SOUTHERN BRITAIN'S most famous Roman monument - the Roman baths complex at Bath - wasn't built by the Romans after all, according to new archaeological research.
A re-analysis of sculptures from the site suggests instead that it was constructed on the orders of a native Celtic British king, who wanted to thank the Romans for occupying Britain.
Dr Martin Henig, of Oxford University's Institute of Archaeology, now believes that the baths - and the temple complex of which they formed a part - were built to glorify two of the Romans most responsible for the conquest of Britain.
They were Claudius, who was emperor at the time, and his most promising young general, Vespasian, who became emperor later and was on the imperial throne at the time when the temple complex at Bath was being constructed.
Dr Henig's research, which is based on historical and archaeological evidence, suggests that the temple and baths were built by late-first- century Britain's most important native British political leader, the enthusiastically pro-Roman king of the Sussex- based Atrebates tribe. This local monarch, Togidubnus, had benefited immensely from the Roman conquest. His kingdom had been allowed to retain its autonomy and the Romans had even awarded it extra territory; this almost certainly came to include Bath itself.
Dr Henig's re-analysis of the sculptural and architectural motifs from the Bath temple has identified key iconographic evidence. By studying other monuments around the Roman world, he has concluded that stars sculpted in relief on the exterior of the temple represent a deified emperor - probably Claudius, the Roman ruler who instigated the conquest of Britain. The Romans liked to believe that their rulers quite literally became …