This rather beautiful Japanese goldwork on a dress taken from a whole book on goldwork, absolutely fascinately but all in Japanese!
Taken from William Robinson 'English Garden Flowers, I love these engravings on steel plate.
The head of the Roman goddess Minerva
This great gilded bronze statue would have probably stood centrally in the temple by the spring and overlooking the sacrificial altar......From Ovid's 'Fasti', commemorating the festival of Quinquatrus, Minerva's birthday Dies admoniet et forti sacrificare deae, quod est illa nata Minerva. (This day reminds us to sacrifice to the strong goddess, for today is Minerva's birthday). Minerva is the daughter of Jupiter and Metis, she was the virgin goddess of warriors, poetry, medicine, wisdom, commerce and crafts.
Relief of the Goddess Minerva
She is usually depicted in roman imagery wearing a coat of mail and a helmet and carrying a spear. The Aqua Sulis Minerva has holes on top of the head which would probably have held a helmet. There is no depiction of the Sulis goddess, but her presence is known by the dedications made to her....
"I have given to Minerva the Goddess Sulis the thief who has stolen my hooded cloak whether slave or free, whether man or woman. He is not to redeem this gift unless with his blood.
Priscus, son of Toutus, stonecutter, of the Carnutes Tribe, to the Goddess Sul, willingly and deservedly fulfils his vow)
Quintus Pompeius to Sul Anicetus;
To the Sulevi, Sulinus Scultor, son of Bricetus willingly and deservedly made this sacred offering. (Taken from Roman Britain on the web)
Sulis has two altar stones dedicated to Sulis and Minerva, and six without Minerva. The Sulevi dedication, is probably the attribution of the three celtic goddesses that are found under this name on the continent. The coupling with the god Anicetus is interesting, on Wikpedia it states that he might be the equivalent of the British Apollo, on the continent he is found as Apollo Anicetus, also as Sol Invictus, Mithras Anicetus at Rudchester, combining Roman, Greek, Celtic German, and Persian this time. Noting that he has been conflated with Sol (sun) it may be interesting to speculate whether this had anything to do with Sulis at Bath being partly a sun goddess. One of the dedications is by a Haruspex named Memor, a person who foretold the future by divining the entrails of sacrificed animals;
Celtic Sulevia - plural form Sulevia or Sule there are 40 inscriptions distributed in the celtic world. They are distinguished from the Matres and have in their meaning "those who govern well" but they are also though cojoined with the Matres at Colchester.
The Matres, though seen as roman goddesses also probably stemmed from the celtic religion, they are often depicted with one breast bare, a basket and children, there is a good example at Cirencester; It is interesting to note that the small plaque with three unknown goddesses may in fact be the celtic equivalent of the Matres.
Celtic women probably had a more equal status than their roman counterparts, one has only to think of Queen Cartimandu or Boudicca to understand that women could rule and were part of the druidic way of life, they are mentioned in classical writing as being prophetesses. This is mentioned in the Scriptores Historiae Augustae but Strabo's description of women Cimbrian priests, gives a vivid portrayal of their gory role in sacrificing prisoners of war by cutting their throats and then by inspecting the entrails would foretell the victory of their countrymen. (Miranda Green- Druids). She also mentions Veleda the prophetess.
Tacitus in His Histories tells of this person that she was immured in a high tower and that a relative would be deputed to transmit questions and answers, "as if were mediating between a god and his worshipper. A small statue of a goddess found in a well at Caerwent, romano britain town, shows a crude seated female figure with hands clasped. .... describes them thus; " Among all the Gallic peoples, generally speaking, there are three sets of men who are held in exceptional honour; The Bards, the Vates, and the Druids. The bards are singers and poets; the Vates, diviners and natural philosphers; whilst the Druids, in addition to natural philosophy study also moral philosphy". There are druidic women also mentioned in the classical sources.
So if we are to build up a mental picture of the goddess Sulis, it is perhaps not wise to think in terms of the beautiful classical roman goddesses, whose romantic encounters with the gods are the stuff fairytales are made of. It is well to remember that the celts worshipped the forces of nature, such as Taranis the god of thunder,
Sulis if the word is explored can also mean Suil (old Irish for eye or gap) is 'sun'. The "Gap of the waters" could be interpreted as a place to descend into the underworld. Solar worship was also part of the celtic religion, and this area has bronze age evidence of sun worship in the sun disc found on Lansdown. So our goddess might have several meanings, keeper of the healing waters of the shrine, a person who also had command over death and the underworld.....
Mercury and Rosmerta with the three cucullati at their feet
and perhaps also the sun Mercury and his Celtic Consort Rosmerta, with the three Genii Cucullati at their feet;his small relief depicts the god Mercury and a native celtic goddess Rosmerta, they can also be found at Nettleton Shrub, a romano british shrine dedicated to Apollo and probably a healing shrine like Aqua Sulis, a few miles away Mercury as a roman god is well known
In all this it is sometimes unwise to rely on the stories of classical writers, the myth being translated down through the centuries.
Relief fragment of Diana and Hound
This is a particularly fine relief of the hound, but Diana seems to have disappeared, it must be compared to the Nettleton Shrub relief, which is to be found in the essay "The Temple of Apollo" further down. The Roman Diana is often represented in a short skirt as a huntress and her companion is not a dog but a deer, therefore the celtic version seems to favour the hunting hound as the companion, and as dogs seems to be important to iron age Britain - they were after all one of the riches that Caesar speaks of when he comes to Britain - again that wonderful blending of images to local beliefs seem to have happened. Also it must not be forgotten that dogs were probably sacrificed as well.
Penultimately, there are two more paired gods to speak of. There was an altar to Mars Loucetius and Nemetona (Mars Loucetius means brilliant Mars) which of course relates to the "sacred grove" and has many place names on the continent and also here in Britain. Mars Loucetius not only has a roman god in its name but also a celtic one. Starting with Mars who although a deity of war, is also a deity of agriculture, protection and healing has been combined with the celtic god of lightening. Pairing the lightening god with the sacred grove goddess and we have trees.
Drunemeton means sacred oak groves, so the idea of great oaks struck by lightening is a pretty vivid image. The blending of two different sets of gods, and how it was done, we will never know, perhaps because such things were not read about by the populace, it was the priests who transformed the ideas of the cosmic world into its natural and human world imagery. Religion is a form of control and yet the natural world is not controllable, foolishly sacrificing creatures so that luck would prevail is a very superstitious custom, but occasionally it would be nice to go back in history and view all the endless dicussions that must have taken place as to how to interpret the gods. Or were all those celtic and roman priests cynically playing the power game to subdue the local populace.
The three celtic goddesses. This small votive plaque was found at Bathampton Down. It must represent the equivalent of the three roman matres relief sculpture that can be found at Cirencester,. It is obviously early and fairly crudely portrayed. Three is of course one of the "magic" numbers that are found in Celtic literature, and it must also be remembered that in this south west area, the three hooded spirits genii cucullati are also found so its symbolism may cover several aspects. Not forgetting of course, the old stone religion of the three faces of the mother goddess figure - crone, maiden and mother, though of course this is only a theory and can never be proved. Its interesting because of its native appearance, no hint of romanisation, the heads though joined at the same level at the shoulders are all different, it maybe that it has something to do with the gaulish Sulivae.
The Luna goddess was also worshipped at Bath, she is traditionally associated with fertility, there were parts of a priest's headdress together with a moon shaped pendant found in the excavations.
Note; The following photo shows a head from Bath Museum, this head is of a roman matron, probably from a stone tomb, depicting an elaborate coiffured head found in Walcot street; there are a couple of places on the web that describe the latter head as Minerva - not true says she...
The fiery hot roman springs
A statue of Bryhtnoth on the South wall of the church
these are sailing ships from the beginning of the 20th century
The Estuary as seen from a rather steep hill in Maldon, note the old barges
A different version of the poem by Wilfrid Berridge - http://www.battleofmaldon.org.uk/poem_1.htm
Of course the bore might disappear if the Severn Barrage that is proposed for the estuary is ever built, we shall see. The long history of using this fierce expanse of water is outlined in this wiki.