Letter: Chariot on the A5

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The Independent Culture
Sir: Queen Boudicca is as likely to have died at King's Cross "waiting for a train to Royston" (Historical Notes, 15 July, letters, 27, 28 July) as to lie buried beneath any of its platforms. Douglas Greenwood rehearses the commonly held myth of an imagined battle at "King's Cross", probably dreamed up by Victorian antiquarians.

According to Tacitus, the British horde first sacked London, then swept northward to ravage Verulamium (St Albans). Suetonius, meanwhile, retreated north along Watling Street to join the Roman infantry on its return south- eastward from northern Wales.

Historians generally agree that the engagement leading to the defeat of the British, and Boudicca's subsequent death by self-poisoning, took place at an unknown spot in the Midlands, on the line of the A5. The name of London's Battle Bridge (now King's Cross) is thought to be, prosaically, a corruption of an earlier "Bradford" (or broad ford).


Associate Editor, "Camden History Review"

Chessington, Surrey