I love a good story. In fact the word history is made up of the word story. I tend to prefer fact to fiction but sometimes through the course of time the two merge when we have little or no historical evidence and educational guesses fill in the gaps. This is the case with this article.
Today in 1988 archaeologists claim that they had found the grave of the warrior Queen Boadicea in the most extraordinary places imaginable, Kings Cross train station, London.
Before it became known as Kings Cross, the area was also known as Battle Bridge. Could this be the point in London where the Queen of the Iceni was defeated by the Romans in 60-1 CE?
The history of the rebellion is well known and in summary the Iceni were in agreement with the Romans under the leadership of Boadicea husband Pasutagus. He dies and Boadicea steps in and the Romans no longer keep their promise. Boadicea is flogged and her 2 daughters raped. Understandably Boadicea with the help of other Celtic tribes organise a revolt against the Romans. Their first target was Colchester a Roman strong hold in England. Next they went to what is now St Albans and much the same happened the town was destroyed by Boadicea and her warrior army.
Meanwhile the governor of Briain Gaisus Suetonius Palinus headed for Londinium in preparation of Boadicea’s arrival. Again the Iceni destroyed London (the area in the City not London as we know it today) but Suetonius was able to regroup and found 10,000 men to face the Celtics. The mighty Romans went on to win.
It is unclear as to what happened to Boadicea. She may have committed suicide in order to avoid being captured and face the consequences of loosing to Rome (much the way Cleopatra did) in Classical world Self murder was seen as an honourable way rather than the cowards way out. Alternatively Boadicea may have either been fatally injured or killed out right in the fighting.
The burial at Kings cross somewhere between platforms 8-10 (I know how Harry Potter!) a woman’s body was discovered the age of which suggests that it could be Boadicea. Unless the archaeologists found an Icenian coin in the grave, or grave goods inscribed we really could not be certain that the body buried is that of Boadicea. Another site also claims to be hers including Parsons Hills in Kings Norton.
Also to consider is the only sources we have for these events are Romans – the victors of the rebellion. The facts will certainly be biased towards Rome.
For me personally, I love Boadicea, she stood up for what she believed in despite the size and power of the Empire. She may not have won but she managed to scare nasty Nero in Rome who nearly abandoned Britain as the result of her earlier victories.
Do I think that it maybe her? My judgement is out, of course it could be her but with out the definitive archaeological evidence I can’t be swayed, I need more than the fact the place was called Battle Bridge before Kings Cross. However the conspiracy theories and debates over where she may or may not be buried keeps Boadicea in the public domain and for me that is important for she was a historical heroine in my book and should not be forgotten.