• Why did the British rebel?

    By AD 61, the Romans were in control of southern Britain. Then they faced their most serious problem to date - rebellion!

    It began while the Roman governor Paulinus (the soldier in charge of Roman Britain) was away in North Wales. He had led the Roman army and got rid of the Druids, the priests of the old Celtic religion.

    The trouble started in East Anglia. The Iceni tribe lived there and Prasutagus, the king, was a friend of the Romans. When he died, he left half his kingdom to the Roman emperor, and half to his wife, Queen Boudicca. The Romans wanted it all. They also wanted extra taxes and they wanted Boudicca to give up her throne.

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  • How did the Romans get it wrong?

    The Romans treated Boudicca and her daughters very badly. They took land and farm animals away from the Iceni. The Iceni became very angry, and decided to fight back! The Romans ran away. Warriors from other tribes came to join Boudicca and her Iceni army.

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  • Which Roman towns were burned?

    The Britons marched to Camulodunum (Colchester), the capital of Roman Britain. Boudicca's warriors attacked the town. They burned the new Roman temple, where Roman soldiers and their families had taken shelter.

    Next Boudicca led her army towards Londinium (London). The Romans had made London an important town and port. By now, news of the rebellion had spread. The Roman governor, Paulinus, dashed from Wales to London, but he did not have enough soldiers to fight Boudicca. He left London, taking his soldiers with him. Many people fled the city. The Iceni burned London and killed hundreds of people, both Britons and Romans.

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  • What did the Roman Army do?

    Boudicca turned north to attack another Roman town, Verulamium (St Albans). Paulinus was in the Midlands, preparing for battle. He called for more soldiers. Part of the Roman army was at Exeter, but its commander refused to come. Paulinus had to make do with what he could muster - perhaps 10,000 men.

    Boudicca may have had ten times more soldiers than the Romans, but the Romans were well trained. There was a great battle. The only reports of it come from Roman writers, such as Tacitus. Tacitus says most of the Britons were killed. Rather than be captured, Boudicca drank poison to kill herself. The Romans had won.

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  • What happened after the rebellion?

    After Boudicca's rebellion, people in southern Britain settled down to live under Roman rule. Many Britons enjoyed living in Roman-style towns with baths and shops. Some spoke and wrote in Latin (the Roman language), and wore Roman fashions. Tacitus thought these luxuries were making the people of Britain weak.

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Fun Facts
  • In a London river, archaeologists found the skulls of people possibly killed by Boudicca's army.

  • A red-ash layer in the soil shows how hot the fire was when Roman London burned.

  • Boudicca rode in a horse-drawn chariot. Romans said she sliced the heads off her enemies, as she charged into battle.

  • A modern myth says that Boudicca's body is buried under platform 9 at King's Cross Station in London.

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Jump to: A-D | E-G | H-L | M-O | P-Z

A to D

Acropolis [a-CROP-olis]
The Acropolis is a large hill in the centre of Athens. On top of it were many temples and other buildings, the remains of which can be seen today.
A place like a stadium, where Romans went to watch animals and people fighting.
A system of pipes and channels used to bring water into towns.
archaeological site
A place such as a ruined fort studied by archaeologists.
People who study the past by looking at old things, often found underground.
Studying the past by looking at old things, often found underground.
Aristophanes [aris-TOF-a-neez]
Lived in Athens in the 5th century BC. He wrote comedies for the theatre in Athens.
Aspasia [as-PAY-zia]
Was a woman to taught public speaking in Athens. She was the partner of the famous general Perikles. Aspasia had much more independence than most women in Athens.
A person who lived outside the Roman Empire, seen by Romans as violent and uncivilized.
A large building where town business was carried out (like a modern Town Hall).
The Assembly was the public meeting of the giovernment of the city. All citizens could take part and vote there.
The patron goddess of Athens. A huge statue of Athena stood outside the Parthenon.
Attica [A-tik-a]
The region around Athens.
aulos [OW-los]
A wind instrument with a reed similar to a modern oboe.
capital city
Main city of a country, the centre of government.
A machine that threw rocks or burning tar at the enemies. In Latin it was called an onager.
Soldiers who fight on horseback.
Cart with two wheels pulled by horses. Romans raced chariots, and Celtic warriors rode into battle on them.
People who lived in Europe, including Britain, and who fought the Romans.
An officer commanding about 80 legionaries.
Person with special rights such as the right to vote and own property in the Roman Empire. Only men could be full Roman citizens.
There were ten cohorts in a legion.
Weapon like a bow and arrow, only the string is pulled back by turning a handle and the bow is fired by releasing a trigger. In Latin it was called a ballista
The priests of the old Celtic religion.

E to G

Process where people vote to choose the people they want to be in charge.
A large area with many people ruled by one strong leader, called an emperor.
An open space in the middle of a town for markets and meeting people (like a market square). It was the centre of Roman town life.
A building with walls to keep out enemies, used by soldiers.
Firm base for a road or building.
leader of an army, the soldier giving the orders to everyone else.
A person trained to fight other gladiators or animals in amphitheatres.
The ruler of Roman Britain, who worked for the Roman Emperor.

H to L

Roman central heating. Hot air from a furnace (fire) flowed through gaps between walls and flooring
The language spoken and written by the Romans.
The officer commanding a whole legion.
The main battle unit of the Roman army, its soldiers were called legionaries. There were between 4,000 and 6,000 legionaries in a legion.
A story made up about people in the past

M to O

A pattern made from coloured pieces of stones and pottery.
A made-up story, often about gods and spirits, told to explain things such as why the sun rises and sets every day.

P to Z

Money paid to a retired worker or soldier.
people who lived in Scotland
A country without a king, queen or emperor. The Roman republic was ruled by the elected Senate. Most countries today are republics.
Something that is believed to be holy and to have a special connection with a god or gods.
Roman book, written on a long strip of paper rolled around a stick.
The Roman government, made up of senators.
A person elected to the Roman Senate who helped run the government. Some countries today, like the U.S.A., have senators.
Dirty water and toilet waste which flows into sewers from drains and toilets.
Pipes or tunnels that carry away sewage.
Someone who can be sold to another person to work for nothing. A slave is not free and has no rights.
Weapon for throwing stones, made from a long strip of leather and whirled around by the thrower.
Roman army emblem, a pole with special decorations (such as a metal eagle) carried by a soldier. Each legion had its own standards.
the metal holder for a rider's foot. Attached to a horse's saddle by a leather strap.
A metal object used in Roman baths to scrape sweat, dirt and excess oil off.
A metal pen for scratching words into soft wax on wooden tablets.
Money or items taken by the government from people, to pay for things like the army, wars, emperor's palaces and building roads.
Thatched roofs
Roofs of buildings made from bundles of straw or reeds.
Machine like a big wheel inside which slaves walked round, to turn the machine.
A group of people who live in one part of a country and are ruled by a chief.
A teacher who gives lessons to a student at home.
A gloomy place where Romans believed your soul went after you died.
A large house in the country. Some Roman villas were farmhouses and some were like palaces.
A trained soldier, someone used to fighting in wars.
A ring or crown made of leaves or flowers.