A Picture Worth 2,000 Years

The four of us had a 3-day excursion to Bath this week.  While the 80-degree weather brought on a drought of bottled water, it did make for great blue English skies and dry sight-seeing. We spent most of one day at the Roman Baths.  We each had handheld audio-guide sets with separate recordings for adults and kids.  Bill Bryson occasionally provided narration about areas within the baths, including one from the vantage point of this picture.  In this one picture is a short story covering the years AD 43 through 2012.

The Romans landed in England in AD 43 and eventually built baths around the hot springs and named this small town Aqua Sulis: today’s city of Bath.  In the picture, the lowest floor level is from Roman times.  The pool and the broken pillars to the left are original.   Zooming in on the picture, the dark bottom portion of the walls is also from that period.  As the Romans lost power, they vacated these baths in the 300’s, and four feet of mud and land filled in the site, preserving the lower part of the Roman construction for hundreds of years.

Since 757, three different churches have stood next to the ruins of the Roman baths.  The third, founded in 1499, was the last medieval cathedral built in England: the Bath Abbey in the center of the picture.  It was in ruins for 70 years beginning in 1539 and gradually brought back to her current state with additions and repairs beginning in 1616 continuing through the 1800’s.

In 1880 – just yards away from the abbey – the Roman Baths were discovered and excavated from their cushion of earth.  By the end of the 1800’s, the colonnades & statues were added to the bath ruins.

Finally, to the right in the picture, is a “modern day” building that houses 21st century shops with blue awnings.

Love this.  Nearly 2,000 years of history in one single picture.