Lydney Park Temple

Romano-british Temple Or Shrine

The Temple of Nodens Mars (Templvm Marti Nodentis)

RIB306 - Curse upon Senicianus

To the god Nodens: Silvianus has lost his ring and given half (its value) to Nodens. Among those who are called Senicianus do not allow health until he brings it to the temple of Nodens.
(This curse) comes into force again.
1.  Devo for Deo.   2. anilum for anulum, perdedit for perdidit.   4.demediam for dimidiam.   7. nollis for nolis.   8. petmittas for permittas. [Brit. xxxi (2000)] Adams (ZPE 123, 235-6) states that the antecedent (eos) should be understood before quibus, dependent on inter. Nollis is not a variant spelling of nolis, but conceals non illis, in a formula now familiar from other ‘curse tablets’. For the formula see Tab. Sulis, pp. 65-6. petmittas for permittas is a copying-mistake due to confusing a cursive R for T; compare brvceri for Bruceti in Tab. Sulis 10, 2. R.S.O.T. For a discussion of the possibility that this Senicianus was the Senicianus whose name is inscribed on a gold ring (CIL vii 1305) found at Silchester see Haverfield, VCH Hants. 1 (1900) 283 (contra); 27 106 (1953) 100, Toynbee, BAAJ 3rd Ser. 16 (1953) 19. Addenda from RIB+add. (1995): The Silchester gold ring is now RIB 2422.14. The name Senicianus is common in Celtic-speaking provinces, and a coincidence with Lydney is unlikely.

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

No translation

No doubt visitors could buy such letters locally in order to put up a votive inscription. Similar letters have been found on Roman sites on the German limes, e.g. at Pfünz and Schierenhof (ORL Lief. 14 Taf. XIV; Lief. 7 Taf. II).

RIB305 - Dedication to Mars Nodons

To the god Mars Nodons, Flavius Blandinus, weapon-instructor, gladly and deservedly fulfilled his vow.
Mars Nodons: (see also RIB 307) Huebner proposes D(eo) M(arti?). Dessau proposes D(eo) M(agno), though with a query in his index. Collingwood loc. cit. proposes M(arti) on the analogy of D. M. Condati (RIB 1024). For Mars Nodons see RIB 616, 617 (Cockersand). Lambrechts Contributions 146 shows that Mars was frequently a deity of healing in the Celtic world, and this makes the equation between Mars and Nodons very possible.armatura: see Domaszewski Rangordnung 45, Religion 32. Addenda from RIB+add. (1995): armatura is better translated ‘weapon-instructor’: Davies, Breeze and Maxfield (ed.), Service in the Roman Army (1989), 120-21.

RIB307 - Dedication to Nudens Mars

Pectillus gave to the god Nudens Mars the votive offering which he had promised.
For Nudens Mars see RIB 305.3-4. promissit for promisit; Nudente for Nudenti.

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).

Roman Roads near Templvm Marti Nodentis

NE (17.5) to Glevvm (Gloucester, Gloucestershire) SE (12.5) to Venta Silvrvm (Caerwent, Gwent)

Visiting Lydney Park Temple

Address: Lydney Park Estate, Old Park, Lydney, Gloucestershire, England, GL15 6BU