Getting Steamy At The Roman Baths In Bath, England

Recently we visited the historic Roman Baths in the aptly named Bath. The city of Bath itself has the honour of being a UNESCO world heritage site with many fine architectural and cultural sites but for now we are focussing on the well preserved Roman Bath complex.

What Have The Romans Ever Done For Us?

Some of the local ‘Romans’

All right, but apart from the sanitation, the medicine, education, wine, public order, irrigation, roads, the fresh-water system, and public health, what have the Romans ever done for us?

The hot springs (about 46°C 115°F) which bubble up to the surface at Bath were first dedicated to the goddess Sulis by the Celts and then adopted by the Romans and dedicated to their goddess Minerva around AD60. The Romans kept the original Celtic name calling the site ‘Aquae Sulis

Minerva Bath

The gilt bronze head of Sulis Minerva

Over 12,000 Roman coins have been found in the Sacred Spring as well as many other precious objects used as offerings to the goddess. Also many curses which were inscribed on thin sheets of lead and pewter have been found.

Here’s one such curse that was found from someone who seemed overly attached to their gloves! “Docimedis has lost two gloves and asks that the thief responsible should lose their minds and eyes in the goddess’ temple.”

The Sacred Spring

The Sacred Spring at the centre of the complex

The Tour

The audio guide takes you through an interactive museum which shows you the people and their lives in Aquae Sulis. There are many well-preserved treasures and relics which have been found in and around the site.

The route takes you down to the original Roman level and the Temple Courtyard where Romans prayed to their goddess Sulis Minerva.

There are also Roman characters wandering around the baths which are based on real people who originally lived and worked in Aquas Sulis.

Temple Baths

The Temple Pediment showing the Gorgon’s Head

The remains of Temple Pediment with it’s Gorgon’s head which originally sat over the courtyard has been pieced together with an animation showing how it would have appeared 2000 years ago.

Bath Sacred Spring

The Sacred Spring Overflow

The public baths were a part of day to day life for Romans, they were used not only for hygiene but for relaxing and socialising. The Great Bath is the large lead lined central pool which is 1.6m deep. It was originally covered by an impressive 40m high barrel-vaulted hall.

The Great Bath

The Great Bath

The baths were used for over 400 years with extra heated rooms being added until it reached its maximum size in the fourth century. The baths fell into disrepair and silted up after the Romans left Britain and ‘washing’ was not a popular Anglo-Saxon pastime.

The steaming water of the Roman baths

The steaming water of the Roman baths

Visiting The Baths

The baths are open every day except Christmas Day and Boxing Day and open late during the summer.
You can find the up to date opening times here.

The entry includes the audio guide which is available in 12 languages although not Latin, so bad luck for any revisiting Romans. The English version of the guide has a good narration by Bill Bryson who adds his unique style and wit to the tour.

If you are visiting the Bath then a trip to the Roman Baths is not to be missed, allow at least a couple of hours to have a really good look around.

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  • Toni | 2 Aussie Travellers
    January 21, 2017 at 11:46 am

    Aren’t they fabulous. We love these little glimpses back into history and seeing them being so lovingly maintained.

    • Mr and Mrs W
      January 21, 2017 at 1:00 pm

      They are really well preserved and the museum is really good. It’s fascinating to see the personal items.

  • sara | belly
    January 21, 2017 at 2:07 pm

    Such a great place to visit, and transports you right back in time. You could loose yourself for hours.

    • Mr and Mrs W
      January 21, 2017 at 6:20 pm

      Yes, you can easily spend at least a couple of hours walking around the complex.

  • Dana
    January 21, 2017 at 4:24 pm

    I was so impressed during our visit to the Roman Baths. Even my 2 kids enjoyed the tour. I think everyones favorite part was seeing the Great Bath, but the museum was interesting as well. My son was particularly fascinated by all the coins.

    • Mr and Mrs W
      January 21, 2017 at 6:23 pm

      The museum was good and the audioguide was interesting too. Like you said, it must be good if kids enjoy it and don’t get bored.

  • Anne
    January 21, 2017 at 11:28 pm

    I fell in love with Bath on a weekend break a few years ago. The Baths are fabulous but I so wish we could bathe there. There is a spa that has outdoor pools that we can visit but I’ve yet to make it

    • Mr and Mrs W
      January 22, 2017 at 9:59 am

      Yes there is modern spa not far away which you can use unfortunately it was closed in January for maintenance.
      There is so much to see in Bath.

  • Vicki Louise
    January 22, 2017 at 3:54 am

    I love the Roman Baths – such an incredible piece of History that still functions as it did all those years ago. Just incredible!

    • Mr and Mrs W
      January 22, 2017 at 10:03 am

      It is amazing to walk in the steps of the Roman Britons. There is new Spa in Bath where you can swim and relax experience the hot thermal water.

  • Aga
    January 23, 2017 at 5:03 am

    It does indeed look like a really well preserved Roman Bath complex. I’d love to visit one day. And I think it’s a nice touch they have the Roman characters wandering around the baths.

    • Mr and Mrs W
      January 23, 2017 at 8:30 am

      The Roman characters were really good and played their roles very well.

  • Indrani
    January 23, 2017 at 10:37 am

    Imagine baths being used for socializing since then! It is a great concept they have passed on to us. 🙂 I hope I can see this for myself some day.

    • Mr and Mrs W
      January 23, 2017 at 1:20 pm

      There were marks where trays could be attached to the side of the baths so the Romans could chat and have drinks while bathing.

  • elisa
    January 24, 2017 at 9:35 am

    Interesting post. Bath is a city I’d like to visit some day and I will make sure to come back to your post for my city planning. Too bad audio tours are not in Latin, by the way! 😉

    • Mr and Mrs W
      January 24, 2017 at 5:16 pm

      It is a really interesting city and definitely worth a visit if you are in the UK. There is a lot to do in the area and it’s only 15mins away from Bristol which is also worth a visit.

  • Megan Jerrard
    January 25, 2017 at 6:37 am

    Bath is one of my favorite parts of the UK – I recommend this day trip to everyone visiting London – so much history walking around the city, and it’s so charming and beautiful … the baths are obviously the main attraction 🙂 So glad you got there too!

    • Mr and Mrs W
      January 25, 2017 at 8:36 am

      Yes, if you are visiting the UK try to get out of London and travel if you can – Bristol and Bath are both worth a visit .

  • Viajar pela história - Catarina Leonardo
    January 25, 2017 at 3:46 pm

    I really like the roman baths… I visited England and i went here. It´s a perfect trip from London.

    • Mr and Mrs W
      January 25, 2017 at 5:01 pm

      Yes, it’s not too far from London and quite an easy trip. Glad you like it.