The Deae Matres ('Three Mothers') were three women sitting side-by-side. They held things such as bread, baskets of fruit, dogs and children to show that they encouraged plant, animal and human growth (fertility).
Stone carving of the Deae Matres, London.
The people of Roman Britain worshipped hundreds of different gods and goddesses. Some just ruled over a tiny area, such as a single hill or stream. These local gods were called genii, and people set up altars in these places to honour them.
Altar from the Roman fort at Maryport, 2nd or 3rd century AD
Mithras was a Persian god who was particularly popular with the army. He was worshipped in temples which were often underground. You can recognise Mithras by his clothes; a Phrygian (Turkish) cap, long cloak and trousers.
Mithras slaying the bull, from Rome, Italy, 2nd century AD.
Epona was a Celtic goddess. She protected horses and farmland. She was worshipped throughout Britain and Gaul and she even had a temple in Rome. Epona is usually shown with a horse and wearing a crown and a long robe.
Metal statue of Epona seated between two ponies, Wiltshire.
Lares were gods who protected the house. Small figures of Lares were kept in the home for good luck. They are usually shown as men dressed in short tunics, who sometimes dance. They carry drinking horns or dishes.
Copper alloy figure of Lar Familiaris from Suffolk.
Fortuna was the Roman goddess of fortune and luck – both good and bad. She was shown as a young woman wearing a long robe and carrying a cornucopia (a horn filled with flowers and fruit) and a dish. She was very popular in Britain.
Bone hairpin with head of Fortuna. London, 2nd century AD.
Apollo, god of prophecy and music, and his twin sister Diana, goddess of the hunt, were Greek gods adopted by the Romans. The twins are usually shown carrying bows and arrows. On this silver tray Diana is on the left and Apollo is on the right.
The Corbridge Lanx, Found in Northumberland, 4th century AD.
More figures of Mercury have been discovered from Roman Britain than all the other gods put together. He was young and athletic and wore a cloak and winged sandals so he could fly through the sky delivering messages to the gods.
Head of Mercury, from Gloucestershire, 2nd century AD.
Mars was the Roman god of war and also of farming. He was widely worshipped in Britain. Britain had more Roman troops stationed within it than any part of the Empire, and was one of the Empire’s main suppliers of grain.
Statuette of Mars, from Cambridgeshire, 2nd century AD.
Minerva was the Roman goddess of wisdom and war, but also of poetry, art, law, music and justice. She was popular in Roman Britain and was often merged with local goddesses such as Sulis. Minerva wears the snake-haired Medusa’s head on her chest.
Bronze bust of Minerva, from Rome, AD 50-150.
The Romans adopted Harpocrates from the Egyptian god Horus, the god of secrecy. He is usually shown as a winged child with one finger pressed to his lips. This gesture meant ‘child’ to the Egyptians but the Romans thought it meant 'silence'.
Figure of Harpocrates, river Thames, 1st-2nd century AD.
The main Roman god of the sea was Neptune, but in Britain Oceanus was also popular, probably because most of Britain is close to the sea. Oceanus was a titan - a kind of giant. Here you can see him with sea creatures in his hair.
Oceanus on a mosaic, from Roman Britain.