Sunday 27 May 2012

Temple of Nodens

Following on my Lovecraftian theme, we took a trip over the Severn to Lydney Park today where there are some lovely gardens and a ruined Roman temple. The gardens of Lydney Park were laid out in the 1930's by Viscount Bledisloe and are open only a few days a year in the Spring when they are looking splendid, colour coming from a myriad range of Rhododendrons and Azaleas. The deciduous Azaleas were wafting their perfume throughout the valley, where there are series of interconnecting pools and streams

Some fine Gunnera manicata at the waters edge

A jolly hot day

Some stunning Rhododendrons

Perched on a hill above the valley are the remains of a fourth century temple dedicated to the god Nodens (a local deity). In H P Lovecraft's tales Nodens appears as a generally genial god who thwarts Nyarlathotep, the Crawling Chaos. The temple was excavated in the late 1920's by Sir Mortimer Wheeler aided by (among others) a young Professor called J R R Tolkien and it seems probable that news of the discoveries reached Lovecraft in Providence, Rhode Island.

The bath house

part of the entrance complex with the Severn visible in the background.

Ramsey Cambell wrote a series of Lovecraftian pastiches set in this area of England, creating sinister towns such as Temphill and Goatswood. Strangely the temple was built in the 360's, fourty years after the Roman Empire had converted to Christianity, but then this area has always had a reputation for witchcraft and paganism lingering on. The word witch comes from the old English Hwicce, the tribe that lived in these parts.... perhaps we were lucky to get home safely.


  1. A fascinating post. Was this Noden fellow a Romano-Celtic god then? What is known about him? It reminds me of walking Hadrian's Wall a few years ago. My son and I were rough camping as we went, and we reached the site of a temple to Mithras just as dusk was falling. We knew there was a replacement altar stone there (the real thing being in a museum), and thought that it might be apt to leave an offering - only to find that a lot of other people had obviously thought the same thing - including money. It was actually a tad creepy.

  2. A splendid collection of photos and a most interesting post indeed.

  3. Nice to see those pictures...Lovecraft is here!