Dea Nutrix (nursing goddess) figurine

Contributed by Letchworth Museum

Dea Nutrix (nursing goddess) figurine

This pipeclay figurine was found in a child's grave in Baldock. Although common in Gaul, burials with pipeclay figurines were very rare in Roman Britain. The figurine portrays a young woman sitting in a wicker chair, holding a baby to each breast. Her hair is waved and arranged in a plait and she wears a long, sleeveless robe. She is known as the Dea Nutrix or nursing goddess. When placed in the grave the figurine was already over 100 years old and may have been a treasured household goddess. Carefully placed around the skeleton were three small caskets. Although their contents have decayed over the years, four hobnails were found on the lid of one, perhaps the remains of bootees. The burial dates from the early 4th century and the arrangement of these caskets makes it unique in Baldock. The child was around 1 year old when it died and the inclusion of a nursing goddess, a possible heirloom, and the careful arrangement of the grave must reflect the grief the family was feeling.

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2nd century


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