Journal of Roman Studies

Research Article

The Temple of Sulis-Minerva at Bath

I. A. Richmond and J. M. C. Toynbee

The Roman remains at Bath, dominated by the stately thermal establishment, have always been associated in geography and in archaeology with the goddess Sulis-Minerva. The famous pediment of her temple, found when the eighteenth-century Pump Room was built, has long been accounted one of the most remarkable manifestations of Romano-British art; its richly carved reliefs have always invited restoration; and they at once received it, somewhat sketchily from Englefield and most ingeniously from Samuel Lysons in 1802 (pl. XXIII). So convincing, indeed, was the main outline of Lyson's reconstruction that it held the field and remained the basis of all subsequent proposals, including that so carefully elaborated by the late A. J. Taylor. The discovery of the stones carried with it the site of the temple; for the blocks cannot have fallen far. It lay below the Pump Room, on the north side of the sacred pool whose copious hot springs were enclosed by the Romans in an irregular polygonal basin. The sanctity of the spring, which seems only later to have been roofed, is proved by the many coins and the leaden tablet inscribed with a curse which it contained, but, unlike many sacred pools, for example, that of Nemausus at Nîmes, it was not itself frequented by bathers. It could be viewed from the Baths through three great open windows on its south side; and these were of some architectural pretensions, the central member having a true arch, and the flanking pair (of which one survives (pl. XXIV, 2)) joggled flat arches, while the corridor within was furnished, as was no other part of the Baths, with fluted pilasters (pl. XXIV, 1).