BUILDING work has now started to transform the top floor of Tamworth Castle into a brand new interactive exhibition dedicated to the town’s rich Anglo-Saxon heritage.
Funded in large part by The National Lottery Heritage Fund, the new £768,050 ‘Battle and Tribute’ display will turn the space into an interactive exhibition bringing Tamworth’s dramatic and exciting Anglo-Saxon history to life. This will include the creation of a mead hall, an immersive combat film experience and a unique touch-table battle strategy game.
As part of the exhibition, Tamworth Castle will be getting even more pieces of the Staffordshire Hoard to display alongside items from the castle’s collection. It will explore many exciting aspects of the Staffordshire Hoard including themes of battle, Kingship and the warrior culture in Anglo-Saxon Mercia.
The construction phase of the project is now well underway by Cannock-based Croft Building Conservation Ltd, which specialises in the repair and conservation of historic buildings.
The top floor of the ancient castle is being completely transformed and improved, including the upgrading of infrastructure, a new ceiling and lighting, as well as restorative works to walls and windows. This will make way for the installation of the new gallery, ready for opening next year.
‘Battle and Tribute’ has been made possible thanks to £499,900 from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, with the remainder of the cost being provided by Tamworth Borough Council, the Ready to Borrow Scheme supported by the Arts Council England and Friends of Tamworth Castle.
While the builders are busy doing their bit, the young people of Tamworth have also been helping to give the new gallery the launch it deserves by creating shields which will be used to create a dramatic display around the perimeter of the castle.
A number of shield-making workshops have taken place at the castle and in the community over the last 12 months. As a result, there are now more than 400 hand-painted shields ready to display as part of a shield wall when the new exhibition opens – which is currently anticipated for mid-2020.
Cllr Jeremy Oates, Tamworth Borough Council’s Cabinet member for Heritage and Growth, said: “I visited the castle last week to meet the team working on site and it’s great to see that the building phase of the project is now underway and I look forward to seeing the transformation taking place.
“The plans for the state-of-the-art Battle and Tribute gallery are very impressive and unlike anything we’ve had at the castle before. It will really bring our rich Anglo-Saxon history to life, including the role of our famous warrior queen Aethelflaed, and will be the perfect showcase for an increased number of items from the Staffordshire Hoard and how this incredible treasure trove fits into the wider history of the Kingdom of Mercia and beyond.”
Some areas of the castle, including the top floor, will be closed during the works, and admission prices have been reduced to reflect this. However, the rest of the castle remains open with plenty to see throughout and some excellent family events to attend in the coming months. These include Haunted Castle and the popular Santa Trails. Visit the website for more information and to book tickets at www.tamworthcastle.co.uk.
The Staffordshire Hoard is owned by Birmingham and Stoke-on-Trent City Councils, and managed on their behalf by Birmingham Museums Trust and the Potteries Museum and Art Gallery, Stoke-on-Trent.