Huggin Hill Roman bath house, 120m WNW of St James's Church
- Heritage Category:
- Scheduled Monument
- List Entry Number:
- Date first listed:
- Location Description:
- Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
- Location Description:
- Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.
- Greater London Authority
- City and County of the City of London (London Borough)
- National Grid Reference:
- TQ 32269 80893
Reasons for Designation
The bath house was one of the principal public buildings of a Roman town. The practice of communal bathing was an integral part of Roman urban life, and the public bath house served an important function as a place for relaxation and social congregation as well as exercise and hygiene. Public bath houses were used by most inhabitants of Roman towns, including slaves, to the extent that private bathing facilities in town houses were rare; men and women bathed at separate times of day, or in separate suites. Bath houses therefore varied in both size and plan, according to the local population and bathing arrangements, but all consisted of a series of rooms of graded temperature containing a variety of plunge-baths. The frigidarium (cold room) led, progressively, to one or more tepidaria (warm rooms) and caldaria (hot rooms). Bath houses could also include changing rooms, latrines, sauna and massage rooms, and were often linked to a palaestra or exercise area, which originated as an open courtyard but in Britain was later adapted to a covered hall. The bath house was heated by hypocausts connected to nearby furnaces; it was also linked to, and depended upon, an engineered water supply which involved the construction of drains, sewers and an aqueduct. As a necessity of Roman town life, the public bath house was one of the first buildings to be constructed after the establishment of a town. Most bath houses, therefore, originated in the first or second century AD and continued in use, with alterations, to the fifth century. They are distributed throughout the towns of Roman Britain, which were principally situated in what is now eastern, central and southern England and south Wales. In view of their importance for an understanding of Romano-British urban development and social practice, all surviving examples are considered to be worthy of protection. Despite disturbance and damage in the past, Huggin Hill Roman bath house survives remarkably well. It is one of the best-preserved and most significant Roman sites in the City of London. It retains valuable information relating to the construction, function and history of the bath house. Further parts of the site remain unexcavated and will contain archaeological and environmental information relating to its history and use in the Roman period. The remains of the medieval undercroft and chalk-lined well are also of archaeological interest. A domestic undercroft of the medieval period might comprise vaulted bays constructed of stone, and used for the storage of provisions or items of special value. Placed beneath a house they could thus be kept under close supervision. Although only a small part of the undercroft survives, it provides evidence of later occupation on the site of the Roman bath house.
The monument includes a Roman bath house surviving as upstanding and below-ground remains. It is situated on a south facing slope of London Clay and gravel near the north bank of the River Thames. The remains extend to the east and west of the lower end of Huggin Hill, immediately north of Upper Thames Street, and on the west side of Little Trinity Lane. A section of the north retaining wall of the bath house and walling of a medieval undercroft survives in Cleary Gardens. However the site is otherwise preserved as buried remains below modern buildings and Huggin Hill roadway.
The bath house is orientated broadly east-west and is terraced into the slopes above the river, a short distance from the original line of the Roman waterfront. It is on two levels with a lower terrace containing the heated rooms and an upper terrace containing water tanks or reservoirs and several other rooms. At the northern end of the site is a substantial ragstone and red tile retaining wall with plaster rendering on its south side. It survives in places over 3m high. A buttress along this wall may have supported a staircase providing access to the hillside north of the baths. The baths utilised natural spring water from the hill and a series of culverts and drains are set into the wall, where water was collected into storage tanks below. It was distributed around the bath house in pipes, some of which are evident on the site, and the waste water was emptied into the Thames. The walls of the surviving rooms of the bath house are largely of Kentish ragstone with tile courses and are in places over 1m high. They preserve fragments of white-painted plaster rendering and evidence for wooden door frames, sills, and box-flue tiles. The floors of the bath house are largely of pink-mortar, opus signinum, tiles or brick. The pilae of the hypocaust survive in several of the heated rooms. Along the southern end of the site is a sequence of seven rooms; which are thought to probably have functioned, from west to east, as a caldarium (hot room), tepidarium (warm room), frigidarium (cold room), apodyterium (changing room), vestibule, tepidarium and caldarium. There is a corridor and open space between the two rooms at the eastern end (the tepidarium and caldarium) and the rest of the complex. The caldarium on the western side is cruciform in plan and has two apsidal ends on the west and south sides, and a well-preserved hypocaust with over 100 pilae. A small area of marble mosaic floor survives in-situ. The room was heated from a praefurnium (furnace) to the north. The caldarium on the eastern side of the bath house is one of the largest recorded in Roman Britain. It is rectangular in plan and about 16m long by 9m wide with an apsidal end to the west. Between the long sequence of bathing rooms to the south and the retaining wall to the north, are several further rooms, including a possible apodyterium and another caldarium. The caldarium is about 8m wide by 11m long and includes an apsidal end to the north. It was heated from a praefurnium to the east. Attached to the southern end of the main bath complex may also have been a latrine. Further buried remains of the bath house are considered to extend under Upper Thames Street and Huggin Hill, which are largely unexcavated, and are included in the scheduling.
In 1845, Roman remains were discovered on the site when sewer excavations revealed walls surviving beneath Huggin Hill. It was partially excavated in 1929-30, 1964, 1969 and 1988-89, which recorded the ground plan and layout of the bath house. The finds from the site included Roman coarse ware and Samian ware pottery, fragments of Purbeck and Italian marble, painted wall plaster and glass, a tile stamp, bronze coin and metal spoon. In 1998, geophysical survey recorded possible further below-ground remains in the vicinity of the site. The bath house was constructed in the late first century AD and at some point in the second century appears to have been enlarged and altered. It is thought to have originally extended about 75m along the former river frontage. The site is likely to have been a public bath house, although it has been suggested that it may have been part of a palace or other large building with a bath complex attached. In the third century AD, the building was abandoned, part-demolished and much of the material robbed for other uses. Several buildings subsequently occupied the site in the later Roman period and there is evidence for some industrial usage. Documentary evidence records that by the late ninth century a stone building, known as Hwaetmundes stan, existed on the site. Several later medieval and post-medieval features survive on the site, such as a chalk-lined well and the remains of an undercroft, which are included in the scheduling. A large part of the site was back-filled and preserved following partial excavation prior to development. The remains of the Roman and medieval waterfront to the south of the site are the subject of separate schedulings.
The monument excludes all modern standing buildings, the surfaces of all modern roadways, pavements, pathways and stairways, all modern benches and garden features, all modern fences and fence posts, gates and gate posts. However the ground beneath all these features is included.
Sources: Greater London SMR 040623/02/00, 040623/03/00, 040623/01/00. NMR TQ38SW589. PastScape 405112. Marsden, P, 'Two Roman Public Baths in London', Transactions of the London and Middlesex Archaeological Society, London and Middlesex Archaeological Society, Vol 27 (1976), 2-68 Orton, C, 'A tale of two sites', London Archaeologist, London Archaeologist Association, Vol 6-3 (1989), 59-62 Rowsome, P, 'The Billingsgate Roman House and Bath - conservation and assessment', London Archaeologist, London Archaeologist Association, Vol 7-16 (1996), 421-422
The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.
- Legacy System number:
- LO 160
- Legacy System:
- RSM - OCN
This monument is scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 as amended as it appears to the Secretary of State to be of national importance. This entry is a copy, the original is held by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.
End of official listing