Venta Icenorum: Excavating Romans In Boudicca’s Lands

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Statue of Boudicca commissioned by Queen Victoria (Rixie / Adobe Stock)

Venta Icenorum: Excavating Romans In Boudicca’s Lands

Today the sleepy village of Caistor St Edmund in the country of Norfolk with its typical church spire and green, seems unremarkable but 2,000 years ago the terrain helped shaped the future of the whole of Britain. Just outside the village lies the ruins of Venta Icenorum, a Roman town whose name means the ‘marketplace of the Iceni’.’ The name was preserved in a third-century Roman document called the Antonine Itinerary, and Venta Icenorum was the site of a Roman settlement built at the heart of Iceni lands. The Iceni were an Iron Age tribe who meteorically rose to fame under their Queen Boudicca in 60-61 AD when they fought the might of invading Rome, badly bloodying her nose, before being killed en masse in a final desperate battle.

Main Roman cities and roads in Roman Britain, according to the "Antonine Itinerary" (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Boudicca’s Revolt

Boudicca's Revolt is one of Britain's most enduring historical stories and quickly became legend, and she was and remains a vivid symbol of British resistance against invading tyranny. Boudicca possibly began life as a Brigantian, but at some point she married the Iceni King Prasutagus. The Iceni ruled what is now the East Anglian county of Norfolk, and parts of Cambridgeshire, Suffolk and Lincolnshire. This was a marshy fenland, poor for growing crops so the Iceni focused their attention on metalwork and horsemanship, producing the earliest known British coins.

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