The Sacred Spring by Damienne Bingham

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Sacred Spring of the Roman Baths.
Bath, England. 2007.

Canon EOS 400D
Canon EF 28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM
f/8, 1/80s, ISO 1600
RAW. BW conversion in PS.

At the very heart of the Roman Baths is the Sacred Spring. Hot water at a temperature of 46°C rises here at the rate of 1,170,000 litres (240,000 gallons) every day and has been doing this for thousands of years.

In the past this natural phenomenon was beyond human understanding and it was believed to be the work of the ancient gods. In Roman times a great Temple was built next to the Spring dedicated to the goddess Sulis Minerva, a deity with healing powers.

The mineral rich water from the Sacred Spring supplied a magnificent bath-house which attracted visitors from across the Roman Empire.

Roman engineers surrounded the hot Spring with an irregular stone chamber lined with lead. To provide a stable foundation for this they drove oak piles into the mud. At first this reservoir formed an open pool in a corner of the Temple courtyard but in the second century AD it was enclosed within a barrel vaulted building and columns and statue bases were placed in the Spring itself. Enclosing the Spring in a dimly lit building in this way and erecting statues and columns within it must have enhanced the aura of mystery that surrounded it. Offerings were thrown into the Spring throughout the Roman period.

Eventually the vaulted building collapsed into the Sacred Spring itself. We do not know when this was, but it is likely to have been in the sixth or seventh century. The oak piles sunk into the mud two thousand years ago continue to provide a stable foundation for the Roman reservoir walls today.

The King’s Bath was built, using the lower walls of the Roman Spring building as foundations, in the 12th century. The bath provided niches for bathers to sit in, immersed up to their necks in water. On the south side of the bath is a seat known as the Master of the Baths chair, that was donated in the 17th century.

Although modified and encroached upon by the building of the Grand Pump Room in the 18th century and subsequent 19th century developments the King’s Bath continued in use for curative bathing until the middle of the 20th century. The bath is overlooked by a statue of King Bladud, the mythical discoverer of the hot waters and founder of the City of Bath.
(care of the RomanBaths website)


views as of 13.08.11: 224
faves as of 13.08.11: 17

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I am a freelance photographer originally from Brisbane, Australia, and currently living in Cape Town, South Africa.

I enjoy many forms of photography – with a particular interest in travel and nature photography. This diversity can be seen in the range of genres and styles in my portfolio

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  • Bryan Freeman
    Bryan Freemanalmost 4 years ago

    Great image Damienne, looks great in mono

  • Thanks very much Bryan!

    – Damienne Bingham

  • Ayan Ghoshal
    Ayan Ghoshalalmost 4 years ago

    This is a GREAT image !!

  • Thanks Ayan, I’m glad you like it!

    – Damienne Bingham

  • John Holding
    John Holdingalmost 4 years ago

    top shot Damienne, love the stairs disappearing into the black.

  • Thanks so much John, I’m glad you enjoyed it!

    – Damienne Bingham

  • Luca Renoldi
    Luca Renoldialmost 4 years ago

    great capture

  • Thanks!

    – Damienne Bingham

  • Wendy-Wilton
    Wendy-Wiltonalmost 4 years ago

    Works well in b&w, congrats on the feature

  • Thanks very much Wendy!

    – Damienne Bingham

    JUSTARTalmost 4 years ago

    great shot

  • Thanks!

    – Damienne Bingham

  • Julesrules
    Julesrulesalmost 4 years ago

    FABulous piece!

  • Thanks Jules, so glad you like it!

    – Damienne Bingham

  • Glenn Cecero
    Glenn Ceceroalmost 4 years ago

    Dramatic, great use of B&W, marvelously crafted. Great image

  • Thank you Glenn, that’s so kind. Glad you enjoyed it!

    – Damienne Bingham

  • Kofoed
    Kofoedalmost 4 years ago

    Brilliant BW work. Excellently composed.

  • Thank you very much!

    – Damienne Bingham

  • Pixie-Atelier
    Pixie-Atelieralmost 4 years ago

    Composition! Glenn Cecero says it – marvelously crafted. This shot makes such a wonderful souvenir of beautiful, historic architecture.

  • Thank you Pixie, that’s a lovely compliment – it’s nice to think I did it justice!

    – Damienne Bingham

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