3.30 Mother Goddess

A small group of figurines are here identified as Mother Goddesses, although some have been published elsewhere as other female deities. Two are seated and hold a round object either in her hand or lap (560 and 640). The seated Dea Nutrix is regularly found in pipeclay figurines, but is fairly rare in metal. However, a similarly seated figure comes from Bern, Switzerland (Leibundgut 1980, 66-70 no. 60), and a seated figure holding a dish of fruit in her lap has been found in Nijmegen, the Netherlands (Zadoks-Josephus Jitta et al. 1973, 15 no. 17).

A second style shows her standing with her hands on her belly (234 and 337) or cradling a child in each arm (157). A particularly interesting example comes from Henley Wood temple in Somerset (5). It shows a stylised naked figure with close-set, deeply socketed eyes which may have held glass insets. Her hair is bound up and she wears a torc around her neck. The piece is worn, as if through years of handling, and, although it comes from a 4th-century context, it has been suggested that she is of much earlier origin, perhaps Iron Age in date (Henig 1996a, 131). Henig (1996a) also compares this to Figure 1170 from Aust, S. Gloucestershire, although a second example from the same location (512) has now been located at the British Museum. Both depict a naked female with elongated body, large buttocks, small breasts and deeply socketed eyes.

Finally, a standing figure from Woodeaton, Oxfordshire, which has also been identified as Venus (Walker 2009), shows a woman naked from the waist up with her right arm raised and left out to the side (151) while a crude figure with small rounded breasts very high on her chest comes from Owmby Cliff, Lincolnshire (674).


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