Ardotalia Thermae

Bath House

It was thought for many years that either there had been no bath house at Melandra or that it had disappeared without trace but in 1971, M. H. Brown discovered the first wall of one of the hot rooms: subsequent excavations under the direction of Dr J.P.Wild have shown that the bath-house was much larger than was thought at first and that it had passed through several phases of alteration and reconstruction.

These typical military baths consisted of a number of rooms, changing rooms, probably toilets and some that had under floor heating. Wood burning furnaces at one end of the block produced hot air which passed under the floors and up inside the walls heating the rooms. A sequence of rooms had increasingly high temperatures so that the bathers could sweat the dirt out of their pores which could then be washed and scraped off with oil and STRIGILS or scrapers. The Baths were often used by the troops as a social club in which to relax and play games of chance in off duty hours. Often fragments of home made gaming boards and counters or games pieces are found in bath houses and the one at Melandra was no exception. The baths were built over some of the earlier fort ditches when discovered still retained some of the largest sections of stonework and tile to be found on the site. Investigations are still continuing.

It is possible that the Rev. Watson, the first person to write about the fort, who witnessed the demolition of buildings still standing on the north side of the fort in 1777 and actually saw the bath house being destroyed. Bathhouse internal

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