Some deities have come down through the ages with help of people who didn’t worship them. In this case, Baduhenna is known to us solely through a sentence in Tacitus’ Annales. In this text he mentions “apud lucum quem Baduhennae vocant“, “which they call the grove of Baduhenna.” In this grove, in 28 CE, the Frisii fought the Romans and won. But where exactly was Baduhenna’s grove? Many places were candidate, but in the eighties near Velsen (Noord-Holland), a Roman ford was dug up the remains of which point to destruction around 28 CE. It is now generally assumed that this is the area in which 2000 years ago there must have been a wood that was the sanctuary of Baduhenna.
The name of Baduhenna is intriguing. The first part of the name, “Bad”, is connected to Old-Germanic badwa, which means ‘battle. Note that this word also appears in the name of the Irish (Celtic) goddess of war, Babd. Baduhenna’s complete name may mean something like ‘driven by battle’ or ‘leader in battle’. ‘Henna’ (which means as much as leader of guide) is found in other goddess names, such as that of Nehalennia. Based on these etymological connections and based on Tacitus recital, Baduhenna can be considered a battle goddess, whose sacred site was in the grove near what is now called Velsen.