Staffordshire celebrates ‘Lady of the Mercians’

This summer sees Staffordshire mark 1,100 years since the death of the most powerful woman in Anglo-Saxon England.

Aethelflaed, the eldest daughter of Alfred the Great, ruled the Kingdom of Mercia for seven years before she died in Tamworth on June 12, 918.

Known as the ‘Lady of the Mercians’, her life is being marked events in the Staffordshire market town, including the unveiling of a new six-metre statue, a family festival and summer guided walks – as well as the revival of an award-winning ‘Aethelflaed’ local beer.

Celebrations will centre on the grounds of Tamworth Castle (pictured), within the Saxon burh – the settlement that was re-fortified by Aethelflaed in 913, and where she spent much of her time in later life.

Tamworth is also where Aethelflaed raised her nephew Aethelstan, who is widely regarded as the first king of all England.

Work has started on creating a permanent exhibition exploring Tamworth’s important Anglo-Saxon history, showcasing pieces of the Staffordshire Hoard and artefacts from Tamworth Castle’s collection.

Funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), thanks to money raised by National Lottery players, the new gallery is expected to open late 2019 or early 2020.