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Title: Revealed: Boudica's Treasures *DW Staff Aproved*
Channel Transmitted: Five / SBS
Date: 22 November 2005
Category: Documentary / Educational
Two pieces of what some say was Boudica's gold necklace have just been reunited at the British museum, inspiring a new dig to unearth Boudica's treasures. This third programme in Five's historical Revealed series follows this archaeological treasure hunt and tells the story of how Boudica took on Rome... and nearly won.
Boudica is the most famous queen that Britain never had. She almost altered the course of our history when, upon the death of her husband King Prasutagus, she led a vast tribal army against the invading Romans in 60AD. But what happened to her own tribe, the Iceni? Archaeologist Dr Neil Faulkner has spent the last decade trying to fill in the gaps in the story, and has been investigating a site in Norfolk which may well provide some important clues.
Two thousand years ago, Norfolk was the tribal homeland of the Iceni. Artefacts have been found all over the region, but one field in particular has yielded objects which convince Faulkner that the site was an important location. With the only written records of Boudica coming from Roman historians such as Tacitus and Cassius Dio, new archaeological findings could fill out the story.
Faulkner believes that the field may hold the answers to some crucial questions about Boudica, including what lay behind the sudden disappearance of the Iceni. The Iceni were a deeply mystical people, and buried valuable objects in the ground as offerings to the gods. This makes the entire region a treasure trove of Iron Age metalwork. At Faulkner's site, a part of a heavy necklace known as a torque was found, which turned out to fit another section found there 40 years ago. Torques were equivalent to crowns, displaying the wearer's importance; the fact that such an awesome example was found buried here indicates that the site could have been an important powerbase for the Iceni. Other intriguing treasures found there include a mysterious cowbone, which contained a hoard of gold coins, and a territ ring that came from a chariot.
Encouraged, Faulkner and excavation director David Thorpe decide to concentrate on some metal hot spots: areas of the site where important artefacts have already been discovered. The dig progresses when late Iron Age pottery shards are found, proving that the site was in use during Boudica's lifetime and during the period of Roman occupation. King Prasutagus was a "client king", who ruled with Roman supervision; when he died, he tried to leave half of his estate to his family. The Romans did not like this at all, and took the whole estate. Boudica was publicly flogged and her daughters raped.
This was the final straw for the Iceni, who had endured Roman oppression for too long. With the Romans bearing down on the druids, the unifying religious power for Britain's tribes, the scene was set for Boudica's forces to launch an assault against the oppressors.
Boudica's vast army razed Colchester and Londinium to the ground. At the site, shards of young lamb bones have been found, as well as what appears to be the hearth for a ritualistic fire. Could these have been used for thanksgiving offerings for the two astonishing victories?
However, despite outnumbering the Romans, Boudica's army was defeated in a bloody battle north-west of St Albans. A distraught Boudica later committed suicide, and the clash of civilisations was followed by a Roman onslaught against the tribal villages.
The Norfolk site has provided insights into how the Iceni lived, worshipped and died - and the fact that they could well have been the victims of ethnic cleansing at the hands of the Romans. Did the Iceni meet the same fate as the rest of Boudica's followers, and pay a terrible price for resistance? Whether this is true or not, Faulkner believes that one thing is certain: "Boudica's war had been a war to decide whether Britain would be Celtic or Roman. And, for better or for worse, it turned out to be Roman."
An archaeological treasure hunt is underway to find out more about Britain's most famous warrior queen, Boudica, and her tribe, the Iceni, who took on Rome in the first century AD. Boudica is the most famous queen that Britain never had. She almost altered the course of British history when, upon the death of her husband King Prasutagus, she led a vast tribal army against the invading Romans in 60AD. Archaeologist Dr Neil Faulkner has spent the last decade trying to fill in the gaps in the story, including what happened to the Iceni, and has been investigating a site in Norfolk. 2000 years ago, Norfolk was the tribal homeland of the Iceni. Artefacts have been found all over the region, but one field in particular has yielded some significant objects. (From the UK, in English) (Documentary) PG CC
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