What went down the Roman Baths’ Great Drain?

The Roman Baths at Bath and a bit of BathParts of an ancient underground drain that takes Bath’s famous hot spring water from the Roman Baths to the River Avon are to be explored for the first time in a project to survey parts of the Great Roman Drain, a scheduled ancient monument and fundamental part of the Roman Baths complex. Parts of the drain have not been explored for hundreds of years.

Built by the Romans to prevent central Bath from flooding, the Great Drain still performs its original purpose, discharging water from the natural hot springs to – Bluestonehenge’s – River Avon.

It definitely needs to be mentioned that it is not the Roman-build part of the Great Drain that is currently causing a flooding risk, but a more recent extension beyond Bath’s old city wall. Previous surveys have uncovered some stunning archaeological finds including carved cameo gemstones and a mysterious tin mask.

Miles Barnes, the Bath & North East Somerset Council Project Manager responsible for the survey, said: This is an important and exciting project for Bath & North East Somerset Council. The Great Drain has played a crucial but largely hidden role in the life of the city for hundreds of years, and its crucial that we determine its condition so that it can continue to function as the Romans designed it.

Mr Barnes said in an interview with the Times Online that “Although the drain is pretty clear there are sections where it bends or narrows where sediment will have built up that has not been disturbed for 2,000 years, so who knows what else we will find.” So let’s hope the Romans dropped some more archaeological valuable items down the drain!