Sadly, there is no evidence to show Boudicca did fight a battle against the Romans at Ambresbury Banks, the Iron Age Hill Fort in Epping Forest around 60 or 61 AD. The legend remains an important story to share about the district and how the past is remembered.
The story of Boudicca became popular in Victorian times as people wanted to commemorate the new young Queen by recalling strong women leaders in the past. Boudicca’s name even translates as the one who will bring Victory. Poems about Boudicca fighting her battle at Ambersbury Banks were written during this period, and this obelisk in a field in Upshire was placed at the point Boudicca was believed to have taken poison, to avoid being captured by the Roman Army.
This artist’s impression shows what the entrance to Ambresbury Banks might have looked like during Boudicca’s time based on the evidence that has been found there. We know it was a large – just over 17 acres – enclosure with a single bank and a wide ditch – potentially up to 6m wide and 10m deep. The entrance to it was by a causeway over the ditch. The sides of the entrance were built up with Puddingstone – in impressive looking natural stone with tiny stones set in what looks like cement but is natural rock. There were 240 blocks of stone on one side of the entrance, skillfully laid without mortar. There is evidence of two sets of post holes suggesting there were inner and outer gates. These seem to have been one wide gate as there is no evidence of postholes in the middle of the gap. Traces of cartwheel tracks were found, and some fragments of broken pots in the ditch show evidence of occupation. However, there’s no evidence dating from the time of Boudicca’s rebellion so Ambresbury Banks was out of use as a hill fort by this time.
As for the debate on how you pronounce her name, well that’s for another time!