Wednesday, 19 June 2019

Boudicca and the Iceni

This post is about the Iceni of Norfolk and the famous Boudicca of legend, the warrior-queen who challenged the might of the Romans. There is still a great deal of controversy over whether the Iceni were Celtic, since new ideas have arisen that regard them as Germanic. It does appear that they had very close links to the Belgic Tribes of Belgica-Northern Gaul. a fact borne out by the find of the Fakenham Hoard in 2015. 

The problem here is compounded when we study the figure of Boudicca whose legend comes down to us through Tacitus and Dio Cassius, the latter over one hundred years after the events. The name 'Boudicca' is said to stem from the Welsh Buddug meaning 'victory' but in researching this it seems that this could have been a Victorian fantasy in honour of 'Queen Victoria' who had the same title - or so it seems. The Welsh name 'Buddug' is pronounced 'Bithig', nothing like Boudicca. Dio Cassius uses the name 'Buduica' (*) and the later 'Boudicea' seems to be a corruption. She is described as having 'red hair' when in fact the Greco-Roman word translates as 'yellowish', i.e. blonde. The two accounts have fanciful 'speeches' attributed to her, both with nothing in common with the other. And why was a 'Goddess of Victory' called by the name Andraste which supposedly means 'Victory', but in what tongue? 

(*) Buduica, which would have been spelled Budvica by the Romans can be found in Lusitania, now the area of Portugal, where three inscriptions of BODVICA have been found. If so Dio Cassius may well have come across this name and thus linked the two together for some reason. 

Even today the Welsh have claimed Boudicca as one of their own, and yet not one mention of her appears in any of the Welsh annals, the Historia Brittonum, Mabinogian or History of the Kings of Britain. Surely, if she were a Celtic Queen of Welsh origins she would have had some kind of mention in their own historical works? 

The key seems to be the link with the Belgae, many of whose tribes were Germanic. The Fakenham Hoard were a mixture of local work with half coming from 'Belgic Gaul' through minting by the Ambiani who were of the Belgae, thought to have originated in Germania. The hoard is actually termed the "Wolf Hoard" due to the recurrent images of the wolf on the coins. Can we really see the fact that the Wolf Totem of the 'later' Wuffingas was the very same image used by earlier tribes in the very same area? 

The name ECENI or ECEN appears upon coins of the Iceni, and appears to mean 'Oaks'; since Norfolk is a region well known for its oaks this is not surprising. If so the name is Germanic -

ec/ac = oak

ecen = oaks

One of the rulers of the Iceni was Ecen(os) who reigned from 10 - 43 CE; his name means 'oak' or perhaps 'strength' or 'mighty' which derives from this word as an image. 

Some see these names as referring to the 'horse' (equine) since the coins bear the images of the Solar-Horse. However, many coins minted in North-West Europe at this time were based upon those of Philip of Macedonia which bore the horse too. And we have the name 'Icknield Way' which is one of the Royal Roads of Britain and which was originally Icenhilde Weg in Old English, the word icen  (ecen) being 'oaks', widened to 'strength' or 'mighty', and hilde being the Old English 'battle'. We may even have the clue to where the last battle fought by Boudicca was fought, since this name may be related to this through 'oak' and 'battle'. There was a large wooded area behind the Eceni Warriors. If so then 'Ecen' would refer to the Iceni! This is even more pronounced when we consider that the Germanic name 'Hilde' is female which could hint at the Warrior-Queen herself. Icen-hilde would thus mean 'Iceni Battle-Maiden'. 

However, since we find the Sutton Hoo grave of a horse-warrior then we cannot altogether rule out the horse as being important not only to the Wuffingas, but also to the Iceni, whom they may well have taken rulership over as an elite after the Roman power was gone. Certainly the Solar Wheel and the Swastika were used on the coins together with the Solar-Horse; there is also the 'Eye of Woden' on some of the coins, and the links to the coins of another Germano-Belgic Tribe, the Suessiones, which bears the image of Woden being swallowed by the Fenris Wolf. 

There is a Germanic Root *bheudh which means 'to make aware' and is no doubt the equivalent of the root-name for 'Buddha' which means 'The Awakened One'. From the Germanic Root *bheudh- we get the English beoden meaning 'to proclaim' and bodian meaning 'to announce'. It is thus not out of the question that the name 'Boudicca' is Germanic in origin. The Welsh Buddug is the closest in spelling but not in sound. One fanciful rendering of the name is 'Bowed-Wicca' but this falls down in that 'wicca' is the male version whilst the female is 'wicce'. 

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