Sunday 17 July 2011

Image: reconstruction image of the temple courtyard in Roman times
The Roman Temple
The Temple at Bath was built in a classical style and is unusual in Britain as only one other truly classical temple – the temple of Claudius at Colchester – is known. It dates to the later first century AD.

The Bath Temple stood on a podium more than two metres above the surrounding courtyard. It was approached by a flight of steps and there were four large, fluted Corinthian columns supporting a frieze and decorated pediment above. Behind the columns was a large door to the cella where the cult statue of the goddess was kept, in a dimly lit space without windows, with the only light coming through the doorway and from the Temple fire burning before the cult statue.

In the later second century the Temple was modified by the addition of small side chapels and the construction of an ambulatory around.

The Temple remained a focal point for worship until late in the fourth century AD. As Christianity gathered strength the old pagan religion was marginalised and in 391 AD the Emperor Theodosius ordered the closure of pagan temples throughout the Empire. The Temple fell into a state of disrepair and eventually collapsed.