f) Conclusion

From all of this, it follows that Damona was a goddess venerated in relation to curative springs. She is indeed honoured in several famous spa towns, such as Bourbonnes-les-Bains and Bourbon-Lancy, the hot springs of which were already used in antiquity. In Chassenay and Alise-Sainte-Reine, she presided over waters which were held in high respect and probably worshipped for their medicinal virtues. Moreover, she is coupled with Gaulish gods of salutary waters, such as Borvo or Bormo, the renowned god of hot waters; Moritasgus, who personified the mineral waters of Mont-Auxois; and Albius, who might have been a protector of healing waters too. Being associated with different partners, Damona is a polyandrous* goddess. The two inscriptions from Bourbonnes-les-Bains and Saintes prove the independence of her cult: she was not the mere doublet of a healing god.

The sixteen inscriptions dedicated to her attest to the importance of her cult, seemingly concentrated in the north-east and centre of Gaul. The dedication from Saintes, situated in the south-west of Gaul, shows, however, that Damona was also worshipped elsewhere.

The archaeological context of water sanctuaries is Gallo-Roman, but Damona’s name is Celtic, which proves that her cult is pre-Roman. The bovine shape illustrated by her name is a proof of its antiquity, since the cow is the animal metaphor of the river-goddesses in ancient Sanskrit literature.2077

From the study of the inscriptions, it emerges that Damona was often honoured by women. Out of fourteen inscriptions, seven are offered by women, such as Sextilia (n°3), Verrea Verilla (n°4), Maturia Rustica (n°6), Julia Tiberia Corisilla (n°7), Aemilia (n°8), Claudia Mossia (n°9) in Bourbonnes-les-Bains and Julia Malla in Saintes. This shows that women played an important part in local cults and devotions. Eleven inscriptions are offered by Roman citizens who intentionally specify that they are of Celtic origin. Some of them, such as Caius Ia…nius Romanus (n°1), Caius Daminius Ferox (n°2), Verrea Verillia (n°4) and Julia Tiberia Corisilla (n°7), declare that they are from the tribe of the Lingones. Others, such as Verrea Verilla (n°4), Claudia Mossia (n°9) or Julia Malla (Saintes), kept Celtic names despite their Romanization. Some dedicators have fathers who are peregrines bearing Celtic names, such as Caius Julius Magnus, son of Eporedirix, in Bourbon-Lancy. This provides evidence of their indigenous origin. Finally, some are in the process of Romanization, such as Fronto (n°5), Aemilia (n°8) and Sextilia (n°3), for they bear a Latin name but do not have the Roman citizenship. Therefore, it appears that Damona was mainly honoured by Romanized people of Celtic origin, who were still profoundly attached to their ancient cults and beliefs after the Roman conquest.


Ó hÓgáin, 1994, pp. 17-18 ; Ó hÓgáin, 1999, p. 112 and notes 38, 44 and 45, p. 234 for references.