Queen Boudica And The Iceni

Where I live now in the county of Norfolk, eastern England, was once home to a tribal people called the Iceni. They extended south into modern-day Suffolk, and west as far as what we now call Cambridgeshire. They were one of the original Brittonic peoples.

At the time of the Roman Invasion, they had been well-established and powerful since the early Iron Age. They had a social structure, a royal hierachy, and issued coinage that could be used in the territory they controlled.

Most lived in fortified villages, in large houses made of rendered mud with thatched roofs. (Replica of an Iceni village)

After the Roman conquest was completed by Emperor Claudius in AD43, the Iceni allied with the invaders, and that decision allowed them to expand, as well as becoming wealthier and more influential. However, the Romans constantly sought to integrate the Iceni into Roman society, and after the death of her husband in AD60, the new Queen of the Iceni, Boudica, began a revolt against the Roman occupiers. For over a year, her large army of over 30,000 untrained warriors, led by her riding in a chariot, defeated many Roman armies sent against it, and managed to travel south as far as the Roman city of Londinium, (London) which was looted and burned.

On the way to London, her army attacked the Roman city of Camulodonum (modern day Colchester) killing every single person inside, then went on to defeat a Roman force of 2,000 professional soldiers of the 9th legion that had just arrived outside that city.

Once in Londinium, the Iceni spared nobody in the Romanized capital. Contemporary reports put the death toll at close to 70,000 soldiers and citizens. Things were looking so bad for the Romans, the Emperor seriously considered abandoning Britain entirely, and returning all his soldiers and citizens to Rome.

However, Roman General Gaius Suetonius Paulinus returned with his army from a campaign in Wales, determined to crush the Iceni rebellion. Joined by other British tribes, Boudica took an army estimated to be almost 80,000 strong, and set off to meet the approaching Romans. Somewhere in modern-day Shropshire, on the old Roman road named Watling Street, the armies clashed in AD61.

Despite his force being heavily outnumbered, Suetonius had 10,000 well trained and battle-hardened soldiers under his command who could be relied upon to fight in formation, and obey every order.

By contrast, Boudica’s huge force was relatively untrained, poorly equipped, and had just travelled a long way on foot, living off the land. They attacked the Roman army in a disorganised fashion, and were easliy beaten, with most of their number being killed. It was said that Boudica took poison when she realised they would be defeated, rather than face capture, and the shame of slavery.

Boudica (also called Boadicea) is commemorated by this statue, on the north side of Westminster Bridge in London.

She is known to history as ‘The Warrior Queen’ of England.

Historical Norfolk In Photos

Closer to home for me these days, some great history can be seen in the county that contains Beetley.

Kings Lynn.
During the 14th century, this West Norfolk town was the most important port in all of England. Some of the historic dockside has been resored.

Central Norwich.
The old part of the city has remained the same since the Elizabethan age. These photos are modern, it still looks the same today.

Bickling Hall.
The stately home where Anne Boleyn was born in 1501. The house as it is shown here was mainly built in 1616, by Sir Henry Hobart. It is now managed by The National Trust, and open to visitors.

Oxburgh Hall.
A moated country house, built by in 1482 by Sir Edmund Bedingfield, and later crenellated. He was a supporter of the Yorkists during the Wars of The Roses. Now managed by The National Trust, and open to visitors.

St Benet’s Abbey.
Close to the east coast near Great Yarmouth, this dates from 1022, at the time of King Harold Godwinson who was killed in 1066 at The Battle of Hastings. Sir John Fastoff (Shakespeare’s Falstaff) was buried here.

Neolithic Europe And Beyond

The Neolithic period dates from 10,000 BC until 4,500 BC. It began 12,022 years ago, long before Ancient Egypt, Ancient Greece, Ancient Rome, or the Mayan and Aztec civilisations in the Americas. Given those dates, it is easy to imagine that you would find little trace of Neolithic settlements and buildings today. But nothing could be further from the truth, thanks to the work of archaeologists.

Stonehenge. One of the best-known examples of a stone temple, situated in the south-west of England.
It was built around 5,000 years ago, so is ‘Late Neolithic’.

A Dolmen, or burial tomb. This one is in Italy.

The oldest religious structure known so far. Built in 10,000 BC. It is in Anatolia, Turkey.

Temples on the Island of Malta. Over 6,000 years old, so older than the Pyramids in Egypt.

A farmstead on a Scottish Island. This is dated from 3,500 BC, so is 5,500 years old.

The entrance to a 5,000 year old burial tomb in Denmark. Forty bodies were found inside a huge mound.

Last but not least, the remains of the original walls of Jericho, in Palestine. They are estimated to be 12,000 years old.

New Beginnings?

Tomorrow sees the swearing-in of a new President of The United States. Even allowing for the issues surrounding the recent protest in Washington D.C. and the risk of more disturbances during the inauguration, that must feel like a new beginning to most of my American blogging friends. (I know there are some who are not that happy about it.)

I don’t live in America, as you know, and I have never even visted that country. But everyone in the world lives under the influence of America in one way or another, like it or not. So I would like to see the USA heal its divisions, take care of its poor and unemployed, provide better healthcare systems, and try to do something to stop the constant shootings that happen there.

It would also be nice if they stopped using military solutions to try to solve problems in other countries, and to forge good working relationships with countries that they currently see as enemies.

Is any of the above possible? Well anything is possible, but it remains to be seen if it happens. Whatever the Biden and Harris team manages to achieve, one thing is sure. They are not Trump and Pence, so that gives them a head start as far as the rest of the world is concerned.

Could the worldwide vaccination programmes herald a new beginning too? Or more like a return to how things were. We can only hope so. But it is going to be a long time before we find out. Even in Britain with its relatively small population, it will be October before all the people over the age of eighteen have been vaccinated. Then there will be those who decline any vaccine, and cannot be compelled to have it. They will potentially remain a danger to the rest of us.

As it stands, I cannot see that 2021 will bring universal heath care in America, or that I will be able to enter a shop of any kind in England without wearing a mask.

But I live in hope.

Walking Away From The Weather

I left in bright sunshine with Ollie for our walk earlier. It had been grey and dismal when I got up this morning, so I thought to take an umbrella, just in case.

Sure enough, I hadn’t got 500 yards before the heavens opened in a torrential downpour. In the distance, I could see blue skies and no clouds at all, so I headed in search of that spot, which I guessed was around two miles south of Beetley. I had some idea I could walk away from the weather here. But like the proverbial distant mountain, it was a lot further away than it looked, and after an hour of walking, the rain had worn us down.

Even with an umbrella up, my clothes were soaked through, and the water was running off my saturated shorts down into the tops of the wellington boots I was wearing because of the mud. Ollie’s brown fur was so wet, it looked black, and he didn’t seem very excited about being out at all. I turned back in the direction of Beetley Meadows as the rain started to get even heavier, and I didn’t look over my shoulder at that blue cloudless sky that was mocking me.

By the time we got close to home, Ollie was already heading for the exit to the Meadows, head down, and not interested in walking in the rain any longer. Even using all three of his dog towels, I couldn’t get him completely dry, and my shorts are in the airing cupbard, drying slowly with the heat from the hot water tank. I came into the office to check the date on my calendar.
Yes, it is the 10th of July.

England, in the height of summer.

A Change In The Weather

Can it be only last week that I was writing about hot summer days and uncomfortable sultry nights, sleeping with a fan whirring in the room?

The wind changed on Saturday, and the weather with it. In the course of one day, it went from 32 C to 18 C in Beetley, and the sunshine was replaced by looming clouds and blustery winds. By two in the afternoon, it was dark enough in the house to have to use lights in some rooms, and by eight at night cold enough to require wearing something warm on top.

That has continued since, with rare breaks in the clouds giving some idea of the summer they are concealing from us. Of course, June temperatures of 18-20 C are normal here. It’s just that after the three-day heatwave, they seem rather cold now, and the skies are looking bleak.

It taught me once again just how soon we can become used to something, and just as rapidly miss it when it has gone.

McDonald’s: The Last Bastion Falls

Rutland is the smallest county in England. Only 17 miles long by 18 miles wide, it is land-locked, and has a population of less than 40,000.

It has just two towns of any size, Oakham and Uppingham. The most significant feature of the county is a huge artificial lake, Rutland Water. This is a nature reserve, and an important site for wildlife, especially breeding birds.

But Rutland is also famous for something else. It is the ONLY county in England that does not have a McDonald’s restaurant. The attractive historical streets of Oakham and Uppinham do offer a selection of cafes and restaurants, as well as many privately-owned traditional shops. But no fast-food outlets have ever been allowed to spoil the area.

That might all change, at a local Council meeting this evening. On a site just outside the town of Oakham, the burger giant has requested planning permission to build a 24-hour drive through restaurant. One of the larger types that have been seen here over the past couple of years. The benefits to the community are more than being able to buy some chicken nuggets at two in the morning. In an area of high unemployment, sixty new jobs will be generated, and valuable taxes paid into the local economy by the American company too.

Poorer families in the area will be able to take advantage of ‘meal deals’ and cheaper fast food, without having to drive into neighbouring counties to do so.

The population of Rutland appears to be divided by the issue. Existing cafes and restaurants will undoubtedly suffer, especially in the long term. Rubbish will be generated by thoughtless customers flinging it from car windows, or dumping it around the town. And it is inevitable that other jobs will be lost in eating establishments that cannot compete with the popularity of McDonald’s.

As I type this, it seems likely that the Town Council will approve the application tonight, and building will start. I would not deny that the town needs jobs, or that people should be able to buy a Big Mac if they want one.

But I am sad. Sad that the smallest county in my country, the only one to have never approved a McDonald’s, has finally succumbed to globalisation.

Beetley

Someone recently mentioned that they had only just realised that Beetley was a place, rather than a strange name I had invented for this blog. I have posted photos of Beetley before, and written about this small place too. But for the benefit of those of you new to my blog, here are some more, to give you some idea of this rural location in Eastern England.

Beetley is in the centre of Norfolk, one of the most easterly counties in England.

As well as pig farming, the growing of oil seed rape is popular, and the yellow flowers can be seen all around here in the fields.

The nearest church is the old Methodist church, and as you can see, it is very small.

Old Beetley is now part of the larger village, but retains its own identity.

The opening of a new Scout Hut is big news around here!

At the end of my street is the Gressenhall Museum. It is housed in a former Workhouse, built in the 1830s. It features exhibits about life at the time, as well as having a working farm.
https://www.museums.norfolk.gov.uk/gressenhall-farm-and-workhouse

As you can see, it is a real place, albeit a very small one.

Not exactly a tourist destination, but if you are ever in the area, I will be happy to show you around. 🙂

https://beetleypete.com/2012/08/16/beetley-village/

https://beetleypete.com/2016/01/30/a-bright-afternoon-in-beetley/

1928: A Very Different England

(Photos can be enlarged, by clicking on them)

Ten years after the end of WW1, England was a very different place to the country we know today. The photo above shows two girls working in hay fields in Lancashire.

Trafalgar Square, London. Double-decker buses look very different, in 2019. And there are more cars and motorcycles these days too.

The arrival of the RMS Mauretania in Southampton. State-of-the-art luxury sea-travel.

Buying an ice cream, in Cornwall. That hasn’t changed so much, as Kelly’s ice cream is still sold now. The ladies’ fashions are delightful indeed.
I missed my ‘era’.

The iconic red telephone kiosk, and red post box. These are in Oxford, and many are still around today of course.

A look into the past, eleven years before WW2 changed so much here.

Just another ‘Day’

Today is the national day of England, and of our patron saint, St George. It is not a public holiday, and hardly gets noticed, or mentioned. Lost in a sea of days that are better celebrated, like ‘Stroke your cat day’, ‘Eat a doughnut day’, or ‘Arabic transgender literature day’, that’s understandable.

Think of something, and there’s a day for it. Social Media is awash with ‘Days’, but the national day of England avoids the limelight. Irish people everywhere anticipate St Patrick’s Day with relish, and in America, The Fourth of July is the biggest day of the year. However, in England, our ‘stiff upper lips’ prevent us from making a show, letting off fireworks, or dyeing our beer red and white.

So for those of you who didn’t know, and for the few that think it still has any traditional relevance.

HAPPY ST GEORGE’S DAY!

FLAG