Bladud and the Springs, Bath
There is a wonderful legend surrounding the foundation of the city of Bath , a legend that varies according to the teller, but with the kernel of the story as a fixed point.
In the ninth century BC Britain was ruled by Lud Hudibras, an enlightened monarch who had sent his son Bladud to be educated in distant Athens. Tragically, however, during the years he spent away Bladud contracted leprosy while in Greece. On his return his father had no alternative but to banish his son from court lest he infect others there.
Bladud, educated and noble, was forced to earn a living in the lowliest way as a swineherd, tending his pigs in the forests of the Avon Valley. The incognito prince continued to live this way for several years, almost becoming resigned to his fate. Then one day, having herded his charges over the river at what is now Swineford, in search of acorns in the woodland there, Bladud noticed something strange.
The weather was cold, and the pigs had begun rolling contentedly in mud by a spring. When he touched the mud and the spring water it was warm. He then saw something very strange - where the mud was washed off by the spring water the pigs no longer had scratches and scabs, but were clear skinned. Reasoning that the miraculous mud might cure him too, Bladud leapt into the warm black ooze, smearing it over his entire body, from the top of his head to the tips of his toes. When he washed the muck away with spring water he was cured, not a mark of his terrible leprosy remaining.
The Prince could now return to his father's court, which he did as fast as he could, being welcomed back like the long lost son he was.
When eventually Bladud succeeded his father he founded a city at the site of his miraculous cure, dedicating a place of worship there to the goddess Sul, or Minerva.
When the Romans arrived in the city almost a thousand years later they named it Aquae Sullis after the hot springs there, and are said to have decorated their baths on the site with images of the ancient British prince who had settled the place.
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