Here’s a story of bravery and battle, which took place right here in Norfolk thousands of years ago!
Image: public footpath sign for the Boudicca Way
Way back when - in 43AD - the Romans swooped into England to occupy the south. They let the current ruler of the Icenis, Prasutagus, continue to rule the Iceni tribe in the East of Anglia – assumedly for an easy life - but when Prasutagus died (around 60AD) the Romans decided to take rule of Iceni themselves. They took away a lot of the tribe’s property and, when Prasutagus’s wife Boudicca objected, they flogged her and raped her daughters.
Image: an illustration of Boudicca - credit BBC
Understandably, this truly horrendous (but sadly quite widespread at the time, during war) behaviour did not help with public relations between the Icenis and the Romans, and in AD 60 or 61 Boudicca and the Icenis rebelled, taking advantage of the fact that the Roman governor Gaius Suetonius was sort of ‘out of the way’, as he was leading a campaign in North Wales at the time. This dissent was not confined just to the Icenis – Boudicca and her people had support from other tribes, too, who also joined Boudicca’s fighters in the rebellion against the Romans. As a collective they defeated the Roman Ninth Legion, in turn burning and destroying what is today Colchester (this was, at the time, called Camulodunum - the capital of Roman Britain) as well as Londonium (you guessed it – today known as London) and Verulamium – which is today St Albans.
Eventually the dissenters were defeated by a Roman army. Boudicca was thought to have killed herself (using poison) to avoid being taken by the Romans, and so her legend as a fearless leader lives on today!
Image: beautiful views along the Boudicca Way
No one knows exactly where Boudicca died, but you can now walk or cycle (or if you’re full of energy – run) through the area which Boudicca and her army once fought and travelled. The Boudicca Way is a 36 mile footpath which runs all the way between Diss and Norwich, and is a great way to explore the beautiful (and largely unspoilt) South Norfolk countryside – perfect for a gorgeous almost-Spring day!
At either Norwich or Diss, hop off the train and begin your walk (or bike ride) right there, making it perfect for day trippers or those who don’t have access to a car. The route passes through various villages and towns, many of which have lovely cafes to enjoy a cuppa and a slice of cake in, as well as shops, wildlife and plenty to see. At the start (or end, depending which way you’ve come) of the route there’s even the aptly-named Queen of Iceni pub, in Norwich’s Riverside area – sit and enjoy a pint and a bite to eat by the river.
Why not book a room at a local hotel or B&B along the way too, so you can make a real break of it?
Image: walkers along Boudicca Way
For ideas on what to see, visit and do along the route check out the Boudicca Way website – where you’ll find plenty of great information. Boudicca Way is part of the Norfolk Trails, a collection of walks which cover 400 miles of beautiful Norfolk countryside, linking a huge part of the county including the coast, the Broads, Great Yarmouth, Norwich, Kings Lynn and much more. Find out more about the Norfolk Trails here.
Check out our walking page which has lots of great information about walking in and around Norwich.
To read and experience the story of Boudicca and the Iceni warriors, visit Norwich Castle Museum & Art Gallery.
Greater Anglia have Advance fares from £9 one way between London Liverpool Street and Norwich. Trains run every 30 minutes. Abellio also serves Colchester, Ipswich and Diss on the Norwich line. Direct trains also run from Cambridge.
East Midlands Trains runs services from Liverpool, Manchester and Nottingham.
Flights into Norwich served from Edinburgh, Manchester, Exeter, Aberdeen, Jersey*, Guernsey* and Amsterdam.