YOUNGSTERS got creative making colourful shields as part of a project supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund to make a shield wall around Tamworth Castle.
The free shield-making workshop was held at Tamworth Library and invited people to celebrate the town’s Anglo-Saxon heritage by decorating a shield that will then be varnished and added to hundreds more, ready to display as part of the opening of Tamworth Castle’s brand new Anglo-Saxon-themed Battle and Tribute exhibition in spring 2020.
A total of 15 shields were made during the session and these will be added to the 230 that have already been created by children visiting the castle in recent months, but it is estimated that twice that amount will be needed to make it a really stunning display.
As well as preparing for the opening of the stunning new exhibition, which is funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund and currently underway on the top floor of the castle, the shield workshop was also part of activities marking the annual Staffordshire Day celebration and the 10-year anniversary of the discovery of the Staffordshire Hoard.
The Staffordshire Hoard is the largest hoard of Anglo-Saxon gold and silver metal work ever discovered. It consists of over 3,500 items which were most likely deposited in the 7thcentury. The hoard lay undiscovered in a field near Hammerwich until the summer of 2009.
Tamworth Castle is one of a select few locations chosen to display pieces of the Staffordshire Hoard, and while they are not currently on display due to the development of the new gallery, the castle will be getting even more pieces to showcase as part of the stunning new ‘Battle and Tribute’ exhibition.
The interactive family-friendly gallery will be devoted entirely to the town’s rich Anglo-Saxon heritage and will include a high quality battle film experience, a touch-table strategy game and a mead hall.
The project represents an investment of more than £750,000 into Tamworth Castle, including a £499,900 grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund.
A special event is being planned to mark the opening of the new exhibition next year and this will include the display of the shield wall around the castle, made by visitors to the attraction, local schools and Tamworth residents.
Linda Baker, Education and Events officer at Tamworth Castle, said: “The themes of battle, kingship and warrior culture in Anglo-Saxon Mercia will be central to the new exhibition, so we thought the shield wall project would be a great way to bring that to life as part of the opening celebrations.
“The response so far has been great and children have really enjoyed making them, but we need more if we are to create a really stunning spectacle. Saturday’s event by the Tamworth Cultural Education Partnership went really well. The children who attended were very enthusiastic and completed 15 shields in total. They also had the opportunity to learn a little bit about Saxon weaponry, Saxon Tamworth and how Saxon shields were used.”
More shield-making opportunities will be available at Tamworth Castle as part of a special Saxons event from August 6-8 and August 13-15. For more information and to book tickets for this event, please visit www.tamworthcastle.co.uk/events.
Tamworth Castle is open to visitors as normal, apart from the top floor gallery.