New Historian

New Research Describes Roman Fort Built After Boudican Revolt

Queen Boudica (2)

<![CDATA[Archaeological excavations at Plantation Place in London, England, have exposed the remains of a previously unknown fort that researchers believe was the Romans' answer to the 60 CE – 61 CE revolt led by Boudica, the Queen of Iceni. The uprising completely destroyed the 20-year-old settlement of Londinium, as London was known at the time. Located on Fenchurch Street, the earthwork and timber fort was a formidable structure which originally covered 3.7 acres. It was fortified with high banks (3 meters) that were reinforced with timbers and faced by a timber wall. Along the top of the banks the Romans constructed a fighting platform which abutted a gigantic palisade, with towers situated at the entrances. Additionally, the fort was encircled by two separate ditches, one 3 meters deep and the other almost two meters deep. These features served as an impressive obstacle for any attackers. The fort was only in active use for 10 years, and was likely constructed as an emergency measure to secure London, an important Roman trading post. This is supported by evidence showing that tents were used as barracks, as opposed to permanent structures. A fort this size would have accommodated 500 men easily but could have been erected in as little as three weeks. Experts in construction, the Roman army sourced the materials they needed locally and even utilized debris from the buildings burnt down during the uprising. Inside the walls of the fort, archaeologists have found evidence of roads alongside administration and storage facilities, a cookhouse, granary and latrine. Fragments of armor, a helmet, a hammer and pick axe have also been unearthed. Positioned to overlook the primary road from London Bridge into London, as well as the river, the structure would have dominated the landscape of the town. In 120 CE, the considerably larger Cripplegate Fort was built, followed by the erection of a substantial wall encompassing the town during the third century. No evidence of any earlier military structures built during the intervening periods has been discovered to date. Boudica was the queen of the Celtic Iceni tribe, and following the death of her husband and the loss of her property, she led them and other tribes (approximately 100,000 men) in a revolt against the Romans. They first destroyed Camulodunum (Colchester today), and then turned towards Londinium. Lacking sufficient men to defend the city, the Romans evacuated and left Londinium abandoned to be razed by the rebels. The town of Verulamium (St Albans today) met the same fate. Approximately 70,000–80,000 British and Romans were killed in these three cities. The Romans eventually regrouped and ultimately defeated the Britons in what became known as the Battle of Watling Street. Boudica either killed herself in order to avoid capture, or died from an illness. The complete research has been published by the Museum of London Archeology under the title, An Early Roman Fort and Urban Development on Londinium’s Eastern Hill. ]]>

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