My ‘handling table’ held replica flint hand tools and two Neolithic flint arrow-heads – one from Yorkshire and one found at the Baths during excavations of the King’s Bath / ‘Sacred Spring’ in 1979. Visitors enjoyed handling the replica flint hand tools, which included a hand axe, a flint knife, a flint saw and some flint scrapers that were used to clean animal skins.
|Me at my handling table|
Our visitors were also able to handle lumps of metal working waste which were excavated from the Bath Easton bypass in 1990. There are a number of Iron Age settlements in the Avon valley and on the hills surrounding Bath, such as the camp at Bathampton Down.
Finally, the handling table held a photograph of the bronze ballista washer that is on display in the Roman Baths Museum. This circular piece of cast bronze looks a “bit like a plug”, according to one of our visitors, and it does! It was made to sit, with three others, on the four corners of the heavy wooden frame which made the front piece of a Roman ballista.
|Roman ballista washer from Roman Baths collection BATRM 1983.13.b.1|
It is interesting how the washer came to be in the Sacred Spring along with other Roman offerings. Perhaps the washer was thrown into the Sacred Spring by a Roman artillery soldier as an offering for thanks for or a prayer for luck in a coming battle? What our visitors found most intriguing is that the ballista washer was found close to the Neolithic flint arrow-head that was with the flint tools on display! Archaeologists think that the site of the Sacred Spring was important before the Romans came to Bath, and maybe the flint arrowhead was thrown into the spring as an ‘offering’, or a votive, to whichever gods were believed to have been there thousands of years before the Roman goddess Minerva or Aquae Sulis came to Bath.
Tony - Collections placement