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Pagan Pilgrimage in Rome's Western Provinces

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Abstract:

The archaeological and textual evidence from the western provinces of the Roman Empire (Gaul, Germany and Britain) shows that a tradition of pagan pilgrimage, or sacred travel, existed in this region that was comparable to the sort of pilgrimage found elsewhere in the ancient Mediterranean world. This article considers four Romano-Celtic temple sites as examples of west- ern pilgrim destinations: Nettleton, Hochscheid, Fontes Sequanae and Thun- Allmendingen. The locations of these sites in relation to settlements and roads, the presence of amenities for pilgrims (hostels, theatres, and baths), as well as inscriptions by and votive offerings depicting pilgrims are discussed. It is proposed that pagan pilgrimage in the west probably dated back to the pre-Roman Iron Age, and in its Roman form would influence the genesis of early Christian pilgrimage in Late Antiquity.

Keywords: BRITAIN; GAUL; GERMANY; PILGRIMAGE; ROMAN ARCHAEOLOGY; ROMAN EMPIRE; ROMAN RELIGION; ROMANO-CELTIC RELIGION; TEMPLES; WESTERN PROVINCES

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: https://doi.org/10.11116/HEROM.1.4

Publication date: 2012-12-01

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  • HEROM is an annual online journal presenting innovative contributions tothe study of material culture produced, exchanged, and consumed within the spheres of the Hellenistic kingdoms and the Roman world. The journal publishes papers in the full range of the scholarly field and in all relevant academic disciplines within the arts, humanities, social sciences and environmental sciences. herom creates a bridge between material culture specialists and the wider scientific community, with an interest in how humans interacted with and regarded artefacts from the late 4th century bc to the 7th century ad.

    The journal seeks to provide more visibility for studies of material culture in many ways which are not necessarily covered by existing scholarly journals or conference proceedings. herom studies material culture in its totality, with a view to clarifying the complex wider implications of such evidence for understanding a host of issues concerning the economy, society, daily life, politics, religion, history of the ancient world, among other aspects.
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