The British warrior queen of the Iceni tribe that led a bloody revolt against the Roman occupying forces in the year 60 AD, that almost succeeded in expelling the Romans from the island.

Boudicca is simply the name given to her by the Roman historian Tacitus, although to Dio Cassius she was Buduica. Whether Boudicca or Buduica it would have been the Latinized version of her Brythonic Celtic name, and the convention has since been adopted that this would probably have been something similar to the name under which she is known to present day Welsh, that is Byddyg or literally 'Victory'.

Which raises the possibility that it was not her name at all, but either an honorific title or simply a misunderstanding by the Romans. It is not difficult to imagine the assembled British tribes chanting "Victory, Victory" before battle as their queen rode before them on her war chariot whilst the watching Romans simply got the wrong end of the stick.

Subsequent English historians have often anglicised the name to Boudicea or sometimes Boadicea, but Tacitus' Boudicca seems to be the accepted modern standard.

She was obviously an imposing woman of great personal charisma, Dio Cassius describes her as, "a British woman of the royal family and possessed of greater intelligence than often belongs to women". He also provided the only physical description we have of her when he wrote,

In stature she was very tall, in appearance most terrifying, in the glance of her eye most fierce, and her voice was harsh; a great mass of the tawniest hair fell to her hips; around her neck was a large golden necklace; and she wore a tunic of diverse colours over which a thick mantle was fastened with a brooch.

The Boudiccan Revolt that she inspired and led was ultimately unsuccessful, ending as it did with the bloody massacre of the British tribes on the battlefield, as well as her own death (whether by her own hand or not) and as Dio Cassius "The British mourned her deeply and gave her a costly burial".

Boudicca has always retained a certain symbolic significance as the epitome of the 'strong woman' and she is often cited as almost a role model when discussing more modern examples such as Elizabeth I or even dear Margaret Thatcher.


Peter Salway Roman Britain(OUP, 1991)
Tacitus Annals 14 chapters 29 to 38 from
Dio Casius Roman History from Cassius_Dio/home.htm