Have you ever heard the term, “taking the waters?” It’s been around for hundreds of years, and I know I’ve seen it in several historical fiction and non-fiction books I’ve read.
You probably have seen people 'taking the waters, ' in movies or on television. If you watch any old movies or even recent movies with Romans, you will see them sitting around a pool of steamy water. But what exactly is it?
Today I will focus on historical Bath, England, nestled in Somerset county, and its hot springs, as most of my own writing takes place in England.
The hot mineral waters in Bath are the only springs in England. Rain water from the Mendip Hills filters through an underground layer of limestone in the earth. Down, down it travels to about 14, 000 feet, where by geological wonder it is then pushed back up through the earth along fissures and cracks in the limestone rock formations to the surface where it flows out into three springs, at a temperatures of abot 115 degrees. Around 250, 000 gallons flow from the earths surface every day, which the bath houses are built over. The waters earthy tone and taste account for the minerals that dissolve from the rocks as the water passes through it.
The city of Bath was built by the Romans around 60 AD, when they built a bath house on the main spring. Archeologists have shown that the springs in Bath were used for thousands of years prior to the Romans. The springs were popular with the Celtic people who worshiped their Goddess Sulis, and attributed the healing waters to her powers. The Romans adopted these beliefs seeing much in Sulis as in their own Goddess Minerva, and named the town Aquae Sulis, building a shrine to the Goddess Sulis. The complex was continually expanded upon until it was complete some 30 years later. However by the 5th century when the Romans withdrew, the baths silted up and the complexes deteriorated.
It had been known, that these waters could be used to relieve illnesses & discomforts, including leprosy. At one point in time a specific bath house was reserved for lepers. For some it provided healing and even a cure for whatever ailment they were suffering from. People would bathe in or sip the water that could be tasted in the Pump Room.