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Somerset Map

Perhaps I was in the wrong mood (having spent the previous two hours on a steam excursion train sat next to the sort of chap who gives rail fans a bad name), but results of the much vaunted £5.5 million, five year long conservation and reinterpretation project at the Roman Baths left me cold.

In addition to the conservation work, the aim of the exercise was to "make it physically and intellectually accessible to a wide range of visitors". A laudable aim.

However, the one group they appear to have overlooked, is those of us that are interested in the hard history and hard archeology of the site. A minority admittedly, and not yet an oppressed one.

Don't get me wrong, I don't have any objection to, as the Development Plan puts it, improving and updating the interpretation "… to reflect current public preferences for human stories and interactive experiences …" by building "… stories around people we know lived in or visited Aquae Sulis". I wouldn't dream of calling it "dumbing down", although others might. Provided, that is, that those members of the public who prefer a more rigorous approach are still catered for.

At one point, I found myself yelling at the audio guide (not out loud, fortunately), "I don't want yet another imaginary conversation between two Roman citizens about the state of the Empire. I want to know why there is a wall running diagonally across this room at 20° to the main walls."

Probably the nearest I'll ever get to having a conversation with Prof. Alice Roberts, who voices the guide, and it all goes horribly wrong.

For details of opening hours, ticket prices, etc. please see the official site detailed below.