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The Boudiccan Rebellion - Londiunium Falls

The rebels take Londinium

The route from Colchester to LondonThe Romans had never encountered such hated and ferocity in the Britons before. The governor and procurator were totally horrified at the intense nature of the Britons to the extent that Procurator Decianus fled at full speed back to Gaul. Paullinus in turn made for London, it seems, with a depleted unit of troops. He most likely expected at least a legion to be in London already, and to defending the town.

Then news reached him of the total annihilation of Cerialis' army. He thought again and decided that it was not such a good idea to meet this British advance with his current troop strength. So he retired and tried to regroup outside London.

Tacitus describes the events that followed :

He (Paulinus) decided to sacrifice the one town to save the general situation. Undeflected by the prayers and tears of those who begged for help, he gave the signal to move , and took into his column any who could join it. Those who were unfit for war because of their sex, or too aged to go, or too fond of the place to abandon it, were butchered by the enemy. A similar massacre took place at the city of Verulamium, for the barbarian British, happiest when looting, and unenthusiastic about real effort, bypassed the forts and garrisons, and headed for the places where they new the largest amounts of undefended booty lay. Something like 70,000 Roman citizens and other friends of Rome died in the places mentioned. The Britons took no prisoners, sold no captives as slaves, and went in for none of the usual trading for war. They wasted no time in getting down to the bloody business of hanging, burning and crucifying. It was if they feared that retribution might catch up with them while their vengeance was only half-complete.

Cassius Dio wrote:

Those who were taken captive by the Britons were subjected to every known outrage. The worst most bestial actrocity committed by their captors was the following. They hung up naked the noblest and most distinguished women and then cut off their breasts and sewed them to their mouths, in order to make the victims appear to be eating them. Afterwards they impaled the women on sharp skewers run lengthwise through their entire body.

Londinium was burned by a fire so hot that it melted the remains into a layer of red clay 10 inches thick in places, just fifteen feet below its modern streets.


About seventy thousand citizens and allies, it appeared, fell in the places which I have mentioned. For it was not on making prisoners and selling them, or on any of the barter of war, that the enemy was bent, but on slaughter, on the gibbet, the fire and the cross, like men soon about to pay the penalty, and meanwhile snatching an instant vengeance.

With Londinium totally destroyed, Boudicca turned to Verulamium (St. Albans) a town consisting wholly of British who were sympathetic to Roman rule.

Roman Londinium superimposed over modern London
Roman Londinium superimposed over modern London
Red = Roman London Blue = Reference points of modern London
Green = Known Roman road

Click on the map to see it on a larger scale
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The Boudiccan rebellion | The causes | Romans incite the Iceni | The Iceni reach Colchester
London falls | Verulamium is taken | The final battle
Events after the rebellion
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