Rebellious Britons at Colchester Castle

Hello world, this is Tim calling!

I didn’t think it would take me this long to make contact, but I decided to keep my blog-powder dry until after this awesome event that I was part of…

Masterminded by Glynn (Senior Collections and Learning Curator) and the rest of his team, Tuesday 25 October saw Colchester Castle play host to a horde of “Rebellious Britons”. The day included family-friendly activities, such as building miniature roundhouses, woad painting and (courtesy of Black Night Historical) stories from the Queen of the Iceni herself, Boudica!

My fellow Trainee, Elisha had been heavily involved in the preparation for the woad activity, but sadly was unable to make it on the day. While slightly anxious about doing all her hard work justice, I was very excited to fill in for her.


I confess, thanks to my Visitor Services days at the Castle every weekend, I was no stranger to dressing as an Iron Age Briton, nor to painting young (and occasionally old) warriors with woad. This however, was on a much grander scale. Elisha had printed out large sheets of “La Tène” patterns, including several photographs of real Iron Age objects that incorporated this beautiful style. People could look through them and choose their design. There were also sheets that allowed people to create their own, which were far more difficult to copy onto skin!


Thankfully, I had Sam (Visitor Services Assistant) to help paint the multitude of people who stopped by our roundhouse and swap tricks for creating our favourite designs. As usual, we employed blue facepaint rather than real woad. One of the reasons for this was made very clear by Boudica’s ball of genuine, dried woad. The smell was… shall we say “distinctive”!

Boudica’s story and trips round the castle were excellent, full of both passion and historical detail. Sam and I talked to families about why Iron Age Britons chose to decorate themselves with woad and what else they would have done around Boudica’s time. The model roundhouses were also a great success (mine now lives on my desk).

I always enjoy my days in the Castle, especially when they involve living history (I also helped out at the late night Castle opening for the Light and Shade event last weekend). As I said before, this was on a far larger scale than usual, but that only made it more fun. I hope I did you proud, Elisha!

Until next time, this is Cunobelin – I mean Tim – signing off.


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