Keys to the Past

Glossary

Mithraeum

A temple where Mithras was worshipped. The temples at Carrawburgh, Housesteads and Rudchester, (all Northumberland), were small so as to imitate the cave where Mithras killed the bull. Progress for the only male worshippers was obtained by undergoing particular trials - such as lying by a fire - which Mithras was thought to have undergone. The remains of these 'ordeal pits' can be seen at Carrawburgh. These temples had minimal light - but were coloured with a frieze of the bull killing in an apse behind the altars. A reconstruction of a Mithraeum is at the Newcastle Museum of Antiquities in Newcastle, based on the excavated Carrawburgh remains. It is thought that these temples were deliberately destroyed as part of Christian iconoclasm.

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