I was invited to speak at the Bath Digital Festival this week and we also had some other project work to do in the city, so The Boy and I went down for a couple of days. I spoke about digital technologies and social media in museums, giving case studies of things we have tried out, what works and what doesn’t. You could tell this was massively outside my normal comfort zone because my voice was all shakey even though I wasn’t particularly nervous! Ah well, it’s good to push yourself I suppose! Think I’ll stick to lecturing on archaeology and straight museology from now on…
Visiting the Roman Baths was really cool though, even if it was the best example of a busman’s holiday ever, given that my office is based at a Roman bath house! Bath Spa’s Roman remains are a totally different animal to Leicester’s Jewry Wall site though, and that was one of the main things I enjoyed about it. The Roman town of Aquae Sulis was devoted to the goddess, Sulis Minerva. Rather than being a straight public baths, the complex is a fascinating mix of traditional Roman baths with religious shrine. The dedicated carved shrines were particularly interesting. I really liked that the iconic head of Minerva was displayed at a height so you had to look up at it, I massively approve of objects being put back in their original context like that, at least in feel.
I took lots of floor pictures. Seriously.
The other thing that fascinated me was seeing the hot springs bubble through the operational drains system and (perhaps even more weirdly) the floor. I know that’s probably not what your average tourist goes for, but Jewry Wall is a site based around bath house foundations, with some remains of underfloor drainage, so to see these elements not just still in situ but also operational was really exciting in helping me to envisage what Leicester’s site would have been like.
This is literally the whole pub, except the seats we are sat on…
So despite The Boy attempting endless jokes about being in Bath and people being clean, or having a wash or any other of a seemingly unstoppable stream of terrible water related puns, it was a great place to spend a single night. A nice friendly town, so good independent shops and also many, many pubs claiming to be the smallest in Bath. I liked this one the best.