Day 91 (4.14.17): An Old Village, Ancient Baths, and Prehistoric Stones

After our big day in Wales, we decided to spend our last day with Molly and Kate in England.  We had passed through quite a few charming Cotswold villages the day before but “we” decided not to stop.  As a result, we decided to start our day by visiting Castle Combe, which the guide books said was supposed to be lovely.

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It took us about 90 minutes to get there, and as advertised the village was very charming.  We walked around for a bit before popping into the local pub for lunch.

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After lunch we walked and soaked up the scenery.  From Castle Combe, we headed towards the city of Bath.  Our primary goal in visiting Bath was to see the remains of the Roman baths.  I hope you’ll forgive me for dipping into the history of the place, but I think it’s pretty amazing.

You see, in bath there is a natural thermal spring that cranks out more than 1,000,000 liters of piping hot water.  People have been using the baths for thousands of years.  The Celts dedicated a shine on the site to a local goddess named “Sulis.”  When the Romans showed up around 50 AD, they named the town Aquae Sulis, that is “Water of Sulis.”  The Romans did what Romans do when there is a hot spring, and started building a public bath.  Ultimately, the Romans dedicated the bath to “Sulis Minerva” — a combination of old-school Sulis and the Roman goddess Minerva.  In the early 400s, as the Roman Empire was starting to collapse, the Romans left England.  The Dark Ages set in, and within a few centuries the baths were buried by natural processes.  Time moved on, and the town of Bath built on top of the buried Roman baths.  It wasn’t until the late 1800s that workmen rediscovered the ruins, wonderfully preserved.

We started by walking around the baths from the upper levels, which date to the late 1800s.

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As we moved down as we went through the exhibit.  The preservation of the ruins was amazing considering that they were more than 1500 years old.

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Here’s Lydie and me with Sulis Minerva herself.  Looking good Sulis!

Bath2I also liked Jupiter’s thunderbolt.  I think the kids would start listening to me if I one of these.

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We also realized that that, while the pagan gods had blessed the chickadees friendship the day before, we had a prime opportunity to get some Roman gods to bless the young coven, too.  Bath3

I should probably admit at this point that when I was last in Bath in 1987 I was extremely unimpressed by the ruins.  I was eleven and only interested in castles.  The chickedees were far more enthusiastic that I was, but they were reaching their limit.  It was time for ice cream.

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From Bath, we headed back into the countryside.  We were headed to Avebury, which is a massive Neolithic site.  Along the way, we stopped to admire the bluebells.

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The sun was starting to go down by the time we reached Avebury, but the stones were still magnificent.  Ave4

Kate tried to throw herself through the stones to see if she could travel back in time and find a burley Scotsman.

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Julie explained that she has been trying to do the same thing for years with no success.  The girls weren’t concerned about losing their mothers (or not).  They were too busy climbing on top of the stones.

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The sun was going down.  Even the sheep were headed home.

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It was time for us to go as well.  With any luck, we would come back before leaving the UK.

-Will

 

 

 

 

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