Developing enjoyable historical investigations

Primary History article

By Ian Dawson, published 26th May 2015

Enquiry: developing puzzling, enjoyable, effective historical investigations 

About 2,000 years ago, a baby was born. No, not that baby. Not Jesus. This baby was a girl. Where she was born and what she was called we don't know but I'll call her Helena - it feels rude to go on just calling her ‘she'. When Helena grew up she became wealthy. Perhaps she was married to a rich merchant trading goods across Britannia and the Roman empire. Perhaps she inherited wealth from her father. Perhaps her husband was a retired Roman soldier who had settled in the Roman town of Camulodonum, which we know as Colchester.

What we do know is that Helena lived in Camulodonum, in a good house on the main street which is still known as the High Street today. She was there in AD61 when the news came that the Iceni, led by their queen, Boudicca, had risen in revolt. Was Helena afraid? Perhaps not immediately, though the bulk of the Roman army was away campaigning in north Wales. There was still the 9th Legion, comprising 2,000 legionaries and 500 cavalry, but it never arrived to defend Camulodonum. En route to the town it was attacked and the legionaries annihilated by the Iceni. Only the cavalry escaped.

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