Little is known of Coventina other than that she was a purely local British goddess of some importance. Arnemetia was a Romano-Celtic water goddess whose 'Sacred Grove' was at Buxton Springs in England.
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Thursday, 07 July 2022

British Goddesses


Little is known of Coventina other than that she was a purely local British goddess of some importance. She is best observed from the period of the Roman occupation, at which time she shows a classical influence but is clearly Celtic in origin. On one bas relief found at Carrawburgh (near Hadrian's Wall) her name is associated with three nymphs holding vessels with issuing streams of water; on another she is pictured as a water nymph on a leaf, pouring water from a vessel.

It is known that she was looked upon as the queen of river Goddesses, particularly of the watershed where the Celtic believe the power of the river deity could be seen and its energy most keenly felt. She was most closely associated with England's Caldew River.

Like other river deities, she represented abundance, inspiration, and prophecy. The coins offered to her appear to be sacrifices made in the hopes of sympathetic magic in which like attracts like. In Scotland she was also the Goddess of featherless flying creatures which may have represented some type of blockage to passing into the Otherworld. There is also evidence of her having been worshipped in Celtic Gaul where reliefs have been found depicting her reclining on a floating leaf.

She apparently had high status, and is referred to in inscriptions as "Augusta" and "Sancta." Coventina is usually portrayed as a water nymph, naked and reclining on lapping waves. She holds a water lily, and in one depiction is shown in triplicate pouring water from a beaker.


Arnemetia was a Romano-Celtic water goddess whose 'Sacred Grove' was at Buxton Springs in England. It is thought that the Corieltauvi worshipped Arnemetia 'she who dwells at the sacred grove' long before the Roman Period. Here on the valley floor where two springs close together, and those who drank of her waters were cured of wasting disease and sickness.

St Anne's Well, Buxton

For many centuries a healing spring was known at Buxton, attracting many people anxious to partake of its healing waters. Prior to the Reformation it had been a pilgrim shrine; however the healing spring was sacred long before the coming of Christianity. When the Romans arrived in Derbyshire, in search of silver and lead, they found a sacred spring that had probably been used by many generations of native Britons prior to the coming of Rome.

Aquae Arnemetiae - "The Spa-Town of the Sacred Groves"

The earliest settlements in the Buxton area date to the Mesolithic Period around 5300BC, during the Neolithic Period (3500-1800 BC) numerous monuments were built such as the henges at Arbor Low and Bull Ring. Bronze age stone circles and burial cairns can be still seen on Stanton Moor, and Iron age settlements can be found at Castle Naze and Mam Tor.

Around 70AD the Romans arrived founding 'Aquae Arnemetiae', the site was important enough for the Romans to use the name 'Aquae' on only two towns in Britain the other being Aquae Sulis (Bath). The Latin name for Buxton was 'Aquae Arnemetiae', literally meaning the 'Waters of Arnemetia', indicating that the site had long sacred to a local goddess Arnemetia.

The prefix aquae means 'of the waters', and was used by the Romans to denote natural spa's or springs, perhaps the most famous being Aquae Sulis, now modern Bath. The second part of the name is associated with the Celtic word 'Nemeton or 'Sacred Grove', which here is used in its plural form.

Arnemetia was a local river goddess; her name consists of two parts ar(e), meaning, 'in front of', and nemeton, 'a grove'. Thus Aquae Arnemetiae can be said to mean 'the Water of She who dwelt against the Sacred Grove'. We can assume from the Celtic origins of the Roman name for Buxton that the natural springs here represented a religious centre of some considerable importance.

The Nemeton Grove of Arnemetia

The only evidence for a temple to this deity 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.

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