Evidence of Bath’s long history can be seen from the air on a hot air balloon flight. Exactly which sights you will see on a flight depends on the direction and speed on the wind.
There is a legend that in 860 BC, the father of King Lear, Prince Bladud, caught a skin disease from pigs and was cured of the disease by wallowing in mud. This was the first report of Bath springs curing someone. Prince Bladud later became king and was the founder of Bath. There is no proof that this healing story is true, but it remains a popular tale.
The Romans recognised the restorative properties of the springs and built a temple in about 50AD to the goddess Minerva, the Roman god of healing. They also built the first public baths supplied by hot springs.
From the air, you experience a unique view of the Roman baths, which was restored in 2011.
The Romans remained in Bath until 407AD. In 577AD, the Saxons invaded and captured Bath.
The Saxons had a place of worship on the site of Bath Abbey. There are no visible traces of it that you can see from the air, but you can see the magnificent Bath Abbey.
If your hot air balloon flight takes you South West of Bath, you will see Wansdyke, which is both the name of a village and earthworks that stretch 35 miles from Wiltshire to Somerset, parts of which are visible from the air. This is thought to be a defensive structure designed to stop the Anglo-Saxon invasion, though there is no evidence to prove this. Another theory is that the Saxons built Wansdyke to prevent the British from reclaiming captured territory.
In the early 12th Century, Bath Abbey was built. In 1539, after the dissolution of the monasteries, it lay in ruins for about 70 years and was restored in 1616. From 1830 to 1874, the Abbey was extended and restored. From the air, you need an guide to the Abbey to identify the age of its various sections.
Bath was a quiet market town until the 18th Century, when it expanded considerably. Many fine buildings were erected in the city. On your hot air balloon flight, you can see the Pump Room, which was built in 1706 and replaced in 1795. Queen Square was built in 1739, the Circus in 1760 and the Royal Crescent in 1767. The Assembly Rooms were completed in 1771 and the Octagon in 1767. Putney Bridge was constructed in 1774.
In the 19th Century, Bath remained a market town, but also, like today, attracted tourists. The Theatre Royal was built in 1805 and the Kennet and Avon Canal came in 1810.
In the 20th and 21st Centuries, many fine buildings were erected in Bath, which are clearly visible from the air.
Seeing the sights of Bath from a hot air balloon reveals its rich history and heritage.