(Named for Gundestrup, which in turn derives its name from the male name Gunnar + -torp, "outlying settlement")
Cauldron-like vessel of gilded silver, weighing 9 kg, found in 1891 in Rævemosen ("The Fox Marsh"), near the hamlet of Gundestrup near Aars, in Jutland, Denmark. The cauldron is now to be found at the National Museum of Denmark in Copenhagen.
The Gundestrup Cauldron consists of twelve curved plates (five inner, seven outer), soldered to a large bowl-shaped bottom. In the bottom, a loose round plate is laid, with perhaps the most detailed and dynamic piece of craftwork on the object - a figure of a bull, shaped with a plasticity that makes it appear almost alive. The bull is part of a scene with a woman, who is in the process of killing or sacrificing the bull.
The other plates are richly decorated with images of gods and mythological events, hammered into the plates. The five inner plates show scenes from myth. On one, a ritual sacrifice of a bull is repeated three times. On another, a horned figure is shown surrounded by wild animals (often identified with the Celtic deity Cernunnos); he holds a torc and a snake with ram's horns in his hands. Yet another plate shows a female deity either surrounded by or being attacked by elephants and gryphons. The seven outer plates (originally eight) each show a deity surrounded by his or her attributes.
The Gundestrup Cauldron is presumed to have been manufactured somewhere in the Balkans, in the 2nd century. Its plates show images that could be either Thracian or Celtic in origin. Thus, some of the torcs depicted are clearly Celtic, whereas others appear to be of the kind used around the Black Sea. The technique whereby the images are hammered out of the plates is clearly Thracian.
Recent finds of Thracian treasures in Bulgaria, including the Rogozen treasure, show remarkable similarities in style and technique with the Gundestrup Cauldron. Possibly, the cauldron was brought to Denmark by stragglers from among the Cimmerians, a tribe usually considered native to North Jutland, which raided Southern Europe in the late 1st century.
Regardless of its precise origin, the cauldron is a remarkable work of art - arguably one of the most beautiful from that period, anywhere in Europe.