. Warriors of northern Europe crested their helmets and their swords with the boar's image. - Britain still has a number of 'Boar's Head' inns and taverns, suggesting that in pre-Christian times the heads of sacrificed animals were preserved as oracular fetishes just like the heads of deified ancestral heroes.

# 161: The boar which killed Adonis is paralleled in the Celtic myth of Finn arranging for Diarmuid to be killed when boar-hunting. Few animals are more important for the Celts than the boar; it was a sacred, supernatural, magical creature, symbolizing the warrior, warfare, the hunt, protection, hospitality and fertility. The boar's head signifies health and preservation from danger, it contains the power of the life-force and vitality. The boar and the Bear together represent Spiritual and Temporal Power. The boar is often depicted in association with the tree, wheels and ravens; it appears on the helmets of warriors and on trumpets. It is the animal of Celtic ritual feasts and food for the gods, esteemed the fitting food for gods and heroes. Bones were found placed ritually in graves, the head, again, being of special importance. Figures of boars appeared on British and Gaulish altars. In Irish myth there are divine, magical and prophetic boars, and supernatural and otherworld pigs which bring death and disaster. In Celtic saga there are also the magical Pigs of Manannan and other legends (see Swine), according to which eating the flesh restored health and happiness. The boar was ritually hunted and slain and there are many accounts of a Great Boar hunted by a hero. Twrch Trywth was a king turned into a boar who was chased by Arthur and his warriors across Ireland, Wales and Cornwall, where it disappeared into the sea. A Gaulish god is depicted with a boar and sculptures of boars are found in Celtic forts and in France and Portugal. Druids called themselves boars, probably as solitary dwellers in the forest.

# 454: The wild boar, once commonly hunted throughout the British Isles is now only to be found in remote areas of Europe. The ferocity and cunning of the animal made him a dangerous quarry, yet the art and literature of Celtic peoples attest to his importance in their mythology. Twrch Trwyth appears in the MABINOGION as a devastating foe to Arthur and his kingdom; this boar is paralleled in Irish tradition by Orc Triath. A white boar leads Pryderi into slavery in Annwn, while a similar animal is the cause of Diarmuid's death.

# 161 - 439 - 454 - 701 p 365


(budagh) The Celtic form of Bugbear, or Bug-A-Boo, literally, 'old man'. It was a Highland belief that the Bodach would creep down chimneys and steal naughty children, although in other parts it was considered to be a death-warning spirit. The Bodach Glas, or Dark Grey Man is a death token, of which Sir Walter Scott makes such effective use in WAVERLEY towards the end of Fergus MacIvor's history.

# 100


(botuchan so-will) 'The Little Old Man of the Barn'. A barn Brownie who took pity on old men, and treshed for them. D. A. Mackenzie gives us a verse about him in his Scottish Folk Lore and Folk Life:

When the peat will turn grey and shadows fall deep And weary old Callum is snoring asleep... The Little Old Man of the Barn Will tresh with no light in the mouth of the night, The Little Old Man of the Barn.

# 100 - 415


(bâv dôrg)

# 454: A fairy king of the Sidi of Munster. Son of the Dagda. He assisted Angus in the finding of Caer Ibormeith. It was to his kingdom that Lir retired.

# 166 - 267 - 416 - 454


(bov bal)


Bodmin Moor, Cornwall is littered with the visible remains of primitive man in the form of stone circles and burial grounds, and has been the unhappy hunting ground of so many thousands of superstitious miners that one is surprised it does not have far more ghosts and mythologies than it has. Almost all the ruined mineshaft enginehouses on the moors have their resident ghosts, while the long chambers within the mine shafts still have their 'kobolds' minegoblins, who de-light in confusing the miners with acts of mimicry and the use of echoes. We learn that the name of the metal cobalt is taken from this demon's name, because the metal was considered for a long time to be useless and (because of the arsenic and sulphur with which it was found combined) harmful to health. It was therefore said to have been made by the Kobalt demon. In some Cornish mines the tinmine demon was called a Bucca, though the same name is also used for a wind-gob-lin which could foretell shipwrecks, and which was popular with the wreckers. It may be just a question of shaft acoustics magnifying underground waterfalls, but inexplicable and often deafening noises were frequently reported in the days when the tinmine shafts were still worked. Most famous was that called 'Roaring Shaft' in the com-plex of mines on Goonzion Down: the noise was described as being akin to 'a battery of stamps falling regularly with thuds and reverberated through the ground'. Such noises were probably natural in origin, but they served only to feed the dark images of spirits and demons in the minds of those who worked in those hellish corridors to mine copper, silver and gold.

# 702


From the ILIAD, II, 494-510: Of the Boeotians Peneleos and Le‹tus were captains, and Arcesilaus and Prothoënor and Clonius; these were they that dwelt in Hyria and rocky Aulis and Schoenus and Scolus and Eteonus with its many ridges, Thespeia, Graea and spacious Mycalessus; and that dwelt about Harma and Eilesium and Erythrae; and that held Eleon and Hyle and Peteon, Ocalea and Medeon, the well-built citadel, Copae, Eutresis, and Thisbe, the haunt of doves; that dwelt in Coroneia and grassy Haliartus, and that held Plataea and dwelt in Glisas; that held lower Thebe, the well-built citadel, and holy Onchestus, the bright grove of Poseidon; and that held Arne, rich in vines, and Mideia and sacred Nisa and Anthedon on the seaboard. Of these there came fifty ships, and on board of each went one hundred and twenty young men of the Boeotians. Homer begins the list of regiments of the Achaean army with the Boeotians, apparently out of politeness towards the population of the country playing host to the entire fleet assembled for the invasion of the Troad. The host country was in fact the present Denmark, where virtually all place-names of Regiment 1 can still be identified. That Denmark was once a Celtic country is well attested, both by archaeological finds and by the Danish language, which has a curious way of counting, different from that of its neighbours and reminiscent of the French system, where, for example, 'ninety-two' is 'quatre-vingtdouze', 'four (times) twenty (plus) twelve'.

In Old Danish this same number is 'tooghalvfemsindstyve', literally 'two and half of the fifth twenty' - a Celtic method of counting. In the north of mainland Denmark, Jutland, the Limfjord links the North Sea with the Baltic through a series of big lakes and forms the ideal place for the secret rendezvous of the great fleet of 1,186 vessels. Homer calls this place Aulis, a name preserved in that of a number of towns on the shores of the fjord, such as Ælborg (Æl is pronounced like English awl), Oland, Ælum and Ælestrup.

Other names mentioned by Homer are still to be found in the same region: Hyria (Hjørring, the region north of Ælborg), Scoinos (Skjern, a town southwest of Limfjord), Scolos (Skjoldborg, in the extreme northwest of Jutland), while in the northeast is the famous Cnossus, now Knøsen. This whole region of northern Jutland was already an important religious centre long before the Bronze Age, as evidenced by the presence of many megalithic monuments. Closely connected with Cnossus is the story of Icarus, who escaped from the labyrinth on wings that he made himself. His names is preserved in the present town of Ikast in the centre of Jutland (from Ikar-sted = town of Icarus). Homer mentions the Icarian Sea once (Il. II, 145). This must have been part of the North Sea, most probably the waters between Oslo and Jutland, where the 'south and east winds whip up the sea', against the coast, that is. It should be noted in passing that this description makes little sense in the Mediterranean, where the Icarian Sea is just off the southwest coast of Turkey, not between Crete and mainland Greece as one would expect. Homer rightly calls Denmark 'a land exceeding rich'. apparently because of its first-rate agricultural land. A region called by Homer 'spacious Mycalessus' was eastern Jutland, where we find Mygind and Mylund. He mentions Graea (Grærup), 'grassy' Haliartus (Halling), Hyle (Hyllebjerg). Other recognizable names are: Harma (Harnorup), Medeon (Madum), Thisbe (Thisted), Arne 'rich in vines' (near the river Arnå). The epithet is not so surprising, since there were vineyards in Scandinavia in the Bronze Age, in particular in the south of Jutland, where we find Pramne (now Bramming), where Circe got her wine from (Od. X, 235). An interesting Scandinavian name found in Homer is Scandeia, a town and region in east Jutland now Skanderborg (Il. X, 268). Eutresis ('good' Tresis) was probably Dreslette, Copae (Copenhoved - a name also found further east: Copenhagen = port of Copae), Nisa (Nissum, but also the name of the river Nissan in southwest Sweden) and Anthedon 'on the seaboard' seems to be Andkaer, while Eilesium could be Elsø.

# 730


'Bogies, 'Bogles', 'Bugs', or 'bug-a-boos' are names given to a whole class of mischievous, frightening and even dangerous spirits whose delight it is to torment mankind. Sometimes they go about in troops, like the Hobyahs, but as a rule they may be described as individual and solitary fairy members of the Unseelie Court. A nickname of the Devil in Somerset is 'Bogie', presumably to play him down a little, for bogies generally rank rather low in the retinue of hell. They are often adepts at shape-shifting, like the Bullbeggar, the Hedley Kow and the Picktree Brag. These are generally no more than mischievous. The well-known Boggart is the most harmless of all, generally a Brownie who has been soured by mistreatment; among the most dangerous are the fiendish Nuckelavee and the Duergar, and other examples appear under Bogy or Bogey-Beast. But even so, some bogies, like minor devils, are just simple and gullible.

# 100


On the whole, these are evil Goblins, but according to William Henderson in FOLK LORE OF THE NORTHERN COUNTIES, who quotes from Hoog's WOOLGATHERER, the bogles on the Scottish Borders, though formidable, are virtuous creatures: 'Then the Bogles, they are a better kind o' spirits; they meddle wi' nane but the guilty; the murderer, an' the mansworn, an' the cheaters o' the widow an' fatherless, they do for them.' Henderson tells a corroborative story of a poor widow at the village of Hurst, near Reeth, who had had some candles stolen by a neighbour. The neighbour saw one night a dark figure in his garden and took out his gun and fired at it. The next night while he was working in an outhouse the figure appeared in the doorway and said, 'I'm neither bone nor flesh nor blood, thou canst not harm me. Give back the candles, but I must take something from thee.' With that he came up to the man and plucked out an eyelash, and vanished. But the man's eye 'twinkled' ever after.

# 100 - 302 - 314


A gigantic water-bird, which inhabits the lochs of Argyllshire. It has a loud harsh voice and webbed feet and gobbles up sheep and cattle. J. F. Campbell thinks the Boobrie is one form taken by the water-horse, but gives no reason for thinking so. He gives an eyewitness account in POPULAR TALES OF THE WEST HIGHLANDS IV from a man who claimed to have seen it. He waded up to his shoulders in the waters of a loch in February to get a shot at it, but had only come within eighty-five yards when the creature dived. It looked like a gigantic Northern Diver, but was black all over. Its neck was two feet eleven inches long, its bill about seventeen inches long and hooked like an eagle's. Its legs were very short, the feet webbed and armed with tremendous claws, its footprints were found in the mud to the north of the loch, its voice was like the roar of an angry bull, and it lived on calves, sheep, lambs and others.

# 100 - 130


References to the Book of Armagh. The Danaans were, as a passage in the Book of Armagh names them, DEI TERRENI, earth gods.

# 562


The BLACK BOOK OF CARMARTHEN, famous in the literary history of Wales, belongs to the town of Carmarthen, a product of St John's Priory. In it there is a collection of pieces of mediaeval Welsh writing in the sphere of legend and prophesy, with unique material connected with Merlin or Myrddin, and revealing the deeply devotional muse of the Welsh monks. Gwyn ap Nudd figures in poem included in THE BLACK BOOK OF CARMARTHEN. As the name already indicates, The Black Book of Carmarthen has traditionally been connected with the ancient town of Carmarthen. It has been said to have been produced by one of the Welsh-speaking monks of the Augustinian Priory of St Johns in Carmarthen who was a bit of an amateur in the art of copying, but loved Welsh literature and wanted to anthologise poems with a Dyfed if not Carmarthen bias. He may have had to do this in an institution the members of which would have looked askance at his labour of love. What, Taffy, are you doing there? For the other monks were probably Normans and English. But then Welsh persons have had to further their beloved culture in alien institutional surroundings since then. Our Austin canon smiled and said, 'Ah' and went on copying. All we can say is that we are deeply grateful to him. Certain poems would never have survived if it were not for him. Nor would the graphic wonder of the Black Book be with us today. It may be amateurish, a bit of a manuscriptual mess according to the connisseur, what with differing scripts and letter sizes, but it is a feast to the eye, and certainly a literary beano.

Doubt has been thrown on the connection with Carmarthen. But why the book be given on conjecture to say Whitland when the only place it has been linked with is Carmarthen? When tradition has it and we have no proof otherwise then from Carmarthen it comes. Sir John Price of Brecon who did a lot of work collecting manuscripts at the time of the Dissolution said that it came from the Priory there. It got a black cover eventually and hence the name. Its contents too indicate strongly that the anthologist was from the area. The fact that the central portion of the manuscript is given up to long poems in the PERSONA of Myrddin corroborates the Carmarthen link. The legend of Myrddin is said to be in part a fictional explanation of the name of the town. Of course he may simply have come from Carmarthen. We know that the name of Caerfyrddin is derived from the Roman name of the fortress, Moridunum. Myrddin as poet and prophet was known in Wales as early as the tenth century, for he is referred to in the prophetic poem Armes Prydain which was composed by a staunch supporter of the dynasty of Deheubarth (South-West Wales). The connection made between Myrddin, a poet from Northern Britain and a contemporary of Taliesin, and the town of Carmarthen was made at least as early as the time of the composition of Armes Prydain. There are numerous references to places in Dyfed in the Myrddin poems in the Black Book of Carmarthen and they reveal a striking and emotional loyalty to the Southern dynasty of Deheubarth. Dating the book is not without its problems, but it is generally accepted that it was produced around 1250. But a lot of material in it is far older than that. For our understanding of it we owe much to A. O. H. Jarman.

# 519 - 562


Forms main source of tales in the 'Mabinogion' but the story of Taliesin were not found in The Red Book of Hergest.

# 562


The narrative assembled under the title BOOK OF INVASIONS (or Occupations) are the literary embodiment of Ireland's own impressions regarding the history of her population. For the early Irish they served somewhat the same functions as the accounts of the wandering of Aeneas did for the Romans. To say, as some have done, that THE BOOK OF INVASIONS is a collection of Irish mythology is to give an entirely wrong impression of its contents. Some of the characters, it is true, may be rationalized gods, but the stories as they now stand belong rather to pseydo-history than to mythology. For example, Emer, Eber, and Eremon, though represented in the narrative as ancient kings, are in fact merely fictitious personages with names made up from the ancient name for Ireland, spelled in the earliest manuscripts as ériu. Modern students of early Irish history are inclined to see underlying these obviously fictitious narratives a substratum of fact, and to regard the account as reflecting in a general way an historical record of early population groups.

The version of BOOK OF INVASIONS presented in Cross and Slover's ANCIENT IRISH TALES is preserved only in rather late manuscripts, but the ancient origin of at least some parts of it is convincingly supported by comparison with the early forms of the British-Latin HISTORY OF THE BRITONS (HISTORIA BRITONUM). The selections presented in that work are not continuous, but they form tolerably unified sections, describing the arrival of three different groups of immigrants. The first of the divisions there given is preceded in the complete text by the account of the arrival of Partholon and his people.

# 166 - 562


The Book of Leinster is an Irish manuscript of the twelfth century. It has 187 nine-by-thirteen leaves; it dates to about 1160 and includes in its varied contents complete versions of 'The Cattle Raid of Froech', 'The Labour Pains of the Ulaid', 'The Tale of Macc Da Tho's Pig' and 'The Exile of the Sons of Uisliu' as well as an unfinished and rather different 'Intoxication of the Ulaid' and a complete, more polished 'Cattle Raid of Cuailnge'.

# 236 - 562


# 562: Reference to the 'Book of the Dun Cow.' Cuchulain makes his reappear-ance legend of Christian origin in this Book. 'Voyage of Maeld-n' is likewise found here.

# 236: Of the manuscrpts that have survived, one of the earliest and most important belong to the twelfth century. Lebor na huidre (The Book of the Dun Cow) is so called after a famous cow belonging to St Ciaran of Clonmacnois; the chief scribe, a monk named Mael Muire, was slain by raiders in the Clonmacnois cathedral in 1106. Unfortunately, the manuscript is only a fragment: though sixty-seven leaves of eigthby-eleven vellum remain, at least as much has been lost. Lebor na huidre comprises thirty-seven stories, most of them myths/sagas, and includes substantially complete versions of 'The Destruction of Da Derga's Hostel', 'The Birth of CuChulain', 'The Wasting Sickness of CuChulain' and 'Bricriu's Feast' as well as an incomplete 'Wooing of Etain' and acephalous accounts of 'The Intoxication of the Ulaid' and 'The Cattle Raid of Cuailnge'.

# 236 - 562


The illegitimate son of Arthur by Lionors. When he grew up, he became a Knight of the Round Table. He is usually identified with Loholt.

# 156 - 243


  1. The King of Gaul or Gannes and Arthur's ally in the battle against the rebel kings at Bedegraine. He married Evaine and they were the parents of the younger Bors (# 44). See: BAN.
  2. Knight of the Round Table and son of the elder Bors, whom he succeeded as King of Gannes. He was a chaste knight, but the daughter of King Brandegoris fell in love with him. Her nurse forced Bors to make love to her with the aid of a magic ring. As a result, Bors became the father of Elyan the White, later Emperor of Constantinople. Bors was one of the three successful knights on the Grail Quest but, unlike Galahad and Perceval, he returned to Arthur's court and eventually died on crusade. It has been suggested that, in origin, Bors may have been a character who figures in Welsh legend as Gwri. See: TWENTY-FOUR KNIGHTS.

# 156 - 418


Ruler of Oxford, one of Arthur's vassals, who accompanied him on his Roman campaign.

# 156 - 243


# 454: (d. AD 62) Queen of the Iceni. When her husband, Prasutagus, died leaving half his kingdom to the Romans, she discovered that the Romans intended to take the whole kingdom for themselves. After scourging Boudicca and raping her two daughters, the Romans were to suffer the worst native rebellion since they conquered Britain. Sacking Colchester and London, Boudicca and her tribesmen ravaged the countryside until finally she was overcome by Suetonius Paulinus, when, to avoid being paraded in a Roman triumph as a captive queen, she is said to have taken poison. She was a devotee of Andraste, the goddess of victory, to whom she sacrificed her captives. She is fondly remembered, despite the bloodiness of rebellion, as an example of liberation to captive peoples - a concept dear to the hearts of all Britons.

# 702:Undoubtedly Boudicca had been a courageous Queen, but the fight between her tribesmen and the Romans had been made inevitable by the rapacious cruelty of the Roman occupiers, and she had no alternative but to rebel. Her initial success against the Roman settlements of Colchester, London and St Albans was probably due to the fact that these places were only poorly garrisoned, the main Roman legions being occupied in advances to the west. However, whatever the reasons for the war, and whatever the outcome, the fact remains that Boudicca entered with vigour into British mythology as the most important symbol of feminine courage and endurance. Could this have been connected with the mystery of her name, which would suggest that she was associated with a Celtic goddess? Boudicca's name meant 'Victory', and it has been remarked that the name of the goddess openly invoked by Boudicca prior to the last battle was 'Andrasta', whose name also meant 'Victory'. This suggests that the Queen's name was not a personal one at all but perhaps a religious title, which means that from the point of view of the tribesmen who followed her, she was a goddess. Indeed, in his fascinating study of British folk heroes, Charles Kightly points out that there was actually a Celtic goddess named 'Boudiga', as proved by the fact that a Romano-British merchant of York and Lincoln erected an altar in her name as late as AD 237. 'She has close links, therefore,' writes Kightly, 'with Brigantia ('the High One'), the ruling war-goddess of the Brigantes, whom the Romans also called 'Victoria', and with the terrifying Irish Morrigan ('Great Queen'), the triple war-goddess whose three persons were Nemain ('Frenzy'), Badb Catha ('Battle Raven') and Macha ('Crow'), whose sacred birds were fed on the stake-impaled heads of the slaughtered.' Forgotten, save by specialist historians, for many centuries, Boudicca did not enter into popular British mythology until 1780, when the poet Cowper resurrected her ancient fame and created a new image of her in the form of a Druid bard's 'prophetic words' which foretold her role in the making of the coming mighty Brtish Empire:

Then the progeny that springs
From the forests of our land,
Arm'd with thunder, clad with wings
Shall a wider world command. Regions Caesar never knew
Thy posterity shall sway,
Where his eagles never flew,
None invincible as they.
It was Cowper who gave life to the mythological view of the rebel queen, and the myth grew to such an extent that towards the end of the reign of Queen Victoria (who bore the same ancient name and ruled 'a wider world'), the huge statue of the horse-drawn chariot and its fierce queen was erected at Westminster Bridge, on the north bank of the River Thames, which was itself named after a Roman goddess. As with so many folk-heroes, it is claimed that Boudicca did not die, but still sleeps awaiting the call for feminine valour when Britain is next hard-pressed. In contradiction of this belief, her ghost (as sure a sign of death as anything) has been reported in places as far apart as the two extremes of the vast Iceni territory in which she fought, and several places have been claimed as marking the site of her grave. Some have suggested that Boudicca's resting place is marked by the magnificent Stonehenge - though the fact is that this monument was at least 2,000 years old when the Iceni queen died. Others claim for her burial-place a mound on Parliament Hill Fields, in London. Some say that her ghost is still seen on the Essex hill fort of Ambresbury Banks.

# 232: Finally, we may add that the rebellion had enormous loss of lives. Excavation at Verulamium has revealed the burnt debris of her destruction, and Tacitus quotes the official figure of 70,000 slain, citizenz and allies, at the three sacked towns. The Britons, he says, had no thought of taking prisoners but only of slaughter, the gibbet, the fire and the cross. It was also said that for the 70-80,000 British who fell, the loss for the Romans were only 400 slain.

# 232 - 446 - 454 - 702


The father of Alisander the Orphan and brother of Mark of Cornwall who murdered him.

# 156 - 418


Angus Og's palace at river Boyne; Angus and Caer at river Boyne; Milesians land in estuary of the river; Ethné loses her veil of invisibility while bathing in the river; The church on the banks where Ethné died was named Kill Ethné by St Patrick (even though she would have been about 1500 years old at that time). See also: BOANNA and PLACE NAME STORIES.

# 562


King of the Danaan's of Munster, brother of the Dagda; searches for maiden of Angus Og's dream; goldsmith of Bôv, named Len; Aoife travel to Bôv, with her step-children.

# 562


A territory sited partially in the Netherlands and partially in Belgium. See: LOHENGRIN.

# 156


According to Ariosto, the female warrior of the Carolingian era was told that the House of Este would descend from her.

# 21 - 156


(d. 1577) Coinneach Odhar was a man who had the gift of sight into the future. His prophecies concerning the Battle of Culloden, the Highland Clearances and the coming of the railways were all borne out, as was his series of prophecies concerning the Seaforth family. He informed the Countess of Seaforth that her husband was unfaithful to her and she had him hideously burned to death in a tar-barrel, but not before he foretold the dying out of the Seaforth line, which would end with a man both deaf and dumb. This was indeed fulfilled.

# 282 - 454 - 717

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The Encyclopaedia of the Celts, ISBN 87-985346-0-2
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