PART ONE: The City (In two pages)[See official website at link]
PAGE ONE of TWO
So I took a bus to Bath. Where is Bath? About 15 km or 10 miles southeast of Bristol:
Why did I go there? The only hot springs in all of the UK!! It was in use as a healing spring before the Romans, but was developed into a big resort by the Romans.
What did I see in the city? I stayed at an older hotel (4), Pratt's Hotel, an easy walk to Bath Abbey (3), the Roman Baths museum (2), and the Thermae Spa (1). I also took two extended walks, Walk One was to see the city from a hill to its east, "The Walk to The View" (click on link for a description). Walk Two was the "Bath Skyline Walk" (click on link for a description):
The first two Bath pages are about the three sights numbered in the map above, then there are two pages about Walk One, and three about Walk Two.
The Romans called the spring the Sulis-Minerva spring, named after Sulis, the healing Goddess of wisdom of the Druids, whom the Romans felt to be the equivalent of their Minerva (The Greek's Athena). Minerva, was the Goddess of wisdom and war and medicine. The original head of Sulis-Minerva at bath had on a plumed warrior's helmet to signify her war role. She is usually seen with an owl on her or nearby indicating her wisdom. Romans, like the British tribal people here before them, came to the baths in part to worship the Goddess and to heal what ailed them.
Me? I simply came to soak. And soak I did, at the "Thermae Bath Spa" where the warm water from the Sulis-Minerva spring is piped into a lower and rooftop pool (go to their linked website to see). I was disappointed with the water temperature, warm, but not hot, but the four large steam rooms --each with a different aromatherapy scent-- were very toasty and made up for that initial disappointment with the water temperature.
The original Roman baths have been reconstructed to an extent, and now serve as a museum of Roman-British life in that time and place.
I spent an hour admiring the art and especially the stoneworking crafts of the Romans, and their engineering skill. They did nice work. I was also quite interested in their religious practices and beliefs and got a good understanding of that too. I did not take photos because I had previously seen the museum's web site and found it to have a rather complete description of the museum and its content (borrowed the above photo from that site).
I arrived mid day and my first act was to have a rather extensive lunch at the "Pump Room" attached to the museum, a fancy place with good food and excellent live musical accompaniment (was part of a package deal with spa and museum tickets):
After lunch I took a peek at the part of the Roman baths directly below the restaurant:
The man in the blue shirt is a museum guide. But who is the man sitting in the little alcove to his right? Read the sign for yourself, if you can.
Give up? Me too, had to consult a guidebook. This is purportedly an invention from the Middle Ages reaching back beyond Roman times to the royal family of a local tribe. This is Prince Bladud, son of king Ludhudibras, ninth century B.C.E, banished from home because of leprosy, and herding swine for a living. He noticed a steaming pile of mud with warm water running through it, and took note of the fact that his swine loved rolling around in that warm mud. He also noticed that the swine had skin ailments and growth that disappeared after they wallowed in this warm mud. So he jumped in, wallowed, was healed of his leprosy, was let back into his home and restored to his position, and used his royal means to start the town of Bath as a place to cure ailments of all sorts. Great story! And why could it not be true?
The annals of medicine ought to record this as the first instance of a human cure first being tried out on pigs. That is still being done! Pigs and humans have remarkably similar reactions to many drugs.
So go visit the Thermae website and the museum website linked above and then come back and join me on a little walk around the central city.
The closeness of the former temple and the current abbey is noteworthy, I think--Roman bath/temple on foreground, abbey in background:
But who turned out the lights? Let's come back in the daytime on the next page.
NEXT Go To PART ONE: The City (Page Two)
Go To PART TWO: Walk to the View (Page One)
Go To PART TWO: Walk to the View (Page Two)
Go to PART THREE: Skyline Walk (Page One)
Go to PART THREE: Skyline Walk (Page Two)
Go to PART THREE: Skyline Walk (Page Three)
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