Boudica

Find evidence of Boudica (Boadicea, Boudicea, Boudicca) and her revolt against the Romans on a visit to Colchester. The capital of Roman Britain at the time, Colchester was burnt to the ground by Boudica’s Celtic Revolt, and this fascinating part of history is deeply marked in many of the places you can visit today.

Who was Boudica?

A famous character of Britain’s past, Boudica, the red-haired warrior, was queen of the Iceni, a Celtic tribe based in Norfolk at the time of Roman occupation of Britain. Colchester was the capital of the Roman settlement, named Camulodunum, or Colonia Claudia, after Roman emperor Claudius conquered the local Trinovantes Celtic tribe.

What happened when Boudica revolted?

A Celtic uprising led by Boudica marched to Colchester, sacking the Roman temple of Claudius, and burning the town to the ground. The Celts then marched to Londinium, and burned London to the ground.

What can you see of Boudica’s legacy today?

Did Boudicca win? Did Boudica burn London? What happened to Boudica? Can you see Roman treasure? On a visit to Colchester you can discover the answers as well as many artefacts related to this fascinating period of Roman Britain:

The Fenwick hoard

As Boudica’s army burnt Roman Colchester to the ground, a Roman family’s most treasured possessions were buried beneath what is now Williams & Griffin department store in Colchester Town Centre. This treasure of jewellery, coins and personal possessions is a spectacular survival of this period of Colchester’s past, and can be seen on a trip to Colchester Castle Museum.
From Camulodunum to Colchester

The Roman Wall

Sack of Roman Temple, painting by Peter Froste
Sack of the Roman Temple during the Boudican Revolt, artistic depiction.
Although Colchester has an original Roman entrance gate (Balkerne Gate) built before Emperor Claudius entered the town, the Roman Walls which still stand today were built after the Boudican uprising, to fortify the town against future attacks. Now integrated into much of the town’s architecture and activity, it is an impressive historic site to visit.

Colchester Castle Museum – Temple of Claudius

Colchester Castle was built by William the Conqueror in 1076 on the foundations of the ruins of the Temple of Claudius, which never fully recovered from the sacking laid by Boudica’s army. Today you can still see the remains of part of the Roman temple on a guided tour of Colchester Castle Museum.
Reproduction of Gosbecks Archaeological Park
Gosbecks - Artistic Depiction

The Boudican Layer

Roman Theatre Excavations and model
Visit the remains of the Roman Theatre on a Guided Tour
Also on display in Colchester Castle Museum are many Roman and Celtic artefacts and fascinating exhibitions offering interactive information for all ages. Of particular importance to Colchester’s archaeologists is the so-called “Boudican Layer” – an archaeological layer beneath Colchester which can be identified as the time when Boudica burnt the town to the ground. Many items of this layer are on display in Colchester Castle Museum – including burnt figs which have survived the years!

Roman Circus

The Colchester Roman Circus is the only known Roman chariot-racing track in Great Britain. Running a quarter of a mile, this would have been an impressive arena used for horse racing and entertainment, and could probably have hosted 15000 spectators. Archaeologists have set up a museum on the site of the excavations of the starting gate, which you can visit to discover the Roman Circus’ unique place in British archaeology.

Roman Theatre

Colchester was home to two of only 5 known theatres in Roman Britain. You can visit the excavations of one of these theatres on a guided tour of Colchester, and imagine the way Roman Colchester would have looked before it was destroyed by Boudica’s revolt.

Statue of Boudica – North Station

There is a famous statue of Boudica and her daughters riding a chariot, standing near Westminster Bridge in London, an impressive piece of art which captures the imagination. Colchester has its own cast aluminium statue of Colchester standing just outside Colchester Station, erected in 1999 in by artist Jonathan Clarke.
Colchester Castle Museum

Colchester Castle Museum

Colchester

Colchester Castle is the largest Norman Keep in Europe. Constructed on the foundations of the Temple of Claudius. The Castle Museum today reveals many fascinating layers of history to visitors.

Roman Circus Peter Froste CAT

Colchester Roman circus centre

Colchester

The Colchester Roman circus (chariot-racing arena) was discovered in 2005. It was built in the early 2nd century AD and seems to have been in use for about 150 years. It is the only known Roman circus in Britain.

Roman Theatre

Roman Theatre

Colchester

The remains of the Roman theatre in the town centre can best be seen in Maidenburgh Street in the Dutch Quarter. Look for the darker paving in the road showing the outline of the theatre's walls.

Balkerne Gate

Roman Wall/Guard Room/Triumphal Arch

Colchester

Colchester's Roman Wall is the oldest and longest surviving town wall in Britain.

Gosbecks Archaeological Park Map

Gosbecks Archaeological Park

Colchester

The Archaeological Park is one of the most significant Iron Age and Roman sites in the country. Enjoy a walk and discover the highlights of the site with the interpretation boards around the Park.

Roman Church

Roman Church

Colchester

Dating from the 4th century AD the foundations of this church near the Police Station just off the Maldon Road roundabout is probably the earliest known Christian church in Britain.