3.29 Minerva and Senuna

Minerva, a member of the Capitoline Triad, daughter of Jupiter, a warrior and protectress and goddess of handicrafts, is one of the most common female deities, and some 33 examples have been found. She is usually depicted as a mature, fully clothed female wearing a helmet, long gown and often a breastplate depicting the gorgon. She may carry a spear and shield (e.g. 124, 125, 329, 340, 826 and 1150) or sometimes a patera (120 and 121). Only one example, Figure 119 from Isleworth, shows her seated.

A curious, stylised figure from Tamworth in Arden, Warwickshire, appears to be an equestrian (1153). She has been identified as Minerva on the basis of her helmet and possible armour (although she also has pronounced genitalia), and the fact that she is an equestrian may also link her to Epona (PAS database WAW-C54295).

Of particular interest is silver Figurine 753 from Ashwell, Hertfordshire, which has been identified as Senuna on the basis of inscriptions both on a pedestal and votive plaques at the site (Jackson and Burleigh 2007). She stands, fully draped and the presence of two arm fragments from the site, one holding a patera (807) and the other corn ears (808), suggest that the figurine may originally have been produced as a Fortuna but was used by the owner to represent the goddess Senuna. Although the plaques from the site are dedicated to Senuna, they depict Minerva and Jackson and Burleigh (2007, 48) suggest that although the Minerva plaques may have been used simply because they were the only depictions of a female deity available, there may also have been a deliberate pairing of the two deities.

An unusual recent find from Hinxworth, a site located very close to Ashwell, is a small figurine of a female goddess (754). She stands wearing a Corinthian helmet, gown and aegis, and holds a cornucopia in her left hand while the right is raised and probably held a spear. The clothing and attributes have led to her identification as Minerva-Fortuna, while the proximity of the find to Ashwell have led Burleigh and Jackson (2009) to suggest that she might have been used to represent Minerva-Fortuna-Senuna.


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