The Æthelflæd celebration.

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© Tamworth Castle

This year celebrates the 1,100 anniversary of her death. Called the Lady of the Mercians, Æthelflæd has also been called our ‘greatest woman-general’ yet very few people – me included – have heard of her.

As part of the centenary of votes for women, a number of towns and cities connected with Æthelflæd, she ruled Mercia from 911 until her death in 918, will be commemorated in 2018, the 1,100th anniversary of her death.

The lady was the daughter of Alfred the Great.  As early as 910 at the Battle of Tettenhall she secured a considerable reputation when she defeated a Viking army there, Supposedly three Viking kings were killed, and as a result she became known as a warrior queen and is portrayed as bearing three royal swords.

In 917 her troops reconquered Viking Derby, then Leicester but died before she could attack another Viking stronghold, York.

But it at Tamworth that the celebrations will centre this weekend. Æthelflæd is known to have re-fortified Tamworth in 913 and spent many of the last years of her life there. The town will mark the anniversary with a massive community art Mercian mosaic (to be unveiled on the 14th of July in the Tamworth Castle grounds) and the installation of a six-metre-high Æthelflæd statue. In Tamworth this weekend a panel of female historians and authors will discuss Aethelflaed as a woman and an Anglo-Saxon and even a nAethel AleFest on 14 July!

There will also be celebrations in Gloucester today which is appropriate given that she was buried in St Oswald’s priory there.

Chester, last month celebrated  the 1,111th anniversary of the founding of modern Chester in 907AD by Æthelflæd and linked it with the 100th anniversary of votes for women, as part of plans for a year celebrating female empowerment.

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