Protecting forces - belief in the horse goddess Epona
Epona was the goddess of the craft of horse breeding. She ensured the fertility of the breeding stock, nurturing and protecting the mares, stallions and foals.
In Rome, on 18 December, a special festival was held in honour of Epona. Her image was decorated with roses.
From Celtic to Roman
The goddess Epona was also supposed to protect horses in general. She was worshipped by Celtic tribes who were excellent fighters on horseback. They were recruited to the Roman army as auxiliary cavalry.
As more non-Romans joined the cavarly, this section of the military embraced Epona as their own. Representations of her can be found in areas where they were stationed. These include near the German Frontier and in France.
Epona was often worshipped alongside the Campestres. They were known as the goddesses of the Roman cavalry parade ground.
"The Celtic horsemen think highly of their horses. When chief tribesman Vercingetorix was under attack by Julius Caesar he sent his horses away rather than have them die or be captured by us Romans."
Uncover more about Rome's elite horsemen in our Hadrian's Cavalry section.