Posts Tagged ‘London statues’

London — By Andrea Kirkby on August 4, 2009 at 5:22 am
Filed under: boadicea, boudicca, History & Information, iceni, London statues, roman london, statues

London Statues: Boadicea, or Boudicca, Queen of the Iceni

This is in some ways a shocking statue to find in London. We don’t have a statue to other invaders, or a statue to the Luftwaffe. And Boadicea set out to destroy London completely – having already burned Colchester to the ground. (It was called Camulodunum in those days.)

Roman governor Gaius Suetonius Paulinus, finding London impossible to fortify against Boadicea’s Iceni, deserted it with his troops. It was burned. (Archaeologists have found a thick layer of burnt debris everywhere on the site of Roman London. ) The inhabitants were massacred. Boadicea then went on to take Verulamium (modern St Albans).

Not an edifying tale – a British war criminal. But in Queen Victoria’s day, Boadicea came to be seen as a freedom fighter against the wicked, decadent power of Rome – and as a forerunner of the Queen, a great British female ruler. Tennyson wrote about her, and a statue was commissioned from Sir Thomas Thornycroft. It stands in one of the most prominent positions in London – opposite the Houses of Parliament.

Thornycroft worked on the statue from 1856 till 1885, but it was brought to its current site at the beginning of the twentieth century.

Notice the vicious scythes attached to the chariot wheels, by the way. They would have cut down Boadicea’s opponents in battle… well, that’s what I was told as a child. But in fact, archaeologists reckon this is just a myth. She’s more likely to have had go-faster stripes, furry dice and a pink nodding dog on the back axle.

Where: Westminster Embankment (map)

Photo by Paulo Ordovesa on flickr

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