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Country Life Every Week - - Town & Country -

IHAD the op­por­tu­nity this week to ex­plore the de­lights of Bath—from its cel­e­brated Ge­or­gian ter­races to the mar­vel­lous col­lec­tions of the Hol­burne Mu­seum, it’s a mag­nif­i­cent city. The abbey, too, is breath­tak­ing, its ex­quis­ite ar­chi­tec­ture en­livened by the im­prob­a­ble num­ber of fu­neral mon­u­ments jostling for space on the walls. Much that I saw was fa­mil­iar, but one site was a nov­elty to me: the epony­mous baths. Pools of wa­ter, I rea­soned, could hardly be worth vis­it­ing. How wrong I was. The ex­tent and scale of the Ro­man re­mains are ex­tra­or­di­nary, as are the finds dis­played there, from the fa­mous curses in­scribed on sheets of lead to the sur­viv­ing sac­ri­fi­cial al­tar of the tem­ple com­plex.

The spring of wa­ter was won­der­fully dra­matic, gush­ing at 46˚C from the mouth of a Ro­man arch­way stained yel­low with min­eral de­posits. In the in­tense cold of the morn­ing, the wisps of steam from the pools it feeds were vis­i­ble even from the neigh­bour­ing square. No won­der peo­ple trav­elled here from across the Em­pire. Nev­er­the­less, it’s star­tling to be re­minded how far they came. Iso­tope anal­y­sis of one skele­ton sug­gests that the 45-year-old man it be­longed to came from Syria; a Ro­man im­mi­grant. JG

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