Free lunchtime talks at Bath Guildhall.

Free lunchtime talks at Bath Guildhall.

The Mappa Mundi, Magna Carta and Bath’s Roman Curse Tablets will be the subjects of talks presented by Bath & North East Somerset Council highlighting remarkable documents inscribed on The UNESCO Memory of the World International and UK Registers. The Registers recognise the world’s outstanding documentary heritage.

Examining real lead curses from the Roman Baths collection.

Examining real lead curses from the Roman Baths collection.

The free lunchtime talks – staged by the Council’s Heritage Services in the Bath Guildhall on 14, 21 and 28 January – present the perfect opportunity to learn more about some of the most significant written documents in the history of the world, which are held right here in the UK.

Cllr Ben Stevens (Lib-Dem, Widcombe), Cabinet Member for Sustainable Development, said: “These documents were of great importance in the past and are also of great importance to us today – helping us to better understand the world in which we live.”

The first talk about the Mappa Mundi is on Wednesday 14 January. It will be delivered by Sarah Arrowsmith, the Education Officer at Hereford Cathedral where it is displayed. This is the only complete example of a large mediaeval world map intended for public display. It gives us a window onto the world as it was known in the middle ages. It is drawn on vellum (calf skin) and holds historical, anthropological, ethnographical, theological, biblical and classical images and information. It presents a view of a world very different from ours.

On Wednesday 21 January, the Magna Carta will be the subject for Seif El Rashidi, the Magna Carta 800 Manager at Salisbury Cathedral. 2015 will be the 800th anniversary of its signing. Only four copies of the original Magna Carta exist, and one is held by Salisbury Cathedral. Considered by some to be the most significant document in our history, it set out for the first time the English principles of liberty, law and democracy and had a worldwide influence which endures to this day. The charter imposed constraints on royal authority in the areas of taxation, feudal rights and justice, thereby limiting unfair and arbitrary behaviour by the king towards his subjects. It is regarded by UNESCO as “an icon for freedom and democracy throughout the world”.

The final talk – given by Roman Baths Manager Stephen Clews about the Roman Curse Tablets from Bath – will be on Wednesday 28 January. They were included on the UK Register earlier this year. The Tablets are prayers requesting the assistance of the goddess Sulis Minerva in righting wrongs and ask for sometimes blood curdling punishment for the perpetrators of crimes. Some were written backwards to increase their potency. They provide a very different insight into the Roman world from that which comes down to us from other surviving documents. Who would want their name written upon a tablet thrown into the sacred spring seeking restitution and revenge?

The free talks will be held at the Guildhall, High Street, Bath from 1.10pm – 1.45pm on 14, 21 and 28 January. They are open to everyone and no ticket or advance booking is required.

Coin it in!

Coin it in!

The Beau Street Hoard will be back on display at the Bath & North East Somerset Council-run Roman Baths just after Christmas – and there’s a chance for a lucky visitor to win a top secret prize.

Some of the cleaned coins.

Some of the cleaned coins.

The Beau Street Hoard roadshow has been touring the Bath and North East Somerset area and beyond for several months but every so often the team like to show off some of the 17,577 Roman coins on their own turf.

On Saturday 27 December, the Council’s Beau Street Hoard team presents ‘Silver Silhouettes’ at the Roman Baths. From 11am to 3pm, you can make your own Roman coin to take home and there will be displays, hands-on activities for the kids, and the chance to win prizes.

People paying a post-Christmas visit will be in with a chance of winning a top secret prize – simply by striking a pose next to a giant Roman coin and posting a photograph on social media. All you have to do to enter the competition is to send the Beau Street
Hoard team your photo through Facebook or Twitter – the most creative coin wins!

Councillor Ben Stevens (Lib-Dem, Widcombe), the Council’s Cabinet Member for Sustainable Development, said: “The Beau Street Hoard Roadshow has been an enormous success so far. Hundreds of people have already had the opportunity to enjoy looking at these fantastic Roman coins during the roadshow visits.

“Now, we’d encourage anyone who has not yet been to a roadshow to seize this opportunity to come and see and experience this fabulous display – coupled with some post-Christmas activities for both children and adults and a fun competition that everyone can enter.”

Like the coins on Facebook at or follow the coins on Twitter @BeauStHoard. Alternatively, take a look at the events section for more information.

The hoard lifted by crane ©Cotswold Archaeology

The hoard lifted by crane ©Cotswold Archaeology

FOR YOUR INFORMATION: The Beau Street Hoard was excavated by archaeologists on the site of the new Gainsborough Hotel in Beau Street, Bath, in 2007. The 17,577 Roman coins span the period from 32BC – 275AD and were found in eight separate money bags, which were fused together.

In March 2014, Bath & North East Somerset Council was awarded a grant of £372,500 from The Heritage Lottery Fund to purchase the hoard, and, from February 2015, it will be on permanent public display in a new interactive exhibit within the Aquae Sulis Gallery at The Roman Baths.

What future for Bath museums?

What future for Bath museums?

Bath & North East Somerset Council is developing Forward Plans for two of Bath’s most important museums – the Victoria Art Gallery and the Roman Baths.

The Roman Baths.

The Roman Baths.

Bath's Victoria Art Gallery.

Bath’s Victoria Art Gallery.

The Forward Plans are required to enable both museums to re-apply for Arts Council England accreditation.

This is the Government’s scheme which shows that museums meet acceptable standards of governance, collections care, financial sustainability and public services.

Members of the public are invited to attend a consultation event about the plans at which they can hear about proposals and contribute their thoughts and ideas.

The event will take place at the Victoria Art Gallery on Wednesday 26 November from 6pm – 7.30pm.

When completed, the forward plans will provide a blueprint for work and development over the next three years.

Councillor Ben Stevens (Lib-Dem, Widcombe), the Council’s Cabinet Member for Sustainable Development, said: “I hope local people will take this opportunity to hear about and contribute to thinking and ideas for the future of the Victoria Art Gallery and the Roman Baths. It promises to be a good evening.”

Lottery award for Roman Baths expansion

Lottery award for Roman Baths expansion

The internationally important Roman Baths could benefit from further development thanks to the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) awarding initial support – including £168,000 development funding – to Bath & North East Somerset Council.

The archway linking Roman Baths with proposed Education Centre.

The archway linking Roman Baths with proposed Education Centre.

The green light from HLF will enable the Council’s Heritage Services to develop exciting plans for a major heritage project to convert buildings in York Street and Swallow Street into a Roman Baths Learning Centre and World Heritage Interpretation Centre, transforming the visitor experience at the Baths and dramatically improving the site’s learning offer. An existing tunnel under York Street will give school groups direct access into the heart of the Baths.

If successful at the second round, the project will also interpret and breathe new life into the currently much-overlooked Victorian spa buildings close to the Roman Baths, open up more in-situ remains for daytime visitors to see and create an underground ‘investigation zone’ for learning groups of all ages.

These improvements will allow local people and the many thousands of tourists that visit every year to rediscover the Roman, Georgian and Victorian heritage of Bath. Plans also include innovative plans to use energy recovered from waste water in the Roman Drain to heat the Centre.

The project currently called ‘The Archway Centre’ gets its name from the stone bridge that spans York Street.

Artist’s impression attached showing how the Archway Centre might connect beneath York Street to the Roman Baths.

Artist’s impression attached showing how the Archway Centre might connect beneath York Street to the Roman Baths.

Councillor Ben Stevens (Lib-Dem, Widcombe), Cabinet Member for Sustainable Development, said: “We are delighted that the Heritage Lottery Fund trustees have recognised the potential of this project. The Council takes seriously its responsibility to realise the educational potential of the Roman Baths for groups of all ages, as well as to interpret the City of Bath World Heritage Site. This initial support takes us a step closer to achieving both.”

Nerys Watts, Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund South West, said: “The Roman Baths are synonymous with the UK’s Roman heritage, but Bath is also home to fascinating Georgian and Victorian history which is sometimes overlooked. This project will significantly enhance this world renowned site’s offer to visitors – both from home and further afield and open up the long and intricate history of Bath. Our initial support means that detailed plans can be worked up over the coming months that will include providing first-class learning and educational provisions, regenerate currently empty and dilapidated historic buildings and create far better access for everyone to enjoy.”

You can find out more about the proposed Archway Centre at

Take a peep at the past this week-end!

Take a peep at the past this week-end!

This week-end, Bath & North East Somerset Council is giving residents and visitors a chance to explore parts of the city’s heritage they would normally never get to see.

Every year on four days in September, buildings of national historic importance and contemporary style throw open their doors to enable people to celebrate Britain’s fantastic architecture and cultural heritage.

Cleveland Pools

Cleveland Pools

Between 11 – 14 September, Bath & North East Somerset Council’s Heritage Services team is giving them the opportunity to discover ‘hidden treasures’ and enjoy a wide range of tours, events and activities that bring local history and culture to life.

Councillor Ben Stevens (Lib-Dem, Widcombe), the Council’s Cabinet Member for Sustainable Development, said: “Heritage Open Days is organised by a huge network of people who share a passion for places, history and culture.

“Attracting over one million visitors, this makes Heritage Open Days England’s biggest voluntary cultural event. It is a once-a-year opportunity to discover treasures never normally seen by the public in places that normally charge for admission.”

bath at workThis year, Bath has 15 different venues taking part: Southcot Burial Ground (Bath Preservation Trust), Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institution, Central United Reformed Church, Cleveland Pools, Fairfield House, Ralph Allen Cornerstone, St Swithin’s Church, The Magdalen Chapel, The Museum of Bath at Work, Nexus Methodist Church, No.4 The Circus, Roman Baths, St. John’s Store, St Mary’s Catholic Church, Widcombe Association.

For the first time, the Kier Recycling Depot at Keynsham is offering a visit behind the scenes to see what happens to your recycling after collection from your home. Places on the guided-only tours are limited and must be booked in advance with Council Connect. Children under 16 must be accompanied by an adult.

Organised by Bath & North East Somerset Council’s Heritage Services, this year’s open day include special tunnel tours at the Roman Baths and feature two places which are not normally open to the public. All of the sites will open free of charge or provide free events.

· Thursday, 11 September 10am and 3pm, and Friday 12 September 10am and 3pm – go behind the scenes at the Roman Baths and take part in Tunnel Tours.

Areas within the Roman Baths complex you don't normally get to see.

Areas within the Roman Baths complex you don’t normally get to see.

The 90-minute tours take in the Georgian vaults and the main museum store, which includes objects found in Bath from Roman to the Victorian times. Visitors will also be able to see the King’s Spring Borehole supplying water to the Pump Room.

St John's Local History Store.

St John’s Local History Store.

· Friday, 12 September 10am-12 noon and 1pm-3pm – see inside No.4 The Circus, a beautiful house and restored Georgian garden – the first of its kind in Britain.

· Saturday, 13 September 11am – 3pm – marvel at the range of historical spa equipment at St John’s Store and also read the original Victorian spa treatments visitor books. Also on display will be furniture by local craftsmen and some once-familiar sights.

To book a place on the Open Days, please call 01225 477 773. For further information download a leaflet here or visit: and

Holiday fun at Bath Museums

Holiday fun at Bath Museums

Spending your holiday at home this summer or wanting something to keep you busy and on your toes? Why not get involved with events at Bath & North East Somerset Council’s museums?

From 19 July to 30 August the Council is hosting a number of craft and activity sessions which the whole family can enjoy. Learn about Roman coins at the Roman Baths as part of the Beau Street Hoard activity programme (supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund); create designs at the Fashion Museum, or let the children channel their inspiration into art at the Victoria Art Gallery.

With all these events happening, there’s something for everyone this summer, and better yet, they’re right on your doorstep!

The first handful from the hoard which is now known to contain 22,000 coins!

The first handful from the hoard which is now known to contain 22,000 coins!

Roman Baths
Standard and Deliver
Monday 28 July, 10am-1pm and 2pm-4pm
Investigate Roman coins to find out about army standards. Make a standard to lead your family this summer.

A head of the game
Monday 4 August: 10.00 am – 1.00 pm & 1.30 pm – 3.30 pm
What did a Roman’s hairstyle say about them? Find out and make a wiggy wonder. Family drop-in.

Victoria Art Gallery
Life on the ocean wave
Friday 25 July; 10.30 am – 12 noon
Enjoy our boat pictures and build up a boat collage using recycled materials. For 6 to 11 year olds.

Beside the Seaside

The new look upper gallery at the Victoria Art Gallery in Bath. May 4th 2012. Photographer Freia Turland m:07875514528

The new look upper gallery at the Victoria Art Gallery in Bath. May 4th 2012. Photographer Freia Turland m:07875514528

Wednesday 30 July, 10.30am –11am
Make seaside scenes using rubbings and textures to get you in the summer holiday mood. For 3 to 5 year olds. Squash and biscuits included.

Friday 1 August 10.30am – 12 noon
Explore our special exhibition and invent a mythical creature and print your design. For 6 to 11 year olds.

Animals went in two by two
Wednesday 6 August: 10.30 am – 11 am
Search for special animals with magnifying glasses and explore Noah’s ark. Make animal pictures using pastels and paint. For 3 to 5 year olds. Squash and biscuits included.

Pop up Pilu
Friday 8 August: 10.30 am – 12 noon
Find out about the most popular dog in the galley and make pop ups. For 6-11 year museum

Fashion Museum
Draw and paint it
Tuesday 29 July, 10.30am – 12.30pm and 1.30pm – 3.30pm
Explore the designs and motifs in our GEORGIANS exhibition and use watercolours to design an outfit.
Booked craft session for 11 to 16 year olds – bookings in advance at the Fashion Museum reception £5.00 per child.

Get started with crazy wool
Wednesday 30 July, 10.00am – 12 noon
Try this special technique to make an individual brooch. For 11 to 16 year olds. £5 each.

Colour it
Tuesday 5 August: 10.30am – 12 noon & 1.30 pm – 3.30 pm
Investigate the jewel colours in our Georgians exhibition and use them in a design of your own. Family drop-in.

Get started with rag rugs
Wednesday 6 August: 10.00am – 12 noon
Try this technique and make a rag rug. Craft session for 11 to 16 year olds. £5 each.

Normal admission prices apply to all Roman Baths and Fashion Museum family drop-in events, but are free to resident Discovery Card holders. Special craft sessions at the Fashion Museum for 11-16 year olds are £5 per participant. Please book at the Fashion Museum reception.
All Victoria Art Gallery events cost £4 per participant and must be booked in advance on 01225 477244. All children must be accompanied by an adult.

Residents can apply for a Discovery Card by taking along two forms of ID to the following Council buildings: the Roman Baths; Riverside in Keynsham; The Hollies in Midsomer Norton and also the Discovery Card point in the One Stop Shop on Manvers Street, Bath.

For more details of heritage events including listings, the online leaflet and website links for the Roman Baths, Fashion Museum and Victoria Art Gallery, visit or pick up a leaflet in your local library.

Health and the roman baths.

Health and the roman baths.

Nice to receive a Tweet from @DrJennersHouse which is helping look after publicity for  Dr Jenner’s House and Garden – formerly The Edward Jenner Museum – at The Chantry in Berkeley, Gloucestershire.

Dr Jenner's House - The Chantry

Dr Jenner’s House – The Chantry

Edward Jenner was the 18th century local doctor who pioneered the smallpox vaccine – the world’s first vaccination – which led to the science of immunology.

It’s a little out of the Virtual Museum of Bath’s patch but they have an event coming up which is certainly connected with a big chunk of our history!

They’ve  asked me to promote a talk by Dr Roger White – entitled ‘Mens sana in corpore sano – an exploration of Roman baths, bathing and medicine’ coming up at the Museum’s Old Cyder House Conference Centre on Monday, July 14th at 7.30.

He’ll be looking at Roman understandings of health and cleanliness, and how you could usually find a doctor in the bathhouse.

Dr White is the Academic Director of the Ironbridge International Institute for Cultural Heritage and a specialist in Wroxeter Roman City.

For more information you are asked to ring 01453/810631 or email You can also read more about the talk and the Edward Jenner Museum on