As you will be aware if you read any of the previous articles on this Blog, Mansfield, Ashfield and the surrounding area was all once a part of the territory of the Brythonic Corieltauvi tribe, sitting right on the boarder with the neighbouring Brigantes.
Through studying place names and the landscape there is a lot of local evidence for some of the better known pan-Celtic deities, including Lugh/Llew/Lugos/Lug, Bridget/Brig/Brid/Briganti and Bel/Belions/Beli. In this article however I would like to highlight the evidence for the presence of Toutatis (pronounced tow-ta-tis) as a possible tribal ancestor god of the Corieltauvi tribe.
Over the years Archaeologists have discovered a large number of what have come to be known as “TOT rings”, finger rings that bare the inscription “TOT”. Up to 70 of these rings have been discovered, and their distribution closely matches the territory of the Corieltauvi. This includes local finds in Farnsfield and Linby. The rings date from the 2nd and 3rd centuries during the Roman occupation of Britain, and they are usually made of silver or copper.
The inscription “TOT” is an abbreviation of Toutatis who was a well known deity throughout Britain and Gaul (France). One ring discovered in Bedfordshire has the expanded inscription “DEO TOTA” which affirms that the inscription should be read as an abbreviation of Toutatis, who was also known as Toutates, Teutatis, Toutiorix or Teutanus according to inscriptions found across the Roman world. In many inscriptions Toutatis was conflated with the Roman god Mars. Toutatis was also one of three gods mentioned by the 1st century Roman poet Lucan. The other two being Esus (“lord”) and Taranis (“Thunderer”). In later commentary on Lucan’s work Toutatis is associated with either Mars or Mercury.
The name Toutatis comes from from the stem teutā-, meaning “people” or “tribe” suggesting that he is a tribal ancestor, hero or patron deity. It is also been suggested that like many other recorded celtic deities, the name Toutatis may actually have been a title, and that each tribe would have had their own Toutatis. The prevalence of the TOT rings in the territory of the Corieltauvi alludes to a particularly strong connection to this area, but stone inscriptions are notably absent even though they have been found elsewhere in Britain and and all over the continent.
So it is entirely possible that to the Ancient Corieltauvi Britons living in the the Mansfield and Ashfield area under Roman occupation, Toutatis was a very important local tribal deity.