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A Dictionary of Celtic Mythology

James MacKillop


[mothers]. Latin title given to the many representations of motherhood, often as triads of figures (see TRIPLISM). The figures conventionally wear long garments, often with one breast bared. They usually carry baskets or cornucopias of fruit and bread, babies, and other unmistakable signs of their association with human and earthly fertility; none the less, some commentators see them as virgins. Mother-goddesses elsewhere in early Europe combine the functions of war and death along with fertility. They are also linked to Epona, the horse-goddess. See Miranda J. Green, The Gods of the Celts (Gloucester, 1986), 78–91; Symbol and Image in Celtic Religious Art (London and New York, 1989), 24–39, 188–205; S. Barnard, ‘The Matres of Roman Britain’, Archaeological Journal, 142 (1985), 237–43. See also MATRONA; SULEVIAE.