Visited Bath for the first time last week with my husband and 2 year old son and would definitely recommend a visit. The Spa Baths are centrally located and easy to find. We drove in from Bristol and parked about 5 minutes out of the centre. It was £12.25 per adult, so a little expensive, children under 5 are free. You can also get family tickets which includes 2 adults and 4 children under 16 for £35. Once you have paid you get an audio tour unit which is available in English, French, German, Spanish, Italian, Japanese and Mandarin. There are free hourly tours, if you want to go on one rather than walk around yourself and listen. The Roman Baths are wheelchair accessible, but I did not use the facilities so cannot fully comment.
We spent about 1 hour 45 minutes looking round, there are various exhibits explaining the history of the Baths and how they have been restored over the years and there are video and visual representations of what life in Roman times would have been like, for example men and women bathed separately. The tour takes in the following, the Entrance, the Terrace, the Sacred Spring, the Temple, people of Aquae Sulis, the Temple Courtyard, objects from the Spring and its overflow, the Great Bath, changing rooms and saunas the heated rooms and plunge room and finally the obligatory shop.
The entrance is where you pay and get your audio tour. The terrace over looks the Great Bath and is lined with statues of Roman Emperors and Leaders. The sacred Spring lies at the heart of the site where the water is heated. The Spring overflow is where the surplus water from the Spring, not used in the baths, flows out to a Roman drain. The changing rooms, saunas and plunge pools are under cover and from memory I think they used to be more open.
The whole experience was very enjoyable and relaxed, I imagine it would get very busy during school holidays and at the height of the tourist season, so would recommend going out of season to be able to get a good long look at everything. Taking small children was not a problem as there is lots of stuff for them to see, the only problem we had was our little one kept wanting to get into the water for a bath! The water cannot be touched, though I did before I saw the sign and it was lovely and warm.
The staff were all nice and helpful and if there are children in the party you get a sticker set and map. You use the map to find certain things and put the stickers on the map to show you have found the item. Some of the staff are dressed up in Roman attire and are happy to answer any questions you have.
The Roman baths in Bath are the site where a hot spring of water sprung up thousands of years ago. The Romans took full advantage of this and turned this area into bathing baths, healing baths and areas such as a sauna/steam room for the Roman era. It has a long history and is definitely the main attraction when going to Bath.
**Getting into the attraction**
It is worth noting that if you do the city sightseeing bus, you can get a small discount (10% I think) off the ticket price of the Roman Baths. Try and look on the web to see if you can get any discount vouchers before you go. We queued outside for 20 minutes in April, the queue goes down pretty quickly, and strangely enough when you enter the majestic interior, there is ample space to queue so not sure why we were left outside for so long.
**What do I get?**
The ticket price of £22(ish) for 2 adults was fairly reasonable. You get a free audio guide which was simple to use. My major gripe with the audio guide is there was an awful lot of material to listen to, not all of it fully relevant to the baths themselves, more about Roman life etc. which as interesting as it was, I just wanted to get to the hot spring baths to view them for myself, and ended up going on an hour long tour of the museum part complete with rambling audio guide. I'm extremely interested in history but even felt this was just too long-winded. There are tours specifically for kids, but I fear they may get bored waiting for the adults to finish their tour.
**Would I go again?**
When I finally got to view the baths and spring, it was really good, really enjoyed it. I was glad I visited and would recommend, but just bear in mind the audio guide is over an hour long if you listen to every number, do what we did and skip a few of the less important parts. I wouldn't visit again in the near future as I feel I have seen what I need to see. However, if I were to visit again in the future with my family who didn't go, I wouldn't have any qualms about going back to see the baths.
Also posted on tripadvisor by dollydaydream84 and updated for your viewing pleasure.
The Roman Baths as you see them today aren't really Roman - they were built in Victorian times, but the Romans did bathe here some 2000 years ago. I visited earlier this year and admission to the Baths was £11.50 for adults (concessions available) and there is a Saver Ticket that is £15 which includes admission to the Fashion Museum and Assembly Rooms (usually £7). This is what we did. The chap on the admissions desk was very helpful and advised us that we may not have time to do both that day (which we hadn't planned anyway) and directed us to the audio guides (which were free) and we then proceeded into the museum.
There were several audio tours available: as well as in several languages, there is a conventional one as well as special children's ones and one narrated by Bill Bryson. You just push the corresponding number on the keypad on your handset, although the numbers seem rather random and out of sequence. I listened in part to the 'offical' commentary which was very informative and in part to Bryson's which was more observational.
The visible parts of the Baths seem only small, but there is a lot more including a museum under ground. You first walk out onto the terrace where you look down onto the main baths themselves. Here there are a number of statues of Roman generals (carved around 1894) and you can get a good view of the Abbey. As you go round you also see a the Sacred Spring, the original source of the water. You then go down to the museum and Roman items that have been excavated including coins and 'curses' that people have asked the Goddess Minerva (to whom the Baths were dedicated) to look after. The museum has been upgraded in recent years, here you will see a model of how the baths would have been in Roman times, as well as CGI on a screen. Underground you also see the Spring drain where the overflow from the Sacred Spring flows out of a Roman drain, this part smells a bit sulphuric.
The museum takes you back out to the baths at the lower level, here there are number of people in Roman dress interacting with the public, and having their photo taken. I didn't really see the point of this myself, but am sure it will appeal to younger visitors. Certainly the international tourists liked them also. Through a side door you will see the excavated remains of the changing rooms and sauna. On the other side would have been heated rooms and a plunge pool which now has become a wishing well. As you leave the site you can carry onto the Pump Rooms (upmarket and expensive tea rooms) where treated hot spa water is available to drink. Alternatively you can exit into the gift shop which has a number of Bath and Roman-centric gifts.
There are toilets as you go in and generally the site is accessible for wheelchair users due to a number of special lifts and ramps. At bath level the paving stones are uneven and it is a good idea to watch your footing, I saw a few small children take a tumble around here onto the stone slabs. Plus, the water here is untreated and not suitable for drinking, so if you are going with youngsters it is worth holding tight to them. As I mentioned previously there is an audio tour designed for children but I am not sure as to what age range this would cover, I would guess those under six would not get so much out of it. Child carriers are available for free as prams and pushchairs are not allowed. There is a family ticket covering two adults and four children for £33.
If you are in Bath then this really is one of the must-see attractions, it is the reason why the town has its name after all! It is an expensive attraction however, and I think we were in there just under an hour (we didn't go into the Pump Room). The baths are open everyday (except 25th/26th December) with extended opening hours during July and August.
The Roman Baths at Bath, Somerset is one of our most famous local attractions and I finally paid a visit to them yesterday with my partner. They are located in the centre of the city, just next to the Abbey, and it only takes a few minutes walk from the train or bus station to get there. It is incredibly easy to reach via public transport and it is very simple to locate once you get into the central area.
The Baths are open from 9.00am-9.00pm during the months of July and August, and the ticket prices are £12.25 for adults, £10.00 for seniors and students, £7.50 for children (ages 6-16). Children under 5 are allowed free entry, and you can buy a family ticket (2 adults and up to 4 children) for £33.00. I purchased a combined saver ticket which was £15 for adult entry to both the Roman Baths and the Fashion Museum. This is a good saving, but to be honest I would advise not to waste your time on the Fashion Museum, save a few quid and just purchase a ticket for the Baths and spend a good time taking in everything they have to offer there. The combined saver ticket is valid for one entry to each location over the period of 7 days, so if you're in the area and want to see the Baths one day and the Museum later in the week then this gives you a bit of flexibility.
A bit of background info: At the very heart of the site is the Sacred Spring. Hot water at a temperature of 46°C rises here at the rate of 1,170,000 litres (240,000 gallons) every day and has been doing this for thousands of years.
In the past this natural phenomenon was beyond human understanding and it was believed to be the work of the ancient gods. In Roman times a great Temple was built next to the Spring dedicated to the goddess Sulis Minerva, a deity with healing powers.
The mineral rich water from the Sacred Spring supplied a magnificent bath-house which attracted visitors from across the Roman Empire.
The building itself is on a huge scale and impressive to look at. It is somewhat dwarfed by the size of the overlooking Abbey, but it still has a grand entrance and upon making my way into the entrance hall I was taken in by the beautiful tile flooring and large marble pillars. If you purchase your ticket in advance you get to skip the queue which was wonderful, we walked right in and headed over to the information desk where we were given little electronic handsets that look like large mobile phones or walkie-talkies. This little gadget was called an acoustiguide and it was the first time I'd used such a thing, so this added an interesting element to the tour.
You start the tour by heading out onto a raised walkway above the main bathing area which is open-air. You can look over beyond the walls and see down over the city which is a few metres below. The level of the modern day streets is actually built over previous structures and is a lot higher than the original level at the time when the Baths were built. You get a really good view of the bathing area from here and you can see the many statues of emperors and guards that decorate the balustrades.
From here you follow the paths around and head back inside where you are taken downwards into other areas of the Bath grounds. This is where the Temple area is, and there are lots of displays with models and artefacts that depict how life would have been in the Roman times. What we are actually able to see is very different to what was originally created, and although there has been extensive excavation work there is a lot that has been lost or is still yet uncovered. The Temple holds the cult statue of the Goddess Sulis Minerva, and her gilt bronze head is on display. There is also a large courtyard area which includes a sacrificial area where offerings would have been made to please the Goddess. There were also many rituals involving curses and wishes for the Goddess to solve problems and retrieve lost items.
At the end of the courtyard is the spring overflow, which is a Roman drainage system and carries the water around the site. Just around the corner you can go back up slightly and see the King's Bath and watch the steaming hot water bubbling away. It is an incredible sight and I liked this area a lot, it looks very grand and imposing, yet secluded.
As you turn through more corridors you finally end out at the floor-level of the main Bath area, as previously seen from above. The beauty and scale of this area are unlike modern structures and you really get a feel for the way this area would have been used. The architecture is fascinating and you get to have a good close look here. You can also head into the East Bath area which is a series of connected chambers showings the working of the heating system, steam room, changing areas, and a freezing plunge pool! This are is dimly lit and very atmospheric, especially with it being underneath the modern buildings.
The tour finishes when you have completed this circuit and I truly thought it was a fascinating building with a rich, interesting history and displayed in an appealing way. Everything is preserved and shown in its natural state, and modern technology has been implemented to help bring this era to life.
In some areas projection units are used to show actors depicting how people would have behaved and what the spaces were used for, overlaying the walls of the bath areas. There is also an impressive display of the carved stone which would have been at the entrance of the Bath house, and there are many pieces of this missing. Projected images flash over the pieces to show what the completed image would have looked like, and gives a full impression of the way it would have looked originally.
The thing that really helped me to get the most out of the visit was without a doubt the acoustiguide. You carry it around with you, and as there are numbers placed in various locations on the walls as you journey round the site, you can type these numbers in on your keypad, press play, and listen to a detailed commentary about the piece in question. This was brilliant, informative, and kept my attention. They have also brought in famous travel writer Bill Bryson to provide an extra commentary, which gives his opinions and thoughts on the site and can be listened to alongside the main commentary.
All in all it was a wonderful day out which I felt was really worth my while. I had a fascinating time and the place has a real presence that is awe-inspiring. The audio guide helped me to learn more and brought the tour to life. We spent at least 2 hours thoroughly going around and looking and listening to everything that was on offer. I would recommend this to anyone who is visiting the area and can't believe that I have overlooked it so many times on my previous visits to Bath. A wonderful influential piece of history that is maintained exquisitely and is a perfect spot of culture for tourists wanting to know the history of the area.
A few final points - the gift shop is naff and over-priced! (aren't they all though). The guide book can be purchased for £4.50 and is a nice souvenir.
I think it could be awkward if you are visiting with anyone who has difficulty walking, or with young children/pushchairs as a lot of the ground is the original stone and it is quite uneven and worn, making it slippy and difficult to walk in places. There is also a lot of going up and down through the levels, and there are only a few resting areas with literally a couple of seats where you can stop and take a break.
It was very crowded as we were inside, and I expect this is the case throughout the summer months, if not all year round. Take your time, pace yourself and make sure you get a good look at everything whilst ignoring the rude people that want to push past you and get in the way!
I did not see any rules regarding photography, but out of respect I made sure to turn the flash off when I was using my camera.
I went to Bath this Sunday till Tuesday and I tried to get in as much culture as I can, and well what is a trip to Bath without visiting the Roman Baths.
The Roman Bath Museum is a museum built upon the remains of a Roman bath from hundreds of years ago. A great deal of the original structure is there for you to feel the magic of the Spa. A great compliment to your visit would be, in my opinion, to visit Therame Bath Spa afterwards so you can pretend to be a Roman.
I went to the Roman Bath Museum on a Monday afternoon at 330pm, very small queue, was waiting only 5 minutes or less. The visit cost £11.50 for an adult, which is a bit overpriced really, but for me personally I'd never visited previously so I didn't mind the cost, although for those who aren't interested its probably not worth it. If you do have any friends or family who are in residence in Bath, you may be able to get a pass from them so you can visit for free.
You get an audio guide, you can select to be spoken to by Bill Bryson if you wish. There is also a great language choice for those travelling from afar.
The audio guides were helpfull, but a bit longwinded at times. I didn't want a long lecture at everything I looked at. Not everything in the museum captivated my attention that much. However it was nice to have the option for extra information for those that are interested in all things Roman.
There was a lot to see in the museum. For young children I would not recommend, very easy to fall in the water and there are a lot of uneven surfaces. The museum would not be very wheel chair or push chair friendly.
There was a great deal of artifacts perfectly restored and displayed, you can touch most things to.
Was definately an interesting place to visit, a trip will take around 1-2 hours.
Don't drink the spa water at the end, tastes like hot warm mouldy water!
My top tip for the Roman Baths, if you are visiting friends resident in the City, is to sneak off with their residents card which allows unlimited free admission to the baths all year round. I was certainly fortunate enough to have one when I was a student, which meaning that I could pop in for quick visits just to enjoy the ambience. The central open air bath (pictured) is particularly atmospheric when it's raining, as it steams even more than usual and gives a distinct glimpse into the bath's origins as a celtic spring to the Goddess Sulis (while the Romans worshipped Minerva).
The museum is Bath's main draw for tourists and at busy times in summer it can be a dispiriting experience to shuffle round. I recommend visiting late afternoon just before closing time, as it can be quieter then. The museum itself has audio guides (which I've used a couple of times and is a particularly good idea when its busy and you can't read the signs!). The tour takes you through the remains of the baths and features displays of the archaeology discovered over the years (from a huge pediment to the Goddess Luna, to celtic offerings found in the spring).
It is not possible to swim in the baths anymore, but around the courtyard you can still sit and get a feel for how it might have been. On the way out you will pass through another bath institution, the georgian Pump Room (often featured in Jane Austen novels and the like), where you can have a taster of the spring's water to cure your gout!
Admission is pricey- £11.50 for adults (rising to £12.25 in July and August); £10 for senior citizens and Students with ID; £7.50 for 6-16 year olds and ES40 holders; £33 for a family ticket (2 adults and 4 kids).
Despite the high prices, the baths continue to be a popular tourist attraction, and I still recommend visiting this intriguing museum which is a blend of the architectural, the religious and the historical, all atop a living spring.
We were in the baths by 9:45am and at the peak of the tourist season, this was probably a good idea. As when we were sitting outside the Abbey at around 3pm we could see that the baths were much much busier than when we'd been there. Also, go early and you will beat the hordes of foreign teenagers on tours!
The baths weren't cheap to enter (£12 for an adult) I think, although concessions for children/students/OAPs are available. For an extra £2 you can get a joint ticket for the fashion museum, which is certainly worth doing if you were planning to visit that museum anyway.
On arrival you are given a device like a large phone to listen to an audio commentary. There are 3 available, one targetting adults, one for the kids and one by the author Bill Bryson. Both my partner and I listened to a mixture of all 3, which I imagine is what most people did. However, like a previous reviewer said, I also found them quite isolating and kept moving at a different speed to my partner as we were listening to different commentaries at different times. However, I also found that the commentaries gave you more information in a quick and easy format. So I guess it is down to the individual on what you personally prefer.
There are also written displays around the bath, which were well presented and informative.
The whole area was clean and obviously well cared for. It has been built up with a lot of consideration for the environment and is very tastefully done.
A recommended visit.
The leaflet advertising this attraction, in the heart of the city of Bath, advises that you allow at least two hours for your visit. I would certainly agree with them, there is so much to see and it really is a fascinating glimpse into the world of the Romans.
Don't let the fact that this is called a "Museum" put you off. It is not at all boring and very suitable for all ages, and especially educational for children. In fact, I would recommend any child interested in history and the Romans, would thoroughly enjoy themselves here. It is a great place to explore!
We visited on a sunny weekend recently and there were lengthy queues as we arrived at the entrance, but we got to the ticket desk within ten minutes and were surprised by how quickly the queue moved.
The roman baths have a website
www.romanbaths.co.uk or you can phone on 01225 477785. There is also a 24 hour information line on 01225 477867
The baths are sited in the centre of town, a few yards from the Pump Room.
The baths are open daily throughout the year and are only closed on Christmas Day and Boxing Day. In fact, it would be a pleasant experience to visit in the winter months, more will become clear later in this review!
Opening times vary throughout the year, but throughout July and August the baths open at 9 am and close at 9pm, last admission one hour before close.
THE ROMAN BATHS
So what are the Roman baths? Well, they are the stone remains of what used to be a spa in Roman times. The Romans believed in bathing on a regular basis, in communal baths, often with men and women sharing. This fact horrified many people and was described in the 18th century as "an instance of barbarity that cannot be equalled in any part of the world".
Today you can see the remains of this spa, where the Romans made offerings to the Gods around 2000 years ago.
The "King's Bath" is believed to be built on the foundations of a reservoir which was fed from a hot spring. It is these thermal springs that were reputed to have healing qualities and believed to be a cure for many conditions, particularly arthritic ones.
You can almost imagine how soothing the warm waters would be. After a tour of the city I was aching and would have welcomed a dip! And just imagine how soothing it would be on a cold winter's day to languish in the warm waters.
Today as you enter the museum you look down into the King's bath and then as you walk around the gallery you can see various panels explaining things in simple terms.
Descend the stairs and you can actually walk around the edge of the bath. The water looks a disgustingly greeny yellow colour and you can indeed feel the heat even more. Of course, you are not allowed to enter the water, but on our visit there were people sitting on the edges of the bath, almost as if they longed to take a dip.
Signs warn that the water is not to be entered or used for drinking, obviously considered a health and safety issue in today's nanny society!!! As the source of the water is from springs they are taking no chances, but spring water is supposed to be the purest.
As you enter the museum, next to the ticket desk, you can collect an audio guide where you listen to information as you wander around.
This is easy to use and as you wander along there are signs on the walls telling you which number to press to listen to the appropriate commentary.
There are several commentaries available, so you are not obliged to listen to the same voice throughout your tour.
Bill Bryson has recorded a commentary of his thoughts on the baths, but I preferred the more official one. This was very informative and interesting. I have never been particularly interested in Roman history before, but listening to this commentary as I walked around the baths has inspired me to take more of an interest.
There is also a Children's Audio Tour where they can listen to a special commentary, more suited to younger visitors. Again, there are signs indicating which number they need to press on their audio guide to listen to the relevant information.
The audio tour is available in eight languages and the Roman Baths certainly seem to have their share of visitors from around the world. We encountered French, German, Indian, Japanese, Italian and of course American tourists on our visit and somehow it made me very proud of our heritage to see them all taking an interest.
As you walk around the museum you will come across the hot springs. You can actually watch the water bubbling away and the heat is felt as soon as you approach.
Sections have been arranged to show visitors how the springs flowed into the baths and there are the remains of different sections, very well preserved.
OFFERINGS TO THE GODS
As you walk around, the audio guide explains about the Romans making offerings to the Gods and tells you about the gifts they made or the messages they sent.
Inscriptions and carvings in the stone show how the Romans made their dedications to the Gods.
As you leave the museum there is a gift shop where you can buy souvenirs of your visit. Some of it is the usual "tack" but there are other items which are better quality.
I bought some books (I just can't resist them!!!) and also picked up a carton of what was described as something like "Roman Bath salts". Don't be fooled, the jar inside was just very ordinary like you could buy at any high street store!
There was also an opportunity to buy a glass of water from the spa, or buy a small souvenir bottle. I overheard some visitors remarking how they had tasted the water, after spending 50p on a glass, and their verdict was that it "tasted horrid".
If you are in Bath, then I would recommend a visit to the Roman Baths. I was not particularly bothered about going myself, as I said earlier I have no deep interest in the Romans. However, having spent a couple of hours wandering around at my leisure, I now have a clearer knowledge of this period of our history and can honestly say I didn't find any of it as boring as I had expected.
One word of caution - as to be expected, some of the walking surfaces are very uneven and sometimes slippery. If you take young children or disabled visitors do take extra care.
Bath located in the West Country is a World Heritage site and rightly so, it is home to some of Britain's most well preserved historical sites such as the 'Roman Baths', 'Bath Abbey', the 'Royal Crescent', the 'Circus' and 'Pulteney Bridge'. Being labelled World Heritage Site makes Bath incredibly popular with both visitors from the home nations and from abroad. In the midsummer months you will find Bath absolutely abundant with guided tours and sightseer's snapping happily. The Roman Baths is the most visited of Bath's many attractions and is in the top five of the most visited attractions in the U.K as a whole. ¬A little history 2000 years ago the Romans during their long stay in our lands found that Bath was home to a natural spring. They had no explanation for why this was so and put it down to the gods and one in particular 'Sulis Minerva'. They built around the spring some lavish bathing facilities and a temple and named this new place 'Aquae Sulis' (aquae meaning water and sulis is reference to sulis minerva, their sun god). The place was hugely popular due to the so called healing properties of the natural waters and people visited from far and wide. Of course the Roman empire disintegrated and so did Aquae Sulis's fortunes - the Bath's were left to rack and ruin - most of the buildings were either pillaged or fell down and the materials were used to build new buildings - for instance a stone from the original Roman temple was found in the wall of a local middle ages church! Aquae Sulis changed name to Bath and did continue to survive through the centuries although the natural waters were said to be dirty, stinking and hardly used. It wasn't until the eighteenth century that Bath's fortunes began to prosper again due to it being popular amongst the nobility and ruling classes when the spring began somewhat of a revival. In Georgian and Vi
ctorian times the Bath's were heavily restored and invested in, including the impressive 'Pump room' where you can still taste the water to this day. Today the Bath's look much the same as they did in the Georgian restoration period and although easy on the eye, unfortunately (in my view) there is little evidence of the original Roman features. Only the Roman water channels and lead lining survive in the Bath's themselves with the whole of the facades and fittings being Georgian or Victorian. ¬Location and opening times The Bath's reside in Stall Street in the square parallel to the gigantic Bath Abbey. Bath Abbey is the most recognisable building in the City so the Bath's are not difficult to find. Stall Street is also situated centrally amongst the main shopping area so is easily found on foot. Even if you do get lost the Bath's are signposted throughout the City. The Bath's are open from 9 o'clock in the morning until 5 in the evening except in the summer months of July and August when they don't close until 9 o'clock at night. They are open every day of the year except Christmas day and Boxing day. A single ticket will set you back £6.90 with concessions for Children 6-16 and O.A.P's. A family ticket of 4 will cost £22. If your lucky enough to be a local resident you will be allowed in FREE, just show up with a letter including your address (I took a gas bill !) and in you go free of charge. Children under the age of 6 and Disabled folk are also allowed in free. ¬Whats inside ? As you arrive at the entrance to the Bath's you will be confronted with absolutely masses of people clamouring to get inside. The Bath's recieve over one million visitors every year and this fact hits you hard at this stage, expect to queue. The popularity of the Bath's because of it's World Heritage Site status has had it's plus points like increase
d inv estment and accessibility but it does have it's downsides too - the whole experience was marred in my case by the sheer number of people on the tour but I digress. You will be given a touch pad audioguide (TPA), this is an accompaniment to your visit available in many languages. The guide is put around your neck and as you tour around the site, each stage is number-coordinated, at each stage you should tap in the number for that stage to hear an explanation. In my humble opinion this device will alienate you from your companions. I think you should explore at your own pace and read the plaque's on the walls if your curious about something in particular. In the Bath's, I found that I took in far more with my eyes than I did with my ears which distracted me from what I was actually there for in the first place. I ceased using the TPA almost immediately and wouldn't recommend them. The main bathing area is also known as the 'Kings Bath', water from the spring is channelled through to this huge bathing complex. The water is open to the elements and as it is a constant 46 degrees it steams profusely. The water itself is green in colour - this is due to algae in the water which has reacted to the sunlight. This area looks very impressive but I thought very false, the facades, the overlooking level, the columns and the statues were all added in the Georgian and Victorian eras. The only bits that are Roman are the water channels, the lead linings and the base of the main bath. You can feel the heat of the water and touch it but your not allowed to get in like the Roman's did - in Roman times hundreds at a time would mingle in and around the Bath's. Other interesting facts are that the Bath's were originally housed under a roof which would of made the room something resembling a steam-room and also the Bath-house is several feet below todays ground level, it always fascinates me how history becomes hidden with
the transition of time. Just beyond the Bath-house is an area with several large cine-screens. The screens tell the story of the Bath's history using computer-generated graphics. This area was quite small and it was very difficult to get a good view. Stairs lead down to an ever lower level which was ground level in Roman times, in here you will find artifacts which have been discovered. They are basically bits of stone which were part of the Temple and outbuildings, one in particular is of interest called the 'Minerva stone'. This stone has the face of 'Sulis Minerva' on it, he's the Roman god who gave Bath it's original name 'Aquae Sulis'. The Minerva stone was the stone which stood high and proud at the head of the Temple which the Romans prayed at prior to their visit to the Bath itself. It was found locally and had been used in the building of a later building. You can also see the 'Sacred Spring', this is where the natural water seeps up from below ground. A spring is a vault in the ground below which allows water to be pressurised upwards through volcanic rock and minerals and eventually above ground. The 'Sacred Spring' channels water to the main bathing complex. In Roman times the people would make offerings here to 'Sulis Minerva'. The next section is made up of finds from the spring which were the offerings made by the Romans, thousands upon thousands of Roman coins were found amongst other unusual items. The rest of the tour comprises remains of an early Roman central heating system - this is fascinating, rooms were built upon stacks of tiles and heated air from the spring were guided below the floors and the walls to heat the rooms inside, these were like modern saunas which the Romans used beside the bathing complex to socialise. It was incredible how advanced the Romans were and how superior they were to rulers who lived in our lands centuries later. T
his in turn leads you to the museum which is definately worth a look. You can look through the history of the site with lots of visual evidence on display. Theres lots of stuff about how modern ages have affected the Bath's such as how a new borehole was drilled into the vault to supply the pump room. The tour is completed by a souvenir shop which I found to be very over-priced. If I were to nominate one item at all, it would be the tour book which was £3.99 and a useful post-tour tool to discover more about the Bath's. ¬Other stuff The toilets in the Bath's are situated next to the Roman central heating section and are well maintained. Customer Service is very good and all staff were on the whole highly trained. Guided tours for parties are available but should be arranged prior to your visit. Disabled access is poor, the tour has a lot of stairs and disabled people need a lot of help to get round. The Baths have promised to alleviate this problem in the latter part of 2003 with the installation of permanent ramps. The pump-room is adjacent to the Bath-house and was built in 1795. In those times the dignitary's used to drink the pure water from the spring whilst being entertained by string arrangements. You could also swim in the pump-room pool too, as near-ago as the seventies but that's a thing of the past now. Today you can go in the pump-room free of charge and drink a glass of pure Bath mineral water direct from the spring, whether the water is actually healing or detrimental I wouldn't like to find out! Alternatively you can go in the tea-room and drink whilst listening to string trios much like our Victorian and Edwardien counterparts did. ¬The verdict ? Personally I was disappointed with my tour of the Bath's even though it was free. I couldn't enjoy it because I was constantly hindered throughout by hourdes of flocking visitors. There is a lot of h
istory behind the Baths and I'm glad I saw what remained of them but I found the experience a bit hollow if I'm to be truthful. I feel they've been heavily masked to sort of try to instill into peoples minds what the Baths's were like but the Bath's now and the Bath's then were miles apart, I don't think the restoration which happened in the Victorian and Georgian era's would happen today for fear of spoiling a hugely important historical site and by saying that I realise I have suggested that they have done so! I would heavily recommend visiting this site out of season to get out of it what you should, maybe in conjunction with a winter weekend trip to Bath maybe ? Bath is a beautiful City with a lot to offer but the mad summer months should be avoided at all costs in my view. I would suggests allowing yourself an hour and a half for this site. The Roman Baths, Stall St, Bath, BANES, BA 1 1LZ. Tel 24hr line: 01225 477867 Tel: 01225 477785 www.romanbaths.co.uk Thanks ==================================================== WormThatTurned2003
My eldest daughter has had her 13year-old German student, Linda, over for the past week and a bit. One of the places she was especially interested in visiting was the Roman Baths museum in, erm, Bath. Her English textbook has a whole unit devoted to it and her teacher had advised her to go, if she had the chance to. So the four of us – hubby and I, my eldest and Linda – spent last Friday in Bath, braving the rain and discovering the historic delights of Aquae Sulis. We had previously checked out the details on the website and knew a visit would take about two hours and that our cheapest option was purchasing a family ticket for £22, which we did. The museum is easy to find, as it is right near the Abbey and well signposted. As we approached, it appeared there was a very long queue and we thought we would have a wait, but it turned out to be a party of students and we were able to walk straight in. There will be many school parties, foreign students and tourists at the attraction. Despite the large number of people, I rarely felt over-crowded though, as everything is well spaced out. As you enter the baths after buying your ticket(s), you are offered a free audio guide called a Personal Acoustiguide. This looks like an over-sized mobile phone or a TV remote control. They are attached to a cord, which is adjustable and can be worn around the neck. You use them by pressing buttons to hear a commentary. Each interesting artefact or area is numbered as you go round. You press the number into your audio guide and it will give you a commentary about it. You use the handset to fast forward, rewind, pause and stop this. Hubby, daughter and Linda found these very useful, but apart from a few attempts, I got most use out of it by pretending it was a phone and having made-up one-sided conversations or trying to turn the volume down on my daughter! I just found the commentary annoying with the irritating voices and intrusive sound
effects. As you walk round, there are many wall displays, paintings, photographs and drawings that explain essential facts about each part. I used these to answer any questions I had and found them very helpful and informative. Another criticism I had about the audio guides is that they are quite isolating. Instead of a pleasant family outing where you discuss everything, we were walking around immersed in our own little worlds. When I wanted to say something, I’d look up and see they were listening to the audio guide. This is not an asset to those of us who like to discuss things and converse about what we see, think and feel. Anyway, for those that wish to use one, they are available from reception and you return them to the point before the stairs up to the toilets. The audio guides are available in English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Dutch and Japanese. (Linda used the German one a lot and found it very useful.) You can also borrow aids for those who are visually impaired or hard of hearing. If you don’t fancy an audio guide (and I wouldn’t blame you!), the traditional guided tours are still available. There is a meeting place at the side of the baths, the tours are free and begin on the hour. The promotional leaflet advertising the museum states that “access is free for wheelchair users, but limited to the terrace over looking the Roman Baths” and that there is “level access to the Pump Room”. As we went round though, we commented that it wouldn’t really be very suitable for the disabled or anyone who has problems with walking for long. There are a lot of stairs, the area around the water is cobbled and uneven, some parts are quite narrow and you are liable to be on your feet for two hours or so. There are a few comfortable chairs around to sit on (No! Not the comfy chair!), but these are few and far between. The website does state though that twice a
year, it installs a series of temporary ramps so that wheelchair access is possible. These are Open Access Evenings and the next one will be in October. There are toilets and refreshments available, as well as two souvenir shops. The toilets are about halfway through the museum, but are well signposted. As you walk round the museum, there are regular flow charts on the wall explaining where you are in relation to the other parts of the museum. The toilets have baby changing facilities and are very clean and presentable, with marbled sink units and a beautiful view of the baths. Linda was so impressed that she took me in to show me how nice they were! Although there weren’t any queues when I went, I found the space between the two rows of cubicles was rather narrow for my rather ample frame. The Pump Room is at the top of the museum, a level above the toilets and that is where you might choose to go for a sit down and a cup of tea, after your long walk round. The Pump Room Trio plays here regularly to add to the ambience. We avoided this and ate in Burger King! There are two shops in the museum on different floors – a smaller one on the ground level near the baths itself and a larger one upstairs. These sell good quality souvenirs, but expect a lot of over-priced toiletries and fudge with the Roman Baths logo on. You can buy souvenir postcards, T-shirts, toys, stationery items, ornaments and so on, not only of the museum itself but also of the Royal Family, London symbols and Jane Austen (who also has a connection with Bath). Guidebooks are priced at £3.95, a strip of nine souvenir postcards costs £1.75, notebooks are £1.50 and souvenir pencils are 40p. So onto the attraction itself – the museum and the historic baths. The setting is a picturesque one. While some parts of the museum could be housed in any building and you can feel the displays are rather dry, you then turn a corner and are faced
with a view of the bath itself or can bend down to see the spring still running. This makes it a very accessible way to learn about history and to get a feeling for how it would have looked in Roman times. There are many Roman remains, as you would expect. These range from small utensils and household items to huge pieces of stonework. Some are encased in glass display units, but most are exposed to the elements and touchable (although it’s not recommended!). A large part of the museum is a life-size reconstruction of the baths itself – the changing rooms, a series of heated pools and so on. It is easy to see how a Roman bather’s routine would have been here, with a progression through various stages of washing and cleaning. The social element is also evident from personal items, which were lost in the baths. My favourite artefacts were the little gods which people kept in their houses for good luck and protection. (I called them ‘Pocket Gods’ and hoped the shop would sell replicas, but unfortunately it didn’t.) The curses were also fascinating – remnants of writing found on rolled up sheets of lead or pewter. These were left in the Sacred Spring, where it was believed they would bring various misdemeanours to the attention of the goddess Sulis Minerva. (I suppose a modern equivalent would be complaining to your local council about your neighbours playing music loud – but leaving your letter in your local swimming pool might not be such a good idea!) There are also tombstones to be seen (and translated!), the head of the Goddess Sulis Minerva, statues, altars and the Gorgon’s Head pediment. You can feel the heat rising from the spring and taste the spa water, which apparently contains 43 different minerals! The Great Bath is still working. Not that I suggest you try to swim there, but the heated spring still works today as it has for thousands of years. The water a
pparently reaches temperatures of 46 degrees C and as we went there on a cold, wet day, it was interesting watching the water bubbling (divine farts?) and seeing the cloud of steam coming off it. The water is now green. According to one of the signs around it, this is due to the algae reacting to the sunlight. In Roman times, it was a large building with a high roof on it. It is not too difficult to imagine bathers lounging around the sides of the bath, gossiping with their friends between dips. The bath itself is the centrepiece of the museum and I found it the most atmospheric. While some of the museum inside can seem rather dull at times, walking round the Great Bath and visiting the East and West Baths at either end were the highlights for me and really helped to bring the history to life. There are a few opportunities to test your Latin too! To help with your visualisation, there are some excellent computer animations played on a loop on several television monitors situated above many of the remains. These take you from a photo of what you can see in front of you through a layered development, until you can see it, as it would have looked then. These reconstructions are very interesting and watchable and would be ideal for children. Overall, I do not think young children would enjoy the museum very much and the day we went, there were very few (if any) visitors under the age of ten. It is an ideal trip for any adults interested in history though and especially for foreigners who wish to learn more about our country or for students learning about the Romans. Linda, our German student, found the visit very interesting. She was impressed by the computer-animated reconstructions and found the German Audio Guide extremely useful. She enjoyed walking round the Great Bath the most and throwing coins into the Cold Bath. My daughter had previously been to the Roman Baths with her grandparents and commented that th
is second visit wasn’t as enjoyable as the first. She did, however, think the curses thrown in the Sacred Spring were ‘cool’ and liked seeing the head of the Flavian Lady and the collection of hairpins and accessories used at the time. This was my first visit to the museum, although I have previously been to the baths at Caerleon three times, helping out on school trips. While I personally prefer Caerleon, the museum at Bath is much bigger and well worth seeing. We spent almost two hours here, making it worth the £22 ticket cost. The weather is not too important a factor either. As I said, it was raining when we went, but as most of the museum is indoors and the outside parts are mainly well sheltered, it didn’t spoil our enjoyment at all. ****** INFORMATION The Roman Baths Stall Street Bath BA1 1LZ Telephone 01225-477785 24 hour information line - 01225-477867 Open daily except December 25th and 26th. Open until 10pm in July and August. Refreshments at the Pump Room available from 9:30am Free admission for the under-6s (who will probably sleep through the whole thing anyway), disabled visitors and local residents with a discovery card or proof of address. Concessions for families, children, seniors, students and groups. www.romanbaths.co.uk – an excellent website showing the remains, listing the historical collections housed there and full of information and beautiful photographs. There are various events held at the baths, details of which can be found on the website. These include children’s activities and Tunnel Tours. ****** KarenUK’s Tip ~ Not far from the baths, there is an excellent teddy bear shop, Café Cadbury and Lush. There is also a Ben and Jerry’s café close by and I would recommend their banana sundaes – one of which I devoured before 10:30am ;-)
It is pathetic to have to admit it but some of the happiest hours of my life have been spent in the Roman Baths Museum in Bath. Being a bit of a culture vulture I can honestly say that this is the best laid-out and most well organised museum I have ever visited. It caters for all levels and tastes and has some unique and astounding exhibits. The best time to go here is on a weekday or in bad weather, as both these things will make it less likely to be packed. Although bad weather is also dead practical, as the whole thing is indoors or undercover. So don't just stand in a charity-shop doorway when it starts tipping it down unexpectedly - race to the Baths and enter the gates of history Paradise. Even if you think you don't really care about the Romans or what they did when they came to England, you'll find the amount of historical detail and archaeological finds fascinating, if only for the insight they give us into everyday life in and around the Baths themselves. You don't need any background whatsoever, so don't be scared of getting out of your historical depth. There is also great stuff for kids, including computer simulations of how the buildings once looked, and they will love seeing the thermal spring itself, which is still bubbling away after a couple of thousand years. The highlight for me has to be the collection of curses which were scratched in Latin on bits of lead. These were then folded up small and chucked in the spring for the goddess Minerva to sort out for you. Fascinating reading which evokes moments in individuals' lives. This is not to mention all the other bizarre little objects which people threw in as charms for health, wealth, revenge on enemies, etc. Puzzle over the Latin to test out your grammar, or just read the English translations for a quick fly-past. Browse for hours amongst modern, well-presented display cases which will constantly amaze, intrigue and delight. The other h
igh point of my visit was a wander round the actual baths at their original ground level - this is about 20 feet below street level today. THe main bath survives more or less intact and its Roman lead lining means that it still holds its fill of steaming spa water. The best time for this is early evening - preferably in summer - when the main bath is lit by flickering gas torches. This makes it marvellously atmospheric and you can just about imagine stepping straight in for a dip. You could even try it if you want, as there is no barrier between you and the water (not to be advised as you would then have to leg it) - or you can just sit at the edge and soak up the atmosphere (pun intended) if you like and the attendants won't come and pester you. The audio-guide is a must (I think this is free with your ticket anyway, so you can take it and not use it if you want), and the atmosphere is unhurried. I spent 4 hours here completely by accident and have had to go back twice since. Embarrassing, I know, but I'm glad to have been able to confess at last to my secret love.