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In AD60 or 61AD the final battle between the Romans and the rebel Briton's led by Boudica (or Boudicca or Boadicea) was fought and is known as the Battle of Watling Street (or Battle of Paulerspury). No one actually knows where this battle described as being ‘being approached by a narrow defile with a wood at the back and a plain in the front ‘ by Tacitcus took place. In 1983 The London Archaeologist argued that the battle site could have been between Callow Hill and Knowl Hill near Virgina Water in Surrey.

According to Tacitus The Roman commander Suetonius gathered a force based around his 14th Legion (Legio XIV Gemina) with parts of the 20th Legion (Legio XX Valeria Victrix), an estimated 10,000 men. I am not sure how much accuracy we can actually place on figures pertaining to this battle as it suggested the Briton's fielded 250,000.

Suetonius addressed his legionaries: "Ignore the racket made by these savages. There are more women than men in their ranks. They are not soldiers - they're not even properly equipped. We've beaten them before and when they see our weapons and feel our spirit, they'll crack. Stick together. Throw the javelins, then push forward: knock them down with your shields and finish them off with your swords. Forget about booty. Just win and you'll have the lot."

Roman losses were numbered at 400 whilst they supposedly killed 80,000 men, women, children and pack animals, ending the revolt.

Whether this is the actual location of the battle or the exact details of the fight may never be known, but it is interesting to note that Knowl Hill is said to be haunted by a troop of Roman soldiers.

Ian Topham

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