The Maiden Castle Roman Temple

The Maiden Castle Roman Temple

This type of temple is called ‘Romano-Celtic’, since it is common in all the Celtic provinces of the Roman Empire. In the centre was the ‘cella’ or house of the god, where the images were kept, and around it a covered walk or portico. There was no need to find room for a congregation, since people came individually to make offerings and bring petitions. This temple was built after 367, and was still in use at the end of the Roman period. It is one of many examples showing that paganism in Britain remained vigorous after Christianity had conquered the rest of the Empire.

A similar temple at Jordon Hill near Weymouth, without a portico, was found to have a pit with sixteen successive layers of birds’ bones, each with a coin, separated by stone slabs. Both were placed on hills where they were visible for miles in every direction. The foundations of each can now be seen, and at Maiden Castle also those of the two—roomed priest’s house alongside.