Iron Age and Roman
of the Great Bath at the
. The entire structure above the level of the pillar bases is a later construction and was not a feature of the building in Roman days.
The hills in the locality such as
Bathampton Down saw human activity from the
round barrows were opened by
John Skinner in the 18th century.
Solsbury Hill overlooking the current city was an
hill fort, and the adjacent Bathampton Camp may also have been one.
long barrow site believed to be from the
Beaker people was flattened to make way for
RAF Charmy Down.
Archaeological evidence shows that the site of the
Roman baths' main spring may have been treated as a shrine by the
 and was dedicated to the goddess
Sulis, whom the
Romans identified with
Minerva; the name Sulis continued to be used after the Roman invasion, appearing in the town's
Roman name, Aquae Sulis (literally, "the waters of Sulis").
 Messages to her scratched onto metal, known as
curse tablets, have been recovered from the sacred spring by archaeologists.
 The tablets were written in
Latin, and cursed people whom the writers felt had wronged them. For example, if a citizen had his clothes stolen at the baths, he might write a curse, naming the suspects, on a tablet to be read by the goddess.
A temple was constructed in AD 60–70, and a bathing complex was built up over the next 300 years.
 Engineers drove oak piles into the mud to provide a stable foundation, and surrounded the spring with an irregular stone chamber lined with lead. In the 2nd century, the spring was enclosed within a wooden
barrel-vaulted structure that housed the
caldarium (hot bath),
tepidarium (warm bath), and
frigidarium (cold bath).
The town was later given
defensive walls, probably in the 3rd century.
 After the failure of Roman authority in the first decade of the 5th century, the baths fell into disrepair and were eventually lost as a result of rising water levels and silting.
In March 2012 a hoard of 30,000 silver Roman coins, one of the largest discovered in Britain, was unearthed in an archaeological dig. The coins, believed to date from the 3rd century, were found about 150 m (450 ft) from the Roman baths.
Post-Roman and Medieval
Bath may have been the site of the
Battle of Badon (c.500 AD ), in which
King Arthur is said to have defeated the
 The town was captured by the
West Saxons in 577 after the
Battle of Deorham;
 the Anglo-Saxon poem
The Ruin may describe the appearance of the Roman site about this time.
 A monastery was founded at an early date – reputedly by
Saint David although more probably in 675 by
Osric, King of the
 perhaps using the
walled area as its precinct.
Nennius, a 9th-century historian, mentions a "Hot Lake" in the land of the Hwicce along the
River Severn, and adds "It is surrounded by a wall, made of brick and stone, and men may go there to bathe at any time, and every man can have the kind of bath he likes. If he wants, it will be a cold bath; and if he wants a hot bath, it will be hot".
Bede described hot baths in the geographical introduction to the Ecclesiastical History in terms very similar to those of Nennius.
King Offa of
Mercia gained control of the monastery in 781 and rebuilt the church, which was dedicated to
By the 9th century the old Roman street pattern was lost and Bath was a royal possession.
King Alfred laid out the town afresh, leaving its south-eastern quadrant as the abbey precinct.
 In the
Burghal Hidage, Bath is recorded as a
burh (borough) and is described as having walls of 1,375 yards (1,257 m) and was allocated 1000 men for defence.
 During the reign of
Edward the Elder coins were
minted in Bath based on a design from the
Winchester mint but with 'BAD' on the obverse relating to the Anglo-Saxon name for the town, Baðum, Baðan or Baðon, meaning "at the baths",
 and this was the source of the present name.
Edgar of England was crowned king of England in
Bath Abbey in 973, in a ceremony that formed the basis of all future
William Rufus granted the town, abbey and mint to a royal physician,
John of Tours, who became Bishop of
Wells and Abbot of Bath,
 following the sacking of the town during the
Rebellion of 1088.
 It was papal policy for bishops to move to more urban seats, and John of Tours
translated his own from Wells to Bath.
 The bishop planned and began a much larger church as his cathedral, to which was attached a priory, with the bishop's palace beside it.
 New baths were built around the three springs. Later bishops returned the episcopal seat to Wells while retaining the name Bath in the title,
Bishop of Bath and Wells.
St John's Hospital was founded around 1180 by Bishop
Reginald Fitz Jocelin and is among the oldest
almshouses in England.
 The 'hospital of the baths' was built beside the hot springs of the
Cross Bath, for their health-giving properties and to provide shelter for the poor infirm.
Administrative systems fell within the
Bath Hundred had various names including the Hundred of Le Buri. The Bath Foreign Hundred or Forinsecum covered the area outside the city and was later combined into the Bath Forum Hundred. Wealthy merchants had no status within the hundred courts and formed
guilds to gain influence. They built the first
guildhall probably in the 13th century. Around 1200 the
first mayor was appointed.
By the 15th century, Bath's abbey church was dilapidated
Oliver King, Bishop of Bath and Wells, decided to rebuild it on a smaller scale in 1500. The new church was completed just a few years before Bath Priory was
dissolved in 1539 by
 The abbey church became derelict before being restored as the city's parish church in the
Elizabethan era, when the city experienced a revival as a
spa. The baths were improved and the city began to attract the aristocracy. A
Royal charter granted by Queen
Elizabeth I in 1590 confirmed
English Civil War, the city was garrisoned for
Charles I. Seven thousand pounds was spent on fortifications, but on the appearance of parliamentary forces the gates were thrown open and the city surrendered. It became a significant post for the
New Model Army under
 Bath was retaken by royalists following the
Battle of Lansdowne fought on the northern outskirts of the city on 5 July 1643.
Thomas Guidott, a student of chemistry and medicine at
Wadham College, Oxford, set up a practice in the city in 1668. He was interested in the curative properties of the waters, and he wrote A discourse of Bathe, and the hot waters there. Also, Some Enquiries into the Nature of the water in 1676. It brought the health-giving properties of the hot mineral waters to the attention of the country, and the aristocracy arrived to partake in them.
and Circus from the air (connected by link road, thus creating the famous "
" formation). Georgian taste favoured the regularity of Bath's streets and squares and the contrast with adjacent rural nature.
Several areas of the city were developed in the
Stuart period, and more building took place during
Georgian times in response to the increasing number of visitors who required accommodation.
John Wood the Elder and
his son laid out the new quarters in streets and squares, the identical façades of which gave an impression of palatial scale and classical decorum.
 Much of the creamy gold
Bath stone, a type of
limestone used for construction in the city, was obtained from the
Combe Down and Bathampton Down Mines owned by
Ralph Allen (1694–1764).
 Allen, to advertise the quality of his quarried limestone, commissioned the elder John Wood to build a country house on his
Prior Park estate between the city and the mines.
 Allen was responsible for improving and expanding the postal service in western England, for which he held the contract for more than forty years.
 Although not fond of politics, Allen was a civic-minded man and a member of Bath Corporation for many years. He was elected mayor for a single term in 1742.
In the early 18th century, Bath acquired its first purpose-built theatre, the
Old Orchard Street Theatre. It was rebuilt as the
Theatre Royal, along with the
Grand Pump Room attached to the Roman Baths and
Master of ceremonies
Beau Nash, who presided over the city's social life from 1705 until his death in 1761, drew up a code of behaviour for public entertainments.
 Bath had become perhaps the most fashionable of the rapidly developing British spa towns, attracting many notable visitors such as the wealthy London bookseller
Andrew Millar and his wife, who both made long visits.
 In 1816 it was described as "a seat of amusement and dissipation", where "scenes of extravagance in this receptacle of the wealthy and the idle, the weak and designing" were habitual.
An 1850s photograph of Green Street
Looking north-west from
towards the northern suburbs, showing the variety of housing typical of Bath
The population of the city was 40,020 at the 1801 census, making it one of the largest cities in Britain.
William Thomas Beckford bought a house in
Lansdown Crescent in 1822, and subsequently two adjacent houses to form his residence. Having acquired all the land between his home and the top of
Lansdown Hill, he created a garden more than 1⁄2 mile (800 m) in length and built
Beckford's Tower at the top.
Haile Selassie of Ethiopia spent the four years in exile, from 1936 to 1940, at
Fairfield House in Bath.
World War II, between the evening of 25 April and the early morning of 27 April 1942, Bath suffered three air raids in reprisal for
RAF raids on the German cities of
Rostock, part of the
Luftwaffe campaign popularly known as the
Baedeker Blitz. During the
Bath Blitz, more than 400 people were killed, and more than 19,000 buildings damaged or destroyed.
 Houses in the
Paragon were burnt out along with the Assembly Rooms.
 A 500-kilogram (1,100 lb)
high explosive bomb landed on the east side of
Queen Square, resulting in houses on the south side being damaged and the
Francis Hotel losing 24 metres (79 ft) of its frontage.
 The buildings have all been restored although there are still signs of the bombing.
A postwar review of inadequate housing led to the clearance and redevelopment of areas of the city in a postwar style, often at variance with the local Georgian style. In the 1950s the nearby villages of
Weston were incorporated into the city to enable the development of housing, much of it
council housing. In the 1970s and 1980s it was recognised that conservation of historic buildings was inadequate, leading to more care and reuse of buildings and open spaces.
 In 1987 the city was selected by
UNESCO as a
World Heritage Site, recognising its international cultural significance.
Since 2000, major developments have included the
Thermae Bath Spa, the
SouthGate shopping centre, the residential Western Riverside project on the
Stothert & Pitt factory site, and the riverside Bath Quays office and business development.