Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Hypocausts: A Hot Topic!

 We've been talking a lot about Roman plumbing lately. We happen to be lucky enough to live near the remains of a Roman bath, built around 300 A.D., and we thought we'd share some of the loveliness with you.

The Roman underfloor heating works by means of a hypocaust.  The floor is supported by pillars, leaving empty space underneath, which is filled with hot air supplied by a furnace. (Slaves stoke the furnace night and day, for your comfort.) A boiler is also attached to the furnace, providing hot water.
Flues bring hot air inside the walls, meaning the entire structure is heated.  To avoid the problem of condensation on the walls, the Romans developed fiendishly clever wall tiles, called box tiles, designed to leave a space between the inner and outer wall.
For more information see, as ever, Wikipedia.

For your enjoyment, we hereby supply some pictures from the Roman Bath Museum in York:

Part of the frigidarium; the cold bath

The caldarium, or hot bath: you can see one of the wall flues in the bottom left-hand corner

Waterproof concrete, ventilation, and a heating system that works - the Romans knew how to build a bathroom!
For a previous post on the interesting things to be admired at the Roman Bath Museum, click here.

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