Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Boudicca yet again

Given that I've written before about Boudicca, some comment on Five's Boudica's Treasures might be expected. Well, it was no better nor worse than I expected. There were some sensible points made - the fact that 'Britain' as a concept wouldn't really be acknowledged by Boudicca. But as ever there was a tendency to over-romanticize the Celts, who were 'in touch with the natural world as no other people have been'. The Romans, of course, are brutal conquerors, taking British young men off to the army (which I'm not sure there is evidence for,* plus service in the army was actually a relatively cushy job and a good way of improving one's status), and pursuing a campaign of 'ethnic cleansing' (I'll grant Tacitus does say that British tribes that had been disloyal were treated with fire and sword, but the same writer also says that more damage was done by famine, due to men being pulled off agricultural duties). London was 'a city of vile moneylenders', and Boudicca's own atrocities are passed over and granted a sheen of legitimacy - destroying the Romanized British city of Verulamium is acceptable because the city was run by a 'Quisling aristocracy'.

The main thing that was different with this programme was tying the account in with Neil Faulkner's archeological excavation in northern Norfolk. This is a site which is in the right area, and dates to the middle of the first century AD, and so it of the right period. But there was nothing presented in the programme to directly tie the site in with Boudicca. What this actually served to demonstrate was the way in which archaeological material and historical material tend to answer different questions. The study of the site, interesting though it was, didn't really help tell the story of Boudicca.

Not as bad as the Battlefield Britain programme on the subject, but not as good as Michael Wood's from nearly twenty-five years ago.

Edit 19/07/2007: Okay, yes there is - Tacitus, Agricola 15.


Anonymous said...

"London was 'a city of vile moneylenders'". No change there, then.

Anonymous said...

I worked on that site - apparently I'm on the programme. There was nothing here of anything at all.