Children's pages: Roman Bathing

What were the baths like?

Image: BelatorBelator: "The hot Spring supplied water for the bath house. This has the sort of rooms that most Roman towns have. The only unusual room is the Great Bath: a huge hot swimming pool.  We can only touch the bottom with our toes if we go under water!"
"All the rooms are roofed and many have high ceilings. They have colourful painted walls and some have mosaic floors. Many ill people visit the baths because they believe they will get better if they swim in the waters of Sulis Minerva."
 Image: OwlOwl: "Roman baths were like our leisure centres. They were big buildings with swimming pools, changing rooms and toilets. They also had hot and cold rooms more like modern Turkish baths."

"The water in the Great Bath now is green and looks dirty.  This is because tiny plants called algae grow in it.  In Roman times the roof over the bath would have kept the light out and so stopped the algae from growing."


Were all the rooms in the baths hot?

Image: Apulia

Apulia: "When we go to the baths we go through the........"
"Apodyterium (that’s a Changing Room): Where we take off our clothes and leave them in cupboards. Here you can pick up a towel."
"Caldarium (that’s a Hot Room): This is very hot!  It's heated by the hypocaust (that’s underfloor heating) and the floor is so hot you have to wear wooden shoes or jump about a lot! This is where you sweat lots."
"Tepidarium (that’s a Warm Room): Here there is warm water in the pools and so adults sit in them and relax. You might rub yourself with olive oil in this room."

"Laconicum (another Hot Room): This is a small round room where you can sit and sweat even more!"
"Natatio (a Swimming Pool). This is a long pool where you can swim or splash about with your friends. The water is warm here and comes from the Spring."

"The Romans didn’t use soap: they rubbed olive oil onto their skin, when they had sweated lots they scraped off the oil and dirt with a special shaped tool that they called a 'strigil'

What else did the Romans do in the Baths?

Image: Cartoon of Romans ready to bathe

Belator: "When we go to the baths we don’t just get clean, we can also:"
"Have a snack: we like fruit or cakes but mum and dad prefer oysters, chops and spare ribs".
"Play board games like tabula".
"Meet with friends"
"Get a rub down"
"Play ball games: like trigon (that’s a game of catch with three balls and three friends and is very difficult!)"         

What else was in Aquae Sulis?

Apulia: "Around the Temple and baths is the big town of Aquae Sulis. This is Latin for 'waters of Sulis'."
"There are houses, shops, places to stay and other bath houses. There is a temple which is round (we call it by its Greek name of tholos).  There is a theatre. The main part of the town with all the important and big buildings in it is now walled and so you enter it through gateways. The town is famous throughout the Empire and tourists come to stay and visit the Temple and baths."
Owl: "We know people visited Bath, because it’s mentioned in a Roman travel book!  We have also found the gravestones of people from different parts of the Roman Empire, who died in Bath."

Back to top