Welwyn Roman baths

Welwyn Roman baths

The Welwyn Roman baths are a small part of the Dicket Mead villa, a Roman ruin which was originally built in the 3rd century AD just north of modern-day Welwyn, Hertfordshire. The ruins were uncovered in 1960 by local archaeologist Tony Rook, and the baths were gradually uncovered over the following 10 years by excavation, and today are open to the public.

The full extent of the Dicket Mead villa was never fully excavated, but the baths were only one of at least four buildings in total. The complex was probably part of a farm, and may have also formed a country retreat for a wealthy merchant from London or St. Albans. It has also been speculated that it might have been at least in part the equivalent of an hotel, lying as it does near the Roman roads from London to Chester.

Shortly after the excavation was completed, the Ministry of Transport announced the route of a new motorway, straight over the top of the excavation. Eventually arrangements were made whereby a steel vault would be built over the top of the baths with an access tunnel for the public. Once the vault was completed the A1(M) was built over the top of it, and the remains of the baths sit 9 meters below junction 6. Only about half of the original extent of the baths is now on display. Visible parts remaining include the hypocaust, the tepidarium (warm room), caldarium (hot room) and the opus signinum (cold room floor).

Today the baths are open to the public every day during Herts school holidays from 14:00 to 17:00 or (dusk if earlier), and outside school holiday periods at weekends and bank holidays 14:00 to 17:00 (or dusk if earlier)

Admission is free for children, and a small charge is made for adults.

Once the vault was finished, the bulk of the remaining parts of the Dicket Mead villa were covered over by the roadworks. Aracheological material from the site is stored at Mill Green Museum, part of Welwyn Hatfield Museum Service, which also operates the baths. This stored material can be inspected by contacting the curator.

The official website for the baths is at http://www.welhat.gov.uk/museum


External links

* [http://www.welhat.gov.uk/museum]
* [http://enquire.hertscc.gov.uk/webmaps/display.cfm Herts interactive map]
* [http://www.hertfordshire.com/pages/entries/show-entry.asp?id=2606 Herts directory]

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