Littledean Roman Temple Site

2500 years of history and still going

Roman Temple

The Roman Temple site was discovered in 1982. The remains were identified by the late Professor Barri Jones as belonging to a multi period Roman water shrine with Celtic origins and a possible continuity into the Early Christian period. Dr Anne Ross the renowned authority on the Celts considered the site had probably been a cult shrine venerating Sabrina the goddess of the river Severn. The site overlooking the great horseshoe bend of the Severn was considered by both Jones and Ross and also by Bryn Walters as sensational for its grand outlook, on a scale unsurpassed in Europe.

The horseshoe bend of the river Severn is the largest topograhical feature of its type in Europe set in a valley, flanked by the 800 ft high hills of the Cotswolds on the east and the 800 high hills of the Forest of Dean on the west. The temple site is located near the 600 foot contour at the top of Dean Hill on the eastern flank of the Forest, directly overlooking the horseshoe bend. Immediately to the front of the eastern entrance to the site the remains of an artificial platform can still be seen, which Dr Ross identified as the probable Public place for ceremonies of propitiation of the river goddess.

Dr Ross and Barri Jones also considered the Severn bore and the filling of the horseshoe bend with the flood tide as central to the Cult of Sabrina. When full the horseshoe bend appears in certain lights as a silver ‘torc’ a sacred symbol of the Celts.

The visible remains date from the later Roman period when the earlier water shrines were replaced by a huge courtyard temple with a large western apse. The apse has important features which include a large foundation base probably to take a plinth for a cult statue set in the centre of a triple opening. The Central sub rectangular courtyard was flanked on the north and south sides by ambulatories and to the west end by a large cross hall with niches in the walls, which probably held statuary.

The courtyard lay directly over the springhead of the earlier shrines. The springhead was notable for the large collection of flint material found from the late Mesolithic through to the Bronze Ages, as well as sling stones and fragments of iron arrow heads all probably dating from the late Iron Age/ Roman Conquest.

Details of the Temple’s development will be described in future posts.

Posted 1 month, 4 weeks ago at 4:56 pm by admin.