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  1. Carl Phelpstead - Tolkien, David Jones, and the God Nodens

    Carl Phelpstead is a professor of English Literature at Cardiff University whose research interests span both medieval literature and modern medievalism. Tolkienists will probably know him best for his recent and excellent book Tolkien and Wales: Language, Literature and Identity and his essay '"With Chunks of Poetry in Between": The Lord of the Rings and Saga Poetics', published in Tolkien Studies. He has also contributed several entries to The J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia. Many thanks to Professor Phelpstead for contributing this wonderful essay to the Scholars Forum.


    Tolkien, David Jones, and the God Nodens

    Carl Phelpstead, Cardiff University


    Tolkien and his contemporary the Anglo-Welsh artist and writer David Jones have so much in common that it is surprising that they are so rarely discussed together. Both were born in the 1890s and died in the 1970s; both fought in World War I and in both cases their later creative work demonstrates the enduring impact of that experience and their continuing meditation upon it.i Both were devout Roman Catholics, Tolkien entering the church at the age of eight when his mother converted in 1900, David Jones converting as an adult on 7 September 1921. Both drew inspiration from early medieval Germanic and Celtic texts, languages, and history in creative writing that responded to their wartime experiences and to what they perceived as the chaos of modernity. Both also produced creative work in visual as well as literary media, though whereas Jones ranks as a major figure in twentieth-century British art, Tolkien was no more than a sometimes surprisingly unconventional amateur artist. There is even a remarkable coincidence in the dates of publication of each author’s two main literary works: Tolkien’s The Hobbit and Jones’s In Parenthesis were both published in 1937; Jones’s The Anathemata followed in 1952 and Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings in 1954–55.

    That Tolkien and Jones are so rarely read and analysed alongside each other probably says more about the current state of academic literary criticism than about anything else: Tolkien’s work has been (and sometimes still is) dismissed as vulgar, unsophisticated, and not worth serious academic attention, whereas David Jones’s formally unconventional and intellectually challenging work has proved more congenial to proponents of an elitist model of high culture. There have, however, been a few critics who have valued both writers highly, chief among them Tolkien’s friend, the poet W. H. Auden. He praised The Lord of the Rings in reviews and declared on the radio in 1955 that ‘If someone dislikes it, I shall never trust their literary judgement about anything again’, but he also described David Jones’s The Anathemata as ‘the greatest long poem written in English in this century’.ii Critics and readers with Auden’s range of sympathy will perhaps always be rare, but Tolkien and Jones merit more sustained comparative study than they have yet received. In what follows I look at one very specific point of contact between the two writers: their common interest in the Romano-British god, Nodens (an interest which we shall see they also shared with their older contemporary, the Welsh writer of supernatural fiction and horror stories, Arthur Machen).

    I know of no evidence that Tolkien knew any of David Jones’s work, but Jones certainly knew some of Tolkien’s: he lists ‘J. R. R. Tolkien’ among more than fifty ‘living or recently living’ authors to whom he acknowledges a debt in the Preface to his masterpiece, The Anathemata.iii There is nothing there to identify which of Tolkien’s works Jones felt indebted to. The published catalogue of the books that Jones owned (now in the National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth) includes two of Tolkien’s publications, but neither of these can have been referred to in the Preface to The Anathemata, dated July 1951. Jones owned the collection of early O’Donnell lectures, Angles and Britons, which included Tolkien’s lecture on ‘English and Welsh’, the first of the O’Donnell lectures at Oxford, but the lecture was given in 1955 and the book was published in 1963.iv Jones also owned two copies of the edition of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight by Tolkien and E. V. Gordon, but they are a 1966 printing (dated 1 November 1970 by Jones) and a copy of the second edition revised by Norman Davis in 1967.v The only specific citation of any of Tolkien’s work that I have found in Jones’s published writings is a reference in Jones’s essay on ‘The Myth of Arthur’ to the discussion of ‘Northern courage’ in Tolkien’s famous 1937 essay on ‘Beowulf: The Monsters and the Critics’.vi It is very likely Tolkien’s Beowulf essay that Jones had in mind when acknowledging his debt to Tolkien in the Preface to The Anathemata. However, although he clearly read it, no copy of the Beowulf lecture is listed in the catalogue of Jones’s books: this confirms the possibility of his having read other works by Tolkien that he did not own. It is, as we shall see below, at least possible that Jones had read Tolkien’s ‘Note on the Name “Nodens”’.

    In both The Anathemata and several other writings Jones introduces the character (or sometimes just uses the name) of the god Nodens. Tolkien wrote a scholarly ‘note’ on this Romano-British god that was published in 1932, and although I cannot offer proof that Jones read that note it seems to me likely that he did, given his passionate interest in Roman Britain. What we shall see below is certain is that both writers knew the standard earlier discussion of the god in John Rhys’s Lectures on the Origin and Growth of Religion as Illustrated by Celtic Heathendom and that if Jones did not read Tolkien’s ‘Note on the Name “Nodens”’ himself, he certainly used a book, R. G. Collingwood and J. N. L. Myres’s Roman Britain and the English Settlements, which acknowledged a debt to Tolkien’s scholarship.vii

    I.

    Tolkien’s ‘Note on the Name “Nodens”’ was published as part of the report on archaeological excavations undertaken in 1928–29 at Lydney Park in Gloucestershire and has been reprinted in Tolkien Studies in 2007.viii A fort or hill town was established at Lydney in the Forest of Dean, very close to what is now the border between England and Wales, in or just before the first century B.C. In the third or fourth century A.D. a temple and other buildings were erected in what are now the grounds of Lydney Park.ix Various archaeological finds had been made at the site in the years preceding an excavation undertaken by the Park’s owner, Charles Bathurst, in 1805. A report of this excavation was compiled by Bathurst’s son and published posthumously with notes by C. W. King in 1879.x These earlier finds are also discussed in the report of the excavation made by the Wheelers in the late 1920s and they include three inscriptions indicating that the god to whom the temple was dedicated was called Nodens (or Nudens or Nodons: the spelling varies in the inscriptions).xi

    Archaeological finds associated with the temple at Lydney suggest possible attributes of the otherwise unknown god; stone and brass dog figures, which are commonly associated with healing in the classical world, led both Bathurst and King and the authors of the report on the 1920s excavation to suggest that Nodens may have been a god with healing powers.xii A pavement frieze featuring sea-monsters and fish and a fragmentary bronze relief of a sea god suggest that there was probably also some connection between Nodens and the sea.

    In his ‘Note on the Name “Nodens”’, published as an Appendix to the 1932 excavation report, Tolkien analyses the etymological and comparative literary evidence for the divine name found in the inscriptions at the temple in order to shed further light on the cult of the god worshipped at Lydney. Much of what he says follows the argument developed by John Rhys in his influential Lectures on the Origin and Growth of Religion, though Tolkien’s ‘Note’ provides more technical philological detail than Rhys had done.xiii Tolkien agrees with Rhys that the variant forms of the name that occur in the three Lydney inscriptions can be related to the reconstructed earlier form of a name that appears in Old and Middle Irish as Núadu or Núada (also appearing as Nuada in the scholarship). While noting a number of Nuadas who appear in medieval Irish, Tolkien focuses on the most famous and important of them, Núada Argait-lám (‘Nuada of the Silver Hand’). He was believed to have been king of the legendary people (originally gods) known as the Tuatha dé Danann. Although this Nuada is prominent in Irish material his only other appearance in the Celtic-speaking lands is in the inscriptions at Lydney, so Tolkien (like Rhys) argues that the god Nodens is likely to have been introduced into Britain from Ireland.

    Both Rhys and Tolkien go on to connect Nodens/Nuada with figures from medieval Welsh literature. Tolkien argues that it is ‘possible to see a memory of this figure in the medieval Welsh Lludd Llaw Ereint’, Lludd of the Silver Hand (‘Note’, p. 178). Medieval Welsh sources including the Black Book of Carmarthen and the tale of Culhwch and Olwen tell of the love of Gwynn vab Nudd (Gwyn ap Nudd) for Lludd’s daughter Creiddylad. Tolkien accepts the then commonly held view that Lludd and Creiddylad are the originals of King Lear and Cordelia, who passed into English literature via Geoffrey of Monmouth’s Historia regum Britanniae.xiv Tolkien argues that in Welsh tradition both Creiddylad’s father, Lludd, and her suitor, Gwynn vab Nudd, derive from a single original figure; Rhys had earlier argued that Nodens (giving rise to Nudd) might have become Lodens (producing the form Lludd) by assimilation of its initial consonant to the /l/ sound at the beginning of his cognomen, Lam’argentjos (later Welsh Llaw Ereint, ‘of the Silver Hand’).xv In material that was drafted later than the main text of his ‘Note’ and omitted from the published report, Tolkien speculated on the possibility that the place-name of Lydney (the etymology of which is obscure) might be derived from the name Lludd. Manuscript material in the Bodleian Library in Oxford (in MS Tolkien A19/3) makes clear that Tolkien devoted considerable thought to this possibility, assembling a list of historical spellings of the place-name and a variety of material on other appearances of the element Lid-/Lyd-, tracing the history of the treatment of the sounds represented by d and th in Old English, and worrying away at the problem of whether, even if the place-name was connected with the personal name Lludd, it was possible to connect this name with that of the god Nodens.xvi

    After discussing the form of the god’s name and its possible connections with other names in early Celtic literature, Tolkien offers evidence for the meaning of the name. He follows Rhys again in turning to Germanic as well as Celtic philology, but whereas Rhys concluded that the name Nodens might have meant ‘rich or wealthy god’, Tolkien argues that it probably meant ‘snarer’, ‘catcher’, or ‘hunter’.xvii This interpretation of the name as deriving ultimately from a verb meaning ‘to acquire/have the use of’ has proved apposite to Stephen Yeates’s recent argument that Nodens may have been a god of mining.xviii

    II.

    The god Nodens had already appeared in modern literature before Tolkien’s contributed to the excavation report published in 1932 and well before references to him in David Jones’s writings. A fictional inscription mentioning Nodens features towards the end of The Great God Pan, a novella by Arthur Machen (1863–1947) published in 1894. The fictional inscription is clearly modelled on those that survive from Lydney, about which Machen must have read in Bathurst and King’s Roman Antiquities.xix In the novella the inscription is said to be among the Roman remains discovered around a town called Caermaen and is both given in Latin and translated as ‘To the great god Nodens (the god of the Great Deep or Abyss), Flavius Senilis has erected this pillar on account of the marriage which he saw beneath the shade’.xx One of the surviving inscriptions from Lydney is attributed to Flavius Senilis, and Bathurst and King’s volume had interpreted the name Nodens to mean ‘God of the deeps’ or ‘God of the Abyss’.xxi Machen’s narrator is informed by the curator of the museum in which he sees the inscription that local antiquaries are puzzled as to the nature of the rite alluded to, but he has experienced the evil consequences of a parallel liaison between the god Pan and a human woman in his own time: the strong implication is that Pan and Nodens are to be identified. Machen was born in Caerleon in Gwent, not far across the English/Welsh border from Nodens’ temple at Lydney, though he lived and worked in London for much of his life. For Machen, as later for David Jones, the inscriptions from the temple must have evoked a time before the modern national border had any meaning, a period when a Celtic god was worshipped in what only later became England.xxii Machen’s novella seems to have inspired the American writer of ‘weird tales’, H. P. Lovecraft, to introduce the god in his short story ‘The Strange High House in the Mist’ (written 1926, published 1931). In that text Nodens is associated with ‘Trident-bearing Neptune’ and described as ‘the grey and awful form of primal Nodens, Lord of the Great Abyss’.xxiii

    Nodens’ maritime associations lead to his appearance in the ‘Lady of the Pool’ and ‘Keel, Ram, Stauros’ sections of David Jones’s The Anathemata, parts of that extraordinarily rich and learned reflection on Jones’s London-Welsh-Catholic cultural heritage that focus especially on ships and the Port of London. He appears first as Lud (p. 124), but later as ‘Nodens in Lydney woods’ (p. 171), when Jones provides an explanatory note as follows:
    Nodens, Nudd, in Irish Nuada, in English tradition Lud, a war-god but associated with the sea, with ports and estuaries. His great shrine was at Lydney on the Severn.xxiv

    The god reappears in the penultimate section of the poem, ‘Mabinog’s Liturgy’. A series of more or less cryptic allusions to the topography of Oxford in that section conclude with a reference to ‘the mensural rods and figurings-out of the gramatici of the father of fitz Nut the king in London’ (Anathemata, p.211). The ‘father of fitz [=son of] Nut’ must be Nut, and a note by Jones explains that ‘Nut, Nudd or Nodens, equates with Lludd, who became “King Lud” the eponym of London’ (Anathemata, p. 212 n. 1). It thus becomes clear (to the well informed) that the measuring and figuring-out referred to is that undertaken in the medieval Welsh story of Lludd and Llefelys (published and translated in the collection known in modern times as The Mabinogion) in which the island of Britain is measured and its exact centre is found to be at Oxford, “very justly” as Tolkien joked to the Oxonian audience of his O’Donnell lecture on ‘English and Welsh’ in 1955.xxv

    David Jones makes more reference to Nodens in draft material published after his death than in the creative writing published during his lifetime. Posthumously published fragments in the collection The Roman Quarry include appearances of the god and other uses of his name. A reference to Nodens ‘by the water and the wood’ (p. 6) alludes to the setting of the temple at Lydney, by the river Severn and in the Forest of Dean, and goes on to mention the ‘tessellated floor’ of the temple, referring to the pavement frieze featuring marine creatures found there. Later in ‘The Roman Quarry’ fragment there is an important passage in which Jones demonstrates his familiarity with the identifications made between Nodens, Nuada of the Silver Hand, Lludd, and Nudd:
    Call him as may be: Lodens of Lydney, Nodens the horned the hunter of Dean, with his Hafren salmon, his classical tritons […] Nudd the Generous, Lludd of Fleet Streams – Good King Lud of Londinium Wharf. (Roman Quarry, p. 34)

    Jones’s footnote to this passage explains:
    The god Nodens whose Romano-British shrine at Lydney on the Severn is well known, is equatable with the Irish Nuada (of the Silver Hand). Lludd (of the story of Lludd and Llewelyn) and Nudd are variants of the same god. Rhys mentions also Lodens; we are all familiar with him as Lud of Ludgate. (Roman Quarry, p. 34 n. 79)

    Jones refers to ‘Rhys’ as his authority here, without specifying the work further. As should be clear from the discussion above, Jones must be referring to Rhys’s 1886 Hibbert Lectures, published as Lectures on the Origin and Growth of Religion as Illustrated by Celtic Heathendom (although the catalogue of his books indicates that although he owned other books by John Rhys this one was not in his library). Rhys identified Nodens with the Irish Nuada and described the god as ‘the Celtic Zeus’, arguing that he ‘was not simply a Neptune or a Posidon [sic], in his connections with the sea; he was also a Mars, as his inscriptions at Lydney testify’ (Lectures, p. 130). Jones alludes to precisely these identifications in his note: Nodens ‘is of many aspects, sometimes appearing to be a Mars and sometimes a Neptune; he is sometimes compared to the Norse Tyr and with Wotan and with Zeus himself’ (Roman Quarry, p. 34 n. 79). Moreover, Jones will also have read in Rhys’s lectures that the association of Lludd or King Lud with London ‘is apparently founded on a certain amount of fact’, including the place-name Ludgate (Lectures, p. 129).

    Identifying the Celtic god Nodens with Lud enables Jones, a London writer with Welsh blood and strong Welsh affinities, to evoke him as a link between London and the Celtic west. This passage also emphasises the connections between Nodens/Lludd/Lud and the sea and rivers, connections evident both at Lydney (by the River Severn, Hafren in Welsh) and at the port of London (Londinium Wharf).xxvi

    Jones’s fragment ‘Under Arcturus’ features a character called ‘Emeritus Nodens’ (Roman Quarry, p. 64), whose tales of Picts and Scots are also attributed to a Roman legionary of that name in another version in ‘The Book of Balaam’s Ass’ (Roman Quarry p. 191; cf. Sleeping Lord, p. 98). Jones’s editor and friend, René Hague, explains that Jones employed the Romano-British god’s name in this way to indicate that the Roman legionary is a Briton (‘emeritus’ perhaps because an experienced reservist called up again).xxvii

    Besides these appearances in Jones’s creative writing, Nodens is also mentioned a couple of times in his essays. The identification of Nodens with Leir and Lud, linking the god with London (and with waterways) is made in ‘Wales and the Crown’ (Epoch and Artist, pp. 44–45). It is also taken for granted in a reference to Creiddylad, ‘daughter of Lear of the Silver Hand’ (Nuada’s epithet) in an essay on ‘The Myth of Arthur’ (Epoch and Artist, p. 229).xxviii

    III.

    We have seen that Tolkien builds on scholarship on Nodens by John Rhys and that David Jones cites Rhys as the authority for some of his comments on Nodens. Jones may well have derived what he knew and said about Nodens directly and solely from Rhys, rather than from Tolkien, but whether or not Jones read Tolkien’s ‘Note on the Name “Nodens”’, he certainly did use another book that discusses Nodens and that itself drew on Tolkien’s scholarship: Roman Britain and the English Settlements by R. G. Collingwood and J. N. L. Myres.

    R. G. Collingwood and J. N. L. Myres are listed, with Tolkien, among the fifty odd names acknowledged in Jones’s Preface to The Anathemata, and Jones’s copy of their book, now in the National Library of Wales, is dated by him in the year in which it was published, 1936.xxix Jones’s friend, René Hague states in his Commentary on Jones’s The Anathemata that Collingwood and Myres’s Roman Britain and the English Settlements was ‘much used’ by Jones.xxx In a letter dated 16 May 1942 Jones mentions having just read the final chapter of Collingwood’s Roman Britain (Dai Greatcoat, p. 119): this may be a reference to Collingwood’s section of the book jointly authored with Myres or to Collingwood’s related earlier book called Roman Britain (1923/1932), in which he refers to Lydney as ‘the most interesting Temple in Britain’ (p. 137). Collingwood and Myres’s book is also referred to in Jones’s essay on ‘The Myth of Arthur’ published the same year as the letter mentioning Collingwood’s work was written (Epoch and Artist, p. 237).

    Collingwood had contributed the account of the inscriptions to the Lydney excavation report in which Tolkien’s ‘Note’ appeared (Wheeler and Wheeler, Report, pp. 100–04). In Roman Britain and the English Settlements he acknowledges that ‘My colleague Professor J. R. R. Tolkien has helped me untiringly with problems of Celtic philology’ (p. vii). The two scholars were both Fellows of Pembroke College, Oxford, for a decade between 1925 and 1935 (Collingwood between 1912 and 1935, Tolkien from 1925 to 1945). Collingwood also specifically acknowledges Tolkien in a note on the name of the Celtic goddess of the hot springs at Bath (Sulis) that comes immediately before a brief discussion of the god Nodens in line with Tolkien’s interpretation of the god’s name (Collingwood and Myres, pp. 264–65). So, whether or not Jones read Tolkien’s ‘Note on the Name “Nodens”’, he was at least indirectly indebted to Tolkien’s work via Collingwood’s writing on Roman Britain.

    IV.

    At the start of his Preface to The Anathemata Jones famously quotes the ninth-century Welsh historian known as Nennius: ‘I have made a heap of all that I could find’ (p. 9) and in a letter he modestly described the process of discovery: ‘I am not learned … I only root about among stuff scholars write’ (Dai Greatcoat, p. 155). Tolkien’s scholarship was among that through which David Jones rooted and the god Nodens was among the many found things out of which The Anathemata was made.

    Jones’s friend, René Hague offers as an explanation for Jones’s interest in Nodens that ‘what D[avid] seized on here was the opportunity to bring together classical and Celtic cults’ (Commentary, p. 195); the god could be made to stand for or symbolise the synthesis between Roman and Celtic cultures at a formative stage in the development of Western civilisation. Hague is undoubtedly correct, but the link that Nodens’ identification with Lud enabled between the Ancient Britons on what is now the Anglo-Welsh border and London must also have appealed to the Londoner of Welsh affinity. Part of the god’s attraction for Arthur Machen may similarly have been his association with an area near Machen’s birthplace of Caerleon (itself an important Roman site). Both Tolkien and Jones were led to Nodens by an interest in the seminal period of identity formation in Britain, the late antique and early medieval period in which Roman, British Celtic, and Germanic peoples and languages interacted with each other. As a god with manifestations in Romano-British, Welsh, and later English traditions, Nodens was a potent object of these writers’ scholarship and creativity.


    Works referred to:

    Angles and Britons: O’Donnell Lectures [ed. Henry Lewis] (Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 1963).
    Auden, W. H., A Certain World: A Commonplace Book (London: Faber, 1971).
    Bathhurst, William Hiley, and C. W. King, Roman Antiquities at Lydney Park, Gloucestershire (London : Longmans, Green & Co., 1879).
    Carey, John, ‘Nodons in Britain and Ireland’, Zeitschrift für celtische Philologie 40 (1984), 1–22.
    Carpenter, Humphrey ed., with Christopher Tolkien The Letters of J. R. R. Tolkien, (London: Allen & Unwin, 1981).
    Casey, P. J., B. Hoffmann, and J. Dove, ‘Excavations at the Roman Temple in Lydney Park, Gloucestershire in 1980 and 1981’, Antiquaries Journal 79 (1991), 81–143.
    Collingwood, R. G., Roman Britain (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1923/2nd edn 1932).
    Collingwood, R. G., and J. N. L. Myres, Roman Britain and the English Settlements (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1936).
    Dilworth, Thomas, David Jones in the Great War (London: Enitharmon, 2012).
    Friedman, Barton, ‘Tolkien and David Jones: The Great War and the War of the Ring’, CLIO: A Journal of Literature, History, and the Philosophy of History, 11 no. 2 (1982), 115–36.
    Garth, John, Tolkien and the Great War: The Threshold of Middle-earth (London: HarperCollins, 2003).
    Hague, René, A Commentary on The Anathemata of David Jones (Wellingborough: Christopher Skelton, 1977).
    Jones, David, Dai Greatcoat: A Self Portrait of David Jones in his Letters, ed. René Hague (London: Faber and Faber, 1980).
    –––, Epoch and Artist: Selected Writings, ed. Harman Grisewood (London: Faber and Faber, 1959).
    –––, In Parenthesis, (London: Faber and Faber, 1937).
    –––, The Anathemata: Fragments of An Attempted Writing (London: Faber and Faber, 1952; 2nd edn 1955).
    –––, The Roman Quarry and Other Sequences, ed. Harman Grisewood and René Hague (London: Agenda, 1981).
    –––, The Sleeping Lord and Other Fragments (London: Faber and Faber, 1974).
    Jones, Huw Ceiriog, The Library of David Jones: A Catalogue (Aberystwyth: The National Library of Wales, 1995).
    Le Roux, Françoise, ‘Le dieu-roi Nodons/Nuada’, Celticum 6 (1963), 425–54.
    Lewis, C. S., ‘De Descriptione Temporum’ in Selected Literary Essays, ed. Walter Hooper (Cambridge: CUP, 1969), pp. 1–14.
    Long, Rebekah, ‘Fantastic Medievalism and the Great War in Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings’ in Verlyn Flieger and Alfred K. Siewers, eds, Tolkien’s Modern Middle Ages (Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2005), pp. 123–37.
    Lovecraft, H. P., ‘The Strange High House in the Mist’ in The Dreams in the Witch House and Other Weird Stories, ed. S. T. Joshi (London: Penguin Modern Classics, 2005), pp. 146–54.
    Machen, Arthur, The Great God Pan in The Great God Pan. The Shining Pyramid. The White People (Cardigan: Parthian, 2010), pp. 3–76.
    Phelpstead, Carl, ‘Northern Courage’ in The J. R. R. Tolkien Encyclopedia: Scholarship and Critical Assessment, ed. Michael D. C. Drout (New York: Routledge, 2006), pp. 461–62.
    –––, Tolkien and Wales: Language, Literature and Identity (Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 2011).
    Rhys, John, Lectures on the Origin and Growth of Religion as Illustrated by Celtic Heathendom, 2nd edn (London: Williams and Norgate, 1892).
    Tolkien, J. R. R., ‘English and Welsh’, Angles and Britons: O’Donnell Lectures (Cardiff, 1963), pp. 1–41; reprinted in The Monsters and the Critics and Other Essays, ed. Christopher Tolkien (London: Allen & Unwin, 1983), pp. 162–97.
    –––, ‘The Name “Nodens”’ in Wheeler and Wheeler, Report, pp. 132–37; reprinted in Tolkien Studies 4 (2007), 177–83.
    Wheeler, R. E. M., and T. V. Wheeler, Report on the Excavation of the Prehistoric, Roman, and Post-Roman Site in Lydney Park, Gloucestershire (Oxford: Society of Antiquaries, 1932).
    Yeates, Stephen J., The Tribe of Witches: The Religion of the Dobunni and Hwicce (Oxford: Oxbow, 2008).


    i Detailed accounts of the wartime experience of each writer have been published recently: John Garth, Tolkien and the Great War: The Threshold of Middle-earth (London: HarperCollins, 2003); Thomas Dilworth, David Jones in the Great War (London: Enitharmon, 2012). The few published studies that consider the two writers together focus primarily on their shared experience of World War I: see Barton Friedman, ‘Tolkien and David Jones: The Great War and the War of the Ring’, CLIO: A Journal of Literature, History, and the Philosophy of History, 11 no. 2 (1982), 115–36; Rebekah Long, ‘Fantastic Medievalism and the Great War in Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings’ in Verlyn Flieger and Alfred K. Siewers, eds, Tolkien’s Modern Middle Ages (Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2005), pp. 123–37.

    ii Auden’s comments on the radio are quoted in Humphrey Carpenter, ed., with Christopher Tolkien, The Letters of J. R. R. Tolkien, (London: Allen & Unwin, 1981), p. 229; his verdict on The Anathemata is in W. H. Auden, A Certain World: A Commonplace Book (London: Faber, 1971), p. 373.

    iii David Jones, The Anathemata: Fragments of An Attempted Writing (London: Faber and Faber, 1952; 2nd edn 1955), p. 37.

    iv Huw Ceiriog Jones, The Library of David Jones: A Catalogue (Aberystwyth: The National Library of Wales, 1995), p. 5; J. R. R. Tolkien, ‘English and Welsh’, Angles and Britons: O’Donnell Lectures [ed. Henry Lewis] (Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 1963), pp. 1–41; reprinted in The Monsters and the Critics and Other Essays, ed. Christopher Tolkien (London: Allen & Unwin, 1983), pp. 162–97. Xerox copies of Tolkien’s lecture were also enclosed loosely in Jones’s copy of a book on the history of Wales by Albert Hughes Williams (Jones, Library, p. 309).

    v Jones, Library, p. 268. David Jones also owned a copy of Kenneth Sisam’s Fourteenth-century Verse and Prose, most editions of which included a glossary by Tolkien, but the catalogue of Jones’s books erroneously gives the publication date of his copy as 1823, so it is unclear whether this copy includes Tolkien’s glossary: even if it did, such a text can hardly have influenced The Anathemata.

    vi Jones, Epoch and Artist: Selected Writings, ed. Harman Grisewood (London: Faber and Faber, 1959), p. 247. For a brief overview of Tolkien’s theory of Northern Courage, see my entry on the topic in The J. R. R. Tolkien Encyclopedia: Scholarship and Critical Assessment, ed. Michael D. C. Drout (New York: Routledge, 2006), pp. 461–62. Jones refers to Tolkien’s friends and fellow Inklings Charles Williams and C. S. Lewis more frequently in his essays and letters: in 1956 he records in a letter having read Lewis’s autobiographical Surprised by Joy, finding that (apart from Welsh material) their childhood reading and interests were identical (Dai Greatcoat: A Self Portrait of David Jones in his Letters, ed. René Hague (London: Faber and Faber, 1980), p. 171–72); Jones’s ‘The Arthurian Legend’ (Epoch and Artist, pp. 202–11) is a review, originally published in the Tablet in 1948, of Lewis and Williams’s Arthurian Torso, and there is a further brief paragraph on Williams’s Arthurian poetry in Jones’s 1942 essay ‘The Myth of Arthur’ (Epoch and Artist, p. 215); a further reference to C. S. Lewis’s contribution to Arthurian Torso appears in Jones’s Preface to The Anathemata (p. 14). Both Arthurian Torso and a copy of Lewis’s That Hideous Strength appear in the catalogue of books Jones owned (Huw Ceiriog Jones, pp. 175, 309). Lewis shows knowledge of Jones’s The Anathemata in a passing reference in his Cambridge inaugural lecture, ‘De Descriptione Temporum’ in Selected Literary Essays, ed. Walter Hooper (Cambridge: CUP, 1969), pp. 1–14 (at p. 4).

    vii John Rhys [or Rhŷs], Lectures on the Origin and Growth of Religion as Illustrated by Celtic Heathendom, 2nd edn (London: Williams and Norgate, 1892); R. G. Collingwood and J. N. L. Myres, Roman Britain and the English Settlements (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1936).

    viii J. R. R. Tolkien, ‘The Name “Nodens”’ in R. E. M. Wheeler and T. V. Wheeler, Report on the Excavation of the Prehistoric, Roman, and Post-Roman Site in Lydney Park, Gloucestershire (Oxford: Society of Antiquaries, 1932), pp. 132–37; reprinted in Tolkien Studies 4 (2007), 177–83. In the following paragraphs I draw in part on the discussion of Tolkien’s ‘Note’ in my book Tolkien and Wales: Language, Literature and Identity (Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 2011), pp. 53–57.

    ix Wheeler and Wheeler dated the building of the temple to soon after AD 364–67, but further excavations in 1980–81 suggested that a religious site from the second half of the third century was refurbished in the early fourth: see Casey et al.

    x William Hiley Bathhurst, and C. W. King, Roman Antiquities at Lydney Park, Gloucestershire (London : Longmans, Green & Co., 1879).

    xi Texts and/or photographs of the relevant inscriptions, with further discussion, are in Bathurst and King, Antiquities, pp. 12–13, 25–31, 45–47 and Plates VIII and XX; Wheeler and Wheeler, Report, pp. 100–04 and Plate XXXIV; Françoise le Roux, ‘Le dieu-roi Nodons/Nuada’, Celticum 6 (1963), 425–54 (at pp. 426–27).

    xii Bathurst and King, Antiquities, pp. 13–16; Wheeler and Wheeler, Report, p. 41; cf. Plates XXV and XXVI.

    xiii Rhys, Lectures, Lecture II ‘The Zeus of the Insular Celts’, pp. 107–234: on Nodens/Nuada see especially pp. 119–33.

    xiv This identification has, however, been denied in some more recent scholarship (see Carey, ‘Nodons in Britain and Ireland’, p. 18).

    xv Rhys, Lectures, p. 125; cf. Tolkien, ‘Note’, pp. 178–79.

    xvi On the contents of Oxford, Bodleian Library MS Tolkien A19/3 see further Phelpstead, Tolkien and Wales, pp. 127 n. 64 and 137 n. 13.

    xvii ‘Note’, p. 181 cf. Rhys, Lectures, p. 128 n. 2. I have discussed the philological detail of this argument a little more fully in my Tolkien and Wales, p. 56.

    xviii Stephen J. Yeates, The Tribe of Witches: The Religion of the Dobunni and Hwicce (Oxford: Oxbow, 2008), pp. 94–95.

    xix This is clear when one compares the typographic layout of Machen’s fictional inscription with the arrangement of the authentic text in Bathurst and King, Antiquities, p. 25.

    xx Arthur Machen, The Great God Pan in The Great God Pan. The Shining Pyramid. The White People (Cardigan: Parthian, 2010), pp. 3–76, (p. 74). I am grateful to my colleague Dr Tomos Owen for first drawing my attention to Machen’s reference to Nodens.

    xxi Bathurst and King, Antiquities, pp. 25–31.

    xxii The only book by Machen listed in the catalogue of Jones’s library is The Secret Glory (Jones, Library, p. 185).

    xxiii H. P. Lovecraft, ‘The Strange High House in the Mist’ in The Dreams in the Witch House and Other Weird Stories, ed. S. T. Joshi (London: Penguin 2005), pp. 146–54 (at pp. 151–52).

    xxiv Jones, Anathemata, p. 171 n. 2.

    xxv ‘English and Welsh’, Angles and Britons: O’Donnell Lectures (Cardiff, 1963), pp. 1–41; reprinted in The Monsters and the Critics and Other Essays, ed. Christopher Tolkien (London, 1983), pp. 162–97 (at p. 189).

    xxvi There is a further brief reference to ‘Nodens filius Lugobelinus’ in ‘The Old Quarry: Part Two’ (Roman Quarry, p. 159).

    xxvii Notes in Roman Quarry, pp. 221 and 223.

    xxviii Later in that essay Jones refers to an imaginary scholar as Dr Nodens (p. 236).

    xxix Jones, Library, p. 70.

    xxx René Hague, A Commentary on The Anathemata of David Jones (Wellingborough: Christopher Skelton, 1977), p. 130.
    Last edited by Lord of the Rings; 02/Sep/2013 at 11:05 AM.
    It is laden with history, leading back into the dark heathen ages beyond the memory of song, but not beyond the reach of imagination.

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    It is laden with history, leading back into the dark heathen ages beyond the memory of song, but not beyond the reach of imagination.

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