The “Open-Air” Mithraeum

It appears that in the times of Roman Mithraism the place of worship – the Temple of Mithras or Mithraeum – was typically indoors. For example the London Mithraeum nowadays housed in the Bloomberg SPACE, Carrawburgh on Hadrian’s Wall and at a range of archaeological finds in mainland Europe. In the context of Pictish-Mithraism, and in the geography where it was practiced, there is no evidence of any associated underground structures. Perhaps there was no need for such a structure where what would have been the contents of an indoor Mithraeum were outdoors – provided by the combination of Symbol carvings on Stones with the skyward distant view. The description “Open-Air” Mithraeum has been coined by this author.

The links below consider the concept, practicalities and reality of a Temple of Mithras that is outdoors rather than indoors.

In the webpage Pict, Pictland and Pictish, it is suggested that in the first to fourth centuries CE followers of Mithras were typically in the Roman Army from locations across many parts of the Roman Empire including Britannia. Click here for examples of the Temples of Mithras. Based on the concept, construction and practical use of an “indoor” Mithraeum the alternative could be an “outdoors” type. These could be in any country that formed part of the Roman Empire, maybe elsewhere.

The concept of an outdoors or “Open-Air” Mithraeum will remain just as a concept unless any obstacles to realising it are overcome. The practicalities of suitability and availability of construction materials, what symbols need to be shown and physical location will turn concept into reality.

Having overcome any practical barriers to construction and location a design is needed to emulate the components that usually would be seen in an Indoor Mithraeum – some sort of template. Inspiration to cause this reality would need to come from someone. Who placed the carvings on these Stones and what they represent is discovered later in this website.

But first with the earlier connection made between Pictish Symbols and Mithras we need to see if there is any evidence that there actually were Open-Air Mithraea. In reality, short of a highly unlikely historical account, the use of Pictish Stones and a “skyward view” in pursuing a belief (i.e. a form of Mithraism) was most likely kept as part of the Mystery of Mithras. However, on a clear night, we can look out over the top of a Pictish Symbol Stone towards the planets, zodiac and beyond then imagine – armed with Symbol decodes – what this might have meant to someone “in the know” about 1700 years ago.