Archaeologists Have Discovered A 2,000-Year-Old Metal Figurine Of Celtic God Cernunnos In Cambridgeshire

The small figurine of the Celtic horned god Cernunnos was created around the 2nd century BC and is the only metal depiction of this fertility god that is currently known in Britain.

Animation portrait of sitting horned god Cernunnos.
Zvereva Yana / Shutterstock

The small figurine of the Celtic horned god Cernunnos was created around the 2nd century BC and is the only metal depiction of this fertility god that is currently known in Britain.

In a field in Cambridgeshire at the site of what was once an ancient Roman settlement, archaeologists have unearthed an extremely rare 2,000-year-old figurine of the horned god known as Cernunnos, who has been described as the Celtic god of fertility, wealth, the underworld, and life.

As the Daily Mail reports, the precise site of the discovery of the figurine was the National Trust’s Wimpole Estate, and one of the things that makes this particular figurine of Cernunnos so very special is that it was created out metal. As such, it is the only metal figurine of the horned Celtic god that archaeologists have recovered in Britain, with other figurines of this god normally being carved out of stone.

The Cambridgeshire figurine of Cernunnos has been dated and was found to have been forged sometime around the second century AD and is an important historical reminder of the close connection many Romans may have once had with the Celtic members of society in Britain as Romans accepted and embraced these ancient Celtic gods.

The figurine of Cernunnos is very small, measuring in at just 2 inches tall, and its face has tragically worn away over time.

According to Stephen Macaulay, the Deputy Regional Manager at Oxford Archaeology East, the discovery has been compared with recovering an ancient and well-worn crucifix with Jesus Christ on it.

“The face of the figurine has been rubbed away, but we see similar figures of Cernunnos, so it’s like finding a worn version of Jesus on a crucifix, it’s the shape you expect to see. He was an important God to the Celts, but this shows how accepting the Romans were of other religions, they often just merged the Gods with their own.”

Shannon Hogan, who is an archaeologist with the National Trust in the east of England, stated that while the figurine of Cernunnos was indeed made by Romans, it is still part of the legacy of the Celtic people and shows how Romans were successfully and easily able to integrate other religions into their society, whether in Britain or elsewhere.

“It almost seems like the enigmatic ‘face’ of the people living in the landscape some 2,000 years ago. The artifact is Roman in origin but symbolizes a Celtic deity and therefore exemplifies the continuation of indigenous religious and cultural symbolism in Romanized societies.”

Along with the figurine of the Celtic horned god Cernunnos that was found in Cambridgeshire, archaeologists also discovered coins, Roman military uniforms, a ring, a brooch, keys and a spearhead at the ancient Roman settlement.