A Brief History of The Roman Baths
A spa break in Bath is truly incomplete without a trip to the Roman Baths. Although you won’t be allowed to bathe there-the place for soaking up the mineral rich waters is at the Thermae Spa. But, you will be able to see the ruins up-close during your walk-through excursion. The Roman Baths are a sacred Roman site that has been unbelievably well maintained for public viewing and tours.
The Natural Hot Waters
When the waters were first discovered, the ancients were perplexed, and unable to understand how this hot water could possibly materialize from the ground in seemingly endless supply. So they, of course, attributed the bubbling thermal waters to wizardry of the gods.
What really happens is this: Rainwater falling in the Mendip Hills collects and trickles down through limestone rock and other rocky materials to depths of up to 2 1/2 miles, where energy from the earth’s core heats the waters and creates pressure, pushing the water to the surface. On a daily basis, over one million liters of the heated water then rises at about 46 degrees Celsius (144 degrees Fahrenheit) up to an area that forms the springs.
Legend Has It…Miracle Waters
Around 863 BC, Prince Bladud, suffering from leprosy, noticed that pigs who wallowed in the spring waters and surrounding mud were cured of their skin ailments, so he began wallowing in the mud. Lo and behold, the natural hot spring waters cured his disease. The spring that supplies the site of the Roman Bath is called King’s Spring, after Bladud, who was later crowned the ninth King of the Briton’s.
Two additional springs run below the city; the Cross and the Hetling Springs. These springs supply the fantastic new Thermae Bath Spa, where you can indulge in a variety of spa treatments, or just take a soak in the restorative waters.
The Celts and The Romans
The Celts were the first to build a shrine to their goddess Sulis. In approximately AD 43, the Romans built Aquae Sulis, in reverence to their goddess, Minerva and in recognition of the Celt’s Sulis.
During that time, most Roman settlements were garrisons, but Aquae Sulis was quite different. It was deemed a place for rest and relaxation. Construction of this elaborate sanctuary continued for over 300 years, and included lead piping and sophisticated heating sources that still stand today. The baths became not only a place for hygiene, but more of a social scene. The baths were operated by the government and were affordable to the affluent as well as the working class. The Roman Baths were operated here until the Romans withdrew in 410 AD. After that the buildings fell into a state of disrepair.
Restoration of the Roman Baths
Several modifications have been made to the baths; in the 12th, 16th and 18th centuries. The King’s spring is now in an 18th century building, designed by John the Elder, who also designed The Circus.