Nechtan (mythology)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

In Irish mythology, Nechtan was the father and/or husband of Boann, eponymous goddess of the River Boyne.

Etymology

According to Georges Dumézil the name Nechtan is perhaps cognate with that of the Romano-British god Nodens or the Roman god called Neptunus, and the Persian and Vedic gods sharing the name Apam Napat.[1]

The name could ultimately be derived from the Proto-Indo-European root *nepot- "descendant, sister's son", or, alternatively, from nebh- "damp, wet". Another etymology suggests that Nechtan is derived from Old-Irish necht "clean, pure and white", with a root -neg "to wash", from IE neigᵘ̯- "to wash" [2][3] As such, the name would be closely related mythological beings, who were dwelling near wells and springs: English neck (from Anglosaxon nicor), Swedish Näck, German Nixe and Dutch nikker, meaning "river monster, water spirit, crocodile, hippopotamus", hence Old-Norse nykr "water spirit in the form of a horse".

Description

He inhabited the otherworldly Síd Nechtain, the mythological form of Carbury Hill.[4] In the Dindsenchas Nechtan is described as the husband of Boann and the son of Nuadu.[5]

Only Nechtan and his three cup-bearers were permitted to visit the Tobar Segais, or "Well of Wisdom," into which nine sacred hazel trees dropped their wisdom-bearing nuts. In that well swam the Salmon of Wisdom, which ate the hazelnuts. Eating one of the salmon could in turn imbue a person with knowledge of all things.[6]

Legacy

Nechtan or Nectan became a common Celtic name and a number of historical or legendary figures bear it. Nechtan was a frequent name for Pictish kings.[7] Nectan of Hartland, said to have lived in the 5th century AD, is the patron saint of Hartland, Devon. Some however argue that St. Nectan never existed as a historical person, but was instead a Christianized form of the god Nechtan.[8]

St Nectan's Kieve in St Nectan's Glen near Tintagel, Cornwall is said to be named for St. Nectan - though this is a Victorian invention. The place was called Nathan's Cave in 1799.[9] and was named after a local landowner.[10]

The name MacNaughton derives from "MacNeachdainn", meaning "Son of Nechtan."[citation needed]

References

  1. ^ Culture, p. 754, citing Dumézil. See also [1]
  2. ^ Peter Beresford Ellis, The Druids (Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1995), p. 134.
  3. ^ Electronic Dictionary of the Irish Language, s.v. necht.
  4. ^ Edel Bhreathnach, entry on "Bóand/Bóinn/Boyne," in Celtic Culture: A Historical Encyclopedia (ABC-Clio, 2006), p. 217.
  5. ^ https://www.ucd.ie/tlh/trans/ws.rc.15.001.t.text.html
  6. ^ The boyhood of Fin mac Cumhal In: T. W. Rolleston (ed.) The High Deeds of Finn and other Bardic Romances of Ancient Ireland, G. G. Harrap & Co., 1910, pp. 106–115.
  7. ^ Koch, entry on "Aedán mac Gabráin," in Celtic Culture, p. 16.
  8. ^ Gary R. Varner, Sacred Wells: A Study in the History, Meaning, and Mythology of Holy Wells (Algora Publishing, 2009), p. 26.
  9. ^ Gray, Thomas. The Traveller’s Companion, in a Tour through England and Wales; Containing a catalogue of the antiquities, houses, parks, plantations, scenes, and situations, in England and Wales, arranged according to the alphabetical order of the several counties. London: G. Kearsley, 1799.
  10. ^ Ceri Houlbrook (2016) Saints, Poets, and Rubber Ducks: Crafting the Sacred at St Nectan’s Glen, Folklore, 127:3, 344-361, DOI: 10.1080/0015587X.2016.1197593
Retrieved from "https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Nechtan_(mythology)&oldid=856541483"
This content was retrieved from Wikipedia : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nechtan_(mythology)
This page is based on the copyrighted Wikipedia article "Nechtan (mythology)"; it is used under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License (CC-BY-SA). You may redistribute it, verbatim or modified, providing that you comply with the terms of the CC-BY-SA