Archaeology Magazine Archive

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Bad, Bad Boudicca Volume 54 Number 2, March/April 2001
by Kristin M. Romey

The brutal tactics of Queen Boudicca, who led her Iceni tribesmen in a revolt against Britain's Roman rulers in A.D. 60/61, are being revealed by salvage excavations on the future site of a multiplex cinema in Colchester, England. The destruction of Colchester, ancient Camulodunum, the de facto captial of Roman Britain, by Boudicca's forces was methodical and thorough. According to excavation director Philip Crummy, the Romans' buildings were burnt to the ground. "It would have been quite hard work, because the buildings were largely of clay and not easy to set alight," he says. The destruction layer is characterized by the red-and-black remains of burnt clay walls.

Queen Boudicca launched the revolt after Roman troops annexed Iceni territory following the death of her husband. Roman historians say over 70,000 people died in the revolt. Following the destruction of Camulodunum, Boudicca went on to level Verulamium (modern St. Albans) and Londinium (London), where the queen is said to have poisoned herself rather than fall into Roman hands.

© 2001 by the Archaeological Institute of America