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Half a million years for you to discover

Boudica and King's Cross Station

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THE "WARRIOR QUEEN" UNDER PLATFORM 9

Boudica, or Boadicea, was a British queen who went to war against the Roman settlers. She destroyed the city of Londinium. She is said to be buried under platform 9 or 10 of King's Cross Station.

Who was the real Boudica?

Boudica was queen of the Iceni tribe of East Anglia. She joined up with the Trinovantes of Essex to rebel against the Roman treatment of her people. Together they attacked Roman settlements at Colchester, St Albans and London, burning the city down in AD60.

At the time the Roman governor, Suetonius Paulinus, was on campaign in Wales. He rushed back, but was not able to stop the attack or save the inhabitants from massacre. The Romans fought back. After losing a battle to them, Boudica is thought to have killed herself.

Archaeological evidence

Many people believe that Boudica is buried on the site of King's Cross Station. But there is no archaeological evidence for this. In fact there is no evidence concerning the site of her burial at all. She is known to have fought a final battle against the Roman army led by Suetonius Paulinus, but there is not enough real evidence to locate the site of the battle either. Archaeologists have suggested sites as far apart as Staffordshire and Surrey, but no one knows for sure.

Historical evidence

The Roman historian Tacitus wrote about Boudica fifty years after her death. He said that the British rebels: 'hastened to murder, hang, burn and crucify... up to 70,000 citizens and loyal Romanized Britons'. He also wrote that Boudica fled from the battlefield. He did not record where she was buried. There are several places in Essex that claim to be the 'traditional' place of her burial.

In 1937 an expert on mythology and Celtic folklore, Lewis Spence, wrote a book called Boadicea, Warrior Queen of the Britons. He used very uncertain evidence, which historians now do not believe. Spence concluded that the battle took place in the valley where King's Cross and St Pancras stations now stand. He even drew a map showing the positions of the British and Roman troops! However, he never suggested that Boudica was buried on the site.

Twentieth century stories

Lots of people read Spence's book. The belief that the battle took place at King's Cross became popular with local people. It was featured in the local press.

Spence never suggested that she was buried at the site, so that is likely to be a post-war version of the story. Perhaps because people misremembered or just assumed that she was buried on the battlefield. Despite the lack of evidence, the story continues to appear in local publications. It has even been seen on a panel of historic information used to decorate the builders' hoarding around the station during the current redevelopment of King's Cross Station.

Department of Early London History and Collections, Museum of London
(ed. Jane Sarre)
August 2002

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