Wooden bath clogs, with leather slip-on-uppers, were used to protect the wearer from the hot floor of the bath house.

A bath clog which has just been excavated.

Digging up memories - making connections 

Helen is a fan of buying shoes. Here she relates why her favourite objects are the bath clogs.

Thoughts on wooden bath clogs

by Helen Woodford (Chair of Trustees)

One of the things I love about Vindolanda is learning about the objects unearthed on site and realising through these that the Romans who resided here had so much more in common with us (living in the area around two millennia later) than I expected.

When looking at the display cabinets housing selected wooden finds in the Vindolanda museum, my eyes are often drawn to the bath clogs.... Read on

Discussions on wooden bath clogs 

by Andrew (CEO) and Gary (Trustee)

‘Wooden artefacts can tell us a great deal. They can make those connections, but also raise some interesting question.’ Andrew  shares his thoughts on the use of Roman bath clogs with Gary.  Why is there so little evidence of children using the bathhouse?

Listen to Andrew and Gary...

Further information

Sweating it out! 

by Liz Pounds (Museums Volunteer)

If you were a Roman soldier, the bath house was the place to go when off duty to get clean, relax, socialise and gamble.  Wherever the empire reached, spreading standards of sanitation, baths were built and became an important part of Roman society.

Originating as a sweating bath, by the first century A.D. the bathhouse had developed into a suite of rooms with ingenious heating and water systems.

Should you wish to bathe, you would undress in the cold room (frigidarium) or possibly in a separate changing room (apodyterium).  Hurrying into the warm room (tepidarium), you would be covered in oil, not soap and begin to perspire. Now you would put on your wooden bath clogs as you moved into the hot room (caldarium). The floor was too hot to stand on as the temperature was now around 50 degrees. After relaxing and sweating you would be scraped clean of oil with a curved metal instrument called a strigil. Some bath houses had an extra hot dry room (laconicum).  Returning to the cold room, you would cool down slowly with water poured over you or take a dip into a piscina (cold plunge pool). Now feeling refreshed, you would be dried and dressed and could relax in a courtyard or hall with your friends. At one time there was mixed bathing, but most probably men and women with children bathed at different times.

Looking round the bath house you would notice that every known technology and material was used including stone, concrete, lead pipes, bronze taps and painted wall plaster.  Glazed windows had shutters to conserve heat.  You could hear the cylindrical boilers over the furnace bubbling with water. Beneath your feet the floor would feel hot from the underfloor heating system (hypocaust).  Hot air from the outside furnace, which was stoked with wood or coal, travelled under the flagstone floor, which was supported a metre above the ground on short stone columns or piles of tiles.  Box tiles, set inside the walls, allowed heat to rise warming the room.  Should you require the toilet, you would visit the communal latrines which had wood or stone seats. The dirty bath water flushed the latrines by means of drains running underneath them.

Baths in Britain, however, were not as magnificent as the huge imperial baths in Rome, built by Emperors and free for all to use. These baths had constant supplies of water flowing into them, travelling huge distances along aqueducts. The baths had exercise yards, libraries and gardens.

The use of advanced technologies in bath house construction was a great source of architectural innovation, which influenced the building of other public structures.