Taking a Bath

20 July 2012

OK, it was a day trip to Bath.We decided to take a day off from work and have a lovely time in a beautiful place. Indeed, Bath is lovely. The Abbey, the Georgian architecture and stone, in surroundings of natural beauty, give it all a special look and feel. Add the intriguing history of the Roman baths, along with the abundance of cream tea, and the sum is a beautiful day.

I had heard that the Roman baths were really neat, but no one told me why, and I was skeptical. I mean really, how much fuss can on make about a bath??? A lot, it turns out. For one thing, natural hot springs were considered sacred, so the Romans set up temples and altars as well as the remarkable baths. They named it for both a Celtic goddess, Sulis, as well as their own, Minerva. Because of its religious and healing qualities, people traveled there from all over the Roman empire. The architecture and engineering were terrific. And the whole endeavor created a fascinating local economy and what they left behind is revealing. Combs, coins, household goods, all bring it home and make the inhabitants real, and human.

The Brits do a fine job of exhibiting art and history. There was an actor playing a stone mason. He kept in character despite our taunts. And we learned stuff. He had a cool tablet and stylus, not quite an iPad, though of course I teased him about it. The tablet was made of beeswax and one could write on it. When done, you can “erase” it by smoothing it out with the back of the stylus. Ingenious! Or as they say here, brilliant! Or just, bril! It does make me wonder if Steve Jobs ever came here…

One interesting feature of the religious bit was that people would inscribe curses on people who have done them wrong. Basically a “whoever stole my cloak, may you die 1000 horrible deaths” kind of thing. The inscriptions, on little pieces of thin lead, I think, were taken to the priest for hokus pokus and thrown into the waters in one of the pools. There were also offerings of thanksgiving.

In this picture, note the water in the pool. It stays there because the Romans lined it with sheets of lead and sealed the seams. And it’s lasted nearly 2000 years!

Here are some of the items excavated there.

Keys – they look a bit like the key to our flat!

We also went to the lovely Abbey. But nothing beats a yummy cream tea.

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