Letocetum (Wall) Bath House
To the west of the mansio lay the public bath-house, separated from it by a cobbled road between 8 to 10 ft. wide, but with the area immediately in front of the baths entrance being paved. A row of post-holes found in this area may represent one or more light structures, possibly market stalls or booths of some kind. This discovery also makes the theory of the basement rooms of the mansio being a row of tabernae more plausible.
From the street, a paved area led into a colonnade fronting the building on the east and continuing round the north side. Large doors in the centre of the eastern colonnade opened into a large, covered courtyard where patrons could exercise or limber-up prior to relaxing in the baths, which were reached by another set of doors situated directly opposite the colonnade entrance.
- The first room the bather encountered was the changing room or apodyterium which had an annexe to the north, probably containing lockers for storage of the bathers vestments.
- A fine cold plunge-bath or pluteus adjoined the south side of the apodyterium.
- Through the annexe towards the west lay the cold room or frigidarium, which had a cold bath in its south-west corner. A door in the north wall led into the main bath complex, whilst another door in the north corner of the east wall led into the sauna room.
- To the north of the cold-room was the warm-room or tepidarium, leading on to the Hot/Wet room or caldarium.
- To the east of the cold-room also accessible from the changing-room annexe lay the Hot/Dry room or laconicum in which the bathers could perspire freely in an atmosphere of steam heat like a Turkish bath; it was here that the bather could take a relaxing massage in perfumed oils after being scraped of sweat by a slave using a strigil.
- At the far north end of the bath complex and not acessible from within was the stoke-room or praefurnium, which contained the wood-fired furnaces of the hypocaust system. This underfloor heating system was present in the tepidarium, the caldarium and the laconicum where the floors were supported on pillars of tiles or pilae. The hot combustion gases from the stoke-room furnaces circulated under the floor between these pillars and were drawn up around the sides of the building through box tiles embedded in the walls, to escape finally through vents in the barrel-vaulted roof.
- To the west of the bath-house was a fenced-off area where lumber for the furnaces was stored, and gave direct access to the stoke-rooms.
Map References for Letocetum
Roman Roads near Letocetum