EBK Activity Sheets

 


Roman Temples in Britain
Strange Goings-On in Pagan Religious Buildings



Making a Sacrifice on an Altar at a Roman Temple in Britain -  Nash Ford Publishing



 
  • Roman and Celtic pagan gods were worshipped in temples all over Britannia. They might be in towns or on their own in rural country areas. Rural temples were built
    • At the roadside, or
    • On top of a hill
  • Temples usually had souvenir shops and hotels nearby for visiting pilgrims. All these buildings stood inside a sacred area called a 'temenos'. It was surrounded by a big wall.
  • Pilgrims would bring gifts of tiny metal models of limbs they wanted healed or symbols of the gods; or perhaps a lead 'curse tablet' calling for vengeance on a wrong-doer.
  • Temples had few windows and were very dark. There were two main types:
    • Classical - like those in Rome, with a big white portico and lots of columns.
    • Romano-British - a combination of Roman and Celtic styles, with a corridor around a central shrine room.
  • The central shrine would probably have am object sacred to a particular god:
    • An altar
    • A statue
    • A pool of water
    • A fire
    • A tree
  • Temple priests wore long robes and elaborate 'crowns'. some wore masks. They might carry 'sceptres' or sacred weapons to show they were important. They often performed animal sacrifices.
  • Whole towns grew up around some important temples, like the Temple to Sulis Minerva in Aquae Sulis (Bath in Somerset).
  • In AD 313, the Emperor Constantine the Great declared Christianity to be legal in the Empire. This religion became very popular and some Pagan temples were replaced by Christian churches. 

 
 

    Nash Ford Publishing 2012. All Rights Reserved.