The Roman Bath House
The Roman’s Twentieth Legion had its headquarters at Chester 2,000 years ago and it is presumed at this time that an auxiliary detachment of the legion was based in a fort sited on what is now Ysgol y Llys (formerly St. Chads) in Princes Avenue, Prestayn.
A Roman bath house dating back to this period was discovered in the 1984 excavations at a site in Melyd Avenue. The bath house was re-excavated. It was built of masonry and had three rooms, two being heated from a furnace at the western end of the building. The cold changing room at the east end had a cold plunge bath attached to its south side. The bather began by undressing in the changing room and then moving into the warm room, where he would stay for a while, before moving into the intensely hot room, where the hot damp atmosphere would promote profuse sweating. Here the body would be oiled and scraped clean with a Strigil (a skin scraper).
The bather would then return to the warm room to cool down, before taking a plunge into the cold water. These baths would also provide a social centre for the Roman soldiers, where in addition to cleaning themselves, they would relax, read or talk with friends.
One of the tiles discovered at the bath house was made at Holt near Chester and probably was transported round the coast to the harbour at Prestatyn. Before firing in the kilns, the tiles were left to dry in the sun. While this particular tile was drying, a dog stepped on it, leaving behind the imprint of its paws.
The main reason for the Twentieth Legion coming to Prestatyn was great mineral wealth –namely lead – in Meliden that could be processed on site then shipped around the coast to Chester.
Among the more interesting find at the site was a number of bronze brooches that suggested that buildings in the area housed bronze-smiths producing items that were for sale in the settlement. A more unexpected find was that of an Iron Age baby – carbon dated to be about 30 BC.
Prestatyn also have a piece of artwork in the shape of a Roman Helmet situated on the Hillside as a commemoration of our Roman Heritage. The Roman Helmet is embossed with pictures of Sessile Oak leaves – a tree common to the area which is symbolic of strength and resilience. When designing the Roman Helmet Prestatyn High School were asked to design artwork to express what the children thought was most important in Prestatyn today. A selection of these pictures has been embossed on to the Helmet.
Prestatyn held a Romans Return community event this year to teach people about the romans and allowed them to take part in roman re-enactments and living history demonstrations.
Additional information on the Bath House can be found on the Virtual Stroll Around the Walls of Chester website
Offa’s Dyke Path
During the 8th century, King Offa of Mercia ordered a great dyke to be built, stretching from sea to sea, to mark the western boundary of his kingdom with Wales. In places it is still visible as a bank up to 25 feet high with a deep ditch alongside. Beginning at Chepstow on the Severn Estuary, Offa’s Dyke Path follows the course of this ancient earthwork to Prestatyn on the coast of North Wales. It passes through scenery of great beauty and variety ranging from the woodlands of the spectacular Wye gorge to the windswept ridges of the Black Mountains and from the rolling hills and secluded valleys of mid-Wales to the heather-clad Clwydian Hills. Along the way it visits a succession of historic border towns and attractive villages including Monmouth, Hay-on-Wye, Knighton, Montgomery and Welshpool.