Been robbed? Who you gonna call? Goddess Sulis Minerva.

The rare curse tablets of Bath reveal the vicious retribution requested of Goddess Sulis Minerva for heinous crimes such as stealing bathing suits and cooking pots. Tamara Pitelen reads the private letters to a Goddess.


Solinus, to the Goddess Sulis Minerva, I give to you, Divinity and Majesty, my bathing tunic and cloak. Do not allow sleep or health to him that has done me wrong, whether man or woman, whether slave or free, unless he reveals himself and brings those things to your temple.”

This is one of the 130 lead curse tablets found on the site of the ancient Roman spa complex in the English city of Bath. If a bathing suit or bronze pot went missing at the ancient Roman spa town now known as Bath, then a message to the Goddess Sulis Minerva via a curse tablet was the best recourse for the good people of Roman Britain.

A lead curse tablet found in the ruins of the Roman spa in Bath that beseeches the Goddess Sulis Minerva for justice.

Here’s another one:

“The person who has lifted my bronze cooking pot is utterly accursed. I give him to the Temple of Sulis, whether woman or man, whether slave or free, whether boy or girl, and let him who has done this spill his own blood into the vessel itself.”

Ah yes, the people of Roman Britain were a fiery vengeful lot. Amongst the other curses there is a demand that whoever stole a hooded cloak should never again sleep nor have children. Also, that whoever stole a slave called Vilbia should turn into water. It is a fascinating insight into the daily lives, concerns and beliefs of the time.

In about AD 43, Roman legions invaded Britain. They came, they conquered and they settled for about 400 years. During this time they built gorgeous homes and elaborate public buildings like the huge spa and leisure complex that’s been discovered at Bath – then called Aquae Sulis, which was built on the sacred and natural spring waters acclaimed for their healing properties.

Aquae Sulis was a large, busy, and prosperous spa town but what did the locals do when they were victims of petty crime? They turned to the powerful Sulis Minerva, Goddess of the sacred healing waters of Bath and implored her to wreak her wrath upon the perpetrator.

The gilt bronze head from an ancient statue of Goddess Sulis Minerva.

The furious victim would hire a professional scribe to write a message to the Goddess on a small sheet of lead. He or she would then throw it into the sacred spring and leave it to the Goddess to find the culprit and mete out retribution. It’s what you do when you don’t have a police force. Sometimes, the victim would have their suspicions so, perhaps to save the Goddess time, would list the potential wrongdoers in the curse.

It was usual to pay a professional to inscribe the curse into the lead tablet because one had to ensure the right language was used so that the Goddess fully understood the gravity of the situation and so that nothing was inadvertently said to upset the Goddess. You know how sensitive these Goddesses can be.

The Roman curse tablets from Bath are the earliest known surviving prayers to a deity in Britain and were added to Unesco’s Memory of the World UK register in June 2014. The register is reserved for documenting heritage of outstanding significance.


The curse tablets are on display at the Roman Baths in Bath, UK.

For information about timings and tickets, go to


Tamara Pitelen

About Tamara Pitelen

Tamara Pitelen is a writer, editor and PR consultant who specialises in wellness and spirituality. Now based in Bath, UK, Tamara has spent 20 years writing for newspapers, magazines and websites whilst living in Dubai, Hong Kong, Japan, England, New Zealand and Australia.