Arnemetia: Lady of the Springs

This image of Coventina depicts a Romano-British goddess of wells and springs from Northumberland, an area surrounding a wellspring near Carrawburgh on Hadrian's Wall. The depiction of Coventina is typical of a Roman nymph in style and form.

This image of Coventina depicts a Romano-British goddess of wells and springs from Northumberland, an area surrounding a wellspring near Carrawburgh on Hadrian’s Wall. The depiction of Coventina is typical of a Roman nymph in style and form.

It is thought that the Corieltauvi worshipped Arnemetia long before the Romans settled the area known now as Derbyshire. The town of Buxton was called Aquae Arnemetia in Roman times and was large enough, and important enough, for three baths and a shrine to be built.

The only other town in Britain important enough to be given the designation Aquae was Aquae Sulis, the present-day Bath.

It is suggested that the actual well appears to have remained lined with Roman lead, and surrounded with Roman brick and mortar until 1709 when Sir Thomas Delves, who after receiving benefit at the spring, had removed the ancient work and erected over it a stone alcove twelve foot long and twelve foot broad with stone seats on the inside. In 1836 a six foot stone structure, with sculpture of St Anne and St Mary, was erected by the Duke of Devonshire, which currently stands on the site. Today people can still collect the mineral water for free, first recorded in the 1840s, then discontinued in 1911 but restarted again in 1925.

Arnemetia’s name contains Celtic elements are, meaning “against, beside,” and nemeton, meaning “sacred grove.” Her name is thus interpreted as “she who dwells in the sacred grove,” suggesting Arnemetia may be a divine epithet rather than a name in its own right.

It may be worth mentioning Poole’s Cavern or Poole’s Hole . This natural limestone cave that sits on the edge of Buxton is two million years old. The cave was occupied in the Bronze Age base on archaeology of the site. Some of the finds have been interpreted as suggesting that one of the chambers was used for religious purposes by Romano-Britons; an alternative explanation is that the cave was a metal-workers’ workshop in the second century AD.

St. Ann’s Well as it appears today. It’s geothermal spring rises at a constant temperature of 28 °C (82 ºF).

St. Ann’s Well as it appears today. It’s geothermal spring rises at a constant temperature of 28 °C (82 ºF).




Sources:

  • Miranda J. Green. (1986) The Gods of the Celts. Bramley Books, Surrey.
  • Miranda J. Green. (1997) Dictionary of Celtic Myth and Legend. Thames and Hudson Ltd, London.
  • R. B. Parish. (2011) The Holy Wells and Healing Springs of Derbyshire. Pixy Led Publications.
  • Poole’s Cavern and Buxton County Park