The first reason to visit a bath house was to get clean. The Romans did this by going through warmer and warmer rooms filled with steam. This would make them sweat. Then they would take a strigil (a curved Roman tool) and scrape off the sweat and dirt from their skin. They would finish with a dip in the cold plunge pool.

But bath houses were for more than just getting clean. You could meet up with your friends, exercise and even buy some snacks. The bath house was a very social place where men, women and children could go to relax.

The bath house was heated by a furnace. A raised floor (called a hypocaust) was used so there were gaps underneath the floor and hot air was drawn into the underfloor space. Special tiles like this one were used so that hot air could also go up the walls and into the curved (vaulted) ceiling. It made the floors of the bath house very hot and the Roman wore wooden bath clogs to keep their feet safe.

Most Roman forts had bath houses and here at Vindolanda we have two. One that dates to the 3rd to 4th century and another that dates to 103-105. They are built in different styles but they did the same thing. 


Although the bath house was built by the army, everyone who lived at Vindolanda was able to use it. We know this because when it was excavated, we could see evidence of men, women and children’s objects found in the drains used to empty the water.