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Bladud the ninth King of the Britons

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  • 1742 from John Wood's essay
  • Portrait  of Bladud, 14th century book of drawings
  • 1790,
  • Engraving of Bladud 1613
  • 1560 the geology of the kings of England
  • Statue of Bladud overlooking the Kings Bath
  • 1573 portrait of Bladud in the chronicles of England


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Bladud of Bath, the British King who learnt to fly. is one of the most remarkable characters to figure in Bath’s history.

BLADUD THE MYTH. The British King who learnt to fly. is one of the most remarkable characters to figure in Bath’s history. Today his image presides over the King’s and Cross Bath springs. Even if there is no truth in the Bladud myth it still provides us with a fascinating story about the origins of Bath Geoffrey of Monmouth. writing in the 12th century, gives us the earliest surviving account of Bladud. In so doing he mentions an even earlier source in Brittany. The myth may well originate in the oral tradition of the Celts, which includes legends of flying and regeneration. The head carved within the pediment of the temple of Sulis Minerva at Bath is thought by some to be an image of a Celtic deity which could have inspired the Bladud story. The myth of Bladud has been repeated. added to and altered by various writers over the last 8OO years. In the 18th century the story of Bladud as a swineherd became popular. John Wood the elder, the architect responsible for Bath’s finest buildings, was a firm believer in Bladud whom he regarded as a patron of the Druids. The acorn finials surmounting the Kings Circus may well be a reference by Wood to the Druidic legacy patronised by Bladud, for the oak was sacred to the Druids. The Illustrations to the left, the earliest of which dates to 1560. are a selection from nearly twenty portraits of Bladud by Bath Museums and Historic Buildings Service.

BLADUD THE EARLY MYTH He became the ninth King of the Britons in 863 B.C. succeeding his father Ludhudibras. Educated at Athens he returned on his fathers death accompanied by four philosophers. He founded a university at Stamford in Lincolnshire and by practicing necromancy created the hot springs at Bath. Here he founded a temple dedicated to Minerva and placed the rein inextinguishable fires. He made feathered wings and learnt to fly but fell on the Temple of Apollo at New Troy and broke his neck, after reigning 20 years. He was succeeded by his son King Lear.

BLADUD THE LATER MYTH. He pent eleven years at Athens and returned home a leper. Because of his illness he was confined but escaped in disguise from his father’s court and came to a place called Swainswick where he was employed as a swineherd.In cold weather he saw his pigs wallowing in a mire. He found that the mud was warm and the pigs enjoyed the heat.  Noticing that the pigs which bathed in the mire were free of scurf and scabs, and reasoning that he might benefit in the same way, he too bathed in the waters and was duly cured of leprosy.He revealed his identity to his master and returned to has father’s court where he was recognised and restored to his inheritance. He succeeded to the throne on his father’s death, whereupon he founded the City of Bath around the hot springs and built the baths so that others might benefit as he had done.