In the first of a potential series, Tom Whitehead shares a surprising bit of trivia he discovered at a major museum exhibition.

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I've been playing quite a lot of Dark Souls 3 recently, and what's often struck me in my time with it is how heavily influential European history is on the game's design. Yes, it's a fantastical setting full of abominable monsters, but there are also Knights, castles and swamplands reminiscent of a nightmarish take on medieval history. From Software demonstrates unbelievable attention to detail.

It seems that Japanese developers often do an extraordinary job of evoking Western culture. I have a feeling that, when digging deeply enough, plenty of intriguing historical references can be found, whether the work of the original development teams or knowledgeable localisation staff.

To get to the point, this weekend I went to see the Celts exhibition at the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh, which was originally shown in London at the British Museum. I then saw this sandstone creation, discovered at the entrance to a former Roman Cavalry fort.

The woman you see, flanked by two horses, is called Epona. That name broadly represents the term for 'horse' in Celtic language, and she was a Gaulish Goddess; when the Romans invaded and gradually subjugated these lands in Central / Northern Europe, the Goddess became a symbol of protection for horses. So that particular piece above, as mentioned, was found at the entry point into a Roman fort.

Of course, this brings to mind Epona, Link's faithful steed in The Legend of Zelda; you can re-name the horse and Link, of course, but that's the default name. It's surely no coincidence, and is a little reminder of how game creators draw inspiration from a broad canvas - for creators of any kind, life experiences and knowledge are catalysts for their work.

There will be many more references and nods like this to be found in games - this is just one I discovered while learning a little more about Celtic history.