anonymous asked:

Do you know any good non-fictional books about Boudica?

I really enjoyed Boudica: The Life and Legends of Britain’s Warrior Queen by Vanessa Collingridge while doing my research and actually drew quite a bit of stuff about her legacy from it (hint: you can read large chunks via google books if you want a taster). 

Also, if you want the context of Iron Age Britain (and I believe there’s a bit on Boudica in there) I also highly highly recommend A History of Ancient Britain by Neil Oliver. That book is my everything; I have been on many rambles following in his footsteps (oh god, the Ridgeway walks, particularly near Oxford, and the S. Dorset Ridgeway are possibly the most magical places on earth. Lexa will definitely take Clarke to the Uffington White Horse and along the ancient chalk ridgeway to the longbarrow). I think there’s even a tv series that goes along with it. And Neil Oliver has such a lovely soothing Scottish accent.. 


Boudicca, Warrior Queen Part II — The Harrowing of Camulodonum and Londinium.

In case you missed: Part I

During the 1st century AD the Kingdom of the Iceni was a client state of the Roman Empire, subservient under the empire, but allowed a measure of sovereignty and independence.  Under the terms of his will, the King of the Iceni had left his kingdom to his wife and queen, Boudicca.  However the Roman Pro-Magistrate Catus Decianus refused to recognize a female heir, declared the Iceni monarchy forfeit, and annexed the kingdom into the Roman Empire.  During the annexation the Romans had taken as much money and valuables as the could and attempted to disarm the people.  Worse yet, when Queen Boudicca tried to stop them, Roman soldiers flogged her and raped her two daughters.

The conduct of the Romans was the ultimate offense against the Iceni, and a horrifying violation of Boudicca and her family.  From then on Boudicca vowed to exact tenfold revenge on Rome.  Many of the British tribes flocked to Boudicca’s cause, likewise disgruntled by Roman rule.  In a short span of time, Boudicca commanded an army that numbered in the tens of thousands.  Her first target was a town called Camulodunum, now modern day Colchester in Essex.

Queen Boudicca’s Rebellion occurred at the perfect time.  Most Roman forces in Britain were in Northwest Wales fighting a campaign led by Governor Gauis Seutonius Paulinus against the Druids.  Most of Britain was left lightly defended.  The town of Camulodunum was a Roman colony the was left completely undefended.  It had no walls, trenches, ramparts, or any fortifications of any sort.  Its only defenders were a small unit of vigils (police and firefighters) who were not equipped for large scale warfare.  In AD 60 Boudicca’s forces sacked the city.  Queen Boudicca herself commanded her army at the front, riding on a large chariot with her daughters at her side.  Over the next two days Camulodunum was destroyed.  All buildings were burned to their foundations, all Romans and Romanized Britons were mercilessly executed.

After the destruction Camulodunum, Boudicca moved on to the Roman capitol, Londinium (London).  2,000 Roman soldiers of the IX Legion Hispania tried to stop them, however by then Boudicca’s army numbered around 90,000.  The Romans were ambushed, surrounded, and quickly annihilated.  Like Camulodunum, Londinuium too was unfortified and undefended.  Most of the city had been evacuated, including Catus Decianius, the man who played an instrumental role in starting the rebellion.  However many Romans stayed, all of whom were slaughtered without pause.  Queen Boudicca and her forces exceptionally brutal, even by Roman standards.  Men were executed by crucifixion, a popular Roman method of capitol punishment, except a small fire was built under the cross to slowly roast its victims.  Noble women had their breasts cut off and sewn into their mouths.  Others were impaled on stakes.  It is estimated that between Camulodinum, Londinium, and another Roman town called Verulamium (St. Albans), around 80,000 Romans and Romanized Britons were slaughtered. Needless to say, Queen Boudicca was pulling out all the stops when it came to war. Today in both modern day Colchester and London archaeologists have discovered a ground layer of rubble, ash, and bones which serves as a testament to Queen Boudicca’s revenge.

To be continued… 

Hadrian’s Wall

Aerial view of the Wall at Cawfields, looking east, showing Cawfields milecastle. The line of the Vallum – the earthwork to the south of the Wall – can be seen in the background

Permanent conquest of Britain began in AD 43. By about AD 100 the northernmost army units in Britain lay along the Tyne–Solway isthmus. The forts here were linked by a road, now known as the Stanegate, between Corbridge and Carlisle.

Hadrian came to Britain in AD 122 and, according to a biography written 200 years later, ‘put many things to right and was the first to build a wall 80 miles long from sea to sea to separate the barbarians from the Romans’.

The building of Hadrian’s Wall probably began that year, and took at least six years to complete. The original plan was for a wall of stone or turf, with a guarded gate every mile and two observation towers in between, and fronted by a wide, deep ditch. Before work was completed, 14 forts were added, followed by an earthwork known as the Vallum to the south.

Its military effectiveness has been questioned by many scholars over the years owing to its length and the positioning of the fortifications along the route. Regarding this, Professors Scarre and Fagan write,

Archaeologists and historians have long debated whether Hadrian’s Wall was an effective military barrier…Whatever its military effectiveness, however, it was clearly a powerful symbol of Roman military might. The biographer of Hadrian remarks that the emperor built the wall to separate the Romans from the barbarians. In the same way, the Chinese emperors built the Great Wall to separate China from the barbarous steppe peoples to the north. In both cases, in addition to any military function, the physical barriers served in the eyes of their builders to reinforce the conceptual divide between civilized and noncivilized. They were part of the ideology of empire. (Ancient Civilizations, 313)

Neolithic discovery: why Orkney is the centre of ancient Britain

Drive west from Orkney’s capital, Kirkwall, and then head north on the narrow B9055 and you will reach a single stone monolith that guards the entrance to a spit of land known as the Ness of Brodgar. The promontory separates the island’s two largest bodies of freshwater, the Loch of Stenness and the Loch of Harray. At their furthest edges, the lochs’ peaty brown water laps against fields and hills that form a natural amphitheatre; a landscape peppered with giant rings of stone, chambered cairns, ancient villages and other archaeological riches.

This is the heartland of the Neolithic North, a bleak, mysterious place that has made Orkney a magnet for archaeologists, historians and other researchers. For decades they have tramped the island measuring and excavating its great Stone Age sites. The land was surveyed, mapped and known until a recent chance discovery revealed that for all their attention, scientists had completely overlooked a Neolithic treasure that utterly eclipses all others on Orkney – and in the rest of Europe. Read more.