At breakfast the kids asked where we were going and I told them I'd picked Colchester and Eli said
"Colchester! I know that place. It's an old Roman city that was destroy by Boudica. She also destroyed St. Albans and London and there is a statue of her riding in her chariot."
Well then. (It turns out the statue is a statue we've seen several times, right outside the Westminster tube station. Guaranteed you'll see it if you visit London, I just had no idea who/what it was.)
It took about an hour and a half to get there, but it was a beautiful drive. All over the countryside we kept seeing these alarming yellow fields. They were everywhere! They were flowers but I told Richard that they had to be some kind of profitable crop because they were so...everywhere. It turns out they are rapeseed.
We ate lunch in The George Hotel, which was a fun and new English experience. I felt like we went back in time, but we would have been ridiculously under-dressed back in the heyday of the George Hotel.
The walking tour covered over 2000 years of history that I will refrain from recounting here. But I'll mention a few interesting bits.
Before the Romans came, Colchester was a Celtic village called Camulodunum, which some historians speculate was the basis for the fictitious Camelot, the capital of King Arthur's court.
The story of Boudica was so intriguing to me. She has to be one of the most fascinating historical characters I've learned about since moving to London. I have mixed feelings about her; she killed 80,000 people during her rampage. But I also admire her. I admire many women in history who demonstrated bravery in the face of male oppression. She was denied everything that was rightfully hers when her husband died, and she and her daughters were beaten and sexually abused.
Colchester was a massive, popular Roman city. Even after Boudica's rampage the city was rebuilt. Three theatres have been uncovered, as well as the only Roman circus (chariot racing track) in Britain. But once the Roman empire began to fall, all the Roman leadership left England and after the sixth century Colchester was more or less abandoned.
The city was probably re-inhabited by Anglo-Saxons in the 800-900s, and then hit a new population boom when William the Conqueror set it apart as a military city.