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Britannia's Magical History Tour
Stop 4: Bath, Somerset
Fowey, Cornwall: Castle Dore
In Roman times, the city of Bath was known as Aquae Sulis. The spa is named after Sulis, the local Celtic goddess of the hot springs. The Romans went there to relax by the hot springs and to take advantage of their reputed healing powers. The Great Bath, which is still fed today by a Roman lead conduit, measures 80 ft. long by 40 ft. wide by 5 ft. deep and was decorated with intricate mosaic pavements. After the Roman withdrawal from England around 410, the city was sacked by the Saxons and did not revive for many years.

The medieval town of Bath was built around a Saxon monastery established here and its economy centered largely around the wool trade. Its great abbey church, which stands today, next to the old Roman baths, in the middle of the busy city center was begun in 1499.

Most of the buildings in the present day city of Bath are constructed from the same material, a luscious, honey-colored stone. It is said to be an inferior building material, but is extremely beautiful to the eye and has held up nicely for well over 200 years. The showplace that we now see, with its squares, crescents and terraced town houses, was constructed largely during the renaissance that Bath enjoyed in the Georgian era. It was promoted as the ideal retreat from the rigors of London life, and the perfect place for fashionable people to go for the season to "take the waters."

Modern Bath is an important center for the arts and culture, with many museums, exhibitions, concerts and performances scheduled throughout the year. The highlight of the annual calendar of events is the International Festival at Bath beginning in May, a month long celebration of music, the arts and other fringe events.

Arthurian locale lovers should check out Little Solsbury Hill. Situated on a prominence northeast of town, high above the A4, the earthwork hillfort is one of the prime contenders for being the site of the Battle of Mt. Badon, King Arthur's decisive victory over the Saxon invaders, sometime around the year 500 AD.

Next stop: Wells, Somerset

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