In this highly readable study Patricia Southern turns her attention to Bath, one of Roman Britain's most unusual and successful settlements, founded to take advantage of the natural hot springs. She synthesises the excavations of Barry Cunliffe and the Bath Archaeological trust, building a picture of the development of the town and its hinterland from the first traces of human activity in the Mesolithic to post-Roman decline and rebirth in the later medieval and modern age. The focus, however is on the Roman period, and on the baths themselves in particular. Southern outlines the main phases of building and renovation, and explores the religious aspects of the springs and the Temple of Sulis Minerva. She also uses epigraphic evidence to shed light on the lives of those who came to use the baths, and explores the daily lives of the town's residents and its administration.
Patricia Southern is an acknowledged expert the history of ancient Rome. Her interest began very early, fostered by books and the wonderful epic films that they don't make any more. This obsession with the Romans has never waned, so whilst working full time as a librarian she studied for a BA degree in Ancient History with the external department of the University of London, and for an MPhil in Roman Frontier Studies at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne, where she was Librarian of the Archaeology Department for many years. She has written many books on Roman history and contributed numerous articles on Roman history to the BBC History website and the academic Roman studies journal Britannia.