Aquae Arnemetiae (Buxton)

Roman Spa Town

Aquae Arnemetiae (Aqvae Arnemetiae) – “The Spa-Town of the Sacred Groves” – The only classical reference to the Roman name for Buxton is in the Ravenna Cosmology of the seventh century. The entry Aquis Arnemeza (R&C#107), occurs between the other towns Navio (Brough-on-Noe, Derbyshire) and Ardotalia (Melandra Castle, Derbyshire).

The Latin name then, for Buxton was Aquae Arnemetiae, the prefix aquae literally means ‘of the waters’, and was used by the Romans to denote natural spa’s or springs. The second part of the name is associated with the Welsh/Gaelic word Nemeton or “sacred grove”, which here seems to be used in the plural form. We can readily assume from the origins of the Roman name for Buxton that the natural springs here represented a religious centre of some considerable importance, probably used by many generations of native Britons prior to the coming of Rome.

RIB2243 - Fragmentary milestone

... with tribunician power, twice consul, father of his country, from Navio 11 miles.
[...] TRIB POT COS II
P P A NAVIONE
M P XI
See note on Navio under Brough-on-Noe.

The only evidence for a temple to this deity, who may be a pseudonym of Nemetona, is a solidly-built Podium of well-dressed stone with a packed clay infill which was investigated in 1787. This platform measured 22½ ft. wide by 46 ft. in length, and stood about 4 ft. in height. Iron nails and roofing tiles suggest that the superstructure was of timber. The suspected temple was oriented north-south and faced the Roman baths at St Anne’s Well about 80 ft. away.

The only other recognised Spa-town in Roman Britain is Aquae Sulis (Bath, Avon), which is also a known Nemeton grove.

References for Aqvae Arnemetiae

  • Temples in Roman Britain by M.J.T. Lewis (Cambridge 1966);
  • The Roman Inscriptions of Britain by R.G. Collingwood and R.P. Wright (Oxford 1965).

Map References for Aqvae Arnemetiae

NGRef: SK0573 OSMap: LR119

Roman Roads near Aqvae Arnemetiae

NW (21) to Mamvcivm (Manchester, Greater Manchester) ENE (8) to Brovgh-on-noe (Brough-on-Noe, Derbyshire) SE (30) to Littlechester (Littlechester, Derbyshire)