Native Tribes of Britain
This map shows the approximate location of the major tribes who lived in Britain at the time of the Roman Conquest of Britain in the First Century AD. The sole source for the existence and location of these tribes are Roman writers who visited Britain.
One of the best observers of the tribes of Celtic Britain was Tacitus who wrote on historical events in Britain. Another was a Roman geographer called Ptolemy who wrote a description of Britain, listing the names of the many British tribes.
Government and politics
The Kingdom of the Iceni is a single-party socialist state with an elective monarchy with the Rex Icenae as head of state and the Chairman of the State Affairs Commission as head of government. The basic laws of Iceni are prescribed in the Constitution, the constitution was adopted on the founding of the state. the government of Iceni, known as the Central People's Government consists of ministers in the government and were responsible for the daily governance of the nation.
Socialist People's Party
The Iceni Socialist People's Party is the only political party in Iceni.
Ministries of the Central People's Government
The following Government Ministries are headed by secretaries who make up the State Affairs Commission Office of the Rex Icenae - The Head of State and guide of the nation under Iceni Socialism, is elected each year in a Socialist People's Party Congress and confirmed by the people in a national referendum.
- Ministry of Finance- Led by the Finance Minister, responsible for maintaining the public finances of the kingdom and designating spending to the various agencies and government departments and is in charge of implementing the government's fiscal policies.
- Ministry of Foreign Affairs - Led by the Foreign Minister, responsible for foreign affairs of Iceni and immigration policies. The Foreign Office can advise the Rex on the appointment of ambassadors and their recall.
Questions about Boudica/The Iceni
Boudica and the Iceni tribe are fascinating subjects, but I know little is known about them apart from prejudiced retrospective Roman accounts, and some coins here and there.
I've read many books and have seen many documentaries on the subject, but I have specific questions that are never really addressed. Maybe some of you out there could help me with this?
With the Iceni being in England, it's logical to assume that they would have probably spoken a Bythronic Celtic dialect. But which one? I know she probably would have been able to speak Latin, given the Roman occupants.
I've also heard that the Iceni were more close to Germanic than Celtic. Is that true? What language then? Can it be learned or is it a dead language?
Did they have their own writing yet? Did they use Ogham or was that specifically the Irish Celts? A form of Futhark (again, the Germanic claim)? Were they entirely oral until the Roman's came? It appears as though their coins utilized Latin letters.
Assuming that our traditionl spellings are (more or less) correct, I have many documentaries on Boudica and the Iceni, and all pronounce her name differently. Which is it? "Boo-deh-kuh?" "Bo-duh-see-yuh?" "Bao-deh-kuh?" "Ba-oo-dye-kuh?"
When we Google ancient Celt weapons, we get the usual anthropormorphic swords and leaf bladed spearheads. Then we have modern "celtic" swords that take all kinds of liberties with their designs.
However, any time I specifically look up Iceni weapons, I get the same stock images, even though the images they use are from different geographical locations and the wrong Era.
The closest I've come was a man on Etsy who was selling an "authentic" Iceni-Era archeological grade dagger (it is no longer available). However, its shape and design raised a LOT of questions firstly, the blade was shaped in the exact same way that a traditional Saxon "seax" dagger is shaped. The handle was phallus-shaped, akin to what we now know as a "bollock" knife (Which wasn't used until 1200ish) .
Again, I've read that the Iceni were more "Germanic" at this point than true celts. I know that Germanic tribes have existed since, BCE but I thought that the seax knife design was exclusively a Saxon signature, and the Saxons didn't exist until 400ish CE, right?
At any rate, what did the Iceni weapons actually look like? Did they just use Roman weapons? Proto-Saxon designs? Or did their stuff continue to look like the La Tenne BCE blades with little to no experimentation or variance?
Remains and other artifscts:
Are there ANY skeletons anywhere? Do we have any idea where Boudica and her daughters are? Were they all burned in a mass pyre? Anything at all? A soldier? A document signed by anyone? Or is it just the coins?
Is it confirmed that the Iceni had the boar-headed war horns and woad paint or is that just a sweeping assumption about all celts (I've read that it was only really the Pictish tribes that did this)?
That's a lot of questions! Iɽ suggest you start by reading the original accounts by Cassius Dio and Tacitus as really that is all that's known of Boudicca, barring a certain amount of archaeological data and a lot of later info is pure speculation and / or fantasy.
Firstly - as far as known- the Iceni were Celtic Brythons and spoke a language ancestral to modern Welsh, Breton and Cornish and probably close to ancient continental Gallic as noted by Roman commentators including Julius Caesar.
Some modern theories speculate that the continental Belgic peoples had invaded eastern Britain in the last centuries BC - their territory is in modern Norfolk , Suffolk and Cambridgeshire with their capital being Venta Icenorum - modern Caistor St Edmunds. This is not far, albeit across the sea, from modern Belgium/ ancient Belgica. https://www.norfarchtrust.org.uk/caistor
Some ancient texts offer a confused account that some later academics have claimed suggests some tribes in Britain were a mix of Celtic and Germanic, but without hard evidence it impossible to know now.
Archaeological evidence including coins proves the existence of the Iceni / Eceni as a powerful and wealthy people but there is no hard evidence to suspect they were anything other than Celtic speaking Brythons(Brittonic aka p-Celtic) . ( the Irish and scots are goidelic or Q-celtic - hence MAB vs MAQ meaning son of ). The Picts ( aka cruithne by the goidelic celts , probably bruitni or priteni https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cruthin) were apparently simply non-romanised northern Brythons- certainly not a separate race in Boudicca's period. Prydain is still modern Brittonic for Britain.
So they would have pronounced the name something like your ɻow-dik-kah' and the tribal name ɾh-key-ni' based on the Latin record. They knew and used the Latin script , the continental Gauls knew and used this as well as Greek in earlier periods. An early version of ogham may( or may not) have been known as it is thought to be based on Greek from a earlier period- (ogham is found in the far west of Britain only in the post Roman era reflecting Irish immigration). Many archaeological artefacts ( including a very famous collection of torcs in Norwich and the British museum) demonstrate definitively that the people were part of late la Téne culture and were extremely wealthy and powerful. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Snettisham_Hoard
You are right about their weaponry- the seax is a single edged kitchen knife-like weapon associated with later Germanic peoples in the
6th century, however it's known the earlier celts developed the short stabbing double bladed sword the Romans call 'gladius' the name is cognate to modern Welsh ɼleddyf' or Cornish 'kledha' essentially meaning ɻlade' ( the original name for ex calibur was ⟊ledfwlch/ calesvol' ( pronounced caledvulc / caletzvol) meaning hard edge). In Boudicca's period 1 century CE the warrior elite would have used long swords which could be used one or two handed- the Roman cavalry used a similar sword which they called 'spatha' - also thought to be developed by the Gauls about 90cm long although nothing was standardised in the period . Its more probable a mix of weapons including spears daggers kleddyfa clubs axes slings were all used by the British war band varying by individual wealth and social status, the elite having the finest and largest weaponry https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spatha Here's a real one https://www.liveauctioneers.com/item/54897685_iron-age-british-celtic-spatha-sword And https://www.britishmuseum.org/research/collection_online/collection_object_details.aspx?objectId=831634&partId=1&searchText=iron+age+sword&images=true&view=list&page=1
Search for iron age sword on the collection if you want to see examples of the real thing- and look up the videos on Carnyx if you want to know how they sounded!
Finally I think recent excavation in London have consistently brought up evidence of a charcoal layer from the burning of early Londinium and reconstruction at the correct period. I imagine there are some skeletons but do bear in mind this was all 2000 years ago - hard evidence is few and far between. It does seem that after the revolt the Romans now focussed rebuilding and strengthening of London as the new imperial capital over and above the older British capital at Colchester / Camulodunon held by the Trinovanti.
I, unfortunately became (somewhat) familiar with story of Boudicca via a B-costume/action/drama ‘The Viking Queen’ (Hammer studio 1967). I later saw a cable-tv docudrama (History, Discover, Nat. Geo.-? I forgot which). The docudrama differed from your telling in that the Roman Governor fled in a panic leaving it to a semi-retired Roman general(?) to salvage a desparte situation. In that program it was presented that the Romans that final battle had their lines flanked on either side by thick forest & rotated their men from the back to the front so that their fighting line wouldn’t become exhausted. And the docudrama didn’t mention, as you did, that this General deprived the Boudicca’s forces of food which explains why the Britians decided on one mad mass rush to over come the Romans with their numbers. And for a while I've often wondered how the battle had turned out differently. Anyway you stated that the only reason we know about this revolt is because of Tactitus. But is there any evidence of any British (Welsh-?) myths about this revolt? Now I have look through John Warry’s Warfare in the Classical World (Barnes & Noble 1993 ed. with historical images & battle diagrams).
Thank you for such a thought-provoking comment. Are you an historian yourself Hookfish? We love to hear insights from researchers who are passionate about such subjects.
Boudicca is easily one of the most intriguing individuals in history – man or woman! Each opportunity to learn about Boudicca and the Iceni is always a potentially good read with new information. I have always been intrigued by the apparently unique people we know as the Icini. All of Great Britain and the surrounding Islands are populated by a great many unique cultures and fascinating DNA amalgamations. I have my own suspicions about the origins of the Iceni although my theory is founded only in circumstantial evidence and admittedly wishful conjecture. The Icini, based on what we now know, were significantly unique from other British populations. Based on archaeology we know they had a significantly developed culture and command of technologies such as advanced metallurgy.
For me there is a big clue into the Icini but one must go back a bit into geography. The land of the Icini at the time of Boudicca expanded beyond the current shores. Of course the shore line 2000 years ago did not extend as far as it did 6000 years ago when Doggerland was in its last days of flooding. Yet it is in the area of that part of the Icini land still above water that one sees t remnants of the highways and wall like dikes leading down and toward the Doggerland. In my mind the Icini land and the Doggerland cultures may well have been one and the same. I suspect that the Icini lands 2000 years ago territory was the last tiny portion of Doggerland above sea level. Doggerland culture lasted long enough to become a highly developed culture – developed sufficient enough to work together as a group to stave off the flooding as long as possible over thousands of years. It will be interesting when science is able to identify and sequence unique Doggerland halogroups and compare them to the current populations of Great Britain and the rest of the world.
Boudicca acted with incredible bravery and the pride of her unique people. I suppose it is just my fantasy to imagine that such a remarkable person as Boudicca was framed by a culture with roots going back to a amazing developed culture with roots extending long before Romulus and Remus were suckled by a she-wolf.
But again this is but my fantasy but I look forward to science revealing how much of my fantasy might be true.
Iceni. British tribe and civitas. The tribal coinage, which carries the name ecen or eceni , suggests that the tribe were restricted to Norfolk and parts of Suffolk and Cambridgeshire. Their first appearance in written history is probably in Caesar's account of his British expeditions, where he refers to a tribe called the Cenimagni. They appear to have been a wealthy and powerful tribe in the 1st and 2nd cents. bc, for from their territory come the finest hoards of gold torcs found in Iron Age Britain. Other hoards of elaborately decorated bronze chariot fittings also point to a love of conspicuous display by the nobles of the Iceni. This wealth may well have continued through the period of the Roman occupation, for some of the finest hoards of Roman gold- and silverware have also been found in or close to Icenian territory. Initially their contacts with the Roman invaders were not unfriendly, and the Icenian king Prasutagus became a client-king of Rome. On his death, however, his kingdom was incorporated into the Roman province and this, and other alleged abuses, led to the Icenian revolt, led by Prasutagus' widow Boudicca. No doubt this set back plans for the Iceni to be given self-governing status as a civitas, but eventually that was accorded the tribe and their capital was established at Caistor St Edmund (Venta Icenorum). Despite the tribe's apparent wealth, the town remained unusually small (under 35 acres) and poorly developed for a civitas-capital.
Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.
JOHN CANNON "Iceni ." The Oxford Companion to British History. . Encyclopedia.com. 18 Jun. 2021 < https://www.encyclopedia.com > .
JOHN CANNON "Iceni ." The Oxford Companion to British History. . Retrieved June 18, 2021 from Encyclopedia.com: https://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/iceni
Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).
Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.
10 Women Who Took Serious Revenge
After the recent death of a 23-year-old gang-rape victim, protesters have been calling for the death penalty for rapists and increased safety laws for women. Upon reading about the severity of the attack and the enraged public outcry, I began to wonder if there were any cases where rape victims took the law into their own hands.
It turns out that there are quite a few cases I&rsquove compiled a list of ten of them. There is no real rank here &ndash I&rsquom not sure exactly how one ranks acts of revenge, especially when those acts are so personal and controversial.
On February 16th, 2005, Jackie Clarke invited a man to her home, where she proceeded to give him drug-laced coffee and had her 19-year-old son tie him up, so she could proceed to hit the man in the legs with a baseball bat all the while screaming that she was doing so because he raped her. She then told him she was going to tattoo the word &lsquorapist&rsquo on his penis, and when I assume he expressed negativity towards this idea, she did it anyway with a pin and a bottle of ink&mdashprison style. Clarke was later prosecuted, and denied having any recollection of tattooing the man&rsquos penis, but she later said, &ldquoIf I did it, I did it.&rdquo Whatever that means.
While not a direct victim herself, Sonnet Ehlers invented the Rape-aXe after working with rape victims at the South African Blood Transfusion Service. Rapists beware: this thing will mess your junk up. The device is worn by the woman like a female condom and upon unwanted insertion of a penis, causes sharp, teeth-like barbs to become imbedded into the member.
Not only is this excruciatingly painful the device can only then be removed surgically. So not only are the rapist&rsquos genitals effectively mutilated, but everyone at the hospital will know exactly what he did. The device has been so heavily criticized that the it was never even sold or marketed to the public. So, while there was no actual &ldquorevenge&rdquo inflicted here, per se, I thought it deserved a mention as the device was intended to send a very clear message. I find it sick that there was a need for it to be invented in the first place.
Chiomara was a Galatian (now a region of modern day Turkey) noblewoman. She was the wife of chief Orgiagon of the Tectosagi, one of three Galatian tribes that fought the Romans in the war of 189 BC. After her people suffered a defeat, a Roman centurion was put in charge of her. He made several sexual advances towards her &ndash and when she rejected him, he raped her. Then &ndash apparently feeling guilty &ndash he offered to ransom her back to her people.
When her men came for her, she ordered that they cut off the centurion&rsquos head. She then carried the head home with her to show her husband, and to tell him &ldquoOnly one man who has lain with me shall remain alive.&rdquo We can only assume that her husband nodded meekly in reply.
If you haven&rsquot heard the name Lorena Bobbitt, then chances are you&rsquove at least heard her story. On June 23rd, 1993, Lorena&rsquos husband John came home drunk one night and proceeded to rape her. Afterwards, she went down to the kitchen, grabbed a knife, went back upstairs and cut off his wiener.
She drove with the severed penis to a field where she chucked it out the window. Don&rsquot worry: police found it later, and John had it surgically reattached. Lorena was put to trial but acquitted of all charges due to temporary insanity. Interestingly, John later went on to be arrested no less than seven times for charges including that of domestic battery. He also starred in several well-titled pornography films including &ldquoJohn Wayne Bobbitt: Uncut&rdquo, and &ldquoFrankenpenis&rdquo.
The Trung sisters &ndash Trung Trac and Trung Nhi &ndash were daughters of a powerful Vietnamese lord who lived at the beginning of the first century AD. At that time, Vietnamese women still retained many rights even though their country was occupied by the Chinese Han Dynasty, which did not have such strong beliefs in women&rsquos rights.
The Vietnamese largely tolerated this foreign rule until 39 A.D., when a Chinese commander raped Trung Trac and killed her husband. The sisters were not having any of that. They organized a full-scale rebellion of 80,000 men and women. Thirty-six of their army&rsquos generals were women &ndash including the Trung Sisters&rsquo mother (I guess their no-nonsense attitude ran in the family). Various accounts of their subsequent battles with the Chinese exist, including the story of female leader Phung Thi Chinh who, despite being pregnant at the time, apparently said &ldquooh, fudge it. I got this shit,&rdquo and proceeded to have her baby on the battlefield. She hoisted the newborn child onto her back, and continued fighting. No big deal. The Trung Sisters were ultimately defeated, and many warriors either committed suicide to protect their honor, or died in battle.
Seven years after her 13-year-old daughter was raped by Antonio Cosme Velasco Soriano, the unnamed mother saw him out on the street where he reportedly yelled out to her, &ldquohow&rsquos your daughter?&rdquo When Soriano walked into a crowded bar, the woman followed him in, doused him with gasoline, and lit a match in full view of the bar&rsquos other patrons. Sariano died of his injuries 11 days later. The woman was arrested, but her case has been met with great support from the public, and there have been calls for her release.
In the Indian village of Makkapurva in 2008, a woman entered a crowded marketplace, covered in blood, holding aloft the severed head of a man she said attempted to rape her. Apparently the man had sifted up behind her while she was getting grass for cattle, and a struggle ensued. Somehow, she was able to grab the sickle she was using, and chopped off the man&rsquos head before he could further assault her. The crowd was understandably terrified.
In September 2012, a pregnant Turkish woman sought to make a similar statement when she threw the decapitated head of her alleged rapist into the middle of a town square &ndash later telling police, &ldquoThat is the head of one who toyed with my honor.&rdquo She stated that the man had been abusing her for months, and she finally decided to take action when he threatened to send nude photos of her to her parents, which she feared would ruin the honor of both herself and her children. Oh, by the way: before she cut off his head, she also stabbed him and shot him 10 times in the privates.
Phoolan Devi was born in India in 1963 to a low-caste family. After becoming estranged from her family, she became the companion to the leader of a group of bandits. During a struggle for gang leadership, Devi&rsquos companion was killed, and she was gang-raped by several men over a time period of three weeks. She later became a bandit leader herself, and in 1981 called for the killing of 22 villagers in Behmai, including two that had been involved in her rape. After serving 11 years in jail, she managed to get herself elected to parliament &ndash but was killed in 2001, as an act of vengeance for her earlier murders.
Boudica has been mentioned before on Listverse, and has indeed become quite the figure of legend since her death in 60 or 61 A.D. While much of her story is undoubtedly myth, it is agreed that Boudica was the queen of the British Iceni tribe, and that she led her people in a revolt against the Romans.
Upon the death of her husband, who had been largely cooperative with the Roman emperor, the Romans treated the Iceni territory and its people as if it were a conquered land. Boudica and her daughters were raped and flogged. The Iceni were enraged, and organized a revolt with their neighboring Trinovantes &ndash with Boudica elected as their leader. Boudica was ultimately defeated &ndash but not before her armies sacked and burned the new Roman city of Londinium (modern-day London) and gave the Romans a real run for their money.
Suetonius finally mustered the forces available to him and faced Boudica’s army at an unknown location in the Midlands. He had perhaps four times the number of troops massacred outside Colchester.
Though the exaggeration of ancient sources makes it impossible to accurately state the sizes of the armies, the Romans were clearly massively outnumbered. Boudica’s force may have numbered in the hundreds of thousands. Given different circumstances, or worse leadership than Suetonius provided, the Romans could easily have been destroyed, bringing Britain out of the empire.
But Suetonius chose his ground well, so that the Britons could not use their weight of numbers. Superior Roman discipline and training triumphed, and the rebels were destroyed.
Boudica, Celtic Warrior Queen
Statue of Boudicca by Thomas Thornycroft near Westminster pier. Creator Kiss Tamás:hu:User:Kit36a from Wikimedia Commons
Did you know there was a Briton queen who caused the occupying Romans fits in the middle of the first century? If you have ever visited the Embankment in London near Westminster Bridge, you may have seen a statue of a woman warrior riding in a chariot. This is a representation of the Celtic Queen Boudica who laid waste to three cities in Britain and decimated one legion along with its infantry before succumbing to a more organized army of Romans in one dramatic ending to her rebellion.
The story of Boudica is told by two Roman writers, Tacitus and Cassius Dio who wrote much later. Tacitus would have had a first-hand account of the events from his father-in-law, Gnaeus Julius Agricola who served as governor of Britain c. AD 78-84. Of course these accounts were written by the eventual winners of the conflict and the Celtics had no written records. Consequently, Boudica’s story is shrouded in mystery and told with a Roman slant. But we do have enough historical and archaeological information to piece together what happened during the rebellion.
In 43 AD, Emperor Claudius made a full scale invasion of Britain, this being the second since that of Julius Caesar. Only Claudius’ invasion led to a four hundred year occupation. It is noted that Claudius received the surrender of eleven kings of Britain. One of these kingdoms may have been the Iceni, a tribe that occupied what today constitutes Norfolk, eastern Cambridgeshire and northern Suffolk. The Iceni paid tribute to Rome and supplied a quota of troops. But in AD 47, according to Roman law, the Iceni were divested of their weapons by the governor of Britain.
The Iceni were particularly incensed by this treatment. After all, they had submitted to the Romans without a fight and having no arms left them vulnerable. The Iceni and other Celtic tribes to the south rose up in a rebellion which was not successful. But in the end, the Iceni were essentially able to remain a client-kingdom of Rome.
It was about this time the leader Prasutagus emerges as king of the Iceni. By the time of his appearance he was already married to a woman named Boudica. Tacitus tells us Boudica was royally born. We don’t really know if this woman’s actual name was Boudica. Her name is spelled in various ways: Boudica, Boudicca, Voadicia, Bunduca and Boadicea. The spelling of Boudica is in keeping with various Celtic words for “victory”, particularly the Old Welsh “bouda”. So it could be claimed that Boudica was the first Queen Victoria in Britain.
Boudica is described by Dio as being tall and having long red hair that hung to her waist with a fierce facial expression and a harsh voice. Based on the dates given in the evidence, she was probably in her early to mid-thirties and possibly as old as forty at the time of the rebellion. She also had two daughters.
Tacitus tells us Prasutagus was renowned for his wealth and archaeological discoveries of eleven hoards of gold and silver torcs, ingots, bracelets, and coins at Snettisham, Norfolk dating from this era attest there was great treasure and affluence in the area. Dio describes Boudica as always wearing a large gold necklace, presumably a torc. Prasutagus died c. AD 59 and in his will he named his two daughters as the heirs to the kingdom with Boudica to act as their regent. Also, in a vain hope for a peaceful transference of his wealth and lands and to safeguard the future of his family, he named the Emperor Nero as his co-heir. This wasn’t an unusual procedure at the time. But things didn’t turn out as Prasutagus had planned.
Agents of the financial administrator of the British province seized Prasutagus’ lands and wealth. Some of the Iceni nobility were mistreated and suffered a humiliating change in status. Boudica was publicly flogged and her daughters were raped. This wasn’t all. Certain sums of money had been given to primary Briton leaders by the Roman Emperor Claudius and these were believed to be gifts. However, the same financial governor who had taken Prasutagus’ wealth now declared these sums were indeed loans and began to demand repayment.
Another example of Roman exploitation of the native population is exemplified in the city of Colchester (Camulodunum) to the south of the Iceni in the lands of the Trinovantes Celtic tribe. Colchester had been founded as a “colonia” by the Romans. Retired Roman soldiers were given lands in the area to settle. These soldiers seized lands from the natives, driving them away and calling them slaves and prisoners. The Romans took more land than they were allotted and kept the Trinovantes in deplorable conditions, using them as labor for their constructions projects.
One of the biggest new buildings in Colchester was a temple dedicated to the Emperor Claudius. This was particularly galling to the natives, because they didn’t worship in this manner and because they had to pay for and build the temple. When Boudica began to gather troops for her rebellion, the Trinovantes were ready to join her. The Roman writers say Boudica gave a speech to incite her supporters. This was standard procedure for historians to write about at the time so we don’t really know if she did this or not but it is clear she was driven to rebellion. Her troops headed to Colchester.
Colchester itself had no walls. The only defensive position for citizens of the city was the precinct of the Claudian temple which was under construction. A Roman legion with some cavalry came south to try to rescue Colchester. The legion was ambushed and destroyed. They may have lost as many as two thousand men. The “colonia” was completely wiped out in the first rush by the rebels. There was a two day siege of the temple which had been barricaded by some of the citizens and they finally surrendered. Then the entire city was burned to the ground and all remaining citizens, including women and children were killed by either hanging, crucifixion, blade or fire. Archaeologists have found a layer of reddish-brown ash consisting of burnt wattle-and-daub, molten glass, broken tile and blackened pottery. This layer is called the “Boudiccan destruction horizon”. It’s a clear indication of the violence and devastation of Boudica’s attack.
In the meantime, the governor of the province, Paulinus Suetonius, was occupied in the west fighting the Silures and supressing the Druids on the island of Mona, now called Anglesey in Wales when he received word of the attack on Colchester. Boudica was headed to London (Londinium) and Suetonius gathered his troops to make the march toward the same target. He made good time and arrived shortly before the Britons.
Suetonius may have considered using London as a military stronghold. But London was not the bustling metropolis that it is today. And, like Colchester, it was not fortified. Suetonius read the situation correctly, realizing he had inferior numbers to the rebels and decided to abandon London. Those citizens who could left the city for safety, leaving behind those who were unable or unwilling to depart to face the destruction.
The Britons destroyed the city just as they had Colchester. There was a great conflagration, the inhabitants were slaughtered and the town was plundered for loot. Archaeological evidence from digs starting in 1915 exposed a red layer about thirteen feet down and nearly sixteen inches deep. There are fragments of blackened roofing tiles and burned coins from the reign of Emperor Claudius, scorched grain and pottery. London deteriorated into a state of decay and was clearly abandoned for some time.
Boudica turned her attention to St. Albans (Verulamium), another undefended town. St. Albans was different in that it was a Briton town, populated by Celts who were friendly to Rome. Suetonius didn’t come to the defense of St. Albans. He was working on making sure the entire province didn’t fall into the Briton’s hands. The inhabitants of St. Albans had advance warning of the destruction of Colchester and London enabling them to escape and take some of their personal belongings with them. Boudica’s troops were able to plunder and loot what was left. Once again there is a red layer, evidence of the incineration of the town.
Suetonius was in a tenuous position as he called for and awaited reinforcements. He moved away from London into the Midlands. He knew he was greatly outnumbered by the Britons and it’s fairly clear he sought the greatest advantage for ending the rebellion, namely the time and the place for a conclusive battle. Unfortunately, Tacitus and Dio don’t name the location of the battle but Tacitus gives great detail about the terrain. The Romans chose a defile (narrow gorge) with woods behind them. This allowed them to look down upon open country allowing them to face only what was in front of them.
Boudica drew up her forces on the plain facing the Roman legions. Behind them was a line of supply wagons. Women and children, families of the fighters, sat among the wagons to watch the battle. The Britons charged first toward the professional and highly trained Roman fighters. At first the Romans held their ground. Word finally came for the assault to start. The Romans advanced in a wedge formation, using a deluge of javelins with deadly effect. This was followed by a methodical and orderly assault by the Romans. Wholesale slaughter of the Britons was the result.
The Britons were pushed back toward their wagons. The Romans killed the troops as well as their families, including the women and children. Tacitus reports that eighty thousand Britons were killed and only four hundred Romans lost their life. Whatever the true numbers, it was a definitive victory for Suetonius and his legions.
Boudica apparently did not die on the battlefield but managed to escape. Tacitus says she died by poison and Dio claims she fell ill and died. It seems clear she took her own life. We do not know the fate of her daughters but it is unlikely she would have left them to be slaughtered by the Romans. Boudica was given an expensive and magnificent burial. Unfortunately, we don’t know the location of her grave.
Some Britons continued to fight. With the help of reinforcements from Germany, Roman vengeance was swift and terrible. All those who took part in the rebellion were hunted down and killed. Even those who were sympathetic to the rebels were lost. The Britons had neglected to plant their crops to participate in the rebellion in the hopes of seizing Roman supplies. Many of the agricultural workers were lost in the battle or wounded. Consequently, famine among the natives resulted. The Iceni were driven from their lands and the land was laid to waste. The people that were left were driven to slavery and transportation.
Boudica nearly brought down the Roman government of Britain with an overwhelming number of fighters and the irresistible element of surprise. But due to the astuteness of Suetonius and his superior fighting forces, the occupied territory of Britain was saved and managed to be governed by the Roman Emperor until the Roman troops’ abrupt withdrawal in the fifth century. From the sixteenth century onwards, Boudica would become a charismatic subject for poets, artists and writers and she remains a symbol of national patriotism to this day as the statue on the Embankment attests.
After the battle
Boudicca was said to have survived the final battle and returned home to Iceni territory, where she poisoned herself. It would have be out of character for Nero to have given her, or her daughters, any mercy. The fate of her daughters is not known. Whether they died with Boudicca or were killed by the Romans, or escaped is unclear. All we do know is that they disappeared from the scene, never to return.
If Boudicca had survived and been captured, Suetonius would have taken her to Rome and displayed her in a triumphal parade in Rome, and subjected to absolute horrors of public torture, before having her executed in the amphitheatre.
Cassius Dio wrote that the British buried Boudicca in an expensive manner appropriate for a Celtic monarch, and hailed her as a hero.
Tacitus says nothing of her burial. There is a story that she was buried at Stonehenge and its legendary circle of stones were set up by the Druids to mark her tomb. However, there is not a solid foundation for this and is the story is largely taken to be a fable &mdash especially since Stonehenge is MUCH older that this time period &mdash as in about 5,019 years older. People like to make fables like this. Simply put, her grave has never been found and there are all kinds of fantasticical and unsubstantiated rumors such as that the queen is buried under platform 8, 9, or 10 at London's King's Cross railway station, yet no traces of her have been found in this or any other location. The closest possible one is the Celtic "Birdlip" Grave. read about it here.