Children's pages: Sacred Spring | The Roman Baths

Children's pages: Sacred Spring

What is the Sacred Spring?

Image: Apulia

Apulia: "Aquae Sulis (that’s Bath to you) has three hot springs. The spring that has the most water coming out from it is special to the goddess Sulis Minerva. She was worshipped here even before us Romans arrived! People travel far to visit the spring, pray to her and ask for her help."


Image: Owl
Owl: "The Spring is in the middle of the site you can visit. It’s here that water gushes up from the ground as a natural hot spring. It’s 46° C so it’s hotter than the water in your bath! The water is full of different minerals, even more than the bottled spring water you can buy in supermarkets. The orange colour around the Spring comes from the iron dissolved in the water. In Medieval times the Spring was given the name 'King’s Spring' after King Henry I and the name stuck." 


How did the Romans use the Spring water?

Apulia: "There is a stone tank around the Spring. It’s sealed with lead to stop the water from leaking away.  It can only go two ways: to the baths or through a big drain out to the river."
"The roof over the Spring was added later.  Statues of gods and goddesses stand in the water.  Plants grow on the walls and sometimes birds fly through the windows. It seems more like a pool in a wood than a water tank in the centre of a town".

Owl: "The stone tank still surrounds the Spring, although the roof fell down sometime in the 6th-9th centuries.  The water still goes either to the Great Bath or through the Roman drain to the river Avon.  So the Roman plumbing is still working!"

How did the Romans speak to the goddess?

Image: Roman objects

Apulia: "The Spring is a direct link with the Underworld. People visit it to pray to the goddess Sulis Minerva. They throw presents like jewellery and money into the Spring. She will look after them and their families."
"If someone has stolen something from you, you can write a note to the goddess about it. Sulis Minerva will help to get the stolen things back to you and then punish the thief! The notes are written on lead, which is quite soft, folded up and thrown into the Spring."
Owl: "Lots of things have been found in the Spring: brooches, bracelets, jugs, and over 12,000 coins! They were all thrown in by Romans as gifts for Sulis Minerva."
"We call the notes to Sulis Minerva 'curses'. Sometimes they were written back-to-front or in mirror-writing to make sure only the goddess could read them!"