Icovellauna was a Celtic goddess worshipped in Gaul. Her places of worship included an octagonal temple at Le Sablon in Metz, originally built over a spring,[1] from which five inscriptions dedicated to her have been recovered;[2] and Trier, where Icovellauna was honoured in an inscription in the Altbachtal temple complex.[3][4]A[›] Both of these places lie in the valley of the Moselle river of eastern Gaul, in what are now Lorraine in France and Rhineland-Palatinate in Germany. One such inscription was, somewhat unusually, inscribed on a copper tablet in Roman cursive letters.[5]

At the temple in Metz, a spiral staircase led down to the water level, allowing worshippers to leave offerings in the spring and/or to take the waters. A statuette of a local Gaulish Mercury was among the ex-votos deposited at the shrine,[1][6] which also included coins and ceramics dating from the 2nd to 4th centuries CE.[7] Jeanne-Marie Demarolle states that Apollo was also associated with Icovellauna.[8]

Demarolle glosses the name Icovellauna as “bonne fontaine” or ‘good fountain’.[9] Miranda Green follows Joseph Vendryes in interpreting the Gaulish root ico- as ‘water’ and characterizes Icovellauna as a "water-goddess" who "presided over the nymphaeum at Sablon in the Moselle Basin, a thermal spring-site".[10] Xavier Delamarre, however, considers Vendryes' interpretation to be very improbable; on purely etymological grounds, he suggests that ico- might be the name of a bird, perhaps the woodpecker.[11] The root uellauno- has been variously interpreted, though the interpretation "chief, commander" has recently found favour;[12] see Vellaunus.


^ A: Although Jufer and Luginbühl also report a number of inscriptions to Icovellauna at Malzéville,[13] it has been suggested that this is an error on their part and that the inscriptions in question belong at Le Sablon in Metz.[14] The Epigraphik-Datenbank Clauss/Slaby has no records of any inscriptions from Malzéville published in CIL or similar publications.[15]


  1. ^ a b Dyfed Lloyd Evans (2005). "Icovellauna: a Gaulish Goddess (Divine Pourer of the Waters) Archived 2006-08-27 at the Wayback Machine." from www.celtnet.org.uk Archived 2006-08-29 at the Wayback Machine., accessed 10 September 2006.
  2. ^ CIL XIII, 4294-4298. Of these, only CIL 13: 4294 is complete.
  3. ^ CIL XIII, 3644
  4. ^ Edith Mary Wightman (1970). Roman Trier and the Treveri. Rupert Hart-Davis, London, p.217.
  5. ^ Demarolle (1992), p. 23.
  6. ^ Le Sablon › L'histoire › Période gallo-romaine. Includes a line drawing of Icovellauna's sacred well in Metz. Retrieved on 2010-02-27.
  7. ^ Demarolle (1992), p. 29.
  8. ^ Demarolle (1992), p. 26.
  9. ^ Demarolle (1992), p. 27.
  10. ^ Miranda Green (1986). The Gods of the Celts. Alan Sutton, Gloucs. ISBN 0-389-20672-5. pp.85, 165.
  11. ^ Delamarre (2003), p. 187.
  12. ^ Delamarre (2003), p. 310.
  13. ^ Nicole Jufer & Thierry Luginbühl (2001). Les dieux gaulois : répertoire des noms de divinités celtiques connus par l'épigraphie, les textes antiques et la toponymie. Editions Errance, Paris. ISBN 2-87772-200-7. p.45; pp.50,70.
  14. ^ Scrupulum (2007-03-19). Icovellauna: la bonne eau ou la grande Victoire? (in French) Retrieved on 2010-02-27.
  15. ^ Epigraphik-Datenbank Clauss/Slaby. Archived 2010-03-25 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved on 2010-02-27.

Works cited

  • Delamarre, Xavier (2003). Dictionnaire de la langue gauloise : Une approche linguistique du vieux-celtique continental (in French) (2nd ed.). Éditions Errance. ISBN 2-87772-237-6. 
  • Demarolle, Jeanne-Marie (1992). "Les eaux et le sacré dans la Lorraine antique". Dossiers d'Archéologie (in French). 173-177 (174): 22–32. L'eau en Gaule, rites sacrés et thermalisme.