Welcome to the Roman Baths Blog!

This blog is a behind the scenes look at the Roman Baths in Bath. We hope you enjoy reading our stories about life surrounding the Roman Baths.



Monday, 11 April 2011

A Cast of Little People

One of the most interesting aspects of my job recently has been my involvement in the Roman Baths Museum's Development Plan.
In 2008, I was asked to draw up a "cast list" for the scale model of the site in the 4th century AD. The model maker (the artist Gerry Judah) asked for full descriptions; complexion, hair colour, stance, and even who each person was interacting with, even though the people were only ...mm high..

I tried to include many ordinary people in it; different ages, colours, fashions, visitors and workers. Local Aquae Sulis residents, like modern day Bathonians, familiar with the amazing buildings and seeing the baths just as a place to go on a wet afternoon. But to the foreign visitors, looking around at the colourful buildings, they were very Roman though so far from Rome, and with a twist of local interpretation.

If you look carefully you'll find children are playing behind the temple, in the large open air precinct. A woman with her washing gazes at a religious ceremony walking past.

A lot had to be guesswork. All the evidence of Roman baths and temple, the inscriptions and literary references, tend to be from the Mediterranean, so we don't know whether these were the norm everywhere else. When the nineteenth century excavators dug the baths, they didn't record what they found in each room. As a result, we're not sure whether women were in the east baths or the west, or whether mixed bathing was allowed; the Emperor Hadrian did ban it, but did the Baths manager obey this? How were the rooms lit? 100s of oil lamps or burning torches? Who knows if the staff (or were they slaves?) had uniforms, but we dressed them all in green tunics, so you can find them as they sweep, sell snacks or hand out towels.

In 2009, the model was installed. Apart from one drunk priest, a wayward ball player who fell over and had to be re-glued, and a purple alien who joined the religious procession, all the little people are still there in suspended animation. Next time you visit, take a closer look!

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