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.References:
The Church of St Donatus name refers to Donatus of Zadar, who began construction on this church in the 9th century and ended it on the northeastern part of the Roman forum. It is the largest Pre-Romanesque building in Croatia.
The beginning of the building of the church was placed to the second half of the 8th century, and it is supposed to have been completed in the 9th century. The Zadar bishop and diplomat Donat (8th and 9th centuries) is credited with the building of the church. He led the representations of the Dalmatian cities to Constantinople and Charles the Great, which is why this church bears slight resemblance to Charlemagne"s court chapels, especially the one in Aachen, and also to the Basilica of San Vitale in Ravenna. It belongs to the Pre-Romanesque architectural period.
The circular church, formerly domed, is 27 m high and is characterised by simplicity and technical primitivism.