Aethelfleada – Lady of the Mercians
The Aethelflaeda Monument stands just through Holloway Lodge from Lady Bank, at the base of the Castle mound. Aetheflaeda was daughter to King Alfred the Great and known as ‘Lady of the Mercians’. She governed the Kingdom of Mercia from 913 – 918 AD after Aethelred the Mercian ruler and her husband, died. Her boldness and courage enabled the town to rise again from the destruction which had been caused by the invading Danes. She drove back the Danes and seizing Watling Street, established that great strategical highway as the southern boundary of the Danelaw (the border between the Danes and the Anglo-Saxons).
To strengthen her line of communication across England, she continued the work of her father and husband and re-fortified a chain of settlements across England. In 913 with her Mercian army she marched to Tamworth and here, at the junction of its two rivers, the Tame and the Anker refortified the Anglo Saxon settlement which stood close to the site of today’s Castle.
Her death in 920 in Tamworth, resulted in Mercia being merged into Wessex, however, Tamworth did not lose its royal connection.
Aethelflaeda had trained her nephew, Athelstan, in the arts of war and kingship. She taught him to read and gave him a jeweled dagger as a symbol of his high rank. Athelstan succeeded to the throne of Wessex upon the death of his father, Edward the Elder, where he continued to wage war against the Danes and again made Tamworth a royal seat. He became the first King of all England and one of the greatest warriors, administrators and patrons of the arts to occupy the English throne in the early mediaeval period.
The monument depicts her with her nephew Aethelstan. It was designed by local stonemason H C Mitchell, and was erected to commemorate the 1000th anniversary of her fortification of the town. It was unveiled in July, 1913 by the 11th Earl Ferrers.