• Jo-Anne Blanco

Goddess of the Week. Coventina, goddess of nature, and fertility

Coventina is a Romano-Celtic British goddess of springs and waters, known primarily for a

well in Northumberland dedicated to her.


Her shrine is situated in the Roman fort of Brocolitia at Hadrian’s Wall where a spring rises from the earth into a sacred pool. There she was depicted in a bas-relief as a nymph reclining while holding a water lily in one hand and pouring water from an urn in the other. She was also portrayed as a triple goddess, which was common in Celtic mythology, bearing different water vessels.


The inscriptions to Coventina refer to her as both “Deae” (Goddesses) and “Matribus” (Mothers), and the many votive offerings of copper coins, bronze carvings, stone jars and precious jewels found at the Northumberland site suggest that she was not only a goddess of water, but a goddess of nature, abundance, fertility, childbirth and healing. Of Celtic origin, the Romans adopted her as they did many other deities and her importance in Britain flourished for several centuries, but with the advent of Christianity, pagan temples were destroyed across the Empire. Evidence of Coventina’s shrine remains because it appears that her worshippers hid the pool and the offerings made to her by covering them with blocks of stone.



Coventina does not appear to have been confined to northern Britain. There is an image

believed to be of her on the wall on the Roman villa of Lullingstone in Kent in southern

England. Disputed evidence suggests that she was worshipped by the Gallaeci, the Celtic

tribal federation of north west Spain (now the province of Galicia), and by the Celtic people

of Narbo (now Narbonne) in southern France. After the Romans left Britain, the brief

resurgence of the Celts and the subsequent Anglo-Saxon invasion brought with them a

renewed reverence for nature, which would revive the kind of religious homage paid to

goddesses such as Coventina, and would eventually lead to the concepts of fairies and fairy

queens.


Appears in Fata Morgana Books III and IV




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(C) Jo-Anne Blanco 2020

Illustrations (C) Miriam Soriano

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