Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Roman Bath House

Roman Baths
In the northernmost reaches of the Roman Empire here stood  a Roman Bath House and its walls still survive standing up to 12 ft 9 ins (3.9 metres).  There is more to it than this photograph shows but you can see the remains of the arched doorway.  Its buttresses suggest that it had a substantial roof.  It owes its preservation in part to the fact it was at one time incorporated into a medieval building.  The Bath House is just a third of a mile away from the settlement of Ravenglass on whose tidal estuary beached ships would be unloaded directly onto the shore and taken to the Roman Fort of Glannoventa of which this was its Bath House.  It was not actually located inside the fort but outside and it is thought for that reason its purpose was to be shared by both civilian and military personnel who "enjoyed hot saunas and cold baths". Although enjoy and cold baths are not two words that would go together for me.  There is evidence that the soldiers stationed here served in Hadrian's fleet for Ravenglass was a supply point for much of the North West of England.

Nothing remains of the four acre fort which was occupied from the AD130 to late 4th century, its west half destroyed by the estuary of the Esk and by the railway of 1850 however there is an enigmatic sandstone marker in a field nearby
Glannoventa Roman Fort Marker
I will have to have another attempt at this photograph for my intention was to show the marker with the Bath House in the distance to one side, however the clear blue sky and the sunlight dazzle on my camera screen means that, as I realised when I downloaded the picture, I have managed to place the marker directly over the distant Bath House.  Doh.

There is a nice tour of the Bath House on You Tube here and as you will see there are always visitors pottering around. It may not be as impressive or well preserved as others in the world but this southernmost point of Hadrian's Wall Country was in Roman times a frontier. Members of the Cohors Primae Aelia Classica (First Cohort of the Aelian Fleet) garrisoned here and bathed within the walls, the fort's name of Glannaventa meaning 'market of the shore' means that merchants and travellers would have enjoyed the underfloor heating in the cold of winter.  After the Romans left there was a great Viking settlement.  I wonder if they took advantage of the baths.

An entry to ABC Wednesday, a journey through the alphabet, this week sojourning at R here.




8 comments:

Hildred said...

Very interesting. I find digging up the remains of old buildings and the history that they hold just fascinating.

Rajesh said...

Interesting structures. Great to know about this place.

Rajesh said...

Interesting structures. Great to know about this place.

Reader Wil said...

Sometimes ruins are more interesting than the original building. Thank you for showing us and linking your post to You Tube.
Wil, ABCW Team

Roger Owen Green said...

I'm sure it was more private in the BEFORE picture!


ROG, ABCW

Berowne said...


Fascinating info about the Roman occupation.




Joy said...

You would have enjoyed the Romans in Ravenglass project there Hildred when volunteers helped the archaeologists with field walking and excavation. Someone I know said it was hard work (especially for creaking old bones) but very rewarding because they found so much.

Fritz Ant said...

I can only imagine that during that bath house time there must of been many people coming and going, laughing and sharing great stories to each other.

Thank you for sharing.