Love it or hate it the maths – and science – we are taught today wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for a Bath-born medieval scholar whose travels in Europe – and what we now know as the Middle East – brought a wealth of knowledge to lighten the gloom of our ‘Dark Ages’.
Adelard, was just 8 years old when – following the death of the Conqueror and during the Norman Civil War that followed – Bath was burned to the ground and the old Saxon church where Edgard had been crowned king, destroyed.
He was befriended by John of Tours who bought what was left of the city and set about building a huge cathedral as Bishop of Bath and Wells. So while Adelard was growing up his home town was a building site.
He went on to become a great scholar who travelled to the Middle East to study – for seven years – with people who were at least 800 years ahead of the West in terms of knowledge and ideas.
Adelard was world-famous in his time and for several centuries Bath was known primarily as HIS birthplace! It’s taken the discovery of Roman baths, Georgian architecture and Jane Austen to push him right down the celebrity list to be almost entirely forgotten in his native city.
All is set to change with an appeal in progress to raise the cash to commemorate him in a very 21st century way.
The Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institution has been pushing for recognition for this local scientific hero for many years and has now decided to try and raise the money to erect – not a statue – but a geometric shape to represent his mind!
I popped into BRLSI on one side of a rather noisy Queen Square to talk to Michael Davis who is an event organiser at the Institution and a leading figures in the campaign to put Adelard back at the top of Bath’s claims to fame.
I could understand that many would appreciate fundraising if it was to put up a statue of John Wood or Jane Austen but to mark a man few had ever heard of?
Find out more by going into BRLSI where the mini-exhibition continues until February 13th or via www.brlsi.org
Seems a site somewhere near Bath Abbey or Parade Gardens are the two favoured sites for this unusual tribute to a medieval Bathonian.