Verulamium's recovery after the destruction by Boudicca

Verulamium, based on the Iron Age settlement of Verlamion, is widely understood to have been badly damaged in AD 60-61 by forces under the control of Boudicca, of the Iceni tribe. Certainly layers of black ash have been found that are consistent with fire damage, although as most buildings were built of wood, it is not certain that the ash stems from that time. In any case, archaeological discoveries in 2010 shed light on the speed with which Verulamium recovered.

Excavations in the Walbrook area of London between 2010 and 2013 found over 400 remains of Roman writing tablets, of which 87 were able to be read. One of these was of both local and general historic importance. Written on 21 October AD62 it stated that:

I Marcus Rennius Venustus, have contracted with Gaius Valerius Proculus that he bring from Verulamium by the Ides of November [13 November AD62] 20 loads of provisions at a transport charge of one-quarter of a denarius for each.

In AD60-61, Tacitus tells us that Colchester, London and Verulamium were laid waste by the troops lead by Boudicca but obviously the contract shows that both Londinium and Verulamium were back in business about a year later. This seems to imply that the damage must have been less than generally imagined.

Mike North

[an edited version of a short article in Newsletter 1705]

Source: Current Archaeology, issue 317 (August 2016), pp. 36-40

To find out more about the Roman tablets discovered at the site of the new Bloomberg building in Walbrook, watch the short film made by Bloomberg.