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The Roman Baths in Bath

I have visited the Baths several times in the last 10 years and probably when I was a kid. This time it was time to take my daughter for the first time. It really is a fascinating place and each time I come back with some other discovery. As there are always lots of visitors I miss bits and I don’t like the audioguides you take around with you. I find then it is difficult to “see” as I concentrate on listening. (Although I can make mosaics whilst listening, and I can rub my tummy whilst patting my head!)

The Baths are part of the surviving ruins of the Temple of Minerva,   with hot springs still  coursing through. The waters start their journey from the Mendip hills going down into the core of the earth to heat up and finally make their way up into the temple.

I love the small carvings on the  wall columns as you walk above the main bath. All sorts of animals including lions, gazelle and elephants, reminding us of the Romans’ colonisation of Africa.

Seeing the  statue of the 800BC King Bladud  sitting above the Kings bath  was quite chilling.  He was believed to be the founder of Bath, and attributed the goddess Sulis ( later known to the Romans as Minerva) to the springs.

I hadn’t studied him in the past enough to notice how odd his face was, almost as if he was a circus doll. Those of you who know my work will remember my pig “Prince Ropork”  for the King Bladud’s pigs public art project in 2009. It was easier to imagine the legend of him now with his herd of  pigs  wallowing in the mud around the springs and thus being cured of leprosy. 

In true English style the Baths have their own ghosts on the walls (projections on the walls) and  also “real Romans”.

I was looking forward to ( naturally)  seeing the aquatic mosaic again. This is part of a mosaic found in 1800’s at Bluecoat School, Sawclose, Bath.

It was a pleasure to see Joanna Dewfall’s mosaic lion, “Leo Aquae Sulis” for the Lions of Bath public art project, fitting perfectly into the surroundings with her use of marble and stone.

My son insisted he try the spa water they offer as a drink in the restaurant. I have tried it before and didn’t want it again, but I took a sip anyway. My daughter ran off  to watch us from a distance, I think she thought we might be sick! It is the most disgusting water; warm, eggy, (that’s the sulphur) metallic and salty. We watched a woman’s expression after downing it in one! Quite funny, but I felt for her! It is supposed to be good for you, but I really have my doubts. How can anything that tastes that ghastly be good for you?!

And talking of what’s good for you – if you are inspired to take a visit to Bath, don’t forget to visit the painted and mosaic lions prowling the city as part of the Lions of Bath public art project. My lion “Zillion” can be found in Kingsmead square. The lions will be taken in gradually for restoration/polishing from mid September and they will all come out again  for the  “Lions Roar Goodbye” auction weekend preview on  9th & 10th October.

(More details of this on www.lionsofbath.co.uk )

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