The Roman Baths (KS2): Everything You Need To Know

The main bath at the Roman baths, surrounded by a colonnade.
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Do you know your Romulus from your Remus?

Your Jupiter from your Pluto? Well, we've got you covered!

The Romans were a group of people who originally came from the city of Rome, the capital city of the Italy we know and love today.  Legend has it that the city of Rome was founded by the twins Romulus and Remus, and it was from this very city that the renowned Roman Empire grew from. Expanding as far as the North of Africa to parts of Western Asia, the Romans held vast influence and power over many people of different races and cultures.

Read on to find out more about the Romans and one of their most influential pieces of architecture - the Bath House!

Roman chariot racer driving his chariot around the sand track led by four white horses.

What Are Children In KS2 Taught About The Romans?

As part of their KS2 history curriculum, children will be taught more about local and global histories to help give them a greater awareness and overview of how Britain's past is connected to the wider world over time. One element of this is learning all about the Roman Empire, and the impact that it had on Britain from the series of invasions the Roman Army made to the establishment of Roman influences and culture in Britain. One particular example of this are the Roman Baths, which were built throughout the Roman Empire and Britain itself.

Did You Know? We can still find traces of Roman life and influences to this very day in the form of archaeological evidence such as coins, pottery and even the remains of buildings such as the Roman Baths in Bath!

So What Is A Roman Bath House?

The Roman Bath House was a complex with a large body of fresh water, similar to a swimming pool, that was used communally. Cities tended to have their very own public bath house and were accessible to anyone who could pay a small fee to enter. In some instances, bath houses were even free, depending on whether someone of high rank was happy and able to cover the costs for others to be able to use the facilities.

What Were the Baths Used For?

As we already know, cities tended to each have their own public bath which was a very important feature in the lives of the Romans who would use them frequently in order to get clean during the hustle and bustle of city life. Roman Bath Houses were not only built in Rome itself, but were built across its vast Empire including one in Bath, Somerset pictured below.

View of the Roman baths in Bath, England, from above.

Though primarily used for bathing, the baths were also used as a space where people could meet their friends, entertain themselves, feast, relax and even hold meetings and discussions about different aspects of Roman life - a hub for socialising!

When using the Roman public baths, people would usually do various physical activities, or, after a hard day's work, come to clean themselves. Firstly, they would cover themselves with oil which they would then scrape off along with any dirt and sweat using an instrument called a strigil (a curved metal blade, typically with a handle for ease of use). Then, they would bathe in the various baths and pools within the complex and relax.

What Was A  Roman Bath Like?

A typical Roman bath had different rooms, each with their own specific function and access to the same fresh water supply. These rooms were called:

Palaestra: This is where people could go and do exercises such as weightlifting before having a bath.

Apodyterium: This is the place where people who visited the baths could change their clothes before using the main bath house facilities.

Caldarium: This room was usually the hottest (imagine the ancient equivalent of a steam room and a jacuzzi all in one).

Tepidarium: This room was usually warm and featured a pool full of tepid water. The tepidarium is where visitors would go to rub oil (with the help of their slaves if they owned any) and scrape it off using a strigil.

Frigidarium: This was the room with the coolest temperatures. The frigidarium usually featured a bathing pool full of cold, fresh water where bathers could dip in and refresh themselves in order to get clean.

You may have also found other facilities depending on how and where the baths were built such as toilets, libraries, gardens and even massage rooms for treatments!

Where Did The Fresh Water Supply Come From?

In order to supply their bath houses and cities more in general with fresh water, the Romans used giant structures made out of materials such as stone and bricks called aqueducts to transport water from springs and streams to the very centres of Roman life. Some of these are still visible even today, however, a lot of the systems remain unearthed, underground.

Statue on the top balcony of the Roman baths, overlooking the water.

How Was Water Temperature Regulated?

As we now know, the Roman Baths had a variety of rooms, each with their own supply of fresh water at different temperatures ranging from very cold to extremely hot.

So how exactly did the Romans heat the water at different temperatures from warm to hot?

The Romans created an underfloor heating system called a hypocaust which heated the water using fire. It would be transported throughout the complex using pipes, which means heat could be directed away from a room to ensure the temperature was cool enough for a cold bath in the Frigidarium or hot enough for a warm or hot bath in a room like the Tepidarium and Caldarium!

Did You Know These Facts About Roman Baths?

Here are some fun facts about the Roman Baths:

Those who could afford it were able to have their own private bath house for bathing, usually noblemen and royalty.

There are different names for baths, which scholars debate about (thermae or balnea), terms indicating 'hot' temperatures.

Danish Archaeologist Inge Nielsen has proposed the theory that the first Roman baths were built following a rise in popular private bathing areas. As Romans were crazy about cleanliness, they started to then build public baths!

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