Life was a big sweat for ancient Britons

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The Independent Online
KEEP-FIT fanatics enjoy one after a work-out in the gym, the Finnish accompany one with a thrashing with a piece of birch and the Romans, somewhat typically, decadently whiled away hours enjoying their pleasures. But, according to an archaeologist from North Yorkshire, it may have been Bronze Age man who first hit upon the idea of the sauna.

Tim Laurie believes Bronze Age man may have enjoyed nothing better than a good sweat in the sauna after a day's hunting. The amateur archaeologist has discovered 64 mounds in the Yorkshire Dales which he says are the remains of prehistoric steam baths and which date between 1000BC and 1500BC.

As well as hot baths, the ancient people would have used "dry" sweathouses made from sticks and animal skin, which they filled with hot rocks, he believes.