Bearsden Roman Bath House
Illustrated cutaway reconstruction
The Antonine Wall marked the northernmost frontier of the Roman Empire from AD 142 until around AD 165. Some 7,000 Roman Legionaires and auxilliary soldiers were stationed along its route in a series of large forts and smaller fortlets. As well as the soliders, these forts accommodated ordinary civilians such as the wives and children of commanding officers. One notable fort was sited at Bearsden in Glasgow but long before the city ever existed.
Housing covered up the remains of the fort during the industrialisation of Bearsden in the Victorian period, but in the 1970s, the Victorian mansions were pulled down to make way for modern apartments. During the work it was found that one part of Bearsden Roman fort, the remains of the bath house and latrine, remained fairly well preserved.
For the legionaires who were stationed at a fort so far north, the warmth provided by a bath house must have been a welcome relief from the bitterly cold winter months. The bath house would have been the 'hub' of the fort where the soliders socialised and relaxed.
At the east end of the bath house, a furnace heated the rooms by way of an under-floor hypocaust system. The hottest room (caldarium) and hot bath was closest to the furnace. Two intermediate rooms led to the west of the hot room (The tepidarium), followed by a cold room (the frigidarium) and a cold plunge bath. To the north was a hot dry room (the laconicum). The soldiers' changing rooms (the apodyterium) were located at the western end of the building.
I also produced a separate illustration of the latrine of which there are very well preserved remains.