Sacred Spring and Associated Objects | The Roman Baths
Image: The Sacred Spring Credit: Jon Craig Image: The Sacred Spring Credit: Jon Craig Show image info

The Sacred Spring Credit: Jon Craig

Sacred Spring and Associated Objects

See the Sacred Spring, at the very heart of the site. Naturally hot water at a temperature of 46°C rises here every day and has been doing so for thousands of years.

1,170,000 litres (240,000 gallons) of water rises here daily. In the past this natural phenomenon was beyond human understanding and it was believed to be the work of the ancient gods. In Roman times a Great Temple  was built next to the Spring dedicated to the goddess Sulis Minerva, a deity with healing powers. The mineral-rich water from the Sacred Spring supplied a magnificent bath-house which attracted visitors from across the Roman Empire. 

Objects from the Spring

Many objects were thrown into the Sacred Spring as offerings to the goddess, including more than 12,000 Roman coins which is the largest votive deposit known from Britain. Some very special objects are the curses, with messages inscribed on sheets of lead or pewter, which were then rolled up and thrown into the Spring where the spirit of the goddess dwelt.  

Metal pans, known as paterae, might have been used for making offerings of holy water. They are inscribed with the letters DSM or the words Deae Sulis Minerva which shows that they were dedicated to the goddess Sulis Minerva.

Image: Patera found in the Sacred Spring

Spring Overflow

See the Spring overflow which carries surplus water from the hot spring to the original Roman drain, and on to the River Avon four hundred metres away. The Roman plumbing and drainage system is still largely in place today and shows the ingenuity of the Roman engineers. Lead pipes were used to carry hot spa water around the site using gravity flow.

The Roman great drain can be seen through a glass floor which has recently been erected in the museum. Some important finds have been made in the drain including a group of 34 gemstones and a mysterious tin mask.

Image: Spring overflow at the Roman Baths