Welcome to the Roman Baths Blog!

This blog is a behind the scenes look at the Roman Baths in Bath. We hope you enjoy reading our stories about life surrounding the Roman Baths.

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Fancy a Hot Date?!

You have Julius Caesar to thank for those New Year’s Day hangovers, after a night of ringing in the New Year! In 45 BC he revamped the Roman calendar and pronounced January as the first month of the year.

Coin of Janus from the reign of Antoninus Pius AD 138-161

January was named after the Roman god Janus, the god of beginnings, doors and gates – a very appropriate choice with the start of the New Year being a time for new starts and opening the proverbial doors to a new future and a new you (or at least the intention for a new you! Personally, my resolution to eat and drink less is turning into an annual habit!)

Janus was often depicted with two faces. I’m sure it wasn’t a slur on his character but, to represent looking both to the past and the future.
On the 28th December, the Roman Baths hosted a "make an oscilla of a two faced Janus" event! The day was a success, with many families trying their hand at a bit of crafts!
New Year’s Day was called Kalendae Januariae and, just like today, was a day of celebration that they dedicated to Janus. On this day you could only say good things (not something I could promise!)

Cakes and sweets were eaten and presents were exchanged between family and friends. A popular gift was an oil lamp as the light of the lamp shining in the darkness symbolized looking into the unknown future that the New Year brings.

Some dates!

A sweet treat, that would have been devoured, was Hot Dates, hence the title! This comes from the recipe book of the Roman cook Apicius who lived during the 1st century AD!

To truly celebrate New Year's Day Roman style, on 1st January, we served Hot Dates to visitors and it was safe to say they went down well! 

To have a go at making the dish yourself, here's the recipe! If you do make any at home you could put your creation up on The Roman Baths Facebook page! I'd love to see them!

Dates Alexandrine

20 (whole) dates 
20 blanched almonds
1 tsp cinnamon
Liquid honey

Remove stones from dates. Roll almonds in cinnamon and stuff one in each date. Place dates on greased pan. Lightly sprinkle salt over the dates. Then coat each one with honey. Glaze in an oven then serve and enjoy!


Thursday, 12 December 2013

My Placement at the Roman Baths part 1

This was an exciting three week placement at the Roman Baths Museum supported by the British Council. The British Council and Ministry of Culture of China organized a programme called the China-UK Arts Management Development Programme which aims to promote cultural exchange and dialogue between the two countries. This year 12 Chinese young people who work in the fields of performing arts, visual arts, museums, and design joint took part. Luckily, I got the chance to work at the Roman Baths.

The 12 young applicants of 2013 in front of the British Council

 I am a curator of highlights, gold and silver ornament, working at Nanjing Municipal Museum. Nanjing is a city of some 6.5 million to the north west of Shanghai. Our museum is located in the largest Qing Dynasty palace in South China. It has over 100,000 artefacts. It also has an in-house archaeology department doing ongoing excavations.  I joined the Programme because I am particularly interested in exploring how the museum can serve the needs of both academic study and engagement with the wider community, and would like to see how technology and exhibition design can help casual visitors interpret the objects.
Nanjing Municipal Museum

First we had a 5 day introductory workshop in London. Then we went to different organizations across UK. I had been to the Roman Baths two years before and was so impressed with this fantastic site. This time was more exciting because I could shadow the Manager of the Roman Baths, Stephen Clews.

Roman Baths Museum

In the first week were various talks and meetings with staff, to experience the daily management of the museum. The second week was Heritage Open Week and I joined a lot of tours and workshops to find out how they interpret the museum.

 Wang Pu