Nechtan I

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1 Neachtan [cf. L. Neptune]. This husband of Boand was the only person, other than his three cupbearers, who could visit Connla's Well, over which the nine hazel trees dropped their nuts. When Boand broke this taboo, the well rose up and chased her, becoming the River Boyne. Recent scholarship suggests that Nechtan may be but a pseudonym for Nuadu Airgetlám, whose cult superseded this early divinity of waters. In the Dindshenchas his father is described as Labraid Loingsech. Cúchulainn used Nechtan's spear, Del Chliss, to kill the three sons of Nechtan Scéne. The sídh of Nechtan is identified with Carbery Hill, Co. Kildare. See Patrick K. Ford, ‘The Well of Nechtan and la gloire lumineuse’, in Gerald J. Larson et al. (eds.), Myth in Indo-European Antiquity (Santa Barbara, Calif., 1974), 67–74.

2 Nechtan. Member of the crew in Imram Brain [The Voyage of Bran] who is lonely for Ireland and decides to return home. Different texts describe him as the son of Collbrain. His characterization may draw on that of the Roman sea-god Neptune.

3 Nechtan, Nichtan. Historical 7th- and 8th-century Pictish king who converted to Christianity and adopted Roman law c.710. Inviting Northumbrian architects to what is now Scotland, he built a shrine over the supposed relics of St Andrew, later to be the centre of the university town of St Andrews. He also helped to establish St Andrew as Scotland's patron saint. Nechtansmere is named for him.

Subjects: Religion.

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