The History of Spas in Bath
The Myth of Prince Bladud
The myth of Prince Bladud is that he was the son of a Celtic king, who lived on the hills surrounding Bath. Bladud was banished when he fell ill with leprosy. He became a pig farmer and passed the leprosy onto the pigs who wallowed in the spring. Upon bathing in the spring, the pigs were cured of their leprosy, Bladud bathed as well and he was cured too. This is how the hot waters and their ‘healing’ powers were discovered by the Celts and how Bath became famous.
Bath’s Spa Heritage
Before the Romans invaded Britain in 43AD, the city of Bath as we know it was not inhabited. The local Celtic tribe (the Dobunni) lived on the hills surrounding Bath, and they built a causeway to the spring. To the Celts, this bubbling, hot water was a place where they could communicate with their deity, the goddess Sulis of health, war and wisdom. As far as we know, this was the first time any changes were made to this area.
The Romans came to bath between 43AD and 69AD, and it was during this time that they began to build the bath house. The Romans, like the Celts before them, believed that the hot waters were a place where they could communicate with their deity, the goddess Minerva of health, war and wisdom. The two goddesses were merged together; becoming the goddess Sulis Minerva. Being the goddess of health, from the inception over 2,000 years ago the hot waters of Bath have been used as healing waters. This view became prominent in the Georgian period when Queen Anne visited to use the waters to heal her gout in 1702. This led to the creation of Bath as a spa town – leading to people of the upper sorts visiting the town for leisure and health; this grew in the Victorian period. The Victorian’s invented new treatments including the water and many visited to take the waters. The Royal National Hospital for Rheumatic Diseases still uses the waters today to help treat patients.