Book Series The Archaeology of Northern Europe, vol. 2

Bathing at the Edge of the Roman Empire

Baths and Bathing Habits in the North-Western Corner of Continental Europe

Sadi Maréchal

  • Pages: 304 p.
  • Size:216 x 280 mm
  • Illustrations:229 b/w, 13 col., 13 tables b/w., 8 maps color
  • Language(s):English
  • Publication Year:2023

  • ISBN: 978-2-503-60066-6
  • Paperback
  • Available
  • ISBN: 978-2-503-60067-3
  • E-book
  • Available


“The book is well written and engaging. The presentation is well thought through, and the concise but consistent information and clear plans make it easy to access, compare and study the material. It succeeds in delivering a thorough material study and combines this within a deeper investigation of Roman society in a far corner of the empire.” (Marion Uckelmann, in Antiquity, 97, 2023)


Sadi Maréchal, PhD (2016), Ghent University, is a postdoctoral researcher of the Research Foundation Flanders (FWO). His research interests include Roman architecture, private and public space and urban topography, with a specific interest in Roman baths and bathing habits


Roman bathhouses are considered to be prime markers when studying romanization in the provinces of the Empire, as these very specific — and archaeologically recognizable — buildings, together with their associated ideas about the body and personal health, introduced a decidedly Roman habit into regions that had hitherto been unfamiliar with (communal) bathhouses and heating technology. While traditionally, studies into Roman baths and bathing have focused on large public baths in the cities of the empire, however, those from the area that now roughly corresponds to modern-day Belgium have often been neglected in recent research as this was an area with few important urban centres.

This book for the first time investigates the introduction, spread, and eventual disappearance of Roman-style baths and of bathing habits in this north-western corner of the Roman Empire. A detailed analysis of the architecture, technology, and decoration of both public and private baths is combined with a discussion on the role of bathing in the area’s romanization, and supplemented by a fully illustrated catalogue of all bathhouses in the area of study. In doing so, the volume sheds new light not only on the evolution of baths and bathing in this region, but also on their broader role in larger historic processes such as cultural change across the Empire.


List of Illustrations

Key to All Plans



Chapter 1
Communal Baths — a Roman Phenomenon?

Chapter 2
Earlier Research on Roman Bathing in the North-West

Chapter 3
The Roman Continental North-West, a Blank Spot for Baths?

Chapter 4
The Architecture of the Baths

Chapter 5
Technology of the Baths

Chapter 6
Building Material and Decoration

Chapter 7
Bathing and Society




Works Cited