On Friday 12th May, 34 eager Shell Latinists visited the Roman Baths in Bath for a day of all things ancient. Setting off from Marlborough, pupils were treated to a spectacular view of Silbury Hill as they wended their way to the ancient Roman settlement of Aquae Sulis, modern day Bath.
Upon arriving, the pupils were split into two groups as they either took part in a workshop or a tour around the site itself before switching halfway through. The workshop was a fascinating look at the inscriptions found on the altars and gravestones found around the Baths. The pupils made use of their abilities to translate original Latin and learn about the various people who lived and worked around Aquae Sulis. Overcoming some tricky phrasing and missing letters, they performed admirably and were interested to learn about how far citizens of the Roman Empire would come to visit the Baths.
In the Roman Baths proper, Marlburians saw the archaeological remains of a major Roman site. They were able to walk in the footsteps of the ancients, witness a millennia-old lead pipe, and marvel at how the natural wonder of a hot-spring was utilised to produce millions of litres of water for public sanitation and enjoyment. The real crowning glory, however, was the opportunity to meet two real-life Romans. The inquisitive Shell were amazed as they learned first-hand of their journey to Aquae Sulis to help build the Baths. They were very keen to have a photo taken with them, even if the concept of a photo did startle their ancient acquaintances. It may be the case that these Romans were just character actors, but why ruin the mystery?
Overall, the trip was very enjoyable and it enriched all of our appreciation of the ancient world. It is always a pleasure to ‘bring Latin to life’, even if the drinkable spring water was somewhat disagreeable to taste.