Archaeologists excavating a Roman temple have revealed new insights into the Iceni people during the Roman period.

The Iceni were an Iron Age tribe who lived in the moors and moors of present-day Norfolk, Suffolk and parts of Cambridgeshire.

They allied with Rome during Claudius’ conquest of Britain in 43 AD, however, the Roman invasion after the death of the Iceni king Prasutagus led to tribal revolts against the Roman occupation.

The Iceni revolted against the Romans

In 60 or 61 CE, when the Roman governor Gaius Suetonius Paulinus was on a military campaign on the island of Mona (modern Anglesey) off the north-west coast of Wales, Boudica (referred to as Boadicea in Roman writings) led the Iceni, The Trinovantes and other British tribes revolted, leading to the destruction of the cities of Londinium (London), Camulodunum (Colchester) and Verulamium (St Albans).

Modern reconstruction of a house typical of the Iceni people. Photo source: Shutterstock

Suetonius regrouped his forces and, despite being vastly outnumbered, he decisively defeated the tribal coalition, causing Boudica to either kill herself to avoid capture (according to Tacitus) or die of a diseases (according to Dio Cassius).

After the pacification of the Iceni, the Romans founded the city of Venta Icenorum near present-day Caistor St Edmund as the civitas capital around AD 70, which functioned as the main economic, cultural and administrative center for the region in the new Roman province.

Archaeologists point to continuity even after Rome’s victory

Evidence found during excavations by the Caistor Roman Project, which works with the University of Nottingham, suggests that the defeated Iceni continued to live in the area and even adopted the Roman lifestyle.

“We tend to think of the Iceni as disappearing from history after the Boudiccan revolt, but they’re still here in Norfolk and using the new things they get from the Roman world, either in Roman ways or in ways that suit them,” said the director of the project, Professor Bowden, quoted by HeritageDaily.

Archaeologists have found complete pottery vessels, household grindstones made from imported volcanic rock, bone and bronze needles, and dismembered animal bones that were ritually deposited in the ground in a way that suited one’s own beliefs and aspirations to win the favor of their gods.

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