Have you ever visited a place that’s so steeped in history, that it feels that you have only grasped a tiny fraction of what it must have been really like when you visit? That’s the feeling I got when we went to The Roman Baths in Bath, Somerset back in July on my birthday.The plan was to stay after dark to see the twilight tour but we arrived too early and by the time the first of the lamps were turned on, we were ready to go home.Ideally, we should have arrived a couple of hours later as it doesn’t get really dark during the summer in the U.K. until well after 9.
From the moment you leave the entrance and go outside onto the terrace, you are faced with Victorian statues of Roman emperors and governors of Britain.The statues on the terrace date to 1894, as they were carved in advance of the grand opening of the Roman Baths in 1897.
As I’m of Pagan spirituality, it was interesting to find out that Aquae Sulis, as it would have been known 2,000 years ago, was a Roman temple dedicated to the goddess Sulis Minerva.Sulis was the goddess of the hot springs to ancient Celts in Britain (the only hot springs in Britain).When the Romans realised that she had similar traits to their own goddess Minerva, she was merged to create Sulis Minerva.
Legend says that King Bladud, eldest son of the Celtic king Lud and father of King Lear, founded the city of Bath after he discovered a hot mud bath when bathing his pigs who had scurvy.When they healed, he then bathed in the mud himself, curing his leprosy, and this led to him setting up a temple to Sulis.The Roman Baths in Bath, have gone under a number of restoration and excavations since the 12th century and these are still going on to date, with the Roman Baths Archway project.
In the photo above, you’ll just see a costumed character.There are several costumed characters walking around the main bath from 10 am to 5 pm daily and also in the evening in summer. We missed the stonemason, this could have been Sulinus or Brucetus.When we finally got down to the main bath we met the Roman soldier and armorer, I can’t remember if he was called Flavia or Apulia.You might meet a Roman lady and slave girl, or the priest Gaius Calpernius Receptus and a traveling merchant named Peregrinus.The characters are based on real people who lived and worked at Aquae Sulis 2,000 years ago. The kids were really taken to the Roman soldier, he was really engaging and answered lots of questions they had.I have to say how I’m really grateful for him posing on my whim, around the side of the baths for me.I think he may have enjoyed it a bit too much.
There are many, many exhibits inside that were excavated inside from 1727, but it was too crowded to take photos without getting someone in the shot.The photos that were person free, were too dark anyway.Which is why I’m sharing so many gorgeous shots of the baths outside, none of them are undercover, so there’s natural light and very much open to the elements.
Upon purchasing your ticket, we were offered free audioguides which are available in English, French, German, Spanish, Italian, Japanese, Mandarin, and Russian. Hourly public guided tours starting from the Great Bath are included at no extra charge, subject to availability.As I had to keep an eye on my kids, I declined but all 3 kids had their own child’s audioguide, narrated by Michael Rosen is available in English, French, and German, and features Roman characters and their stories.
Courtyard entrance to the main bath Looking up at the terrace
Can you imagine parading around and taking a dip in this water 2,000 years ago? The water is a very green hue due to algae and not safe to touch, a point that made quite clear around the baths but many a parent seemed to be happy for their kids to paddle in the side streams.And yes, that made very angry.That aside, we all had a great time seeing all the exhibits, learning about what Roman life at the temple was like and how the bath spa system worked.
Reflection of Bath Abbey in the bath water.
The Sacred Spring, at the centre of the temple is a naturally hot water at a temperature of 46°C/114°F rises up every day.I suspect due to safety, the sacred spring isn’t accessible to the public.It was very easy to imagine what it was like when it was first built, many of the rooms not only have information on the walls but video projections show the life that was led here.
Panoramic view of the sacred spring.
Corner of sacred spring
The lit lamps as early evening sets in.
The Roman Baths are a great place for families, but no pushchairs are allowed past the main entrance.There are baby carriers available to use whilst on site.The cobbled stones can make it a bit wobbly to walk on so make sure you have decent shoes on and running around isn’t a great idea.The kids loved the audioguides, even my 7-year-old raced her older siblings to find the next information post, so they probably got more from the visit history wise than I did.I found it really relaxing and although I have visited before when the girls were 3 and 5, I had forgotten a lot that I saw before.The kids want to visit again next summer, but we’ll make sure we arrive later on in the evening so we can enjoy the lamps.
The Roman Baths are open daily, closed 25 and 26 December. The opening hours vary throughout the year and include late evenings during July and August.
January – February: 09.30 – 17.00, exit 18.00
March – June: 09.00 – 17.00, exit 18.00
July – August: 09.00 – 21.00, exit 22.00
September – October: 09.00 – 17.00, exit 18.00
November – December: 09.30 – 17.00, exit 18.00
Tickets and prices
Adult single £14.00 July and August ONLY £14.50
Senior Citizens (65+), full-time students from outside Bath (aged 17 and over plus valid ID) £12.25
Child single (6-16 years) and ES40 holders £9.00
Family ticket (2 adults + up to 4 children) £40.00
The Roman Baths are in the centre of Bath in the West of England. Bath is 100 miles (160km) west of London and 10 miles (16km) east of Bristol. Bath has good coach and rail connections from London and from most major cities in the UK.
Address: Roman Baths, Abbey Church Yard, Bath, BA1 1LZ
Tel: +44 (0)1225 477785 Fax: +44 (0)1225 477743. Email (link sends e-mail)
Linking up to Fiona of Coombe Mill’s Country Kids , where we’ll be holidaying next week.