Watling Street & Boudicca


I have been reading about Boudicca, Queen of the Iceni tribe who fought for revenge over the Romans after the rape of her daughters at Watling Street, some of the road is still used to this day.

From Wiki:

“Watling Street is the name given to an ancient trackway in England and Wales that was first used by the Britons mainly between the modern cities of Canterbury and St Albans. The Romans later paved the route, part of which is identified on the Antonine Itinerary as Iter III: “Item a Londinio ad portum Dubris” – from London to the port of Dover. Its route is now covered by the A2 road from Dover to London, and the A5 road from London to Wroxeter.

The name derives from the Old English Wæcelinga Stræt. Originally the word “street” simply meant a paved road and did not have the modern association with populated areas.

A Roman road recorded in the Antonine Itinerary as “Iter III” linked London and Dover. The last section of the long Iter II route from Hadrian’s Wall travelled through Viroconium (now Wroxeter in Shropshire), past Letocetum (modern day Wall) in Staffordshire, Manduessedum (modern day Mancetter – possible site of Boudica’s last battle), Venonis (modern day High Cross) in Leicestershire, Bannaventa near Norton in modern-day Northamptonshire, Lactodorum (modern day Towcester – near another possible site of Boudica’s last battle), then through Stony Stratford and Magiovinium (Fenny Stratford) in modern-day Milton Keynes, Durocobrivis (modern day Dunstable) in Bedfordshire (where it crosses the even older Icknield Way), Verulamium (near modern-day St Albans in Hertfordshire) and London (by way of the ford at Thorney Island until London Bridge was finished, and the line of the modern Old Kent Road[ to Rutupiae (now Richborough in Kent) on the southeast coast of England. While another section of Iter II linked Wroxeter to Chester, and other roads were built into north Wales and central Wales, these are not generally considered to be part of Watling Street. Thus the Roman routes which comprise Watling Street are all of Iter III and the middle-southern section of Iter II.

The main section of the road is that from Dover to Wroxeter.

Stone Street ran south for some 12 miles from Watling Street at Canterbury (the Roman Durovernum) to Lympne (Lemanis) at the western edge of the Romney Marsh. Most of it is now the current B2068 road that runs from the M20 motorway to Canterbury.

Part of the route was the site of the Roman victory at the Battle of Watling Street in 61 AD between the Roman governor Gaius Suetonius Paulinus and the Briton leader Boudicca.

Like most of the Roman road network, the Roman paving fell into disrepair when the Romans left Britain, although the route continued to be used for centuries afterwards. It is likely that Chaucer’s pilgrims used Watling Street to travel from Southwark to Canterbury in his Canterbury Tales.

A paving stone on Kilburn High Road in London commemorates the route of Watling Street

Most of the road is still in use today apart from a few sections where it has been diverted. The stretch of the road between London and Dover is today known as the A2, and the stretch between London and Shrewsbury is today known as the A5 (which now continues to Holyhead). The sections of the road which pass through Central London are known by a variety of names, including Edgware Road and Maida Vale. At Blackheath the Roman road’s exact path is uncertain: either diverting towards Deptford Bridge like the modern A2, or staying on a straight line through Greenwich to cross the mouth of Deptford Creek. Through Milton Keynes, the A5 is diverted onto a new dual-carriageway and Watling Street forms part of the new town’s grid system and carries the additional designation V4.

The use of the street name is retained along the ancient road in many places: for instance, to the south east of Roman London and on into Kent (including the towns of Canterbury, Gillingham, Rochester, Gravesend, Dartford, and Bexleyheath). Within London, a major road joining the A5 in north west London is called Watling Avenue. North of London, the name Watling Street still occurs in Hertfordshire (including St Albans), Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire (including Milton Keynes), Northamptonshire (including Towcester), Leicestershire, Warwickshire (including Nuneaton), Staffordshire (including Cannock, Wall and Lichfield), Shropshire (including in Church Stretton as the residential Watling St North and South) and Gwynedd.

A section of Watling Street still exists in the City of London close to Mansion House underground station on the route of the original Roman road which traversed the River Thames via the first London Bridge and ran through the City in a straight line from London Bridge to Newgate.”

Her statue is by Westminster Pier, ironically in the West End not in the City of London near Watling Street. Her name means Victory. Queen Victoria was named after her.

There have been reports that the restless spirit of Boudicca has been seen in the county of Lincolnshire. These reports, dating back to the mid-19th century, claim Boudicca rides her chariot, heading for some unknown destination, and many a traveller and motorist have claimed to have seen her.

There is also a long-lived urban myth that she is buried under Platform 10 of King’s Cross railway station in London. When I was searching online for Youtube videos, someone said ‘let’s go and grab our spade and dig up Platform 10″.

After reading all this stuff I think I am going to visit the Museum of London tomorrow.. and maybe hunt for Watling Street on the way.

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2 responses to “Watling Street & Boudicca

  1. We have a Watling Street in Dublin,it is where Viking Dublin had its beginning then began to Spread in the following Centuries.

    It leads down from Christchurch Cathedral to the Bank of the Liffey and the Old Viking Remains of Houses was found here. So the Name comes from that Era of Danish and Germanic Tribes. After the Vikings the Normans built up the City all around this Area which includes Dublin Castle and the High Street.

  2. So you have a Watling Street as well.

    Whenever I go back to Dublin I will have to check it out, am interested in the remains of houses that the Vikings left. I am now going to read about the Vikings.

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