It was said that the women of the Iceni
tribe were as tall and also as fierce as their men folk, and would also
follow them into battle. Armed with swords and axes they would fall
upon their opponents uttering hideous screams.
It is the year 60-61AD and at the head of the Iceni tribe stands a flame
haired woman in her early thirties. She is the widow of King Prasutagus
of the Iceni. She stands proud and erect, shoulders back despite the
discomfort of the lash marks left on her body. Lash marks she received
at a public flogging at the hands of the detested Romans. She is, of
say that she was actually named Boudiga after the Celtic goddess of
Victory by her Iceni followers, but the Romans called her Boudicca.
At her side stand her two teenage daughters, Camorra and Tasca. Their
treatment, at the hands of Rome, no less outrageous than their mothers,
having been raped repeatedly by Roman soldiers. Why? Because their
father had willed that they should inherit a portion of his estate upon
his death. The bulk of his wealth and property having been given to
Empress Nero. But the Romans were greedy and certainly did not recognise
the rights of women inheriting a kingdom.
Boadicea was born in or around 30AD, and was married to King Prasutagus
of the Iceni tribe in 48-49AD. She bore him two children, both girls.
During this time Britain was under the yoke of Roman rule, with the
Iceni, a Celtic tribe, located in Norfolk and Suffolk of eastern
When King Prasutagus died, after an illness in 60-61AD he left the bulk
of his lands, properties, personal possessions and monies to the Emperor
Nero of Rome. The smaller portion of his kingdom was left to his wife
and daughters, with his wife named as regent until his daughters came of
age. However, Rome decided that they wanted all King Prasutagus’s
inheritance and only days after his death Roman officials were
dispatched to seize the remainder of his estate.
Queen Boudicca protested and she and her two virgin daughters were taken
hostage and treated to Roman hospitality in the form of public flogging
and rape. Boudicca and her daughters managed to escape and returned to
their home, beaten but not cowed. Boudicca incited her people to avenge
her family's outrage and to throw off the chains of Roman rule. She led
over one hundred thousand men and women into battle. First she marched
on Colchester (Camulodunum) burning the temple dedicated to Claudius the
Roman Emperor, followed by London (Londinium), which she razed to the
ground, then on northwest to St. Albans (Verulamium), which met a
Wherever they went the Iceni burned and pillaged. They took no hostages
and captives were subjected to every known barbaric outrage. Women were
disfigured and then impaled on sticks and it is said that Boudiccea made
many a human sacrifice to the Celtic Goddess Andrasta.
Boudicca’s barbaric deeds paralysed the British countryside with fear.
Divisions of soldiers were sent by Rome against her army but all were
defeated. So the Romans called in Gaius Suetonius Paullinus, the Roman
military governor of Britian, who with only an army of ten thousand
legionaires against 100,000 Britons, went to meet Boudicia.
At the final battle we see Boudicca armed to the teeth standing in her
chariot with her daughters on either side of her. She is clothed, unlike
many of her followers who would go into battle naked, their skin
painted blue with woad. Boudicca is in her clan tartan armed to the
teeth. Though she is tired and has sustained an injury, her appearance
is still both inspiring and terrifying to her enemies.
The Roman soldiers are outnumbered but Gaius Suetonius Paullinus a
clever tactician chooses to attack Boudicca in a narrow valley thus
gaining the advantage over greater numbers. The final battle takes place
on the island of Anglesey, which the Romans called Mona.
The battle commences. Iceni women warriors resembling Furies with their
hair loose and wild, hold flaming torches. Druids range with their hands
uplifted to their gods chanting. But the tide has turned and the gods
decide to favour the Romans. With javelins and infantry the Romans
advance slaughtering not only the Iceni warriors, but also their
families who wait at their back unarmed and defenseless. It is a
massacre with over eighty thousand Britions slaughtered.
Boudicca is said to have survived the final battle and managed to escape
back to her home. There, she decides to take poison rather than be
subjected to the humiliation of being paraded by the Romans in their
triumphal procession. After which she would probably be condemned to the
gladiatorial arena to finish her days as a public spectacle, before
dying on an opponent's sword.
Smaller battles continued to rage throughout the year but eventually the
diminished, defeated, Iceni are resettled in a capital at Caistor St.
Edmunds located along the river Tas.
Near to Swaffham in a village called Cockley Cley there is a reconstruction of an Iceni village.