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Athena Review  Vol.1, No.1

Boudicca, Queen of the Iceni, led a revolt against the Roman

 military in AD 60-61

The Iceni were a Celtic tribe living in Norfolk and Suffolk in eastern Britain. Due to flourishing trade across the English Channel with the Roman empire, their merchants and rulers prospered, issuing their own coinage between about 65 BC and AD 61. Near the end of this period, following the Roman invasion of Britain under Claudius in AD 43, king Prasutagus  (AD 50-60) became a rich and powerful client of the Romans. After his death, however, the Roman administrators in Britain made the Iceni a subject population.

Fig.1: Iceni silver coin from hoard, AD 61 (photo: Athena Review).

Boudicca, widow of Prasutagus, now became queen of the Iceni. After she and her two daughters were subjected to grave humiliations by the Romans, she led a revolt of the Iceni and several other tribes which lasted for several months in 60-61. The Boudiccan forces burned and destoyed the three major towns of Londinium (London), Verulamium (St. Albans), and Camulodunum (Colchester), killing many thousands of citizens.

The revolt was eventually suppressed in AD 61 by the Roman military governor, Suetonius Paullinus.  The story is told in the Annals of Tacitus, written about AD 110-120. Tacitus had a special interest in Britain because his father-in-law, Agricola, became governor of the Province in AD 77-85 after a successful military campaign in Wales and the north.  This campaign, together with some details on the native Celtic tribes, is described in the book Agricola by Tacitus, written in AD 98.

The silver Iceni coin shown above was buried in a hoard along with hundreds of similar coins during the Boudiccan revolt. These were minted in great quantities in order to finance the rebellion. After their defeat in AD 61, the Iceni were resettled in a civitas capital at Caistor-by-Norwich (also called Caistor St.Edmunds), located along the River Tas.  The site may be visited today, along with related exhibits at the Norwich Museum.

Description by Tacitus of Boudicca's rebellion

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