The Matres and Matronae were female deities venerated in northwestern Europe.

Relief of the Matres from Vertault. Bibracte Museum of Celtic Civilisation.

They are depicted on votive offerings and altars that bear images of goddesses, depicted almost entirely in groups of three, that feature inscriptions and were venerated in regions of Germania, eastern Gaul, and northern Italy that were occupied by the Roman army from the 1st-5th c. AD.

Matres also appear on votive reliefs and inscriptions in other areas occupied by the Roman army, including southeast Gaul, in Spain and Portugal, and also in Pannonia.

Altar to the Matres. Bonn Landesmuseum. (c) Heiko Fischer

The motif of triple goddesses was widespread in ancient Europe; compare the Fates, the Erinyes, the Charites, the Morrígan, the Horae and other such figures, including the Tridevi of Hinduism.

Rudolf Simek comments that the loose hair may point to maidenhood, whereas the head dresses may refer to married women, the snakes may refer to an association with the souls of the dead or the underworld, and the children and nappies seem to indicate that the Matres and Matronae held a protective function over the family, as well as a particular function as midwives.

Shrine to the Matres from Vaison-la-Romaine. Theo Desplans Museum.
Relief of the Matres, 2nd-3rd c. AD, from Lincoln. British Museum.
Relief of the Matres from Bathwick. Roman Baths Museum.

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