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. 


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