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Gofannon
alias the Smith-God

Celtic God of Metalworking

Gofannon, the ‘Divine-Smith,’ was the son of Belenos, the Sun-God, and Anu, his wife. He was known as Goibhniu to the Irish and identified with Vulcan by the Romans.

The Smith-God was a particularly important member of the Celtic pantheon, as the smith was in Celtic society. For to be able to create strong shining metal from rough ore was seen as almost magical. Weapons made by Gofannon himself were guaranteed to always fly true and inflict a fatal wound on their target. He was thus often called upon to forge such items for the gods. Notably in Irish legend, where he made blades for Loucetios (Lugh) and the Tuatha before the second Battle of Magh Tuiredh; and in Welsh legend, where he created a silver hand for the wounded Nodens (Lludd). In the tale of Culhwch & Olwen, he helps to delineate the furrows and clean the ploughshare - presumably because of his metal associations.

Gofannon was also host of the Underworld feast for which he provided a special ale to make the drinkers immortal.

In Britain, the smith-god appears to have been particularly reverred in the North where a series of pots decorated with smithing tools have been discovered. They cover a wide area from Malton (Yorks) to Corbridge (Northumb). The Roman town at the latter has even produced a depiction of Gofannon himself. A bearded man wearing a belted tunic and conical cap, he stands over his anvil with a pair of tongs in one hand and hammer in the other. There is only slight evidence for his worship in Southern Britain, from Colchester (Essex), Farley Heath (Surrey) and Barkway (Herts).

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