Boudiccas Reuolt

A heavy-handed Roman policy toward the British tribes led to a revolt that brought Roman Britain to its knees. The Celts were led by the warrior queen Boudicca, and before the revolt was crushed, her followers had sacked some of the leading Romano-British cities in the island and defeated the Romans in battle. To this day, Boudicca is remembered as one of the great historical figures of Celtic Britain.

Celtic Culture

T~j he Iceni were a Belgic tribe who occupied

_(parts of east Britain (now forming the counties of Norfolk and Suffolk). Following the initial Roman invasion of Britain in AD 43, King Antedios of the Iceni made an alliance with the Romans, thereby ensuring that his lands would

Below: The Celtic Queen Boudicca was commemorated as a patriotic heroine in this 19th-century depiction in London.

be spared from destruction. In spreading out throughout Britannia, the conquering legions left Colchester thinly garrisoned by \1) 49. The Romans disarmed the Iceni, a precautionary move that caused resentment among the tribal warriors.

King Antedios, regarded by tribal hotheads as a Roman puppet, was ousted in a coup. Although Prasutagus—Antedios's replacement—renewed the treaty of alliance with the Romans, his political stance was far less pro-Roman than his predecessor. Following Prasutagus's death in AD 60 the Roman governor, Suetonius I^aulinus, became concerned that the Iceni would break the treaty. The governor's solution was to annex Iceni lands, and he sent in colonial administrators to enforce Roman rule.

The heavy-handed action of these Roman agents enraged the Iceni, and the political atmosphere became volatile. The excuse for a fullscale revolt came when Boudicca, the widow of Prasutagus, was whipped as a punishment for criticizing the Roman administration.

Queen Boudicca rapidly became the instigator of a widespread revolt against Roman rule. A later Roman historian, Dio Cassius, described her:

"... tall, teirible to behold and gifted with a powerful voice. Bright red hair flowed to her knees, and she wore an ornate gold tore, a multicolored robe, ami a thick cloak pinned by a brooch. She carried a long spear, and inspired fear in all who beheld her. " She has long been associated with a chariot, and her bronze likeness portrayed on a war chariot remains one of the most popular statues in London.

Celtic atrocities

The Trinovantes (from modern Essex) joined the Iceni, and together the tribes moved south against Colchester. As the Roman governor and all the legions were in the west and north of the province, there was nothing to stop Boudicca. Colchester was essentially a Roman city, colonized by former soldiers and their families. While a small group took refuge in

Roman City Colchester

the Temple of Claudius, the remainder of the Roman population of around 3,000 was massacred.

The temple was then surrounded and burned to the ground. A relief force of 2,000 legionaries and cavalrymen from IX Hispania marched to quell the revolt, but were ambushed to the northeast of Colchester. Only the cavalry escaped alive. As settlements were sacked and burned, Roman civilians fled by sea to Gaul or escaped southward, and accounts of Celtic atrocities spread, causing widespread panic in the province.

When word of the revolt reached Suetonius Paulinus in Wales he gathered together a force of 10,000 legionaries and about 4,500 auxiliary troops, including cavalry from XIV Gemina, and elements of II Augusta and IX Hispania. After a series of forced marches down the Roman road known as Watling Street, Paulinus reached Londinum before Boudicca, but decided to withdraw north. According to Tacitus: "He decided to save the whole situation by the sacrifice of a single city." Boudicca then fell on the city and massacred the population wholesale, before marching northwest to sack Verulamium (although this time, forewarned, the population had fled to safety).

Again Paulinus moved to counter Boudicca, and found her army lining the River Anker, near the modern town of Lichfield. Although outnumbered several times over, Paulinus used the ground to his advantage. He halted the initial British chargc, then forced them back to become trapped by their encampment and baggage. Unable to maneuver, the Britons were hacked to pieces. The revolt collapsed, and Boudicca took her own life.

However, the rebellion had alarmed Rome, and fresh reinforcements were shipped into the province from the German frontier. While the legionaries exacted revenge by ravaging tribal homelands of the rebellious tribes, steps were taken to ensure such a rebellion could not happen again by strengthening fortresses and towns. Despite his victor)-, Suetonius Paulinus was recalled to Rome.

His successor, Petronius Turpilianus, was less vindictive than had been Paulinus, and over the next few years he ensured maintenance of Roman control of the province without resorting to the heavy-handed policies that had led to the revolt in the first place. From that point on, southern Britain became a largely peaceable province of the Roman Empire, where the old tribal loyalties of old were gradually replaced by the ties of burgeoning commerce.

Above: Having to use both hands to carry his shield and spears, the British warrior rode to battle by bracing his legs firmly against the wicker sides of the chariot. His driver rode on the bracing pole between the horses. When battle was joined, the warrior lept from the chariot to fight on foot, while the driver maneuvered at a safe distance, waiting to pick him up.

The extent of Boudicca's rebellion in ad 60.

i Deva


i Deva


Boudicca Rebellion


The Romans in Scotland

Boudicca Chariot

Roman historian Tacitus said that the Caledonians were the last free Celtie people in the Roman Empire— behind them, there was nothing but sea. In AD 84 Agrícola led a Roman army north. Despite defeating the Caledonians, Agrícola and his successors were unable to subdue these proud northern people. The Roman solution was to construct a series of fortified walls, stretching across Britain.

Below: The Roman engineers who built Hadrian's Wall took advantage of natural topographical features to strengthen the line of fortifications.

ftcr the crushing of Boudicca's revolt, Petronius Turpilianus consolidated Rome's hold over its most isolated province. However, his successor, Julius Agricola, undertook a policy of expansion in Roman Britain. Between AI) 71-74 he subdued the Brigantes in the north of England. He then penetrated beyond their tribal boundaries as far as the rivers Forth and Clyde; the lands of the Votadani, Selgovae, Novantae, and Damnonii.

In AD 80-81 he ventured into the foothills of the Scottish Highlands and established a legionary fortress at Inchtuthill, on the lay.

The Roman province ot Britannia now extended into southern Scotland. Inchtuthill marked the limit of any direct advance into the highlands, and while a series of blocking forts were built to prevent Caledonian raids into the Roman territories to the south, Agricola continued his campaign into northeastern Scotland. His aim was to bring the last Celtic army in Britain to battle. In AD 84 he advanced north from Inchtuthill to the mouth of the Don (at modern Aberdeen).

Having established a supply base, Agricola pushed on to the northwest, where he encountered a Caledonian army led by Calgacus at Mons Graupius (probably the mountain of Bennachie, near Inverurie). As usual, the Celts were outmatched, and Agricola won a decisive

Mons GraupiusRelief Map Silloth Cumbria

Hadrian s Wall, forts, military camps, and roads.



stopitum orbridge) Legionary \ camp





manpower and resources.

Early in the third century the emperor Septmus Severus arrived in Scotland to lead a campaign against the Caledonians. By this time the Roman garrisons had been withdrawn to the south again, leaving the area to the south of the Antonine Wall to be defended by pro-Roman trifies. Although a success, Severus's campaigns in Scotland failed to bring the Caledonians to battle. Denied the victory accorded to Agricola, the emperor returned home.

Hadrian's Wall was an engineering marvel, but it also required a substantial garrison. During the third and fourth centuries AD, the Romans came to rely on troops recruited in northern Britannia. Inevitably, these soldiers established links with their fellow Celts to the north. As internal strife within the Roman Empire led to a gradual weakening of the frontier defenses, incursions by Picts, Scots, Irish, and Saxons became commonplace. By the end of the fourth century, there was little to stop the Celts of northern Britain from striking into the heart of the crumbling Roman province.

Above: Reconstruction of Hadrian's Wall looking west near Chesters, showing mile castle number 26 in the foreground. Two turrets and a further mile castle can be seen in the background, just before the land drops into the North Tyne valley where Cilurnum (Chesters) cavalry fort was situated.

victory. But Möns Graupius also marked the northernmost limit of Roman penetration in Britain, because Agricola now withdrew to Inchtuthill. They may have been defeated, but the Caledonians had not been subdued.

About AD 100, the Romans withdrew from their forts on Tayside and pulled back to the area between the Firth of Forth and the Firth of Clyde. The Romans encouraged the tribes to act as buffer states between their garrisons and the Caledonians further north. Since these border tribes were linked to the Romans by trade, it was thought that they would be reluctant to support any attack on Britannia. However, a rebellion in northern Britain in 117 prompted Emperor Hadrian to visit Britannia to see the situation for himself.

The great wall

He withdrew troops from northern Britain, and established a new fortified line stretching from Wallsend on the River Tyne to Bowness on the Solway Firth. Hadrian's Wall was a colossal engineering project, but when completed the line blocked any attempt by the northern Celts to raid into Britannia to the south. Today, the remains of the wall serve as a reminder of the engineering skill and military might of Rome.

Within 20 years policy changed, and again Romans reoccupied southern Scotland. This time, the legions established a new fortified line from the Forth to the Clyde. This turf-and-wood defense became known as the Antonine Wall, after Antonius Pius. The region remained volatile, and a scries of incursions over the Antonine Wall and rebellions in southern Scotland were a continual drain on Roman

Chapter 7

Enneagram Essentials

Enneagram Essentials

Tap into your inner power today. Discover The Untold Secrets Used By Experts To Tap Into The Power Of Your Inner Personality Help You Unleash Your Full Potential. Finally You Can Fully Equip Yourself With These “Must Have” Personality Finding Tools For Creating Your Ideal Lifestyle.

Get My Free Ebook

Post a comment