F) Conclusion

From this study, it follows that Rosmerta is honoured on her own in the centre of Gaul (Aedui, Carnurtes and Arverni) in four inscriptions, two of which are combined with portrayals - a statue in bonze and a relief* in stone. Being mentioned in an inscription coming from the territory of the Ambiani (Somme) and possibly in another from the territory of the Bellovaci (Oise), it can be assumed that her cult was extended to the north of Gaul. As for the worship of the divine couple Rosmerta-Mercurius, attested by twenty-five inscriptions, two of which are accompanied by images, it was particularly concentrated in the north-east of Gaul (Treveri, Mediomatrici, Leuci, Lingones) and Germany Superior (fig. 35). It is interesting to note that the north-east of Gaul seems to have been an area where the cult of Celtic divine couples was important, for Nantosuelta and Sucellus’s worship is also evidenced in this region.

Unlike Nantosuelta, Rosmerta does not distinguish herself in the iconography by peculiar attributes and attitudes. Her representation is very Classical; she is depicted with cornucopiae* and paterae*, representing prosperity and symbolising her role as provider of fertility. Sometimes she holds her partner’s attributes – purse and caduceus* – but these images are not combined with inscriptions identifying her with certainty. While Nantosuelta has a distinctive iconography and a Celtic god Sucellus for partner, Rosmerta has a Classical and basic iconography and is coupled with a Gallo-Roman god, Mercurius: does this mean she is not a Celtic goddess and that her cult is Gallo-Roman? First of all, her name, which is etymologically linked and similar in meaning to Atesmerta and Cantismerta, is undeniably Celtic. The existence of goddesses, whose names refer to the notion of distribution, attests to a significant worship rendered to bounteous goddesses. As for her partner Mercurius, he may have replaced some indigenous god(s), who was/were originally coupled with the goddess. It is true that the epithets Abgatiacus, Excingiorigiatus and Dubnocaratiacus, given to him in Cleinich (Neumagen), Ueß (Mayen) and Champoulet (Loiret) do not support that argument, since they are not divine epithets or names belonging to a previous indigenous god, but names of properties and owners. However, the inscription from Köngen, which associates Mercurius with a Celtic divine name Visucius, coupled with Visucia, clearly proves that Mercurius was linked to indigenous gods through the process of the interpretatio Romana and probably replaced a certain number of them. This could be evidenced by a figuration from Trier,942 which has Mercurius wearing the Celtic torque*, and the statue from Néris-les-Bains (Allier) where he holds a ram-horned snake in his hand:943 these two elements are characteristic of Celtic deities.944

As regards the dedicators (and their father or mother) honouring Rosmerta, a significant number of them have names of Celtic origin. They generally bear the unique name, which indicates they are peregrines. Magiaxus, son of Oxtaeus or Oxtaius, honours the goddess Atesmerta in the forest of Corgebin (Haute-Marne). In Champoulet, a whole family of Celtic origin, owner of a property with a Celtic name, Dubnocaratiacum, pays homage to Rosmerta, Mercurius and Apollo: Marullus, the head of the family, Marossus, his son, and Messa, his daughter. In Saxon-Sion (Meurthe-et-Moselle), Langres (Haute-Marne) and Magny-Lambert (Côte d’Or), the dedicators and their father or mother bear Celtic names: Carantus and Sacer, Cantius and Titi, Oassos (?) and Varadilla. In Morelmaison (Vosges), the dedicator Regalis is a Celtic peregrine*, while in Soulosse (Vosges), an inscription is offered by a woman Albucia and another by Cintusmus, son of Samotalus. Cintusmus is mentioned again in the dedication from near Grand (Vosges). In Metz (Moselle), it is interesting to note that the dedicator Musicus is a peregrine* with a Latin name and that his father bears a Celtic name: Lillutus. The fact that the father chose a Latin name for his son attests to his desire to become Romanized. In Ueß (Germany), the dedicator C. Satu[r]ninius Viriaucus bears the tria nomina of Roman citizens, but his cognomen*, Viriaucus, is undeniably of Celtic origin. By keeping a Celtic name, the dedicator displays his attachment to his indigenous roots. In Gissey-le-Vieil (Côte d’Or), Apronia Avilla bears the duo nomina; she is thus a Roman citizen. While her gentilice* is Latin, her cognomen* Avilla is Celtic. Romanized women often kept a cognomen* which reminded of their Celtic origin and culture, probably because they were somehow the guardians of tradition.

Some of the dedicators are also Roman citizens. They bear either the duo nomina, such asAelius Vestiusnear Grand (Vosges), or the tria nomina, such as L(ucius) Quartillius Quartinus, who pays homage to Cantismerta in Lens (Switzerland), Cneius Cominius Candidus, the probable husband of Apronia Avilla in Gissey-le-Vieil (Côte d’Or) and L(ucius) Servandius Quietus in Worms (Germany). Some of them fulfil civic duties or functions, such as Marcus AdiutoriusMemmorin Eisenberg (Germany), who is a decurio*, Acceptus in Wasserbilig (Germany), who is tabularius sevir augustalis* and the dedicator in Niederemmel, who is a freed tabularius*.

In comparison with men, women are not much represented. Out of four, two of them are peregrines with Celtic names: Albucia in Soulosse and Vadarilla (the dedicator’s mother) in Magny-Lambert. The two other ones bear the duo nomina and are thus Roman citizens: Apronia Avilla in Gissey-le-Vieil (Côte d’Or) and Flavia Pri[mula] in Andernach (Germany).

From this, it follows that Rosmerta was mainly honoured by a population of peregrines of Celtic origin, particularly in the north-east of Gaul, and by Roman citizens or freed slaves in the territory of the Treveri and Germany Superior.

With regard to the functions of Rosmerta, several hypotheses can be suggested. First and foremost, on account of her name and her iconography, it is clear that Rosmerta is a land-goddess fulfilling the role of distribution and sustenance. By dispensing the products of the earth to her people, she offers them prosperity and benevolence. As a certain number of inscriptions and images were discovered in water sanctuaries or near famous curative springs, such as in Gissey-le-Vieil, Escolives-Sainte-Camille, Mont-Sion and Genainville, it can be assumed that Rosmerta had some functions of protection, care and cure. In the inscription from Mont-Sion, the formula pro salute used by Carantus, a Celt who asks for the safety of his son Urbicus, supports that idea. Moreover, the sanctuary of Atesmerta, erected near the source-geyser of the Forest of Gorgebin, where anatomical ex-votos* were discovered, provides evidence of a healing cult rendered to the goddess. Finally, Rosmerta may have endorsed a funerary role, accompanying, protecting and sustaining the deceased in the afterlife, for the inscription near Grand was found inside a tumulus*-tomb where three corpses were interred. Moreover, the Gallo-Latin graffiti from Lezoux, probably mentioning ‘the feasts of Rosmerta’, was unearthed in a funerary well on the necropolis of Chassagne, which would suggest chthonic* and funerary functions.

From the 1st c. AD, in certain areas, the cult of Romserta was certainly replaced by the cult of the Roman goddess Maia, who accompanies Mercurius in several inscriptions and depictions from the valley of the Rhine and the centre-east of Gaul (territory of the Allobroges). What is interesting to note is that Maia is sometimes honoured by people of Celtic stock, as the inscriptions from Mertzwiller (Bas-Rhin) and Pfaffenhoffen (Bas-Rhin) show. This attests to the process of Romanization in the religious sphere. The tradition of Maia and Rosmerta in general, indeed, is intermingled and difficult to distinguish geographically and iconographically.

Fig. 34: Map showing the distribution of the cult of the Goddesses of Bounty: Rosmerta (in red), Cantismerta (in green) and Atesmerta (in blue) (Source: N. Beck).
Fig. 34: Map showing the distribution of the cult of the Goddesses of Bounty: Rosmerta (in red), Cantismerta (in green) and Atesmerta (in blue) (Source: N. Beck).

RG 4929 ; Wightman, 1985, p. 178 ; Green, 2001, p. 55. It is housed in the Landesmueum Trier. It is a mutilated block found in 1895. On one side, it shows Mercurius and a goddess separated by an altar. The god wears the Celtic torque*, a purse and caduceus*, and a cock may be standing between his feet. On another side of the altar, there is a beardless man cutting down a tree, possibly Esus (?), with three cranes and a head of bull. On the left side of the altar, there is mutilated image of a draped goddess.


RG 1573 ; Lambrechts, 1942, p. 46, n° 9 and picture n°12 affirms that this is a representation of Mercurius and Rosmerta ; Thevenot, 1968, p. 88 ; Green, 2001, pp. 55-56. It is housed in the Musée de Saint-Germain-en-Laye.


Green, 1992a, pp. 195-196, 211-212 ; Green, 1992, pp. 142-144, 146-148, 159-160, 227-229 ; Green, 2001, pp. 25-26, 55-57, 64-65, 86-96, 105-106, 114-115 ; Ross, 1996, pp. 117-118, 430-434.