Calleva seems to be an awfully interesting dig … last time we heard about it, it was about the ‘puppy skin’ trade. Now we hear of Boudicca’s possible involvement there:
Professor Michael Fulford said that 13 years of excavations at Calleva had revealed evidence of the first gridded Iron Age town in Britain.
The site also bears the scars of possible early Roman military occupation, and evidence of later, widespread burning and destruction.
This suggests the site could have been destroyed at the hands of Boudicca.
Queen Boudicca waged war against the Romans in Britain from 60 AD after the Romans decided to rule the Iceni directly and confiscated the property of the leading tribesmen.
Boudicca’s warriors successfully defeated the Roman Ninth Legion and destroyed the capital of Roman Britain, then at Colchester. They went on to destroy London and Verulamium (St Albans).
Thousands were killed. Finally, Boudicca was defeated by a Roman army led by Paulinus. Many Britons were killed and Boudicca is thought to have poisoned herself to avoid capture.
The site of the battle, and of Boudicca’s death, are unknown.
Professor Fulford said that in excavations at Silchester they had found evidence of a major military occupation at Calleva (now called Silchester) in 40 AD, then destruction between 60 and 80 AD, including wells that were filled in at this time and burned buildings.
“The settlement is completely wiped out somewhere between 60 AD and 80 AD, and it starts again in 70 AD,” he said.
Although Calleva is not mentioned in historical sources concerning Boudicca, it is known that she waged war at St Albans and London, just 50 mile away.
“Winchester became an important military location for the Romans and so was Silchester,” said Professor Fulford, urging more people interested in Roman history to learn about the site.
“There’s more to see at Silchester than there is at Winchester.”
The University of Reading’s Department of Archaeology has been excavating and researching a central area of Calleva Atrebatum (Silchester) since 1997.
FWIW, one of the proposed sites (which has been in the news) for Boudicca’s final battle is Rugby …
More previous coverage:
- Rethinking Calleva Atrebatum (October, 2007)