|The inexpertly carved stone|
In 1965, beneath the Grand Pump Room of the Roman complex, at the level of a Roman-era temple to Sulis Minerva, the stone pictured here was discovered. The inscription reads "DEAE SVLI L MARCIVS MEMOR HARVSP DD" and stands for "To the goddess Sul, Lucius Marcus, a grateful Haruspex, donated out of his devotion."
The presence of a Haruspex in Bath raised eyebrows. A Haruspex [Latin (roughly): entrail observer] was one who predicted the future by examining the guts of animals (as well as other natural phenomena). This was a very old practice, known to Romans and before them the Etruscans. Its presence can be established in the East prior to Greco-Roman times as well. Haruspices (the plural) were not common—only 60 existed at a time—and practiced an art that, like astrology, not everyone believed in but that they might turn to for special occasions. The presence of a Haruspex in Bath in a location so far from Rome suggests how significant Bath/Aquæ Sulis was to the locals at that time.
Curiously, the inscription has been "edited." "MEMOR" is actually carved as "MEMR" with the "O" added above the second M. "HAR" is centered on its line, with "VSP" in smaller letters crammed afterward, throwing off the symmetry of the inscription. The "MEMOR" looks like a necessary edit after the carver's accidental omission of the "O." "HAR" might have needed the addition because the rarity of the position meant the abbreviation wasn't familiar to people who didn't know that "HAR" meant a Haruspex. Another theory is that the carver simply was not very literate, and that Lucius Marcus had to have him edit the stone after the initial carving.