November 2021

Roman Secrets from Private Collections: Votive Treasures (Godmanchester and Cambridgeshire)

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Cover picture of Roman Secrets from Private Collections: Votive Treasures, showing a small venus sculpture in a bed of flowers

Votive Treasures is the first part of a digital catalogue of artefacts found in and around Godmanchester in Cambridgeshire. Compiled by Kate Hadley and Professor Stephen Upex.

The PDF catalogue describes each entry in detail and with good quality resolution images for private use and individual research. It was originally available as a DVD for sale (ISBN: 978-1-911526-17-9) but has now been made available as a digital book online, on the internet archive at

You can read and search within the book below

(Features do work better if you go to

Note from Kate Hadley:

The free pictures in this catalogue are also available at high resolution on request from Kate Hadley, sometimes up to 4 megapixels. This has been done to provide people with a decent image to use in print, film and posters, facilitate their work and remove the problem of cost.  I will be happy to send you higher resolution pictures and attributions, but would ask that attributions are used in a way that honours collectors and the academics who have given this project their time and expertise.

Votives and favourite gods; secrets from the ancient world. A foreword by Stephen Upex, FSA, MIFA

This is a catalogue of material from Godmanchester, the Roman town of Durovigutum, but also from the Cambridgeshire Roman province, roughly along the Fen edge and the main Roman roads from the coast and from London to Hadrian’s Wall. It contains the scholarly identification of artefacts along with high quality photographs which come from chance finds, local, private collections and items of international importance on display in major museums. This particular section of the catalogue deals with the religious aspects of Roman life within the area and aims to give an insight into the sometimes complex thinking behind the belief systems of the period and the symbolism, status and values which people placed on the worship of their deities.

Roman gods are well represented but the local Celtic gods, which dominated in the earlier Iron Age, are still present and show the way that Roman law and officialdom allowed the continued worship of traditional gods. Indeed, the marrying of Roman with Celtic deities is significant for placating the unrest that the removal of earlier, traditional gods might have caused and was a deliberate policy throughout the empire. The collection presented here contains descriptions and images of the gods on a variety of objects ranging from Minerva, shown on a knife handle – who might have brought wisdom and wit to the dining table – to hunting images of Hercules or the goddess Diana on pottery vessels – perhaps reflecting the host’s own skill or love of the hunt.The highlight of the collection has to be the animal pipe-clay figurines accompanying the burial of a child into her afterlife and provides an extraordinary and poignant comment on the parents who provided their daughter with such fine objects for her funeral.
Kate Hadley has done a remarkable job in first assembling this collection and then preparing the catalogue which is both user-friendly and erudite and will be a valuable addition to the academic world in a wider sphere and to people and schools within the area.  I think that all the archaeologists, including the distinguished Michael Green have enjoyed working on this project because the finds are fascinating, but not least because Kate is a good colleague.The Romans were like us in many ways and this fascinating catalogue both entertains and informs us with some of the secrets from the ancient world.

Alison Taylor, Former County Archaeologist for Cambridgeshire:

“Kate Hadley has compiled an exceptional record of Roman artefacts from Godmanchester and Cambridgeshire. The photographs, many of great beauty as well as important archaeological records, and their attendant notes, make a marvellous educational resource that we hope will be used in many schools as well as by archaeologists, historians and everyone excited by their local past.”

Simon Thurley, Architectural Historian, Chief Executive of English Heritage 2002-2015 (on the original DVD):

“This DVD is a wonderful treasure trove of ancient treasures. I hope it will inspire people to be passionate about Godmanchester and stimulate a fascination with its deep and wonderful history.”

Quinton Carroll, Historical Environment Team Manager, Cambridgeshire:

“A welcome educational resource showing what stories of the past lie beneath our feet through the wide variety of objects found in Godmanchester, one of our least understood Roman towns, and from wider Cambridgeshire.”

David Stokes, Chairman, Porch Museum:

“Our community owes a debt of thanks to Kate Hadley for compiling this superb catalogue of an important aspect of our history. The work and dedication in preparing this record of Roman artefacts has resulted in this unique archaeological record which will be appreciated by everyone interested in the history of our town.”

The project received a Huntingdonshire Local History Society Goodliff Award and has been aided by a grant from the Cambridge Antiquarian Society.

Copies of high resolution images are available from Kate Hadley. Please email, specifying page number and image.