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Bath in the Dark Ages 500-1000AD

The missing centuries

Fable: The wall in the forest

I went further today than I had done since first I entered the forest. I found something, a wall, of a strange kind, but undoubtedly a wall.

It lay straight in my path as I pulled sticks from the edge of a clearing. My clearing, in fact - the sum of a few days' work in this region, and work which has pleased my father no end. He sends me back again and again into this new part of the forest, praising me for my hard work. It is only so he can spend more time with my new Mother, who is just my age, but I don't mind, because it lets me roam in a way I haven't since my first Mother died...

After the Roman withdrawal

The Romans drew back from Britain and their most north-easterly province some time in the fifth century, and the heart of Bath fell into disprepair. The lower parts of the town flooded regularly, and silt and dirt flowed from the Avon to cover the bathing complex. Some few of the Roman settlers - by now integrated with the native population - remained in the area, perhaps living within the walled and ramparted city, but also in the Walcot area to the north. Gradually, Bath was literally dismantled - not in an attack, but over many years, its stones removed for new buildings elsewhere. 


Abbey Wall - Edgar, King of EnglandThe fall of Bath

A century after the Romans quit Bath, the town was captured by another set of invaders - this time, Saxons, who took Bath after the Battle of Dyrham in 577. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle mentions this battle and the subsequent capture of Bath, Cirencester and Gloucester.

At some time over the next few hundred years a religious community established itself in Bath - a monastery, which grew in susbtance towards the end of the tenth century.

In the reign of Athelstan a mint was set up in Bath. In 1012 Vikings raided the city, but little else is known for certain of this period.

Bath was the coronation site for the first king of Britain as a unified country, in 973. His name was Edgar.


The Abbey's rise and several falls

Bath became the cathedra - seat of a bishop - for the Bishop of Bath and Wells in the eleventh century, and its religious community flourished. The first bishop was John of Tours. A massive Abbey was constructed, and the Church owned 17 villages and much other property around Bath. The monks seem to have established Bath's famous cloth trade. When the cathedra was removed back to Wells in the thirteenth century, the Abbey - and the recently-restored baths - fell into disrepair. The original abbey was far larger than its present-day successors. 

For an excellent history of this remote age, visit Bath Past at:


for more on the Abbey itself, visit: 


Trams in Orange Grove 1930sThis photo: I broke the rules and got it from the web. I believe it's the 1930s, Orange Grove.  Incidentally, those 'shells' over the windows are not that old - turn of the last century or so.  The houses, however, are Georgian  - or at least, the basis of them is.  And the Huntsman pub just roud the corner has the oldest shop-front in Bath.  Check out the ornate stnework over the windows. Bizarre.  But most photos on this site are taken by me, as you can no doubt tell from the quality. - Archsweet

Abbey photos: thanks to the photographer Ian Britton and his pictures of Bath at:  FreeFoto.Com

This page last updated: 21 February, 2001

FabledCity by mailto:archsweet@hotmail.com

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