|The Roman Baths|
The Roman Baths in the city of Bath, England
|Town or city||Bath|
|Construction started||Baths — Roman|
Building - 1894
|Design and construction|
|Architect||John Brydon (museum building)|
The Roman Baths are a well-preserved thermae in the city of Bath, Somerset, England. A temple was constructed on the site between 60-70CE in the first few decades of Roman Britain. Its presence led to the development of the small Roman urban settlement known as Aquae Sulis around the site. The Roman baths, which were used for public bathing, were used until the end of Roman rule in Britain in the 5th Century CE. According to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle , the original Roman baths were in ruins a century later. The area around the natural springs was redeveloped several times during the Early and Late Middle Ages.
The Roman Baths are preserved in four main features: the Sacred Spring, the Roman Temple, the Roman Bath House, and a museum which holds artefacta from Aquae Sulis. However, all buildings at street level date from the 19th century. It is a major tourist attraction in the UK, and together with the Grand Pump Room, receives more than 1.3 million visitors annually.Visitors can tour the baths and museum but cannot enter the water.
The water which bubbles up from the ground at Bath falls as rain on the nearby Mendip Hills. It percolates down through limestone aquifers to a depth of between 2,700 and 4,300 metres (8,900 and 14,100 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. This process is similar to an enhanced geothermal system, which also makes use of the high pressures and temperatures below the earth's crust. Hot water at a temperature of 46 °C (114.8 °F) rises here at the rate of 1,170,000 litres (257,364 imp gal) every day, from a geological fault (the Pennyquick fault). In 1982 a new spa water bore-hole was sunk, providing a clean and safe supply of spa water for drinking in the Pump Room.
Bath was charged with responsibility for the hot springs in a Royal Charter of 1591 granted by Elizabeth I. This duty has now passed to Bath and North East Somerset Council, who carry out monitoring of pressure, temperature and flow rates. The thermal waters contain sodium, calcium, chloride and sulphate ions in high concentrations.
The Roman Baths are no longer used for bathing. In October 1978, a young girl swimming in the restored Roman Bath with the Bath Dolphins, a local swimming club, contracted meningitis and died,leading to the closure of the bath for several years. Tests showed Naegleria fowleri , a dangerous amoeba, in the water. The newly constructed Thermae Bath Spa nearby, and the refurbished Cross Bath, allow modern-day bathers to experience the waters via a series of more recently drilled boreholes.
Archaeological evidence indicates that the site of the baths may have been a centre of worship used by Celts;the springs were dedicated to the goddess Sulis, whom the Romans identified with Minerva. Geoffrey of Monmouth in his largely fictional Historia Regum Britanniae describes how the spring was discovered by the pre-Roman British king Bladud who built the baths there. Early in the 18th century Geoffrey's obscure legend was given great prominence as a royal endorsement of the waters' qualities, with the embellishment that the spring had cured Bladud and his herd of pigs of leprosy through wallowing in the warm mud.
The name Suliis 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.During the Roman occupation of Britain, and possibly on the instructions of Emperor Claudius, engineers drove oak piles to provide a stable foundation into the mud and surrounded the spring with an irregular stone chamber lined with lead. In the 2nd century it was enclosed within a wooden barrel-vaulted building, and included the caldarium (hot bath), tepidarium (lukewarm bath), and frigidarium (cold bath). After the Roman withdrawal from Britain in the first decade of the 5th century, these fell into disrepair and were eventually lost due to silting up, and flooding. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle suggests the original Roman baths were destroyed in the 6th century.
About 130 curse tablets have been found. Many of the curses are related to thefts of clothes whilst the victim was bathing.
The baths have been modified on several occasions, including the 12th century, when John of Tours built a curative bath over the King's Spring reservoir, and the 16th century, when the city corporation built a new bath (Queen's Bath) to the south of the spring.The spring is now housed in 18th-century buildings, designed by architects John Wood, the Elder and John Wood, the Younger, father and son. Visitors drank the waters in the Grand Pump Room, a neo-classical salon which remains in use, both for taking the waters and for social functions. Victorian expansion of the baths complex followed the neo-classical tradition established by the Woods. In 1810 the hot springs failed and William Smith opened up the Hot Bath Spring to the bottom, where he found that the spring had not failed but had flowed into a new channel. Smith restored the water to its original course.
The visitor entrance is via an 1897 concert hall by J. M. Brydon. It is an eastward continuation of the Grand Pump Room, with a glass-domed centre and single-storey radiused corner.The Grand Pump Room was begun in 1789 by Thomas Baldwin. He resigned in 1791 and John Palmer continued the scheme through to completion in 1799. The elevation on to Abbey Church Yard has a centre piece of four engaged Corinthian columns with entablatures and pediment. It has been designated by Historic England as a grade I listed building. The north colonnade was also designed by Thomas Baldwin. The south colonnade is similar but had an upper floor added in the late 19th century. The museum and Queen's Bath including the "Bridge" spanning York Street to the City Laundry were by Charles Edward Davis in 1889. It comprises a southward extension to the Grand Pump Room, within which some parts of the 17th-century Queen's Bath remain.
The museum houses artefacts from the Roman period including objects that were thrown into the Sacred Spring, presumably as offerings to the goddess. These include more than 12,000 Denari(Roman coins) coins, which is the largest collective votive deposit known from Britain.A gilt bronze head of the goddess Sulis Minerva, which was discovered nearby in 1727, is displayed. An audio guide is available in 12 languages.
The Bath Roman Temple stood on a podium more than two metres above the surrounding courtyard, approached by a flight of steps. On the approach there were four large, fluted Corinthian columns supporting a frieze and decorated pediment above. The pediment, parts of which are displayed in the museum, is the triangular ornamental section, 26 feet (7.9 m) wide and 8 feet (2.4 m) from the apex to the bottom, above the pillars on the front of the building. It featured the powerful central image of a possible "Gorgon" head glowering down from a height of 15 metres (49 ft) on all who approached the temple. The great head itself has snakes entwined within its beard, wings above its ears, beetling brows and a heavy moustache although there is some controversy about what this really represents, as Gorgons are usually female. An alternative interpretation sees the central head as the image of a water god such as Oceanus, and yet another as a Celtic sun god. In early 2010 various stones on the pediment were conserved and rearranged.
Also on display are the remains of the elaborate hypocaust heating system, which served the sweat rooms.
In 2016 planning permission was received for a new learning centre aimed at schoolchildren and linked to the baths by a tunnel. Funding is being sought from the Heritage Lottery Fund and, if successful, it is hoped the centre will open in 2019.
The late 19th century carvings of Roman Emperors and Governors of Roman Britain on the terrace overlooking the Great Bath are particularly susceptible to the effect of acid rain and are protected with a wash of a sacrificial shelter coat every few years.Exhibits within the temple precincts are susceptible to warm air which had the effect of drawing corrosive salts out of the Roman stonework. To help reduce this, a new ventilation system was installed in 2006.
In 2009 a grant of £90,000 was made to Bath and North East Somerset Council to contribute towards the cost of re-developing displays and improving access to the Roman Baths,by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport/Wolfson Fund, which was established to promote improvements in Museums and Galleries in England. Subsequent grants have funded further work on the exhibition design and layout by London-based specialist firm, Event Communications.
Bath is the largest city in the county of Somerset, England, known for and named after its Roman-built baths. In 2011, the population was 88,859. Bath is in the valley of the River Avon, 97 miles (156 km) west of London and 11 miles (18 km) southeast of Bristol. The city became a World Heritage site in 1987.
Aquae Sulis was a small town in the Roman province of Britannia. Today it is the English city of Bath, Somerset.
Bath and North East Somerset is the district of the unitary authority of Bath and North East Somerset Council that was created on 1 April 1996 following the abolition of the county of Avon. It is part of the ceremonial county of Somerset.
In ancient Rome, thermae and balneae were facilities for bathing. Thermae usually refers to the large imperial bath complexes, while balneae were smaller-scale facilities, public or private, that existed in great numbers throughout Rome.
In localised Celtic polytheism practised in Great Britain, Sulis was a deity worshipped at the thermal spring of Bath. She was worshipped by the Romano-British as Sulis Minerva, whose votive objects and inscribed lead tablets suggest that she was conceived of both as a nourishing, life-giving mother goddess, and as an effective agent of curses wished by her votaries.
Bladud or Blaiddyd is a legendary king of the Britons, although there is no historical evidence for his existence. He is first mentioned in Geoffrey of Monmouth's Historia Regum Britanniae, which describes him as the son of King Rud Hud Hudibras, and the tenth ruler in line from the first king, Brutus, saying Bladud was contemporaneous with the biblical prophet Elijah.
Thermae Bath Spa is a combination of the historic spa and a contemporary building in the city of Bath, England, and re-opened in 2006. Bath and North East Somerset council own the buildings, and, as decreed in a Royal Charter of 1590, are the guardians of the spring waters, which are the only naturally hot, mineral-rich waters in the UK. The Spa is operated by YTL Hotels.
Public baths originated from a communal need for cleanliness at a time when most people did not have access to private bathing facilities. The term "public" is not completely accurate, as some types of public baths are restricted depending on membership, gender, religious affiliation, or other reasons. As societies have changed, the need for public baths has reduced: dwellings now have their own private bathroom. Public baths have also become incorporated into the social system as meeting places. As the title suggests, public bathing does not refer only to bathing. In ancient times public bathing included saunas, massages and relaxation therapies, comparable to today's spas.
A spa is a location where mineral-rich spring water is used to give medicinal baths. Spa towns or spa resorts typically offer various health treatments, which are also known as balneotherapy. The belief in the curative powers of mineral waters goes back to prehistoric times. Such practices have been popular worldwide, but are especially widespread in Europe and Japan. Day spas are also quite popular and offer various personal care treatments.
Great Witcombe Roman Villa was a villa built during the Roman occupation of Britain. It is located on a hillside at Great Witcombe, near Gloucester in the English county of Gloucestershire. It has been scheduled as an ancient monument.
Bathing played a major part in ancient Roman culture and society. It was one of the most common daily activities in Roman culture and was practiced across a wide variety of social classes.
The Grand Pump Room is a historic building in the Abbey Church Yard, Bath, Somerset, England. It is adjacent to the Roman Baths and is named for water that is pumped into the room from the baths' hot springs. Visitors can drink the water or have other refreshments while there.
The Cross Bath in Bath Street, Bath, Somerset, England is a historic pool for bathing. It was rebuilt, in the style of Robert Adam by Thomas Baldwin around 1789. It is recorded in the National Heritage List for England as a designated Grade I listed building, and was restored during the 1990s by Donald Insall Associates.
Cleveland Pools located in Hampton Row, Bath, Somerset, England is a semi-circular lido built to designs by John Pinch the elder in 1815. It is believed to be the oldest public outdoor swimming pool in England. It is a Grade II* listed building.
The buildings and architecture of Bath, a city in Somerset in the south west of England, reveal significant examples of the architecture of England, from the Roman Baths, to the present day. The city became a World Heritage Site in 1987, largely because of its architectural history and the way in which the city landscape draws together public and private buildings and spaces. The many examples of Palladian architecture are purposefully integrated with the urban spaces to provide "picturesque aestheticism". It is the only entire city in Britain to achieve World Heritage status, and is a popular tourist destination.
Aquae Iasae was the Roman settlement and Roman bath in the area of present city Varaždinske Toplice, Croatia. Today it is the name of the archaeological site.
The Royal Pump Room is a Grade II* listed building in Harrogate, North Yorkshire, England. Today it houses the town's museum – operated by Harrogate Borough Council. It was formerly a spa water pump house. It is located in Crown Place in the western part of Harrogate town centre, opposite the town's Valley Gardens park. It is bounded by two streets, Crescent Road and Royal Parade. Today, the Pump Room consists of both the original 1842 stone rotunda and a glazed annexe which was opened in 1913. The Pump Room offered guests of the town an all weather facility where they could drink sulphur water which was pumped on site from a natural spring known as the Old Sulphur Well. The building also had a social element to it as it provided guests with a place to meet friends and get to know others.
The Beau Street Hoard, found in Bath, Somerset, is the fifth-largest hoard ever found in Britain and the largest ever discovered in a British Roman town. It consists of an estimated 17,500 silver Roman coins dating from between 32 BC and 274 AD. The hoard was found on Beau Street about 150 metres (490 ft) from the town's Roman Baths, built when Bath was a Roman colony known as Aquae Sulis.
The following is a timeline of the history of the city of Bath, Somerset, England.
The Bath curse tablets are a collection of about 130 Roman era curse tablets discovered in 1979/1980 in the English city of Bath. The tablets invoke the intercession of the goddess Sulis Minerva in the return of stolen goods and to curse the perpetrators of the thefts. Inscribed mostly in British Latin, they have been used to attest to the everyday spoken vernacular of the Romano-British population of the second to fourth centuries A.D. They have also been recognised by UNESCO in its Memory of the World UK Register.
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