Lydney Park Temple
Romano-british Temple Or Shrine
The Temple of Nodens Mars (Templvm Marti Nodentis)
RIB306 - Curse upon Senicianus
Situated on a steep bluff overlooking the Severn Estuary from the north-west, this famous site was excavated by R.E.M. Wheeler in the 1920’s, who established that the shrine was constructed sometime after 364AD although the site was occupied c.250 by the huts of the workers from the nearby iron-mines. The temple itself is rectangular in outline measuring 80 x 60 feet with additional heavy, angular buttresses containing a number of niches on their interior sides – presumably for statues – and an entrance via a short flight of steps on the south-east. The cella measures 32½ x 55 feet overall with its extreme north-west end divided into three separate 7 ft. deep rooms, probably indicating a tripartite god, with each room dedicated to a different aspect of the triad. The temple of Nodens emulates the format of a normal Romano-British shrine, although in a somewhat monumental style, using a rectangular plan instead of the usual square and providing for three separate shrines instead of the normal single cella. The temple was probably provided with a clerestory in the upper part of the cella and thus resembled its typical Romano-British counterpart (Type Ie, possibly IIe).
The small finds are numerous indeed. Over 8,000 coins … prove a very rich occupation extending certainly into the fifth century. Nine representations of dogs in stone or bronze, a bronze plaque of a woman, a bronze arm, an oculist’s stamp, 320-odd pins and nearly 300 bracelets quite definitely indicate a healing cult. There is some indication, from the inscriptions and philology, of a hunting aspect. Sea-monsters and fish on the cella mosaic, and bronze reliefs depicting a sea deity, fishermen and tritons suggest some connexion of Nodens with the sea. A bronze object (headdress or vessel?) also shows a sea-god driving a chariot between torch-bearing putti and tritons. Thus a picture emerges of a complex deity, combining the diverse aspects of healing, hunting and the sea. …” (Lewis, p.89)
The Monumental Inscriptions
RIB308 - Inscription
RIB305 - Dedication to Mars Nodons
V S L M
RIB307 - Dedication to Nudens Mars
References for Templvm Marti Nodentis
- The Roman Inscriptions of Britain by R.G. Collingwood and R.P. Wright (Oxford 1965);
- Temples in Roman Britain by M.J.T. Lewis (Cambridge 1966).