Lady of the Mercians to be honoured

September 2, 2013

saxon warriorsAethelflaed, the Lady of the Mercians, is set to be honoured in a special ceremony in Tamworth Castle Grounds on Sunday, September 15th.

It is 1100 years since the Lady of the Mercians built a fortified settlement or burh in Tamworth. These defences stopped the Vikings from conquering Mercia and imposing Danelaw in 913.

The ceremony, which will see her statue rededicated and a new inscription added, will start at 12.45pm with Saxon re-enactors carrying out a ritual march to honour the Lady of the Mercians.

At 2pm, the Reverend Alan Barratt will perform a short service honouring Aethelflaed. The Mayor of Tamworth, Cllr John Garner, will also say a few words to honour her. Descendents of the Ferrers and Marmion family have also been invited to attend.

The monument was erected at the foot of Tamworth Castle just through the Gatehouse in 1913. Tamworth Heritage Trust will also be looking to recreate photographs taken 100 years ago at the original unveiling.

According to historian Michael Wood, who recently presented a BBC 4 programme on King Alfred and the Anglo Saxons: “In the early middle ages it was hard for any woman to take a leading role in events. Yet without Aethelflaed, Lady of the Mercians, England may never have happened.”

The three-part series looked at Anglo Saxon times and the second episode featured Aethelflaed and her importance to history. Referred to as: ‘One of the great forgotten figures in British history, Aethelflaed led armies, built fortresses, campaigned against the Vikings and was a brilliant diplomat. Her fame spread across the British Isles, beloved by her warriors and her people, she was known simply as the Lady of the Mercians’.”

Councillor Rob Pritchard, Deputy Leader of the Council said: “I hope as many people as possible will attend this event, which, with the Saxon rituals, will be a very special occasion.

“The Lady of the Mercians is often overlooked in history, but her achievements for the entire country should not be forgotten.”

  • Her death in 918in Tamworth resulted in Mercia being merged into Wessex.
  • Aethelflaed was the eldest daughter of Alfred the Great, the King of anglo Saxon kingdom of Wessex.
  • In 913 she marched to Tamworth with the Mercians. At the junction of the River Tame and River Anker she established a fortification which helped to.prevent Danelaw being imposed on Mercia.
  • After the death of Aetheflaed’s husband Aethelred in 911, Ethelflaed ruled Mercia until her death in 918 in Tamworth, after which she was buried with her husband in Gloucester
  • The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle referred to her as the Myrcna hlæfdige, “Lady of the Mercians”.
  • Aethelflaed is credited with helping to reconquer the Danelaw (the English lands under Viking rule) in tandem with her younger brother Edward the Elder, king of Wessex (reigned 899–924)

This is just one of many events and activities taking place as part of Tamworth’s Heritage Open Day, which sees Tamworth’s heritage on view for all to see and for free.  Visitors to Tamworth Castle will be able to see pieces of the Staffordshire Hoard on display and learn more about its Saxon heritage.

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