Summer 2020 will see Staffordshire’s Tamworth Castle unveil a new state-of-the-art gallerycelebrating the town’s Anglo-Saxon history – including a forgotten ‘warrior queen’.
While largely a hidden heroine of history, for anyone hooked on smash hit TV series The Last Kingdom – set to begin its fourth season on Netflix this year – the name of Aethelflaed, daughter of Alfred the Great, may be more familiar.
Learn more about the real-life inspiration behind one of the leading characters of the sweeping drama series at Tamworth Castle, from where Aethelflaed (pronounced Eth-al-fled) ruled the Kingdom of Mercia and where she died in June 918.
This ‘warrior queen’ – also known as the ‘Lady of the Mercians’ – may not be a household name, but she leaves a legacy as one of the most powerful figures of her time whose successful rule is said to have been key to the founding of England.
Her life and times have been given a new lease of life thanks to the success of The Last Kingdom, based on The Saxon Storiesseries of books from Bernard Cornwell, which was first aired by the BBC, but since 2018 has been a Netflix exclusive.
The fictional queen may return in the show’s fourth season sometime in 2020, but the real life Aethelflaed, who was the eldest daughter of Alfred the Great and ruled the Kingdom of Mercia for seven years, will be among the ‘stars’ of Tamworth Castle’s new gallery.
Opening this summer, it will offer visitors an interactive and family friendly way of exploring the town’s rich heritage.
The “Battle and Tribute” gallery – supported by a Heritage Lottery Fund grant – will feature hands-on interactive exhibits and cutting-edge audio-visual technology, as well as showcase pieces of the Staffordshire Hoard, the largest hoard of Anglo-Saxon gold and silver metalwork yet found, and artefacts from Tamworth Castle’s collection.
Housed on the top floor of the castle, the new permanent exhibition aims to explore and celebrate Tamworth’s important Anglo-Saxon history, covering many aspects of the Staffordshire Hoard including the themes of battle, Kingship and the warrior culture in Anglo-Saxon Mercia.
In The Last Kingdom, the fictionalised Princess Aethelflaed is played by Millie Brady.
Tamworth Castle admission costs £7.50 adult; £5,child 5-15 years; £3 child 2-4 years; under 2 free.For more details, visit www.tamworthcastle.co.uk
For tourist information on the county, visit http://www.enjoystaffordshire.com.