What happened? – Emperor Hadrian’s Birthday Bubble Bath
Where? – Ravenglass Roman Bathhouse
When? – Monday 12 noon 24 January 2022
To celebrate the launch of Hadrian’s Wall 1900 the Emperor Hadrian himself sailed in on Monday from Rome to the Ravenglass Estuary where he enjoyed a bubble bath within the ancient Roman bathhouse. Suitably refreshed and cleansed, he is now ready for the year of festivities along his Hadrianic Frontier. The 24th January 2022 would have been his 1946th birthday and 1900 years since he decreed that a frontier be constructed to define the limits of his Empire. The ceremonies were supervised by Sulis, the Romano Celtic Goddess of thermal springs and healing waters. The Emperor enjoyed a very hot bubble bath, Roman honey cake and of course, mulled wine, newly popularised in the 2nd century throughout the Roman Empire.
The bathhouse at Ravenglass is one of the highest free standing Roman structures in northern England and sits at the start of the Hadrianic Frontier. It is under the stewardship of English Heritage and rests within the Muncaster Estate. The Emperor Hadrian was supported by a small retinue of Roman attendants and the Fool of Muncaster. A large throng of excited local Britons enjoyed the spectacle, amazed at the sophistication and civilizing influence of the Roman Empire
Following his ablutions, the Emperor travelled by chariot to Muncaster Castle and officially opened a preview of the Roman Muncaster exhibition, which will highlight Roman activity in and around Ravenglass, the Parish of Muncaster and the Western Lake District throughout Muncaster Castle’s 2022 visitor season.
The Roman general Agricola sailed into the Esk Estuary in 79AD and established the port and fort at Ravenglass in Muncaster Parish. The fort and surrounding vicus is thought to have been more or less continually used by the Romans throughout much of their occupation of Britain. Muncaster Castle & Estate will be closely involved with supporting the Hadrian’s Wall 1900 celebrations throughout the year.
The World Heritage site Frontiers of the Roman Empire represents the borderline of the Roman Empire at its furthest extent in the 2nd century AD. The 150-mile Hadrian’s Wall frontier area runs from the western Roman coastal defences at Ravenglass, through Whitehaven, Workington and Maryport to Bowness-on-Solway, along Hadrian’s Wall through Carlisle and Hexham to Newcastle, Wallsend and South Shields. Along the wall there were around 80 milecastles and 160 turrets, a ditch to the north and the great defensive vallum earthwork to the south. The Frontier then continued from the Dutch coast through northern Europe to the Black Sea and from there to the Red Sea and across North Africa to the Atlantic coast.
As Muncaster Parish is also in the Lake District National Park World Heritage Site, it is one of the few places on earth to be within 2 World Heritage Site designations.