What’s your poison? Testing the waters in Bath

Hog’s fat anyone?

Notions of what constitutes a good snack have changed over the years. The Roman idea of fast food is captured on a wall scribble in the Suburban Baths in Herculaneum: “nuts, drinks, hog’s fat, bread, meat and sausage.”

One thing that appears to be unchanging is the desire for spa water. Today, visitors to the Roman Baths in Bath will be able freely to drink the famous water after the council installed a fountain in the West Baths. The Bath’s manager said that the water is ‘going down a treat’, although visitors admit that it’s ‘unusual tasting.’ This might be something to do with the fact it probably fell on the Mendip hills 4,000 years ago!

So should you try the waters? The Roman poet Martial definitely recommends it. After a certain drunk Philostratus fell down some steps to his death at a thermal bath, Martial commented, “he would not have incurred such great danger, ye Nymphs, if he had drunk your waters instead”.