In a world heritage fist, the ancient goddess Sulis may be called upon to warm today’s true believers using Bath Abbey.
Although the Abbey was granted planning permission for this unique £18 million scheme two years ago, this month, engineers have begun to explore the ancient Roman drain that runs beside the Abbey... continues...
Rooftop pool will offer spectacular views of city
It is more than 20 years since the plug was pulled on bathing in Bath. Some time this spring, the vagaries of millennium projects allowing, the hot water will gush and Bath will be open for business again.
Bath is a lovely place to visit if you have never been and the Roman Baths are a 'must see'. As Rhiannon says, despite lots of tourists, there are some areas of the Baths which are very quiet and peaceful. I know the Romans are not everyone's cup of tea who may be reading this but don't let that put you off. Visit and enjoy!
Don't dismiss this as a purely Roman experience (though that's fascinating in itself - heretic) - it really gets your imagination fired up and you can conjure up something of the place before the Romans arrived.
The 'Sacred Spring' bubbles away in its blue-green pool, and mist floats eerily over the surface. How amazing this place would have been without the stone round it, probably surrounded by dark alder trees, the odd willow the wisp? The Romans knew it was already revered, and although they built a huge temple and bath complex around it, they at least took on board the beliefs of the native peoples by calling it Sulis Minerva - combining the resident goddess's name with a similar deity of their own.
So many tourists come through here, but the place is remarkably quiet - everyone has a hand-held guide and they're listening to that, so if you just sit by the main baths it's really very peaceful and relaxing. You're not supposed to touch the water but you really must to appreciate how hot it is. When you lean over the drain (in one of the photos above) it's quite a sauna! and the bright orange of the iron is dazzling.
The healing properties of Bath’s mineral springs were said to have been discovered by Prince Bladud around 900BC. Banished from court because of his leprosy, he became a swineherd. When the pigs were suffering from cracked skins he took them done to a marsh where the warm water gave off steam which healed them so completely that Bladud immersed himself and cured his leprosy.
You will find Bladud references dotted around Bath (e.g. the Bladud Arms pub and Bladud Buildings)
It would surely be remarkable if people hadn't been intrigued by the hot springs at Bath since the midsts of time. Cunliffe and Davenport, in their 1985 'The Temple of Sulis Minerva..' confirm that mesolithic flints were found beneath the temple when it was excavated.
They also mention that seventeen pre-Roman Celtic coins were found near the spring. They were 'fresh and unworn' in appearance so it's doubtful they were old coins thrown in later. In that case, these are the earliest votive offerings found.
Solinus, the 3rd century CE author of Collectanea Rerum Memorabilium, a descriptive book about places, wrote of Britain "...there are many great rivers and hot springs richly adorned for the use of men. Over these springs the Minerva is patron goddess and in her temple the eternal flames never whiten into ash, but when the flame declines it turns into rocky lumps". Many scholars have interpreted this as a reference to the temple of Sulis Minerva at Bath arguing that a sacred fire (fuelled by coal) was kept burning for her here.