A history of Halesworth, Suffolk, UK, through the ages.


Volume 1

east anglia

Boudicca's Revolt of 61 AD

When Prasutagus, the king of the Iceni died in the winter of 60 - 61 AD trouble broke out over the succession of his wife Queen Boudicca to his title, when the Roman army, in trying the quell it, ill-treated Boudicca and abused her two daughters. Boudicca was not a woman to take this lightly, for a contemporary description of her says :-

'She was huge of frame, terrifying of aspect, and with a harsh voice. A great mass of bright red hair fell to her knees... she grasped a spear, to strike fear into all who watched her …'

A full rebellion against the Romans broke out, involving the neighbouring tribes who together went on a rampage, sacking Colchester after which Boudicca led her troops down to St.Albans until checked by the Roman IX Legion who held them back while awaiting further Roman troops to quell the revolt. These did not appear, so the Romans, under the command of Suetonius engaged the rebels in battle, traditionally at Epping Forest, Essex. They were badly outnumbered but managed to fling back wave after wave of angry tribesmen. Finally the Roman discipline won the day, and the Iceni were beaten and slaughtered as the Romans drove through their ranks. Seeing the disaster around her, Boudicca poisoned herself, and the defeated Iceni troops fled northwards into East Anglia. After Boudicca's revolt was routed, there was no more trouble in East Anglia to trouble the Roman authorities.

By the end of the 1st century AD, Rome was fully in control, and the major roads had been built. An important route was constructed about 70 AD from Camulodunum (Colchester) to the new capital of the Iceni lands at Caister St. Edmund, Norfolk, known as Venta Icenorum. This town was built on a site which is just south of Norwich, Norfolk, and by 125 AD it was a rich city, able to build a stone forum, a basilica and bathhouse. Later two temples were built and a third one in 200 AD.

At Combretovium, - Coddenham, Suffolk, there was an important cross-roads settlement on the Colchester to Caistor Road (now the A 140) and from this a Roman branch road led north-east to Peasenhall (now the A1120) to a villaqe about seven miles south west of Halesworth. This Roman road originally seems to have converged with another Roman road from Caistor St.Edmunds which passes through Bungay to Halesworth (now the A 144), known as Stone Street, which probably met at Dunwich. Sections of the straighter parts, of both the A1120 and the A144, are clearly of Roman origin, and can be traced on modern maps.


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