2) Votive Epigraphy

a) Sources

Votive epigraphy, which is the study of inscriptions dedicated to goddesses with the aim of honouring, imploring or thanking them, is an important tool as regards our subject, for it reveals the names of goddesses, who, although they were venerated in Gallo-Roman and Romano-British times, were undeniably Celtic on account of their name. Votive epigraphy is a Roman practice, which was adopted by the Celts after the Roman conquest. Inscriptions to Celtic deities thus date from Gallo-Roman and Romano-British times only. This means that the Celts were in the process of Romanization and that their religion and beliefs had already been significantly influenced and altered by Roman culture.

Inscriptions to deities were engraved on various objects of different materials, such as steles*, altars, vases, plaques and jewels, in stone, bronze, silver, gold or lead. The formula traditionally used in recognition of a granted vow was v(otum) s(olvit) l(ibens) m(erito), that is ‘(the dedicator) paid his or her vow willingly and deservedly’. Gaulish and British votive inscriptions fall into four categories: inscriptions in the Latin language (the most numerous); inscriptions in the Greek language; ‘Gallo-Latin inscriptions’, which are in the Gaulish language with Latin lettering; and ‘Gallo-Greek inscriptions’, which are in the Gaulish language with Greek lettering. These last two groups of dedications are of great interest and importance for several reasons. First and foremost, they are in the Gaulish language, which means they were written by Gaulish people.40 Furthermore, although they are limited in number, they are more ancient than the numerous Gallo-Roman inscriptions, which generally date from the 1st c. AD to the 3rd c. AD. Indeed, as has been noted, some Gaulish people first came into contact with the Greek language when a Greek colony was founded at Massilia (Marseilles) in about 600 BC. Accordingly, some Gaulish people were able from an early period to use Greek script to write their language down. Gallo-Greek inscriptions date from the 3rd c. BC to the 1st c. AD, the ones from Narbonese Gaul being the most ancient ones.41 They are more ancient than the Gallo-Latin inscriptions, which belong to between the 1st c. BC and the 4th c. AD and probably preceded or co-existed with the time when inscriptions were uniquely in the Latin language and script.42

Inscriptions from Gaul and Germany discovered before the end of the 19th c. are listed in the volumes XII and XIII of the Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum (CIL), which is in Latin and reproduces a facsimile of the inscriptions without transcription and translation. The Année Epigraphique (AE), created in 1888 by René Cagnat, completes the CIL and publishes every year a facsimile of the inscriptions. Various other works have recently republished the ancient and newly discovered inscriptions of the Roman provinces of Gaul, such as the five volumes of the Inscriptions latines de Narbonnaise (ILN), the six volumes of the Inscriptions latines d’Aquitaine (ILA) and the two volumes of the Les inscriptions latines de Belgique (ILB). Other published collections of inscriptions relate to particular tribes or cities, such as the Inscriptions de la cité des Lingons by Yann Le Bohec. Those works generally give comprehensive details and information on the origin of the dedication, the nature, dimension and date of the material, a transcription, a translation and a picture. The Gallo-Greek, Gallo-Etruscan and Gallo-Latin inscriptions have been compiled in the first two comprehensive volumes of the Recueil des inscriptions gauloises (RIG). The Roman inscriptions of Britain have been listed in the two volumes of the Roman Inscriptions of Britain (RIB), which offer transcriptions, translations and drawings of the dedications. Finally, Nicole Jüfer and Thierry Luginbul have indexed all the epigraphic references relating to the gods and goddesses of the British, Gaulish, Italian and Iberian Celts in Répertoire des dieux gaulois (RG).

As far as possible, inscriptions will be given with a translation – except for a few of them which have not been translated by epigraphists -, dated and studied in their archaeological context – particularly when the place of discovery was a place of devotion. Finally, the name of the goddess invoked will be analyzed and the origin and name of the dedicators will be considered.


Lambert, 1995, p. 12.


Lambert, 1995, p. 81.


Lambert, 1995, pp. 117-118.