Saturday, December 19, 2015


Nehalennia (spelled variously) is a goddess. Of unclear origin, perhaps Germanic or Celtic, Nehalennia is attested on and depicted upon numerous votive altars discovered around what is now the province of Zeeland, the Netherlands, where the Rhine River flowed into the North Sea. Worship of Nehalennia dates back at least to the 2nd century BC, and veneration of the goddess flourished in the 2nd and 3rd centuries AD.

Nehalennia is attested on 28 inscriptions discovered in the Dutch town of Domburg on the Zeeland coast, when a storm eroded dunes in 1645, disclosing remains of a temple devoted to the previously unattested goddess Nehalennia.[1] A similar number were discovered in 1971-72 in the town of Colijnsplaat, and two others have been found in the Cologne-Deutz area of what is now Cologne, Germany.[2]

Nehalennia is almost always depicted with marine symbols and a large, benign-looking dog at her feet.[3][4] Hilda Ellis Davidson describes the votive objects:

Nehalennia, a Germanic goddess worshipped at the point where travellers crossed the North Sea from the Netherlands, is shown on many carved stones holding loaves and apples like a Mother Goddess, sometimes with a prow of a ship beside her, but also frequently with an attendant dog which sits looking up at her (Plate 5). This dog is on thirteen of the twenty-one altars recorded by Ada Hondius-Crone (1955:103), who describes him as a kind of greyhound.[5]

Davidson further links the motif of the ship associated with Nehalennia with the Germanic Vanir pair of Freyr and Freyja, as well as the Germanic goddess Nerthus and notes that Nehalennia features some of the same attributes as the Matres.[6]

The loaves that Nehalennia is depicted with on her altars have been identified as duivekatar, "oblong sacrificial loaves in the shape of a shin bone". Davidson says that loaves of this type may take the place of an animal sacrifice or animal victim, such as the boar-shaped loaf baked at Yule in Sweden, and that in Värmland, Sweden "within living memory" grain from the last sheaf was customarily used to bake a loaf into the shape of a little girl that is subsequently shared by the whole household. Davidson provides further examples of elaborate loaves—Harvest Loaves—at times in the shape of sheaves and displayed in churches, bread employed for the fertility of fields in Anglo-Saxon England with parallels in Scandinavia, and examples from Ireland.[7]

The Domburg inscriptions to Nehalennia inspired Marcus Zuerius van Boxhorn to produce a hasty etymology linking the name Nehalennia to an ancient Scythian,[8] with which he attempted, with the linguistic tools then available, to bridge the already-known connections between the European languages and modern Persian.[9]

Religious practices surrounding Nehalennia were at their peak in the 2nd and 3rd centuries AD, at which time there were at least two to possibly three temples located in the area of what is now Zeeland. At the time, this region on the sea coast was an important link for the trade between the Rhine area and Britain. It is known that the tribe of the Morini, who lived in what is now the Netherlands, bordering the North Sea coast, worshipped Nehalennia.[3] Visitors came to worship from as far away as Besançon, France and Trier, Germany.[3] Nehalennia had two sanctuaries or shrines, embellished with numerous altars: one at Domburg on the island of Walcheren, and another at Colijnsplaat on the shore of the Oosterschelde.[3]

In August 2005, a replica of the Nehalennia temple near the lost town of Ganuenta was opened in Colijnsplaat.[10]

From: Wiki
Nehalennia: ancient goddess, venerated in the Roman age at the mouth of the river Scheldt.
Nehalennia is known from more than 160 votive altars, which were almost all discovered in the Dutch province of Zeeland. (Two altars were discovered in Cologne, the capital of Germania Inferior.) All of them can be dated to the second and early third centuries CE. Most pieces show a young female figure, sitting on a throne in an apse between two columns, holding a basket of apples on her lap. Nearly always, there is a wolf dog at her side. In some cases, the fruit basket is replaced by something that looks like loaves of bread; in other cases, we can see the woman standing next to a ship or a prow.

Several inscriptions inform us that the votive altar was placed to show gratitude for a safe passage across the North Sea, and we may assume that other altars were dedicated for the same reason. (Of course, this does not mean that all pieces were erected after a safe passage.) An example of a typical inscription:

To the goddess Nehalennia,
on account of goods duly kept safe,
Marcus Secundinius Silvanus,
trader in pottery with Britain,
fulfilled his vow willingly and deservedly.


From: Here
Greetings Goddess Nehalennia,
Greetings protective Mother,
Goddess Nehalennia, who gives us fruitfulness,
Goddess Nehalennia, who give the land bountifulness,
Goddess Nehalennia, who protects the land from water,
Goddess Nehalennia, who protects people against water,
Goddess Nehalennia, who protects sailors and merchants from water,
Goddess Nehalennia, who protects trade from water,
Goddess Nehalennia, who brings prosperity through water,
Goddess Nehalennia, protecting Mother hear our prayers.
Protect us today against all dangers and grant us prosperity!

From: Here
Nehalennia was the Romano-Celtic goddess worshipped around the region of the Netherlands. Nehalennia was the goddess of seafarers, and was the tribal goddess of the Morini.

Nehalennia was depicted standing on prow of a boat, holding either an oar or rope in her hands. Nehalennia was also seen carrying a cornucopia or a basket of fruits, which symbolised fertility, and suggesting she was the goddess of fertility.

From: Here

Also see:

Website for her temple relica (in Dutch, use Google Translate)
Info and pics
Celtnet article
Another article

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