A Time Team Special tonight on Channel 4 will put the excavation of the Roman town of Caistor St Edmund — a major archaeological dig being led by The University of Nottingham — at the heart of the programme’s search for Boudica’s Lost Tribe.
The site just south of Norwich is a small English village that 2000 years ago was known as Venta Icenorum — a Roman town deep in Iceni territory. The dig, led by Dr Will Bowden from the Department of Archaeology at The University of Nottingham, began in 2009. It was the first time that anyone had dug inside the walls of the settlement for 75 years.
In “Boudica’s Lost Tribe: A Time Team Special, Wednesday May 4, 9pm, Channel 4” — Tony Robinson will trace the story of one of the greatest female warriors in history. The programme will follow the excavation in Norfolk in the hope that it may hold the key to uncovering what happened to Boudica's tribe, the Iceni, after they were defeated by the Roman army.
The programme will stage a reconstruction of the discovery of the site. In 1929 remarkable images taken by the crew of an RAF aircraft caused a sensation because the exceptionally dry summer meant that details of the Roman town were clearly visible as parched lines in the fields of barley. The pictures appeared as a front page exclusive in The Times on March 4 that same year.
The Time Team Special follows Dr Bowden and his team as they try to establish whether the Roman town was built on top of a tribal centre in order to punish the Iceni rebels, and consider whether imperial Rome simply crushed the Iceni or if Boudica led her tribe to destruction.
Decades after it was first discovered the site continues to attract huge interest. Last summer the number of visitors during the dig topped 5,000. Dr Bowden and his team will be back for a third time this summer between August 13 and September 3 when they start investigating the forum of the town.
Dr Bowden said: “The forum was previously excavated during the 1930s, when it was argued that the forum was burnt down at the start of the 3rd century and lay in ruins for 100 years before being rebuilt. We want to find out if this is really true and also when the forum was actually built.
“We're also digging in the northwest corner of the town, looking at a possible Saxon enclosure, as one of the big mysteries of Caistor is what happened to it at the end of the Roman period.”
The excavation is funded by the British Academy and is being carried out with the collaboration and by kind permission of the Norfolk Archaeological Trust (the site owners) and in collaboration with Norfolk Museums and Archaeology Service and Norfolk County Council's Archaeology and Environment division.
Pictures featured in this release are courtesy of “Boudica’s Lost Tribe: A Time Team Special, Wednesday May 4, 9pm, Channel 4”.
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