The Roman Baths is part-way through a major scheme – The Archway Project – to open up new areas of the site to visitors and to expand into buildings on the other side of York Street in Bath. As part of this project, BACAS is assisting with the excavations and interpretation of the archaeology of the site. BACAS is a partner of The Roman Baths on the archaeological component of the project and will work alongside the selected archaeological contractors, Cotswold Archaeology. BACAS has worked on a number of sites in the city of Bath. Bob Whitaker (Chairman of the Society) even used his scuba skills in 1967 to dive in the Roman Spring chamber below the Kings Bath on one occasion and, on another, crawled along the outfall culvert in an attempt to define the course of the waters as they head east towards Parade Gardens.
For the first phase of our work, John Oswin has planned a geophysical survey of two zones of the new development. This will be followed by a period of about a month during which BACAS will assist Cotswold with the excavations. In the excavation area are two new features which will become part of the visitor experience: a Laconicum (a dry heat chamber) and a possible Palaestra (a Roman fitness suite!). BACAS will also help interpretation of the archaeology by providing guides who will explain the excavation process to the Roman Baths visitors and provide the latest news from the trenches!
The majority of the funding for the project has come from the Heritage Lottery Fund; however, substantial funding has also been provided by Bath and North East Somerset (B&NES) Council, The Clore-Duffield Foundation and The Garfield Weston Foundation, and fund-raising continues.