Minerva’s owl can be seen carved into the stone pediment of the Roman Baths temple, which is on display at the Roman Baths Museum.
Romans, Goddesses and Owls
The Roman Baths Temple, built in the 1st century AD, was dedicated to the Roman goddess Minerva, whose animal symbol was the owl of wisdom. The temple was also dedicated to the local Celtic goddess Sulis. The Roman and Celtic goddesses were then combined to create the unique Bath goddess, Sulis Minerva.
Minerva was the Roman goddess of wisdom, healing and the arts and was linked to the Ancient Greek goddess Athena, whose sacred animal was also an owl.
The Minerva/Athena owl is thought to have been a Little Owl, one of the smallest and most charismatic of the species, still known by its Latin name, Athene Noctua.
The Little Owl was introduced to Britain in the 1880s and can be found living around Bath and the surrounding area.
Unfortunately, Little Owls have decreased by 70% over the last 20 years. The UK Little Owl Project is working to protect them and is based in Bath.