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Relics of the female goddesses known as the Matres and Matronae, who were worshipped in Northwestern Europe between the first and fifth centuries AD, have been discovered.

They are portrayed on votive offerings and altars that have images of goddesses, almost always in groups of three, that have inscriptions (about half of which feature Continental Celtic names and half of which feature Germanic names), and that were revered in areas of Germania, Eastern Gaul, and Northern Italy (with a small distribution elsewhere) that were occupied by the Roman army from the first to the fifth century.

Matres also appear on votive reliefs and inscriptions in other regions controlled by the Roman army, such as southeast Gaul, as at Vertillum; in Spain and Portugal, where about twenty inscriptions are known, among them several that include local epithets like a dedication to the Matribus Gallaicis; and also in the Romano-Celtic culture of Pannonia, where they can be seen on reliefs and inscriptions that are similar to the Nutrices August found in Roman sites of Ptuj, Lower Styria.

Compare the Fates (including Moirai, Parcae, and Norns), the Erinyes, the Charites, the Morrgan, the Horae, and other similar figures, including the Tridevi of Hinduism, to see how common the concept of triple goddesses was in ancient Europe.

Featured image: Terracotta relief of the Matres (the Vertault relief), from the Gallo-Roman settlement of Vertillum (Vertault) in Gaul.

Last Updated on 2022/10/07


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