reference information

More details can be found on the decoding leaflet.

(a 'promised' inscription)Ligatures (joined letters), along with reversed letters and other shortening features, are common on inscriptions after the 1st Century AD.

1. The name of the god or goddess. DEA = goddess
The spelling of the name is slightly different (it is in the DATIVE case) to show that the stone is dedicated TO the god or goddess.

2. The reason for the offering.
PRO = on behalf of ......... , PRO SALUTE ET INCOLUMITATE = for the health and safety of ...
EX VISU = following a vision, or holy dream, perhaps when sleeping in a temple.

3. The name of the person making the offering, perhaps their father's name, and where they came from.

4. Formulae such as
D D (Dono Dedit: gave this as a gift)
V S L M (Votum Solvit Libenter Merito = kept his promise freely to [the god who] deserved it)
SACRUM FECIT = made this sacred offering.


Gods & Goddesses

Deae Suli Minervae
to the goddess Sulis Minerva (Celtic/Roman)

Loucetio Marti
to Loucetius Mars

Na [Diana] Sacratissima
very sacred Diana

to Nemetona

Numin[ibus] Aug[ustorum]
to the Divinities of the Emperors

to the Suleviae
(a German name for the Celtic Mother Goddesses)

Virtuti et Numini Aug[usti]
to the Virtue and Divinity of the Emperor



Aufidius Eutuches
a freedman

Gaius Curatius Saturninus
a centurion

Gaius Severius Emeritus
a centurion

Lucius Marcius Memor
a senior priest 'haruspex'

Marcus Aufidius Lemnus
a freedman (ex-slave)

Marcus Aufidius Maximus
a centurion

someone's father

he was Secundus' son

he was Toutius' son

he was Brucetus' son

he was Maturus' son

Vettius Benignus
a freedman (ex-slave)

status/job/rank in Army

civis, cives
a citizen or tribesman

f, fil, filius (or filia)
a son (or daughter)

a freedman/woman (ex-slave)

se suisque / se et suis
himself and his family

a senior priest whose job it was to predict the future after looking at the internal organs of sacrificed animals.

a stonemason

a stonemason

a centurion

> regionarius
a centurion
in charge of the area

II Legionis Augustae
2nd Legion, named 'the Emperor's'. Based in Britain from c.74 AD.

VI Legionis Victricis
6th Legion, named 'Victorious'. Transferred to Britain c.122 AD.


cives Carnutenus
a tribesman of the Carnutes

of Trier, in Germany

links to other pages



Public information, Publicity and Propaganda

Religious (Votive) Inscriptions at Aquae Sulis

Altars Decoding leaflet
Worksheets on individual stones


Several curse tablets have been found in the sacred spring, illustrating another feature of Roman religion. Scroll to the end of this page for details.

Every Roman town had a Bath house, but only Aquae Sulis ('waters of Sulis') had a natural spring of hot water to feed it! This spring was regarded as sacred to Sulis by the native Britons, and when the Romans took over they decided that Sulis must be the local name for their own goddess Minerva, the goddess of hot springs and healing waters.

That is why they built a Temple next to the spring, and then allowed the hot water to run into the adjoining magnificent set of Baths. As well as the jointly-named Sulis Minerva, we find other deities with a combination of Roman and Celtic names.

This short video shows you how to interpret votive altars with the aid of the Altars Decoding leaflet. The fictitious stone on the decoder is quite a complicated one: most do not have all this information. The decoder contains everything you need to translate all the religious stones in the museum at Bath.

THE TEMPLE COURTYARD is where you will find this first stone. It is displayed in situ in the museum, very close to the sacrificial altar which was in front of the temple, with the door to the sacred spring very close.

[Memor to Sulis] This dedication stone would probably have stood next to a statue of the goddess Sulis (identified with the Roman Minerva) which had been commissioned by the priest (Haruspex) Lucius Marcius Memor.

DEAE SULI (see Gods & Goddesses)



D[ono] D[edit] see typical layout above

Notice the beautiful ligatures and the interesting asymmetrical positioning of the letters on the third line.

Now you can translate the stones below. There is some information to help you in the panel on the left, but more details can be found on the decoding leaflet.



As in the stone above, notice how the stonemason has shortened some words, reversed some letters and made some smaller. On line 4 the 'i' of Sulinus is placed on top of the upright of the 'n'.

DEAE SULI MINERVAE (see Gods & Goddesses)


MATURI FIL[ius] (see People)

V[otum] S[olvit] L[ibenter] M[erito] see typical layout above

You will find another stone below dedicated by someone with the same name.

This votive altar is rather unusual since the person giving it has put his name before the names of the gods to whom it is dedicated!


SECUNDI FIL[ius] Secundus's son

CIVIS TREVER[i] citizen of Trier. (NB There was a big temple to Mars and a Celtic goddess in Trier)


V[otum] S[olvit] L[ibenter] M[erito]see typical layout above

Can you work out what Peregrinus had promised to do before he left Trier on his journey to Bath?

R4 This votive altar and the next one have both been commissioned by freedmen of the same person.aufidiuslemnus

Notice the similarity in names: the centurion Marcus Aufidius Maximus gave the names Marcus Aufidius to his slave Lemnus, when he made him a Freedman.

DEAE SULI (see Gods & Goddesses)


AUFIDI MAXIMI (see People)

> LEG[ionis] VI VIC[tricis] (see army details)

M[arcus] AUFIDIUS LEMNUS LIBERTUS (see People and status)
N.B. The stonemason has made a mistake by giving this freedman three names! Marcus must be the first name of Aufidius Maximus above.

V[otum] S[olvit] L[ibenter] M[erito]see typical layout above

Can you find any evidence which might suggest that Aufidius Maximus had been involved in something which might have been dangerous to him? Why would two of his freedmen both decide to erect a votive altar to thank Sulis for keeping him safe?


Notice the similarity in names: the centurion Marcus Aufidius Maximus gave the name Aufidius to his slave Eutuches, when he made him a Freedman.


PRO SALUTE ET INCOLUMITA[te] see typical layout above

MAR[ci] AUFID[i] [m]AXIMI (see People)

> LEG[ionis] VI VIC[tricis] (see army details)

[a]UFIDIUS EUTUCHES LEB[ertus] (see People and status - notice spelling mistake! libertus)

V[otum] S[olvit] L[ibenter] M[erito]see typical layout above

Why do you think there are two such similar votive altars? Can you think of any reasons why the two freedmen might have consecrated them?

What is the earliest date that these two altars could have been made? (You need to look at the details of the Legion in which Aufidius Maximus served to work this out). Look carefully at the style of lettering and the format used for names: do you think Eutuches and Lemnus used the same stone-mason?


The first part of the goddess Diana's name is missing at the top of this stone.

[dia]NA[e] SACRATISSIMA[e] (see Gods & Goddesses)

VOTUM SOLVIT see typical layout above this formula is usually at the end


LIB[ertus] (see Status)

It is likely that the carved stone relief of a dog, looking up at a draped figure holding a bow may be another representation of the goddess Diana, who was the Roman goddess of hunting.

Perhaps Vettius Benignus' knowledge of Latin did not stretch to understanding that he needed to change the spelling of the goddess's name so that it would read 'TO' Diana - it should be 'Dianae Sacratae'! (Dative case)


This stone follows a slightly different format, which shows that it is not a dedication stone or a votive altar like the others on this page. Although it is dedicated to the 'Virtue and Deity of the Emperor', it records a restoration of the temple after it had been vandalised and desecrated.

It is therefore discussed more fully on the 'Public Information, Publicity and Propaganda' webpage with the other building inscriptions.

It is interesting to speculate whether the sanctuary might have been descrated by Christians, and that is why it needed rebuilding, but nothing is otherwise known of this incident.


Although only a fragment remains, the quality of the lettering on this altar is superb, with vine-leaf stops between words.


TOUTI FIL[ius] Toutius's son

LAPIDARIU[s] CIVES CAR[nu]TENUS (see Jobs and Places)


V[otum] S[olvit] L[ibenter] M[erito]see typical layout above

Is it possible to work out whether genuine religious devotion was Priscus's only motivation for leaving an altar here which demonstrates how good his carving is? Perhaps he was thanking the goddess for finding him lots of customers!


It was customary in Roman Britain to regard the divinity (numen) of an Emperor as worthy of worship. The Emperor Marcus Aurelius shared the title Augustus with his brother Lucius Verus.

DEAE SULI MIN[ervae] ET NUMIN[ibus] AUG[ustorum] (see Gods and Goddesses)


> LEG[ionis] II AUG[ustae] (see army details)

PRO SE SUISQUE (see status)

V[otum] S[olvit] L[ibenter] M[erito]see typical layout above

Why might Gaius Curiatius have wanted to include the Emperors' divinities in his dedication? What sort of thing might he have been thanking the gods for?

R9exvisu .
Although only a fragment remains, this inscription raises interesting questions about whether devotees would sleep near the temple of Sulis Minerva (perhaps in the building with the Luna pediment?) and hope to receive a holy dream or vision from the goddess.

NOVANTI FIL[ius] Novantius's son. We don't know the name of the person who dedicated the stone - or the name of the god or goddess he dedicated it to - because the top of it is missing.

PRO SE ET SUIS (see status and jobs)

EX VISU POSSUIT erected this after a dream or vision. see typical layout above and notice the spelling mistake for posuit

Or perhaps there was a shrine to the Roman god of healing, Aesculapius, close by. An altar to Aesculapius has been found. Spending the night in the temple of Aesculapius and hoping to get a visit from the god in a dream was the way worshippers hoped to be cured from an illness.

SULINUS' WORKSTATION You can find the final inscribed stone in the area dealing with building methods, where the character is shown working as a sculptor working on a roof finial.


A similar one to the fragment of Priscus' stone above: we might have our suspicions about whether it is an advertising ploy! It is possible that, like Memor's stone above, this one might have accompanied a statue.

SULEVIS (see Gods & Goddesses)


SCULTOR probably a spelling mistake for sculptor!

BRUCETI F[ilius] (see People)

SACRUM F[ecit] L[ibenter] M[erito] see typical layout above

Sulinus erected a similar altar in Corinium (Cirencester). The goddesses are Celtic mother goddesses and the name originates from the Danube area.

This little altar is blank! Presumably it could be purchased and a worshipper could then commission Priscus or Sulinus to carve whatever inscriptions they chose!

blank altar

You might like to download the picture and use it as the basis for an inscription which you can compose yourself.

Further information on the fusion of Celtic and Roman religion as shown at Bath can be found on the 'Aquae Sulis and Romanisation' powerpoint.

Finding out about CURSES at Aquae Sulis

The museum at Bath contains the most extensive collection of curse-tablets in Britain, showing that worshippers expected the gods to punish their enemies as well as answer their more positive prayers!

The Romans would often suggest a selection of punishments they deemed suitable. The curses would be scratched onto pieces of lead or pewter, with each word written backwords, presumably to increase the magic power and secrecy. Then they would be thrown into the sacred spring for the goddess to read.

These small tablets are very difficult to decipher, and you really need to look at them and at the interactive displays in the museum to see the full effect. You can download a powerpoint presentation here, which illustrates several of the curse-tablets to be seen in the museum, giving transliterations and translations. A .pdf sheet to facilitate detailed study can be downloaded here : Line-drawings.