Bearsden Roman Baths

Bearsden, United Kingdom

Bearsden's Roman Baths can be found a couple of hundred yards east, or downhill, along Roman Road from Bearsden Cross, the centre of the town. A gate in a low stone wall on your left gives access to a remarkable example of the survival of ancient archeological remains despite later development. It was part of the Antonine Wall built between AD 142 to 144. One of wall forts was sited in what is today called Bearsden. Antiquarians had long known of its location, but the dramatic growth of Bearsden following the arrival of a railway line from Glasgow in 1863 meant that it was lost, many thought forever, under a series of large Victorian mansions. All that remained was the road that followed the line of the Antonine Wall's Military Way, which became known as Roman Road.

In the early 1970s plans were approved to replace the old houses in this area with a series of apartment blocks. Demolition of the Victorian mansions revealed that much of the Roman archaeology remained in place, covered by the fill the Victorian builders had used to level up their sloping site. A major archaeological dig got under way in 1973, which uncovered most of the ground plan of the fort.

Especially well preserved were the remains of a bath house found in an annex at the east end of the fort (ie the end furthest from the centre of Bearsden). This turned out to be one of the best surviving examples of a bath house ever found in Scotland. Although development plans originally involved building on this part of the site, it was left vacant and gifted to the nation by the developer. The remains of the bath house are cared for by Historic Scotland.

All this gives the site of Bearsden Roman Baths rather unexpected surroundings. The south side of the site is bounded by the stone wall that separates it from the pavement on Roman Road. But the other three sides of the site comprise a series of apartment blocks constructed from dark red brick, with those to the west overlaying the site of the rest of the fort.

The bath house itself was a long and fairly narrow building aligned east-west, in effect running down the hill from left to right when seen from the Roman Road side. The far, north, side of the bath house had two rooms projecting from it, while a further room projected from the middle of the south side of the bath house. A few yards to the south east of the bath house is the site of the latrine block, also very well preserved.

The nearby information board gives a very clear idea of the different components of the bath house, and this is supplemented by discreet signs attached to the foundations of the various rooms that help you identify exactly what you are looking at.

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Details

Founded: 142-144 AD
Category: Prehistoric and archaeological sites in United Kingdom

Rating

4.3/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Dave Holland (4 months ago)
This place is excellent. Well looked after with good informative signage. Keep up the good work Scotland this is a superb example of Roman architecture. We spent a good three quarters of an hour ambling around imagining what it was like and how it all worked, the furnace, the underfloor heating for the sauna, the pool, the drainage and the latrines. What a great example, all in one place. There’s a nice little bench seat under the tree in the top corner of the site. I would highly recommend a visit. Don’t forget to visit the church over the road to view the information about the Roman Fort site. There is also the Antonine Wall base in the cemetery which is 5min away in the car.
lisa fisher (6 months ago)
Fun walk to this even though it was pouring rain. Very interesting looking over the ruins and reading about the location.
Ellen Kruger (8 months ago)
So interesting to see the layout and construction of an early Roman Bathhouse! Great signs to detail different areas.
Linda Hogg (2 years ago)
Great! Loved walking around this Roman bath house on the Antonine Wall.
Sandra Wanmer (2 years ago)
An interesting place to visit if you're passing. 15 minutes is plenty of time.
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