Ancestral Mothers and Goddess Collectives in German Iron Age Votive Altars and Inscriptions dedicated to the “Matrones”.


“Modraniht id et matrum nocturnum” – «The Modraniht is the Night of the Mothers”

(Bede, 7th century AD, “De Temporum Ratione 13”, about how the heathen Angles in England hold a sacrifice at New year in the “Night of the Mothers”)

The Tribal Mothers


During the Roman Iron Age, 1st to 4th centuries AD, German and Celtic tribes who were either living in or else in close contact with the Roman Empire raised thousands of votive altars with inscriptions celebrating “The Mothers” – Mothers of the tribe, Mothers of federations of tribes, Mothers of rivers, Mothers of towns, Mothers of clans, Mothers of lands, as well as countless “Mothers” whose functions clearly overlap that of goddesses – and they are also often called “deae” – “goddesses” – goddesses of healing, prosperity, justice, fate, abundance, war, truce, pledges, fortune and so on.

The inscriptions name hundreds of such “Mothers”, and sometimes they are connected to a particular single goddess, who will appear both as a singular deity and as a collective of “mothers”.

The phenomenon has been taken as evidence for an Iron Age “Matron Cult” – that is, a cult dedicated to ancestral mothers, some of whom are clearly also goddesses, or receive the same kind of attention as goddesses (sacrifice, prayer, altars).

The votive altars are clearly influenced by Roman art, and the inscriptions are in Latin. Yet it is entirely possible to deduce meaning from the names of the mother collectives – they are either Germanic or else Celtic, often associated with the name of a tribe or a place, or a type of place, but also with rivers and with various divine functions.

The “Mothers” are referred to either as “Matres” or “Matrones”, the Latin word for “Mother” in plural (Old Norse Módir). Sometimes there are also prayers inscribed.

Because it is a cult of feminine entities called Mothers, it has often been thought that they were part of a “cult of the home and hearth”, mostly attended to by women. But this has no basis in the evidence: In the several cases where the name of the person who raised the altar is inscribed, it is always a man, and the prayers are universal, the Mothers were clearly thought to rule all aspects of existence and equally relevant to men and women.

In the 7th century AD, the scribe Bede (born 673 D) wrote that the heathen Angles of England celebrated The Night of the Mothers as their New Year celebration. The cult is thought to be related to the Old Norse Viking Age cult of the Dísir (“goddesses), also appearing in collectives, and including both goddesses, giantesses and so called Fylgjur (“followers”), who are partly divine souls of ancestral mothers who follow their descendants as guardian and guiding spirits. Many Scandinavian tribes were also named after ancestral mothers, who were also often associated with rivers.

Here follows a list of the German Mothers in alphabetical order, where the votive stones were found, how many (number often in caption) andwhat their names may mean.

 In the end follows some Old Norse Edda poetry referring to ancestral mothers. Enjoy, and hail the mothers!

Abiamarcae/Ambiamarcae (Borderland Mothers)

Inscriptions: “Matronis Abiamarcis”. “Matronibus Ambiorenesibus”

Where: Floisdorf near Aachen, West Germany (2)

Meaning: Abiamarcae = “Land Beyond” (or “Borderland March”). Ambiamarca = “People of the Marches. Matronis Abiamarcis: “Mothers to the March/Rhine people”.

Abirenae (River Mothers)

Inscription: “Matronis Abirenibus”

Where: Deutz, West Germany (1)

Meaning: Abirenae= “Of the Rhine Borderland”. Matronis Ambirenae= “Mothers of the Rhine People”

Afliae (Powerful, Creative Mothers)

Inscriptions: “Matronis Afliabus”. “Matronis Aflims”

Where: Cologne, Germany (2)

Meaning: Afliae = (ON: Afla= “power”, “procreation”): Matronis Afliabus: “To The Powerful, Procreative Mothers”

Ahinehiae (Mothers Of the River)

Meaning: Ahinehiae – from OHG “aha”: “Water, River” – “The River Mothers”
Where: Blankenheim, near Aachen, West Germany (1)

Ahueccaniae (Prophetic Magic Water Women)

Inscriptions:”Ahueccanis Avehae et Hellivesae”

Meaning: “Prophetic Magic Water Beings”

-        *ahwo, OHG “aha” – “Water”, “River”

-        *wiccian, AngloSaxon – “To Conjure”, “Do Magic”

-        *wicken, MHG – “To Prophecy”

Where: Gleuel, Cologne, Germany (1) (dated to 201.A.D)

Alaferhviae (Great, Life-Giving Mothers)

Inscriptions: “Matronibus Alaferhiviabus”

Meaning: Either: “The Great Life Giving Mothers” (*ferh (OHG)/*feorh (AngloSaxon)= “life”) or is else derived from *fereheih (OHG) = “tree, oak”, when we get:  “The Mothers Belonging to All Trees” (Trees are metaphors for people and lineages) or “The Mothers Belonging to All Oaks” (Oak is a female tree, symbolizing woman, so that the meaning could be “The Mothers of All Mothers” (of lineages).

Where: Jülich, West Germany (several)

Alagabiae  (All-Giving Mothers)

Inscriptions: “Matronis Alagabius”

Meaning: “Mothers Who Give Everything”

Where: Bürgel, Solingen, West Germany, fourth century AD (1)

Thought to be a Germanic counterpart to the partially Celticized matron name Ollogabiae. It is possible that the same matrons were venerated under both names among the mixed Germanic-Celtic population on the lower Rhine.

Alaisiagae (Venerated Mothers)

Inscriptions: “Duabus Alaisiabis, Baudihillia et Friagabis”, “Duabus Alaisiabis, Beda et Fimmilena”, “Duabus Alaisiabis et Thingus”

Meaning: “The Two Venerated Ones” (identified as Baudihilla/Beda and Friagabis/Fimmilena) in one instance associated with “Thingus” – Mars (the god of war).

The names of the Two Venerated Ones, Baudihilla/Beda and Friagabis/Fimmilena has been associated with the Frisian law terms Bodthing and Fimelthing – “Summon” and “Sentence”, and even when studied on their own the names indicate that the Two Venerated Ones were closely related to a court of justice, and that they may have been goddesses of law and justice.

Where: Housesteads on Hadrian´s Wall (Cumbria) (3 inscriptions)

Alateivia (The All Divine One)

Inscription: “Alateiviae ex iussu Divos medicus”

Meaning: “To The All Divine One, on her own command, from the physician Divos” – possibly a goddess of healing.

Where: Xanten (1)

Alaterviae (All Loyal/Oak Tree Mothers)

Inscriptions: “Matribus Alatervis (et Matribus Campestribus)”

Meaning: “The All-Loyal Mothers (and the Countryland(?)…(?) Mothers)” or “The Mothers of the Oak Trees” (Oak trees=women, lineages)

Where: Edinburgh


Albiahenae (Mothers of Albiniacum)

Meaning: Possibly connected to the place Albiniacum. Mothers connected to that place and its people.

Where: Ober-Elvenich, Euskirchen, West Germany

Alhiahenae (Temple/Oak Mothers)

Inscriptions: “Matronis Alhiahenabus”

Meaning: “Mothers of the Temples”/”Mothers of Oaks” (Oak= feminine tree=Woman, Ancestress, Lineage)

Where: Neidenstein, Heidelberg

Almaviaheniae (Elm Path Mothers)

Where: Cologne

Meaning: Associated with the river Elm (OHG: Elmaha) or to the tree-sort elm. Possibly a Celtic origin: The “Matrae Almahae” – suggesting a Celtic origin to the name. (Elm=feminine tree=Woman, Ancestress, Lineage)

Alusneihae (Beer Mothers)

Where: Inden-Pier, Kreis Düren, West Germany (2)

Meaning: From Gmc «aluþ» -- «Beer», «Intoxicating Drink» -- the second part of the name is uncertain, but is possibly the same as the mysterious “neha” in the goddess name Nehallennia: Is it from LAT *nex, *necare – “To Kill”, or from the verb “helan” – “To Hide”, or from Gmc *neu – associated with words for seafaring or approximation (“Mothers of Beer Approaching”, “Mothers of Beer Ships” or something along that line).


Ambiamarcae/ Ambiomarciae (Mothers of the Fenced in Marchlands)

Inscription (LAT) in votive altar at Deutz (dated 252 AD): “In honorem domus divinae et genio loci, Ambiamarcis, Ambiorenesibus, Marti Victori, Mercurio, Neptuno, Cereri, diis deabusque omnibus

(“In Honor of the divine house and the protective spirits of this place, the Ambiamarcae (Mothers), Ambiorenis (Mothers), the victorious Mars (god of war), Mercury (god of divine messages), Neptun (god of oceans), Ceres (goddess of Earth), and all the gods and goddesses”)

Where: Deutz (1), Wardt, West Germany (dated 218 AD) (1), Remagen (1): “et Genio loci, Marti, Herculi, Mercurio, Ambiomarcis” (“and the protective spirits, Mars, Hercules (Thor), Ambiomarcae”)

Meaning: The name may be related to a particular place called Ambia (Embt today). The name seems to be a Celtic-Germanic mixed formation with strong Roman influence (although the names Mars, Mercury, Neptun and Ceres and Hercules would have been used in Latin for the gods Týr, Odin, Njord and Frigg/Freyia and Thor).

Ambiorenses (Mothers of Both Sides)

Where: Deutz (1)

Meaning: “Mothers of Both Sides of the Rhine” (ancestral mothers to people on both sides, perhaps both Celts and Germans, or of two tribes).

Amfratninae (Mothers of Success)

Where: Eschweiler, Germany (12)

Meaning: OHG *frad – “capable”, *fradi – “efficiency”, “success”


Inscription: «Matronis Amnesahenis»

Where: Cologne, Germany

Meaning: Probably Celtic name

Andrusteinhiae (The Mother Followers)

Where: Bonn, Godesberg, Cologne (3)

Meaning: Old Franconian “antrustio”- “follower”, same meaning as ON “fylgja” – a female guardian spirit and ancestral mother to a particular lineage or tribe.

Anesiaminehae (The Mothers of the River Anesus)

Where: Zülpich (1)

Meaning: The name is possibly Celtic and refers to rhe river name Anesus, Anasus (nowadaysEnns) which is however far away from the situation of the find (could be due to migrations, an ancestral mother of a tribe connected to the River Anesus having moved on). Otherwise uncertain meaning.

Annaneptiae (The Favorable/Generous Kinswomen Mothers)

Inscription: «Matribus Annaneptis»

Where: Xanten (233 AD) (1)

Meaning: LAT “Matres” – “Mothers”, OHG “Unnan” – “To Grant”/Gothic “ansts” – “favour”, and ON “Nipt” – “Sister”, “Female Relative”, “Kinswomen” – the name Annaneptiae meaning “Mothers (of/who are) Granting/Favorable/Generous Sisters/Kinswomen”. (Kinswomen could here also mean followers, spirit beings, ancestral mother souls who guard and protect and grant favors to their descendants).

Arvagastiae (Arwagasti´s Mothers)

Inscription: “Matronis Arvagastis”

Where: Müddersheim near Aachen, West Germany (150 AD) (1)

Meaning: From the Germanic personal name *Arwagasti (Franconian Arbogastes, Arvagastes, 4th/5th century).

(My interpretation: Possibly the ancestral mothers of a particular clan, either with a male ancestor called Arwagasti or with a male descendant called Arwagasti who raised the altar to his clan-mothers.)

Arvolecia (Goddess of Quick Healing)

Inscription: “Deae Arvolecie”

Where: Brough, England (150 AD) (1)

Meaning: Arvolecia is probably a Germanic name and perhaps means “The Quick Healer”. The goddess votive altar was raised by one Maiotius in 150 AD England – his name is Celtic. Celtic-German overlapping was very common at this time.

Asericinehae (Mothers of the Ancestral Reign)

Inscription: “Matronis Asericinehabus”, “Matronis Aserecinehis”

Where: at Odenhausen (“Odins Houses”) and Odendorf (“Odins Place”) in Cologne, Germany (3)

Meaning: Possibly related to the Germanic personal name *Ansu-rik, according to Simek´s Dictionary of Northern Mythology. Thus they could represent the ancestral mothers of a person called Ansurik and his lineage. But the name Ansurik/Ansoricus means “Ancestral Reign”. I think the name of the goddess collective thus could mean “Mothers of the Ancestral Reign”.

Audrinehae (Mothers of Divine Support  - Mothers of Destiny)

Inscriptions: “Matronis Audrinehae” (4), “M.Auðrinehae” (1), “M.Authrinaheae” (1), “M.Autrinahenae” (1)

Where: Hermühlheim, Cologne (Germany) (7)

Meaning: Proto-Norse *auja – “divine protection”, or ON “auða” – “destiny”, “fate”

Aufanie ( Goddess(es) of Sacred Abundance)

Inscriptions: Nearly 90 inscriptions are dedicated to the singular “Deae Aufaniae” (Goddess Aufania) or “Sanctae Aufania” (Sacred Aufania) or else the plural “Matronis Aufaniabus” (Aufania-Mothers).

Where: They are found around Bonn, Nettersheim, Cordoba/Spain and Lyon/France, and at the Lower Rhine, dating between 164 AD-235 AD and particularly numerous around the year 200 AD.

Meaning: Aufanie suggests “generous ancestral mother” from Gothic “ufjo” – “abundance”

Aumenahae (Mothers of the River Aumenau)

Inscriptions: “Matronis” or “Matribus Aumenahenis”

Where: Cologne, Germany (2)

Meaning: Connected to the river name Oumena/Aumenau near Ems and der Lahn.

Austriahenae (Mothers of the Eastern Tribes)

Inscriptions: “Matronis Austriahenis”

Where: More than 150 votive stones from the cult of matrons were found in Morken-Harff, all except one was dedicated to the these mothers.

Meaning: “The Eastern Ones” (like the “Austri/Ostro” in Ostrogoths: “The Eastern Goths”)             


Inscription: “Matronis Rumanehis item Aviatinehis” (“To the Rumanehae mothers and the Aviatinehae”)

Where: Bürgel, Solingen, West Germany

Meaning: Uncertain

Axisinginehae (Mothers of the Grain Ears)

Where: Cologne (1)

Meaning: Related to Gothic “ahs” – “ear” of grain.

Baduhenna (Goddess of Battle)

Where: Frisia.

Source: Tacitus, in his “Annales”, IV, 73) writes that a grove in Frisia was dedicated to Baduhenna and that 900 Roman soldiers were slaughtered near this grove in 28 AD.

Meaning: Cognate with *batwa – “battle”, and “-henae”, which is uncertain in meaning but often a part of German matron names, possibly having the meaning of “goddess” or “matron”.

Berguiahenae (Oak Mothers, Mountain Mothers)

Inscriptions: “Matronis Berhuiahenis” “…rguiahenis”, “…B..guinehis”

Where: Gereonsweiler, Jülich, Germany (2) and Tetz near Aachen (1).

Meaning: Possibly related to OHG “fereheih” – “oak”, but uncertain meaning. I wonder if the ON “bergr” – “mountain” could be a possible association.


Where: Utrecht (2)

Meaning: Celtic (means I don’t know)


Where: Cologne (2)

Meaning: Celtic

Burorina (The Provider Goddess)

Where: Walcheren (1)

Meaning: From Anglo-Saxon “byrele” – “giver”. The meaning of her name is cognate with Celtic/Germanic goddess Rosmerta (The Great Provider) and the Norse goddess name for Freyia, Gefion/Gefn (The Provider). Very common meaning of many important goddess names.


Where: Euskirchen, Germany (1)

Meaning: Unknown. Possibly Celtic.

Cantrusteihiae (Mothers of the Condrusi Tribe)

Four 2nd and third century votive stones.

Meaning: Unknown, possibly Celtic and derived from the tribal name Condrusi.


Where: Billig near Euskirchen, Germany (1)

Meaning: Unknown

Ethrahenae (Mothers of the Fences/Borders)

Where: Wollersheim and Rödingen (2)

Meaning: OHG “ettar” -- fence”, “border”.

Euthungae (Mothers of the Suebi Luthungi Tribe)

Inscription: “Matribus Suebis Euthungabus”

Where: Cologne (1)

Meaning: From the tribe Luthungi, one of the Suebian tribes. These mothers were obviously tribal ancestral mothers.

Fernovineae (Mothers of the Old Rivers)

Inscriptions:”Matronis Fernovineis/Fernovinehis”

Where: Meckenheim and Cologne (2)

Meaning: *fern-awi – “Old Stream”

Frisavae (Mothers of the Frisian Ancestors)

Inscription: “Matribus Frisavis Paternis” (To the Mothers of the Frisian Ancestors)

Where: Wissen, near Xanten, Germany

Meaning: Matres (LAT): “Mothers”, Frisavae= “Of the Frisian (tribe)”, “Paternis (LAT)=”Ancestors”

Gabiae (The Generous Mothers)

Inscription: At least ten votive stones dedicated to “Matronis Gabiabus”, and one saying “Iunonibus Gabiabus”  iunones is Latin and means the same as matrons – “mothers”, ancestral mothers)

Where: Rövenich near Euskirkchen, Germany

Meaning: Cognate with the ON goddess name Gefion (Gefn, Freyia): Generous, Giving, Providing

Gamaleda (The Old Great Grandmother Goddess)

Inscription dedicated to the “Ammacae sive Gamaledae” on votive altar

Where: Maastrich, Netherlands (1)

Meaning: Gamaleda is related to ON “gamall” – “old” and ON “Edda” – “Great Grandmother”. (Ammaca is a Gaulish goddess)

Gantunae (The Goose Women)

Inscriptions: “Gantunis Flossia Paterna” (Goose Women, Ancestral Mothers of the Flosi Tribe)

Where: Cologne, Germany (1)

Meaning: *ganta = “goose” (associated with an ancient cult of water birds and water bird goddesses common in both Indo-European and Finno-Ugric traditions)

Garmangabis (The Great Generous Giver Goddess)

Where: Durham, North England (1) dated 238-244 AD. The votive stone was set up by members of the Suebi tribe stationed there.

Gavadiae (The Goddesses of Pledges)      

Inscriptions: Eight votive stones from around 200 AD dedicated to the “Matronis Gavadiabus”.

Where: Jülich (6), Mönchengradbach (2)

Meaning: Related to Gothic “wadi” = “pledge” and “gawadijon” – “betroth”. Goddesses of either vows and oaths or matchmaking.

Gavasiae (The Clothing Mothers)

Inscriptions: “Matronis Gavasiabus”

Where: Cologne (1)

Meaning: Gothic “gawasjon” – “clothe”, thought to refer to the making of swaddling clothes for a baby (midwifery). Seeing as women provided clothing in general, I think the name could just refer to the essentially female function of protecting and providing people with clothing.

Matres Germanae (The Mothers of the Germans)

Inscription: “Matribus meis Germanis Suebis”, “Matribus Italis Germanis Gallis Britis”

Where: Cologne (2)

Meaning: “German” (and Italian, Gallic and British), Mothers of the People.

Deae Gratichae (The Graticha Goddess)

Where: Euskirchen (several)

Meaning: Uncertain

Guinehae (The Guinehae Mothers)

Where: Tetz (1)

Meaning: Uncertain

Hamavehae (The Mothers of the Chamavi Tribe)

Where: Alrdorf (3)

Meaning: The name is thought to be derived from the tribal name Chamavi

Dea Hariasa (The Ruler Goddess or the Goddess of Rulers)

Where: Cologne (1) 187 AD

Meaning: Related to the ON word for “ruler” – heri, or “to rule” – heria, etymologically connected to a valkyria name: Herja (“To Rule”)

Havae (The High Mothers)

Where: Merzenich near Düren.

Meaning: Semantically close to the ON word for “High” – “háva”/”hárr”


Thought to be the same as the Kannanefates


Thought to be the same as the Kannanefates

Hiheriaiae (The Jay Bird Mothers)

Where: Enzen near Euskirchen (1)

Meaning: From Old Germanic*hihera – “jay”

Deae Hurstaergae (The Hurstaerga Goddesses)

Where: Tiel/Holland (2nd/3rd century AD)

Meaning: Unknown

Dea Idbangabia (The Hard Working Provider Goddess)

Where: Pier, Düren/Germany (1)

Meaning: Possibly from Idiangabia, ON:Iðinn = hard working, OHG Gabia = ON: Gefia – “to give”, “to provide” (like in the goddess name Gefion)

Iulineihiae (The Mothers of Juliacum)

Where: Müntz near Jülich

Meaning: From the name of the town Juliacum (= Jülich)

Kannanefates (The Mothers of the Ancestors of the Cannanefatium Regiment)

Inscription: “Matribus paternis Kannanefatibus”

Where: Cologne

Meaning: The XXX legion of the Roman army was called the Canennefatium, and this inscription seems to have been made by Germanic or Celtic soldiers of the Roman army who call on the protection of their ancestral mothers – now the mothers of the regiment.

Leudinae (The Mothers of Leudiacum)

Where: Derichsweller near Düren

Meaning: From the town name Leudiacum or Leudium – possibly the same as present day Lüttich.

Mahalinehae (Mothers of the Justice Court)

Where: Cologne (2)

Meaning: Either from the place name Mecheln, or else to Germanic *mahal – “place of justice”, “parliament”

Masanae (The Masanae Mothers)

Inscription: “Matribus Masanabus” (“To the Masanae Mothers”)

Where: Cologne (1), Germany

Meaning: Uncertain

Deae Mediotautehae (Goddesses of the Midland)

Where: Cologne (1)

Meaning: “Midland” – possibly Celtic.

Dea Meduna (Goddess of Spring)

Where: Bad Betrich,Germany (1)

Meaning: Uncertain, possibly Celtic – probably to do with spring

Dea Menmanhia (Necklace Bearing Goddess (?)

Where: Rome, Italy

Meaning: Probably Germanic but uncertain meaning. (ON: Mén=Jewel, Necklace, Menia= “Servant girl”, “Necklace Bearer”)

Naitineae (River Mothers)

Where: Cologne

Meaning: Probably derived from the name of a river

Dea Nehalennia (Goddess of Seafaring (?), Goddess of Hidden Death (?)

Where: Domburg, Walcheren, Netherlands (28), Colijnsplaat, Nord-Beveland (28), Cologne, Germany (2) – about 58 inscriptions found to Nehalennia altogether

Meanings: From *neu – “ship”, or else from “nex”/ “necare”  = Death, To Kill, and *helan = hide

Nervinae (Mothers of the Nervi Tribe)

Where: Bavay, North France

Meaning: Derived from the Germanic tribe Nervii.

Ollogabiae (Mothers of Plentiful Provisions)

Where: Mainz (2) “Matronae Ollogabiae”

Meaning: A Celtic counterpart to the Germanic Alagabiae and roughly means the same

Ratheithiae (Mothers of the Fate Wheel)

Where: Euskirchen, Germany (1)

Meaning: Proto-Germanic *raþa, “wheel” (i.e. fate)

Dea Ricagambeda (The Strong Lady Goddess)

Where: Hadrian´s Wall, North England “Deae Ricagambedae”

Meaning: Some different possibilities, but related -- Simek lands on the meaning “Strong Lady”, which seems to best convey the sense of what is meant in any case.

Rumanehae/Romanehae (Mothers of the Roman Settlement)

Where: Lower Rhine around 200 AD, “Matrinos Rumanehis” (more than a dozen found)

Meaning: Mothers of Germanic peoples who lived in Roman settlements

Saithchamiae (Mothers of Magic)

Where: Hoven near Zülpich (2)

Meaning: Related to ON seiðr= magic, divination, witchcraft.

Dea Sandraudiga (Goddess of True Wealth)

Where: Zundert, Holland. “Deae Sandraudigae cultores temple”

Meaning: ON “sannr” – true, Gothic “audags” – “rich”

Seccanehae (Mothers of the Clan of Secchus)

Where: Aachen, Germany

Meaning: Perhaps related to the personal name Secchus

Dea Sibulca (Sibyl Goddess)

Where: Bonn

Meaning: Uncertain (to do with “sibylla”?)

Dea Sulevia (Goddess of Hot Springs)

Where: Trier (1)

Meaning: Uncertain, possibly related to goddess Sulis from Bath, England: “Goddess of Hot Springs”

Matronae Suleviae (Mothers of Hot Springs)

Where: More than forty inscriptions from all over the Roman Empire between 89 AD-160 AD

Meaning: Uncertain, possibly related to goddess Sulis from Bath, England: “Goddess of Hot Springs”

Dea Sunucsal/Sunuxal (Goddess of the Sunuci Tribe)

Where: Ten inscriptions from the Lower Rhine, one dated to 239 AD.

Meaning: Related to the German tribe Sunuci

Teniavehae (Mothers of Teniaveha)

Where: Blankenstein, Aachen, Germany (1)

Meaning: Possibly related to a place-name

Textumeihae (Mothers of the Gods of the Southern People)

Where: Several votive stones along the Lower Rhine

Meaning: Gutenbrunner related the name to meaning “gods of the southern people”, perhaps from Gothic “taishwa”, Old Irish “dess” – “right”, “south”, according to Birkhan it may mean “Bringers of Joy”

Dea Travalaeha (The Desired Goddess)

Where: Cologne, Germany (1)

Meaning: Connected with the name þrawija on the Swedish rune stone from Kalleby and with the Proto-Norse þrawo – “to long”, “to desire”

Tummaestiae (Mothers of House Constructions)

Where: Sinzenich near Euskirchen, “Matronis Tumaestis”

Meaning: The Helping Goddesses of the House or the Building Site

Turstuahenae (Mothers of Trolls´ Power)

Where: Derichsweiler, Düren, Germany (2), 2nd and 3rd centuries AD

Meaning: Probably from ON þurs – «thurse», «troll» (and OHG duris, thuris), also meaning “mighty”. Some think it is from Gothic þaurstei – «thirst»

Udravarinehae /Udrovarinehae (Mothers of the Otter Dam)

Where: Lower Rhine (2)

Meaning: to do with otters and dams (associated with the many river mothers)

Ulauhinehae (Mothers of the Owl Grove / Mothers of the River Flow)

Where: Gleich near Füssensich (1)

Meaning: from *uwa-lauha – “Owl-Grove” or else from *plau/pleu – “flow”, hence “river goddess”

Vacallinehae (Mothers of the River Vahalis and the People of Vacall)

Where: Over 130 inscriptions from the 2nd and 3rd centuries from the temple area at Pesch, Kreis Aachen and around that area. Additionally, 10 inscriptions in another place and 150 fragmented inscriptions from around the same area that are probably dedicated to the same goddesses.

Also: Vocallinehae, at Pesch, Germany (7)

Meaning: derived from the place name *Vacall – probably the same as Wachendorf near Antweiler on the stream Wachenbach, or else from the river name Waal/Vahalis.

Dea Vagdavercustis (Goddess of Warlike Virtues)

Where: Seven votive stones around the Lower Rhine, Plumtonwall on Hadrian´s wall in North England and one from Hungary (!)

Meaning: “Warlike Virtue”

Vallabnaehiae/Vallamaeneihiae (Mothers of the Valamni clan)

Where: Cologne, Germany

Meaning: Related to the Celtic personal name Valamni

Vapthiae (The Vapthia Mothers)

Where: Lower Rhine after 150 AD)

Meaning: Uncertain

Vataranehae/Veteranehae¨(The Water Mothers)

Where: Embeken near Düren, Germany

Vatviae (The Clairvoyant Mothers)

Where: Rödingen (3), Morken-Haff (5), Germany

Meaning: Germanic “Water” or else from Latin “vates” – “seer”

Dea Vercana (Goddess of Works, or Birch Goddess)

Where: Bad Betrich (1), Ernstweiler (1)

Meaning: *werka – “Work”, or else the name of the b-rune, ON “bjarkan”, from “birch”. The birch played a role in folk medicine.

Vesuneiahenae (Mothers of Wisse)

Where: Vettweis (5)

Meaning: Possibly from the place Wisse, now Vettweiss.

Dea Vihansa (Goddess of Dedications or Goddess of Battle)

Where: Tongern in Belgium, a bronze plaque dedicating shield and spear to this goddess from a centurion of the III legion.

Meaning: Germanic *wihan – “to fight”, or from *wihan – “to dedicate”

Viradecdis /Viradestis, Viratehis, Virodacthis (Goddess of Manly Virtue)

Where: Vechten (1), Birrens, North England (1), Lower Rhine (2), Trebur (1)

Meaning: From Celtic ferdaht – “masculinity”



Main source: Rudolf Simek “Dictionary of Northern Mythology”



The Poetic Edda on some Ancestral Mothers

Lyfjaberg þat heitir, ——-It is called the Mountain of Medicines
en þat hefir lengi verit —and it has long been
sjúkum ok sárum gaman; -the joy of the sick and the wounded;
heil verðr hver, ————-healed is anyone
þótt hafi árs sótt, ——-- -even from years of agony
ef þat klífr, kona.———--if a woman climbs it.


…vat þær meyjar heita, —What are the maidens called
er fyr Menglaðar knjám—-who by the knees of Lady Jewel Joy
sitja sáttar saman?———-sit together in unity?


Hlíf heitir, ——————--Life, one is called
önnur Hlífþrasa, ————another, Life Seeker
þriðja Þjóðvarta, ———--the third is Guardian of the People
Björt ok Blíð, —————-Bright and Kind
Blíðr, Fríð, ——————-Friendly and Peace
Eir ok Örboða.————--Healing Goddess and Bids Abundance.


[Bjarga] svinnar, ————They offer salvation
hvar er menn blóta þær —-when men sacrifice to them
á stallhelgum stað; ———-in a high holy place;
eigi svá hátt forað————-Never is the need so great
kemr at hölða sonum, ———-that can come to the people
hvern þær ór nauðum nema.—that they cannot remove the need.

Fjölsvinnsmál. St. 36- 40


Vard einn borin——--One was born
i ardaga —————-- at the time before time
rammaukin miok —— great growing, very powerful
raugna kindar; ———of the kind of the rulers;

niu baru þann———— Nine mothers bore
naddgaufgann mann—-the great noble man
iotna meyiar ————Giants´ maidens bore him
vid iardar þraum——--at the edge of Earth:

Hann Gialp vm bar, ——Howling One bore him
hann Greip vm bar, ——Grasping One bore him
bar hann Eistla ———--He was born by the Glowing One
ok Eyrgiafa, —————-and by Island-Provider
hann bar Vlfrun———--Wolf-Rune bore him
ok Angeyia,—————-and Pleasure Island
Imdr ok Atla—————She-Wolf and Intender

ok Iarnsaxa  —————and Iron Scissors

Hyndlulióð, st. 35, 37, Poetic Edda


Dísir bið þú þér ————Ask you the goddesses to your aid

dróttins mála —————they who are of the speech of the Ruler

vera hollar í hugum; ——to be benevolent to you in intent

viku eptir ——————- for a week after

mun þér vilja þíns ———all shall pass according to your will

alt at óskum ganga ——-all shall pass as you wish


Sólarlióð, st. 25, Poetic Edda


6 Responses to Ancestral Mothers and Goddess Collectives in German Iron Age Votive Altars and Inscriptions dedicated to the “Matrones”.

  1. willem versteeg says:

    You say “Gamaleda” is to be found in Maastrich in the Netherlands. But can you tell me where I can find Gamaleda.
    Thanks Willem Versteeg

  2. Marjorie says:

    I’m glad you find such inspiration in the matrones! Unfortunately your presentation contains some inaccuracies. The matrones are not mothers, they are norns – goddesses associated with fate/destiny. They are not bringing abundance, they are receiving gifts from supplicants.

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  6. Gnarlodious says:

    I think this affirmation of female power was a reaction to the brutal hyper-masculine Roman military that was invading Europe. The Roman god-hero Hercules, for example, was to have killed all the Amazons and abducted their queen as one of his rites of initiation. Roman military power was based on one resource, iron smelting, for which they stripped Europe of trees for fuel. It would be the environmental disaster along with the war on women that motivated the Germanic people to affirm their dedication to goddesshood, by producing the icons listed above.

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