The Iceni were the local Celtic tribe at the time of the Roman invasion in AD 43. Their territory covered a large part of East Anglia. The Iceni submitted to Roman rule, after agreeing favourable terms with the officials of the emperor Claudius.

AD 61 saw the death of the Iceni king Prasutagus.

The new emperor Nero (coin on the left) would not renew the terms. In the dispute that followed, the King's widow, Boudica, was publicly beaten by the soldiers of the emperor, and her two daughters raped. The Iceni were insulted and rose in revolt led by their queen Boudica. So successful was the uprising that the Romans were almost defeated. Unfortunately for the Iceni and their allies, the military skill of the Roman army finally led to the crushing of the rebellion.After the revolt, Roman rule was re-established. A military presence is suggested in Caistor at this time, by the discovery of pieces of army equipment and the traces of three defensive ditches to the south and east of the later town. The discovery of Iceni coins at Caistor shows that there may have already been a Celtic settlement on the site.

The Roman authorities imposed a new system of local government over the tribal lands of the Iceni, building the town at Caistor to serve as the administrative centre for the region. Work probably started on the layout of the town in about AD 70.

Plan 1. Caistor in about AD 150 showing the full extent of the Roman town. The standard grid pattern of streets would have been laid out by skilled Roman surveyors.

The Roman name for the Roman town at Caistor was `Venta Icenorum', which means `market place of the Iceni.'

The location of the town was chosen with great care, making the best use of the available natural resources. The eastern slope of the Tas valley offered a suitable area for a large building project, and the river Tas gave a source of water, a transport route and a line of defence to the town. The site was also a natural focal point for a road system to link the town with other major centres.The Roman town at Caistor continued as the regional centre for over 300 years, undergoing changes during that time to meet local needs.

A bird's eye view of the town and the Tas valley from the south east as it may have looked in AD 300, (see plan 2 below).

Plan 2. Caistor in the late AD 200s. The town was reduced in size to about half its original area and surrounded with a massive flint wall backed by an earth rampart. A deep ditch was dug on three sides of the town, linking with the river, to form another line of defence. Entry into the town was only possible through four guarded gates.

Last updated on 13 August 2009 by John Peterson