2

The creation of the Flavian city (c. AD 60-100)

The Boudiccan revolt and its aftermath

London had grown with spectacular speed to become the largest town of Roman Britain but its initial success was brought sharply to a halt by the revolt of AD 60. Revolts were not uncommon in newly conquered Roman provinces and the early stages of Romanization were especially delicate; local aristocracies had yet to be drawn into Roman administrative systems whilst the new cities and merchant classes had done much to undermine the traditional basis of social power.

When the revolt started the governor was on campaign in north Wales. The colonists at Colchester, the first city to be threatened, called on the procurator Decianus Catus for help. Only 200 troops were sent to their aid, presumably from forces attached to the procurator and stationed with him at London, but these could do little to save the town. Before the revolt was suppressed London, Colchester and Verulamium, the three leading cities of the province, had been burnt to the ground.

Excavations in the City suggest that few buildings, if any, had escaped the fire. It is not yet clear if Southwark was also destroyed, although pre-Flavian burnt debris has been mentioned in some interim reports (Rankov 1982; Bird and Graham 1978, 521: site 29; Marsden 1971, 21). Recovery after the fire was slow, indeed very slow. A spate of recent excavations have shown that most sites were left vacant for about a decade after the revolt (Milne 1985, 143; Perring and Roskams forthcoming; Rowsome 1987, 22; Williams in preparation). Some streets were abandoned for this decade and on at least one site, 25-26 Lime Street, redevelopment was delayed until the late Trajanic period. In most areas it is likely that the ruins had been tidied up a bit, at least no bodies were left lying around, but that was that.

One of the few finds which can reliably be dated to this period is the tombstone of Julius Alpinus Classicianus, procurator of the province of Britain, who died in office and was buried in London. Classicianus succeeded Decianus Catus and played an important part in post-revolt restoration. His tombstone was found re-used in the base of a late Roman

-22-

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