Boudicca: Heroic Queen of Britannia
Discover the story of Britain’s iconic Queen Boudicca, whose valiant rebellion against Roman rule has symbolised British independence ever since. Tracing her footsteps we reveal outstanding ancient sites with a fascinating story to tell.
- Ancient Colchester, the oldest town in Britain.
- Roman Londinium, the hidden London.
- St. Albans and its famous Verulamium Park.
- Boudicca’s tribal capital at Caistor St. Edmund.
- Led by Roman expert Dr Simon Elliott.
See the ‘Itinerary’ tab above for full itinerary details.
The savage Boudiccan Rebellion is perhaps the most famous event in the story of Roman Britain. It almost ended Roman rule barely 20 years after the invasion, and it created a British folk heroine who has become one of the most iconic women in history.
Our tour is based for five nights in the ancient city of Colchester, from where leading Romanist and Boudiccan expert Dr Simon Elliott will track Boudicca’s entire campaign, bringing the terrifying rebellion to life with detailed insight and special access.
Boudicca was queen of the British Iceni tribe, whose territory stretched across much of eastern England. Her husband, Prasutagus, was a peaceful client-king of Rome who bequeathed his kingdom jointly to Rome and his two daughters. On his death, however, the Romans ignored his will and annexed his kingdom outright. The heavy-handedness and brutality of the Roman action enraged Boudicca, turning her from willing collaborator to implacable enemy, and igniting a flame of resentment that cost some 100,000 lives and left a trail of devastation which archaeologists call “Boudicca’s Layer”.
At the head of a large army of British tribespeople, Boudicca defeated an entire Roman legion and ruthlessly sacked three major cities; Colchester, London and St. Albans. The Roman province of Britannia was in deadly peril of collapsing, and was saved only by the great warrior governor Gaius Suetonius Paulinus who finally gained victory in one of the most important battles of British history.
Dates & Prices:
02 – 07 August 2021. Only £1095. Booking open.
Single supplement £250.
- Five nights 4-star hotel accommodation in Colchester.
- All breakfasts and two evening meals.
- Daily excursions with all transport, entrances and expert guiding.
Meals: We include a 3-course evening meal in the hotel’s acclaimed restaurant on the first and last evenings of the tour. Additional evening meals can be taken in the hotel but we leave these as optional so that you can make your own choices and perhaps enjoy some of the excellent local restaurants within easy walking distance of the hotel.
All of Hidden History’s tours include a host of fully guided excursions and interesting talks to create an enriching travel experience. They also include some luxury and leisure by choosing great hotels and keeping the itineraries fairly relaxed and varied. For more on what to expect click on the box below…
Your Tour Director
Dr Simon Elliott is an archaeologist and historian with a particular expertise in the Roman campaigns of conquest in Britain. He has written award winning and best selling books on the Roman world, and frequently appears on television and radio as an expert presenter. He is also an Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Kent, Trustee of the Council for British Archaeology, Ambassador for Museum of London Archaeology, and President of the Society of Ancients.
Whilst not especially demanding this tour does have plenty of walking and participants should have a good level of mobility. Walks are no more than a few kilometres overall in a day, and there are always frequent stops. The sites are mostly on level, well-made ground with few steps. Please feel free to ask us for more details.
Make your way to the ancient town of Colchester, known as the oldest town in Britain. See the ‘Location’ and ‘Hotel’ tabs above for more details.
More on what to expect
How To Book
Reservations & Enquiries: To reserve your place or enquire further simply enter your details in the form on this page, or call us on (UK) 0121 444 1854. There is no commitment and no payment at this stage; reservations are purely provisional until we have confirmed availability and proceeded with booking and payment.
Booking & Payment: Once you have checked availability and reserved your place, we will require your full details and a deposit of £100 per person to secure your booking. This can be done with a credit/debit card over the telephone (0121-444-1854) or by sending us a completed booking form and cheque. To print a booking form click here.
See our booking conditions for further details.
Click on the ‘Gallery’ tab above for more images of this tour.
- Departure Time02 August 2021
Day 1: Arrivals.
Make your way to the ancient town of Colchester and check-in at your centrally located 4-star hotel. Meet your tour director, Dr Simon Elliott, for a welcome talk followed by an included 3-course evening meal.
Day 2: Colchester.
We are ideally placed to begin our journey in Colchester (Camulodunum), which claims to be the oldest town in Britain. There was a large, late Iron Age oppidum here, which by the time of the Roman invasion in AD 43 was the most important tribal capital in southern England, and the main target of the invasion. It was here that Emperor Claudius received submission of the British kings.
A Roman legionary fortress was established, the first in Britain, and a few years later this was converted into a high status town for legionary veterans (Colonia Victricensis) which served as the provincial capital of Roman Britannia. This was attacked and destroyed during Boudicca’s rebellion in AD 61, after which the town was rebuilt and continued to grow, but lost its provincial capital status to London.
During our walking tour of Roman Camulodunum Dr Elliott will narrate the key elements of the story of the Boudiccan revolt, showing where the legionaries tried and failed to stop the Iceni Queen and her rebel army, and where even those seeking sanctuary in the Temple of Divine Claudius were not spared the queen’s wrath. The temple was the largest of its kind in Britannia, and Colchester boasts many other prime features from Roman Britain, including two of the country’s five Roman theatres, the only chariot-racing circuit yet found, the oldest Christian church and the earliest, best preserved and one of the longest Roman town walls.
Day 3: Caistor St Edmunds and Norwich.
Today we travel to the heart of the Boudiccan Revolt, in the present-day county of Norfolk, to explore the land of the Iceni tribe, the nature of pre-Roman settlement in the region, and how the arrival of Rome affected this. At Caistor St Edmund near Norwich we find Boudicca’s likely tribal capital which became the important Roman town of Venta Icenorum. Abandoned in the 8th century AD, it is one of only three Roman towns in Britain that were not built over in later centuries, and inside the surviving Roman town walls we can detect the urban layout in the ground. Dr Elliott will explain how the town, upriver of the then Great Estuary which ran through central East Anglia, later required the protection of two Saxon Shore forts at Caistor-on-Sea and Burgh Castle.
We then head into nearby Norwich, which succeeded Caistor St Edmund as the regional centre and is now one of Britain’s best preserved medieval cities. We focus on Norwich Castle and Museum with its fine collection of Late Iron Age and Roman artefacts from across the region. These are presented in such a way that they tell the story of the Iceni before, during and after the revolt, and then the subsequent Roman occupation of the region.
Day 4: Roman London.
After sacking Colchester, Boudicca headed for London (Londinium), which at that time was developing into a key trading post and crossing point over the River Thames, and was destined to succeed Colchester as the Roman capital. Our walking tour of the city’s ancient core, known as the Square Mile, reveals all of the key sites, starting at Tower Hill where we see the later Severan land wall which marked the eastern-most religious boundary (pomerium) of the city. Walking east to west through the centre we discover the Billingsgate Bathhouse, the basilica and forum beneath modern Leadenhall Market, the Mithraeum on the Walbrook, the Roman amphitheatre beneath the Guildhall Library, and finally the Museum of London with its fine displays of the excavated artefacts.
Day 5: St. Albans.
On our last day we follow the final route of Boudicca’s devastation across the country, along Roman Watling Street (today’s A5) to St. Albans, site of the final sacking of the revolt. Like Colchester, St. Albans had been a major Iron Age tribal centre before the Roman invasion, and after Boudicca’s sacking it steadily grew into one of the largest towns in Roman Britain.
We visit the famous Verulamium Park with its fine Roman museum, mosaics, hypocaust, town wall and unusual theatre. This was the location of the first martyrdom in Britain; that of Saint Alban, a Roman patrician beheaded here around AD 300. His grave became a place of pilgrimage, and the city adopted his name. The cathedral houses his shrine and boasts the longest nave in England, as well as a striking selection of medieval wall paintings, one of the most extensive collections surviving today.
Day 6: Departures.
Enjoy a leisurely breakfast before checking-out and making your way home.
By car, the town of Colchester is about 45-60 minutes drive north from London’s M25 orbital motorway, via either the A12 or the M11. By train, there are regular services to Colchester from London Liverpool St. Station, with a journey time of about 1 hour.
Use the + and – buttons on the map below to zoom in and out.
The Greyfriars Hotel
The Greyfriars Hotel is a destination in its own right. It is an exquisite, Michelin recommended, luxury hotel with 26 superbly appointed bedrooms, its own gardens, lounge bars and a highly recommended restaurant. It is perfectly located in the centre of Colchester’s Cultural Quarter and only a couple of minutes’ walk from the Town Centre.