THIS year Tamworth is going all out to celebrate the life of one of the most powerful and influential women in Anglo-Saxon England – and we want you to help spread the word about this great local legend.
It was on June 12, 918, that the warrior queen Aethelflaed, Tamworth’s Lady of the Mercians, took her last breath in the town before being finally laid to rest in St Oswald’s Priory in Gloucester, alongside her husband Aethelred.
The anniversary of the death of Aethelflaed will be marked with a number of major events, including the unveiling of a new six-metre statue which is due to be erected on a roundabout near Tamworth Railway Station this spring.
To celebrate the homecoming of the statue, which has been affectionately named ‘Our Aethel’, we’re asking people to join a social media campaign and #DotheAethel.
Simply take a picture of yourself, or with your friends, replicating the pose of the impressive steel statue and share it on social media with the hashtag #DotheAethel. The hope is that the campaign will attract attention across Tamworth and beyond to raise awareness of this incredible female warrior and the part she played in the making of England.
That means the bigger, the better. We’re looking for individuals, groups, businesses, schools and celebrities to join the celebrations and ‘Do the Aethel’, maybe even at an interesting event or location.
We’ll be launching the campaign at this year’s St George’s Day festival in Tamworth Castle Grounds on Saturday, April 21, where the Knights of Middle England will lead a mass #DotheAethel ahead of the Medieval Grand Joust at 12pm.
To join in, share your pictures on social media, tagging @VisitTamworth, using #DotheAethel and #Tamworth.
We’re hoping as many people as possible will join and share the campaign on Twitter and Facebook so that people all over the country can find out about Aethelflaed as we build up to the unveiling of the statue (date to be confirmed) and a packed summer programme of events to celebrate this fascinating part of the town’s rich Anglo-Saxon history.
Events include the creation of the town’s biggest ever piece of community art, a major commemorative church service with VIPs and celebrities from across the country, talks, a special guided walk, a commemorative ale and an academic conference weekend drawing academics and delegates from all over the world. For more information about the weekend of events and full instructions on how to #DotheAethel, please visit www.aethelflaed.co.uk.
History of Aethelflaed
Daughter of King Alfred the Great, Aethelflaed (also known by the Victorian spelling of Ethelfleda) is a key figure in the history and making of England. She ruled Mercia with her husband Aethelred (also known as Ethelred) and together they led the battle to defend the ancient kingdom against Viking invaders.
Alongside Aethelflaed’s brother, Edward the Elder, the couple launched a series of military campaigns in the 10th century which brought large parts of England under Anglo-Saxon control. At the same time, Aethelflaed and Aethelred embarked on a major programme of building and fortification, creating defensive and strategic burhs (fortified towns) throughout Mercia. This included Tamworth, the ancient capital of the Kingdom of Mercia, where she spent much of her time in later life.
After her husband’s death in 911, Aethelflaed became the sole ruler of Mercia and continued her campaign to further defend and expand her kingdom. She was a formidable warrior and was thought of as ‘queen’ by many of her subjects. She leaves a legacy as one of the most powerful female rulers of the time.
Aethelflaed raised her nephew Aethelstan in Tamworth, who later became king and is widely regarded as the first king of all England.
When Aethelflaed died, the uncontested succession of her daughter, Aelfwynn, as Mercia’s leader is considered to be a move of successful female powerplay that wasn’t matched again until the coronation of Elizabeth I after the death of her half-sister Mary in 1558.