Tourists at Billingsgate Roman Baths

Iconic London archaeological site reopens

Billingsgate Roman House and Baths, an iconic archaeological site in central London, has reopened for visitors after a seasonal closure.

The large private residence, located in the basement of an office block on Lower Thames Street, offers visitors a rare glimpse into Roman life.

Dr Jane Sidell, Principal Inspector of Ancient Monuments at Historic England, said: “The baths remain a popular attraction for several key reasons. 

“Firstly, they are good Roman remains, the Romans remain a civilization that intrigues us today as they are both alien and familiar from popular culture, books, films and so on. 

“The remains here are well presented, quite legible but also ‘secret’. People increasingly love visiting sites which aren’t obvious or commonplace. 

“Something that is tricky to see and restricted from general view adds a frisson of excitement.”

First built around A.D. 150, Billingsgate was occupied right through to the end of Roman Londinium in the early 5th century A.D, and discovered in 1848.

Visitors can study the remains of the house’s walls and courtyard, as well as the cold room (frigidarium), warm room (tepidarium), and hot room (caldarium) of the baths.

Light conservation works are undertaken every year or so to remove soluble salts linked to dampness as the site is very low lying and can get slightly damp.

Dr Sidell said that unusually there are no concerns regarding over tourism and the baths.

She added: “Access has to be restricted owing to the constraints of the space, so this isn’t a problem. 

“A new walkway went in a few years pre Covid. This means people can safely get across it and the walkway does not bear upon the site at all. So no concerns there at all. 

“The site is robust and isn’t affected by lots of people as others might be. So no worries, it’s wonderful to be able to get visitors in to see it.”

Billingsgate Roman House and Baths can only be accessed by pre-booked tours priced at £12 per adult and £10 per child, 14 years old or under.

Additional booking fees also apply

Munsur Ali, Chair of the City of London Corporation’s Culture, Heritage, and Libraries Committee, said: “Whether you’re a history lover, a curious traveller or a local resident looking to uncover London’s hidden treasures, these tours promise an unforgettable experience.”

Featured image credit: City of London Corporation

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