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Historical Exhibits and Objects at the Roman Baths

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Highlights at the Roman Baths

The Roman Baths complex is a site of a well-preserved ancient Roman public bath and museum. The Roman Baths themselves are below the modern street level. There are four main parts to the complex: the Sacred Spring, the Roman Temple, the Roman Bath House and the museum, holding finds from Roman Bath. The buildings above street level date from the 19th century.

The Historical Exhibits and Objects at the Roman Baths

  • Earliest Inscription from the Roman Baths
    • This is the earliest Inscription from the Roman Baths and dates to 76AD. The inscription reads: “.. in the 7th consulship of Emperor Vespasian”. It was part of a small monument at the site, and the date is seven years after Vespasian became emperor of Rome. The first shrine at the site of the hot springs at Bath was built by Celts and was dedicated to the goddess Sulis, whom the Romans identified with Minerva. The name Sulis continued to be used after the Roman invasion, leading to the town’s Roman name of Aquae Sulis “the waters of Sulis”. The temple was constructed in 60–70 AD and the bathing complex was gradually built up over the next 300 years.

  • The Temple Pediment of the Temple Sulis Minerva
    • This Temple Pediment was once on the front of the “Temple of the Temple Sulis Minerva” at Bath, England and is one of the few genuinely classical temples from Roman Britain to have been discovered. Nearly 2,000 years ago it housed that the statue of the goddess Sulis Minerva. The pediment carries the image of a fearsome head, carved in local Bath stone, which is thought to be the Gorgon’s Head, a potent symbol of the goddess Sulis Minerva. The pediment is full of allusions and was supported initially by four massive columns. The central image is either a male Gorgon or a representation of a Celtic-Roman water god who looked on to all who entered the temple, with snakes entwined within its beard and portrayed with a heavy moustache. The central head is held aloft by female ‘Victories’, on a shield ringed with oak leaves. The Victories stand on globes and in the corners are Tritons, half-men and half-fish servants of the water god Neptune.

  • Gilt bronze head of the goddess Sulis Minerva
    • Nearly 2,000 years ago, this golden bronze head graced the “Temple Sulis Minerva” at Bath. The Temple Sulis Minerva is one of the few genuinely classical Roman temples to have been discovered in Britain. In pre-Roman times, during the Celtic polytheism practised in Britain, the goddess Sulis was worshipped at the Bath thermal springs as a local deity. After the Roman invasion, the local goddess was praised by the Romano-British as Sulis Minerva. It is assumed that this is the head of the goddess Sulis Minerva. The head is slightly larger than life-size and hidden in the hairline are several small holes which once held rivets that fixed her Corinthian helmet to her head. Discovery in 1727 it was an indication that the Roman site at Bath was not a typical settlement. Gilt bronze sculptures are rare finds from Roman Britain, and is assumed to be the head is the cult statue of the goddess which would have stood within the Temple beside the Sacred Spring. The gilt bronze cult statue of Sulis Minerva was damaged sometime in later Antiquity, perhaps by barbarian raiders or Christian zealots.

  • Hypocaust of the Heated Room in the Roman Baths
    • The Hypocaust of the Heated Room in the Roman Baths was as a system of central heating in the baths that produces and circulates hot air below the floor of a room. This hypocaust pilae shows how their heating system would have worked. These pillars of tiles supported the floor of this room, and the room was heated with hot air drawn from fire and circulated around these tile posts. Most Roman Public Baths were built around three principal rooms: the caldarium (hot bath), the tepidarium (warm bath) and the frigidarium (cold bath). The Roman Baths in Bath included thermae, due to the hot springs, which featured steam baths: the sudatorium, a moist steam bath, and the laconicum, a dry, hot room much like a modern sauna.

  • The Sacred Spring Overflow
    • The Sacred Spring Overflow is where surplus mineral-rich water from the hot spring pours into the original Roman drain and flows on to the River Avon. The Roman plumbing and drainage system is still in place and demonstrates the ingenuity of the Roman engineers. Lead pipes were used to carry hot spa water around the site using gravity flow. The thermal waters contain sodium, calcium, chloride and sulphate ions in high concentrations and the mineral deposits can be seen in the colourisation of the stones at this overflow point. The natural springs in the heart of the city deliver over 1 million litres of mineral-rich water every day. The water which bubbles up from the ground at Bath falls as rain on the nearby hills, which then percolates down through limestone aquifers to a depth of over 2,700 metres (8,900 ft) where geothermal energy raises the water temperature to between 69 and 96 °C (156.2 and 204.8 °F). Under pressure, the heated water rises to the surface along fissures and faults in the limestone.

  • The Curse Tablets
    • Many objects were thrown into the Sacred Spring as offerings to the goddess, including “The Curse Tablets”, with messages inscribed on sheets of lead or pewter, which were then rolled up and thrown into the Spring where the spirit of the goddess dwelt. The Roman Baths have a collection of Roman curse tablets, which include Britain’s earliest prayers. The curses included: – Lovernisca complains to the Goddess that her cape has been stolen. – A complaint about the theft of Vilbia, probably a slave. – A complaint about the theft of a cloak and tunic.

  • Gravestone of a Cavalryman
    • This Gravestone of a Cavalryman shows a cavalryman riding down an enemy. This was a traditional theme with gravestones pf cavalrymen in the 1st century AD. The first Romans to come to Bath were soldiers of the empire and there are many Roman inscribed tombstones and altars discovered around the Roman Baths. The first shrine at the site of the hot springs at Bath was built by Celts and was dedicated to the goddess Sulis, whom the Romans identified with Minerva. The name Sulis continued to be used after the Roman invasion, leading to the town’s Roman name of Aquae Sulis “the waters of Sulis”. The temple was constructed in 60–70 AD and the bathing complex was gradually built up over the next 300 years.

  • Roman Baths
    • The Roman Baths complex is a site of a well-preserved ancient Roman public bath and museum. The Roman Baths themselves are below the modern street level. There are four main parts to the complex: the Sacred Spring, the Roman Temple, the Roman Bath House and the museum, holding finds from Roman Bath. The buildings above street level date from the 19th century.  Bath is the largest city in the county of Somerset, England, best known for its Roman-built baths. Bath is in the valley of the River Avon, 97 miles (156 km) west of London. Early in its history, the city became a spa centre with the Latin name Aquae Sulis meaning “the waters of Sulis”, about 60 AD when the Romans built baths and a temple at this ancient spot on the River Avon. The hot springs were known well before the Romans and were a sacred site for the local Celts, with a reputation for heated springs that healed the sick.

Roman Baths at Bath

  • Name:                  Roman Baths
  • City:                      Bath
  • Roma Baths:        c.60 AD
  • Location:              Stall St, Bath, UK

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“Great events make me quiet and calm; it is only trifles that irritate my nerves.”
– Queen Victoria

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Photo Credit: JOM

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