‘Do the Aethel’ with us and celebrate Tamworth’s history

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 with us 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.
Aethelflaed anniversary events
Statue unveiling (date tbc) – A striking and impressive six-metre tall steel statue by artist and sculptor Luke Perry is now almost complete after months of hard work. Luke had an open brief to consult with members of the community about what they would like the statue to represent and Aethelflaed was chosen after local people said they were most proud of the town’s rich Anglo-Saxon history. The Lady of the Mercians will be brought home to the roundabout on the Offa Drive/Saxon Drive roundabout, outside Tamworth Railway Station, where she will greet visitors as they step off the train and point them towards the town centre. The statue has been made possible thanks to funding from Arts Council England and the Gateways project.

Church service - The Tamworth and District Civic Society is organising a major commemorative service at St Editha’s Church to mark the actual anniversary of Aethelflaed’s death on June 12. Around 500 guests have been invited from across the country and will include eight Bishops, well-known TV personalities, historians, authors, civic dignitaries from Aethelflaed’s fortified Mercian towns and a Danish Ambassador.
The Tamworth Lecture – Tamworth & District Civic Society’s annual Tamworth Lecture will be given by historian and broadcaster Michael Wood on the subject of Aethelflaed. This will be held at St Editha’s Church at 7.30pm on Thursday, July 12, and tickets will be on sale to the general public in the coming months.

Tamworth Literary Festival Martin Carver talk - Tamworth Literary Festival welcomes archaeologist, writer and broadcaster Martin Carver to the Globe in Tamworth on the evening of Friday, July 13. His talk will document the excavation of the fort built by Aethelflaed in Stafford.
Tamworth Literary Festival panel talk - Organisers of Tamworth Literary Festival have also planned a special talk which will see a panel of female historians and authors discussing Aethelflaed as a woman and an Anglo-Saxon. This takes place on Saturday, July 14, from 11am to 3pm. Tickets cost £10 including a buffet lunch. The panel will be chaired by Dr Sara Read, together with Dr Jennifer Evans, Annie Whitehead and Marianne Whiting. More information and ticket details for the Tamworth Literary Festival events are available at www.facebook.com/TamworthLiteraryFestival/.
Mercian Mosaic unveiling – A huge and ambitious community arts project, involving hundreds of Tamworth residents, will see 1,400 individual yard square tiles being brought together to form one stunning mosaic. The pieces will be laid out on the lower lawn of Tamworth Castle Grounds for one day only at a grand reveal on Saturday, July 14.
Aethelflaed Family Festival – A range of Anglo-Saxon themed events have been planned to coincide with the Mercian Mosaic unveiling in the Castle Grounds on Saturday, July 14. These will include an Anglo-Saxon encampment and a range of fun themed activities for all the family.
Academic conference - Scholars from UK and international universities will descend upon the town for a special weekend conference with a packed programme of lectures inspired by Aethelflaed. The event, on July 13 to July 15, will explore themes such as women and political power in early Medieval Britain, the re-making of Mercian rulership, the origins of St Editha’s Church, the uncontested succession of Aethelflaed’s daughter as an exceptional example of female succession, and Tamworth in the Domesday book. There will also be a photographic exhibition on Mercian landscapes, accompanied by a lecture about Anglo-Saxon influences on modern authors such as J.R.R Tolkien. Delegates are already confirmed from the United States, Canada and Europe. The conference is being co-ordinated by scholars from Keele, Chester and Manchester universities and while most of the lectures will be ticket only, the weekend will include a free lecture open to Tamworth residents which will be announced nearer the time.

Guided walks - Tamworth Guild of Town Guides are preparing a special guided walk this summer which will focus on the town’s Anglo-Saxon and Norman heritage.
Aethelflaed Ale - George Greenaway of Tamworth Brewing Co in Market Street will be reviving his award-winning Aethelflaed Ale to accompany the many celebrations taking place in the coming months.
All events are listed at 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.