Bath is one of the most ancient cities in the UK – but nothing here is older than the water from its hot springs. It fell as rain around 10,000 years ago and sank 2km into the ground. Here hot rocks heat it to 69C (156F) before it bubbles to the earth’s surface – conveniently at perfect bathing temperature. The city that has grown up around these hot springs is globally famous for its handsome architecture. And it’s been attracting tourists for almost 2,900 years. So we booked a lodge with self-catering holiday specialists Hoseasons and started a weekend of Christmas shopping, historical discovery and pampering. What really happened in a Roman bathhouse? The Romans didn’t invent Ancient Bath. It was discovered in 863BC when the Celtic Prince Bladud was cured from his skin disease after bathing in the waters. By the time the Romans arrived, around 60AD, it was already an ancient British shrine. But the Romans combined those traditions with their own bathing culture. They identified their goddess Minerva with the local deities and built a shrine as well as a bathhouse.