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About Boudica, Queen of the Iceni

Contemporary Account of Boudica

"...a terrible disaster occurred in Britain. Two cities were sacked, eighty thousand of the Romans and of their allies perished, and the island was lost to Rome. Moreover, all this ruin was brought upon the Romans by a woman, a fact which in itself caused them the greatest shame....But the person who was chiefly instrumental in rousing the natives and persuading them to fight the Romans, the person who was thought worthy to be their leader and who directed the conduct of the entire war, was Buduica, a Briton woman of the royal family and possessed of greater intelligence than often belongs to women....In stature she was very tall, in appearance most terrifying, in the glance of her eye most fierce, and her voice was harsh; a great mass of the tawniest hair fell to her hips; around her neck was a large golden necklace; and she wore a tunic of divers colours over which a thick mantle was fastened with a brooch. This was her invariable attire."

So Cassius Dio describes Boudica, Queen of the Iceni, who led [her people] in revolt against the Romans in AD 60... ( Read more ).

Taken from Encyclopaedia Romana.

Useful Boudica Links

Visuals of the Legend

Click on the thumbnail to see the full image. Hover over each thumbnail for a description of each image. :) If you'd like to contribute, by all means, contact me!

A perspective of the Victorian statue of Boudica near Westminster Pier in England  Boadicea, Queen of the Iceni (c) Corbis Historical Picture Archive  A perspective of the Victorian statue of Boudica near Westminster Pier in England  Possibly Boudica's likeness engraved on an Iceni coin.  Victorian statue of Boudica near Westminster Pier in London, England  A stained glass depiction of Boudica, which can be found in the Colchester Town Hall on the site of the original Roman forum.

Places Associated with Boudica

Here, in no particular order, are a few places that I have been fortunate to visit that are associated with Boudica.

Norwich Castle Museum and Art Gallery. Norwich Castle is a massive cube-shaped Norman castle that dominates the skyline of the town of Norwich in England. Although the castle is pretty interesting to visit in its own right, for our purposes it is interesting as it houses a museum and art gallery, with a specific gallery devoted to Boudica and the Iceni people.

"Boudica was the great warrior Queen of the Iceni, a Celtic tribe that lived in the area now covered by Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire during the late Iron Age. In this gallery you can learn more about the Queen and her revolt against the Romans in AD 60-61. Within the gallery you can see re-created scenes, handle objects, take coin rubbings, watch an animation about the Iceni Queen and ride on a reproduction wooden chariot of the type used by Boudica as she led her people into battle. There's a wealth of objects from the period on display for you to discover. Highlights include the Snettisham treasure - the largest collection of Iron Age gold and silver neck rings found anywhere in Europe - and the Worthing helmet, an exceptionally rare Roman cavalry parade helmet made from bronze and beautifully decorated with an eagle and dragons."

(Another rebel leader whom I deeply admire is commemorated in Norwich Castle too. Robert Kett led a rebellion in Tudor times, and was executed, reportedly by being hanged in chains until he starved. Read more about his fight for justice. A memorial plaque on the castle wall reads: "In 1549 AD Robert Kett yeoman farmer of Wymondham was executed by hanging in this Castle after the defeat of the Norfolk Rebellion of which he was leader. In 1949 AD - four hundred years later - this Memorial was placed here by the citizens of Norwich in reparation and honour to a notable and courageous leader in the long struggle of the common people of England to escape from a servile life into the freedom of just conditions".)

Ancient House Museum of Thetford Life. Thetford's Ancient House is a Tudor merchant's house that was rescued from dereliction and turned into an excellent little museum. It has collections and displays on the long and rich history of Thetford. Upstairs, there is a glass case on the wall that contains some small artefacts from Iceni sites in the locality, such as Gallow's Hill, discussed below.

(Another rebel whom I'm a fan of is associated with Thetford: the writer Thomas Paine. He was born in Thetford and is commemorated with a statue on the high street, as well as a section in the Ancient House. His books and pamphlets, as well as his activism, were crucial in helping to spark and fuel not one but two revolutions - the American and the French.)

Gallows Hill, Fison Way, Thetford. This site is now a rather prosaic delivery depot, and in fact it was only rediscovered by aerial survey, so there is nothing left of the "square multiple ditch enclosure, with buildings at its centre, one with posts so grand that it has been suggested that it could have been multi-level" that archaeological study speaks of. Even so, looking at the wonderful views down the sweep of the land to the river Thet, it's easy to see how magnificently sited the Iceni ramparts here would have been in Boudica's day.

Colchester Castle. Colchester Castle, an enormous Norman keep, the largest in Europe, is built on the foundations of a gigantic Roman temple. This temple was the last refuge of the inhabitants of the town when Boudica and her soldiers burnt the place to the ground. You can still visit the vaults under the castle, which are in fact the temple vaults, where the Romans tried to hide. The mere existence of the temple is one of the reasons for the Boudican rebellion, as Iceni and other native slaves were forced to work on its construction. The other memento in Colchester of the Boudican rebellion is the marvellously-named Boudica's Destruction Horizon, a layer of red soot from the time Boudica burned the town. I'm told that, "If you ask nicely in the George Hotel, 116 High Street, Colchester, they might let you have a look in their basement where a glass pane reveals a hole showing the distinctive burnt red clay." But I haven't done that myself, yet. A similar layer exists in the archaeology of other towns and cities that Boudica burned, such as London.

Books About Boudica

Manda Scott has written a trilogy about Boudica, called the Boudica Series.

Vanessa Collingridge has written a biography of Boudica.

Media About Boudica

Media to come!

 

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