Boudica was unknown to such medieval historians as Geoffrey of Monmouth in the 12th century. It was not until manuscripts were recovered from the neglected library of Monte Cassino and published in Italy that Boudica became known and then as BOUDICCEA.
During the reign of Elizabeth I the queen of the Iceni gained fame when Petruccio Ubaldini wrote a book celebrating the ‘Lives of Noble Ladies of the Kingdoms of Scotland and England’ and Boudica was included. Then in 1610, Fletcher produced the play BONDUCA about her.
Interest in her then disappeared until the reign of Queen Victoria when there was an effort to link Britain with its past glories. One result of this was that Thomas Thornycroft, a sculptor and engineer, was commissioned to produce a sculpture of the warrior queen which now stands on the northern end of Westminster Bridge.
The name Boudica means Victory (Victoria) and is like the Welsh word ‘buddug’ - ‘bouda’ being the ancient Celtic form of the word. Tacitus spelt the name incorrectly, giving the name two c’s. Later copying inscribed an ‘a’ instead of an ‘u’ and an ‘e’ instead of the second ‘c’, giving first Boadicca then Boadicea, which is how most people know her today. This rendering of her name was perpetuated by the romantic Victorian poets.
Dio Cassius describes Boudica as ‘very tall in stature, most terrifying in appearance, most fierce in the glance of her eye, with a harsh voice and a great mass of bright red hair that fell to her hips’ There is no way of telling whether this is an accurate picture or merely propaganda.
Stories say that she is buried under a platform of Kings Cross Station (either platform 8 or 10), in Parliament Hill Fields, north of London or in Epping Forest. A mound on Hampstead Heath, traditionally known as ‘Boadicea’s tomb’, is probably a Roman boundary mark. These stories have no element of truth.
Other sites that have become associated with Boudica include the Harrow Weald, the Bartlow Hills and a tumulus locally known as ‘the Bubberies’ in Norfolk. These seem to be flights of fancy of the 17th century and later.