PRIME Minister Boris Johnson has named his five female heroes from throughout history... including the warrior queen who burnt Colchester to the ground.

In an interview with magazine Grazia to mark International Women’s Day, Mr Johnson chose five women who he says helped shape him into the leader he is today.

Some big names like the country’s first female prime minister Baroness Margaret Thatcher, Indian prime minister Indira Gandhi and the Queen didn’t quite make the cut.

However, the controversial Celtic tribe leader Boudicca was praised by Mr Johnson.

Mr Johnson told the magazine: “Boudicca’s prosperity ended up with an empire seven times bigger than the Roman Empire at is vastest. And who can say her spirit is not alive in the country today.”

But not everyone is so keen on Boudicca who led the Iceni tribe during their rebellion against the Roman occupiers of Britain, whose capital was Colchester, then called Camulodunum.

The Iceni revolt kicked off in Colchester in 60 or 61 AD with the tribe setting out to systematically slaughter every Roman who lived in the town.

Colchester was pretty much burnt to the ground during the assault and even today if you dig deep enough in the soil you will discover a layer of ash, known to archaeologists as the Boudican Layer.

One of most iconic images from Colchester’s colourful history is the image of the Temple of Claudius ablaze.

The temple, which was where Colchester Castle now sits, was completely destroyed during the rebellion as it was the most prestigious Roman building in the UK at the time.

Glynn Davis, senior collections and learning curator with Colchester Museums, said the warrior queen was a controversial figure.

He said: “She is an interesting choice by Boris as, of course, she was a strong woman but she was extremely bloodthirsty and people often question whether what she did was right.

“She killed people indiscriminately. She murdered babies and even Britons in Colchester who had accepted the Roman occupation.”

After sacking Camulodunum, Boudicca and her forces moved on to Londinium and Verulamium, or London and St Albans.

Between 70,000 and 80,000 people are believed to have been killed across the three cities.

Today, she has become something of a British folk hero and is even celebrated in the town she destroyed two millenniums ago.

Several streets, schools, pubs and restaurants in Colchester bear her name and there are sculptures of her in the town.

Clacton and Frinton Gazette: The Boudicca statue on North Station Roundabout The Boudicca statue on North Station Roundabout

Mr Davis said: “Colchester is the best place if you want to see the effects Boudicca had in Britain - come to the castle museum.”

Julie Young, councillor responsible for culture and performance, said Colchester Council would be happy to welcome Mr Johnson to the town if he wanted to learn more about one of his heroes from the experts.

She said: “I am glad to hear Boris supports strong women and shares our passion in Colchester for Queen Boudicca.

“As a town we have a significant historical link with her and this year we will be paying her a bit more attention. There are some significant plans for us to celebrate her and make more of our Roman heritage.

“Perhaps it is an opportunity for Boris to come and meet some of the strong women of Colchester, who might have a few choice things to say about the impact his Government has had on their lives and we could ask what he plans to do to make things better.

“Boudicca had a significant impact in terms of her leadership but I would hope our leaders today have a more empathetic style and are less cruel and brutal.

“She was a character of her time and these days we look for a little bit less brutality in our leaders, but if you look back for a woman to be in that position in that historical context is extremely rare.”

Mr Johnson also picked Nobel Prize winner Malala Yousafzai, grandmother Yvonne Eileen Irene Williams, policy director Munira Mirza and pop icon Kate Bush.