The Carvetii were an Iron Age people, identified in 1985, as a civitas of Roman Britain living in what is now Cumbria, in North-West England. Speculation has the Carvetii occupying the Solway Plain, the area immediately north of Hadrian’s Wall, the Eden Valley, and possibly the Lune Valley.
- Magnae Carvetiorum is Latin, and translates to, The Greats of the Carvetii.
The Carvetii are known only from three Roman (third and fourth century A.D.) inscriptions, one of which is now lost. One was in Old Penrith, (the Voreda Roman fort) north of the present Penrith, on a tombstone. The others were on two milestones: one at Frenchfield (north of Brocavum), and the other at Langwathby in Cumbria, both also near Penrith.
The name ‘Carvetii’ may refer to the British word ‘carvos’, meaning ‘deer’ or ‘stag’, and that this could have associations with the horned god of war, Belatucadros. A horned head was found near the shrine of Belatucadros at Netherby, Cumbria but cannot be accurately identified with the god. The head is on display at Tullie House museum, Carlisle.
Belatucadros, or Belatucadrus, was a deity worshipped in Celtic northern Britain, particularly in Cumberland and Westmorland. In the Roman period he was identified with Mars and appears to have been worshipped by lower-ranked Roman soldiers as well as by Britons. In five inscriptions he is called Mars Belatucadros. The name is frequently translated as ‘fair shining one’ or ‘fair slayer’.
- Deities depicted with horns or antlers are found in many different religions across the world. Horns are an animal’s weapon, so it follows that as a symbol they function as representing strength and aggressiveness. They are also the power and dignity of the divinity, and horned gods usually represent warriors and lords of animals.
- In ancient Roman religion and myth, Mars was the god of war and also an agricultural guardian, a combination characteristic of early Rome.
Belatucadros is known from approximately 28 inscriptions in the vicinity of Hadrian’s Wall. Dedications to Balatocadrus, Balatucadrus, Balaticaurus, Balatucairus, Baliticaurus, Belatucairus, Belatugagus, Belleticaurus, Blatucadrus and Blatucairus are generally accepted as variants of the most common of these forms; Belatucadrus. Altars dedicated to him were usually small, simple and plain, leading to the suggestion that this god was mainly worshipped by people of low social status. His name never appears with a female consort and there is no certain extant representation of him.