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Hludana


An inscription from Beetgum mentioning Hludana. Prinsessenhof museum, Leeuwarden (Holland). Photo Marco Prins.
An inscription from Beetgum mentioning Hludana (Fries Museum, Leeuwarden)
Hludana: Germanic goddess, venerated in the area of ancient Xanten and Nijmegen.

The Germanic goddess Hludana is known from five inscriptions. The first one is from Iversheim, west of modern Bonn. The second was discovered at Birten near Xanten, the site of a legionary base named Vetera, occupied by soldiers of VI Victrix and XXX Ulpia Victrix. The third inscription was discovered at Kalkar, near the ancient fort of Burginatium, occupied by an auxiliary unit. The next inscription comes from De Holdeurn near the fortress at the Hunerberg (modern Nijmegen), once the home town of the Tenth legion Gemina. These inscriptions were all found in the province of Germania Inferior, in the country of the Cugerni and Batavians, Germanic tribes that had been resettled in the Roman empire.

The last inscription (CIL 13.8830) was discovered near the Frisian town of Beetgum, in the north of the Netherlands. 
 
DEAE HLVDANAE
CONDVCTORES
PISCATVS MANCIPI
Qvinto VALERIO SECV
NDO Votvm Solvervnt Libentes Merito (more...)

Edge of Empire. The book Arjen Bosman and I wrote about Rome's Lower Rhine Frontier.
Edge of Empire. The book Arjen Bosman and I wrote about Rome's Lower Rhine Frontier (order; review)
Dedication to Hludana from Xanten. Xanten Museum (Germany). Photo Jona Lendering.
Dedication to Hludana from Xanten

"To the goddess Hludana, the fishing contractors, when Quintus Valerius Secundus acted as tenant, fulfilled their vow willingly and deservedly."

Perhaps, this stone was stolen by a Frisian chief, or perhaps these people had leased Frisian fishing grounds. The latter is suggested by the fact that the bones of salt-water fish were discovered at Nijmegen.

It has been assumed that Hludana is identical to Mother Hulda mentioned in the famous German fairy tales of the Grimm brothers. Mother Hulda is able to create snowfall, and therefore, it has therefore been been thought that Hludana was responsible for the weather. This is an attractive argument, but in fact, it is nothing but speculation, based on the resemblance of the names.

An alternative can be found in northern Germanic mythology. We know of a goddess named Hlodyn ("little dog"), who was the mother of the great god Thor. Hlodyn is sometimes called Jordar Burr, a name that suggests a connection to Mother Earth.


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