Images of cats from the British Museum collection, £9.99
Explore / Articles
Boudica led a revolt against the Roman rule of Britain in AD 60-61. She was Queen of the Iceni people, a British tribe who lived in what is today Norfolk and parts of Suffolk and Cambridgeshire. Her correct name is Boudica, which means 'Victoria', and not Boudicea.
Seventeen years after the Romans conquered southern England (AD 43) Boudica led a rebellion by native Britons against their Roman rulers. Her husband, Prasutagus, was ruler of the Iceni people. The Romans allowed Prasutagus to continue as king, ruling on their behalf. When Prasutagus died, the Romans decided to rule the Iceni directly and they confiscated the property of the leading Iceni families. The Romans are also said to have stripped and whipped Boudica and raped her daughters. These actions and the Britons' resentment of the Romans caused Boudica to lead a revolt. Members of other tribes probably joined her. Her warriors successfully defeated one Roman army and destroyed the capital of Roman Britain, which was then Colchester. Later her armies went on to destroy London and Verulamium (St Albans). Finally, she was defeated by a Roman army led by Caius Suetonius Paullinus. Many Britons were killed and Boudica probably killed herself with poison.
Evidence for Boudica's destruction of Colchester, London and St Albans has been found by archaeologists and includes the remains of buildings burnt down by the rebels. At Colchester, Boudica destroyed the temple built for the Emperor Claudius. A head from a bronze statue of the Emperor, which is thought to have come from the temple, was found at Rendham in Suffolk and is now in The British Museum.
One Roman historian, Dio Cassius, describes Boudica wearing a magnificent gold neck ring. This was almost certainly a torc. Torcs found at Snettisham and Ispwich were placed in the ground more than 100 years before Boudica lived, but we can, perhaps, imagine her wearing one of very similar and magnificent design. And, is it a coincidence that there have been many finds of gold and silver torcs from Norfolk and Suffolk, where the Iceni people lived?