Mercia – Places of Interest


Tamworth Castle, The Holloway, Tamworth, Staffordshire, B79-7NA.

The Statue is not within the castle grounds but is next to the railed fence that surrounds it.

The eldest child of King Alfred the Great and Queen Ealswith whose date of birth is not known. She was educated the same with her brothers so was well educated and being a strong women which would be shown later in her life.

She was married young 16yrs with the Earl Aethelred of Mercia, part of her father`s plan to bring Mercia under Wessex control, they had one child a girl called AElfwynn as far as known and they brought up in their court her brother Edward`s son AEthelstan, being from an earlier marriage whose wife Ecgwynn had died.

At some point after their marriage Bishop Werferth of Worcester, fortified the town being allowed to retain the rents and other profits from the markets because of this most important work.

It is believed before 914 she established garrisons at Hereford and Gloucester also in 907 repaired the old walls of Chester, in 910 built her first burh at a place called Bremedoyrig which has not been identified.

By 911 AEthelred died having been mortally ill for sometime and this is when AEthelflaed came into her own as a formidable leader and tactician and after the Battle of Tellenhall she became known as `Lady of the Mercians` where she ruled for eight years, here there was a combination of Aethelflaed and her brother Edward the Elder King of England who made for formidable team, thus giving Aethelstan a very good understanding of being a king under her guidance, one key thing was building of burhs to protect the local area started by her father King Alfred, these were Bridgenorth 912, Tamworth 913, Stafford 913, Warwick 914, Chirbury 915, Runcorn 915, there are four more burhs Eddisbury 914, Bremsburh, Scergeal and Wearbryrig which have been tentatively identified.

She allowed Vikings from Ireland to settle on what is know Birkenhead, Cheshire so to protect the Dee estuary and so Chester and the Mersey estuary and so the hinterland of England, they became restless and attacked Chester, AEthelflaed took her troops onto the field outside the city and fained retreat, the Vikings followed thinking they had victory but on entering into the city the gates were closed behind them and the inner was already closed and there they were slaughtered, a mark of her leadership.

King Edward the Elder because of her out standing ability was able to secure southern England and move up the east of England.

In 916 she led an expedition into Wales to avenge the murder of a Mercian abbot and in the process captured the wife of the King of Brycheiniog and in 918 the region around York had pledged support for her, know doubt gaining her support against the Norse raiders from Ireland, but unfortunately two weeks before this happened she died on 12th June 918, her daughter took over her position which lasted for six months when her uncle King Edward the Elder relieved her of this, so Mercia came under the wing of England and the kings of Wales, Hywei Dda King of Dyfed South-West Wales, Clydog ap Cadell King of Powys North -East Wales and IDwal ab Anarawel King of Gwynedd North-West Wales,   Gwent South-East Wales already in allegiance with Wessex/England.

AEthelflaed died at Tamworth, Staffordshire and was taken to St. Oswald`s Priory, Gloucester to be buried with her husband. The statue of her and her nephew AEthelstan was erected in 1913 as remembrance of her establishing the burh of Tamworth a 1,000 years ago which is set outside the castle of Tamworth.


Hoxne, Suffolk

The Orthodox King Edmund the Martyr was a king and martyr of East Anglia in the ninth century. He succeeded to the throne of East Anglia in 855 as a fourteen year old, crowned on 25th December 855 at Bures, Suffolk which was a royal capital at the time., to die a martyr`s death the “Great Heathen Army”, a large army of Vikings that in the late ninth century pillaged and conquered much of England, even Wessex until King Alfred the Great defeated them at Edington in 878.

He was venerated early and became the patron saint of England.

Edmund was born in 841, early accounts  and stories provide a cloud over who is his father. The sources considered the most reliable represent Edmund as descended from the preceding kings of East Anglia, when King Ethelweard died in 854, it was Edmund, while only fourteen years old, who succeeded to the throne. Little is known of Edmund next fourteen years. His reign was said to be that of a model king. He is said to have treated all with equal justice and was unbending to flatterers. He was said to have spent a year at his residence at Hunstanton learning the Psalter which he was able to recite from memory.



Broadgate, Coventry, Midlands, CV1-1LL.


Who is this lady naked seated on a horse? which stands in front of the Lady Godiva clock tower where every hour a lady on horse back goes round for all to see and a figure comes into view above her known as `Peeping Tom`.  The statue was created by Sir William Reid Dick and was unveiled at mid-day on 22nd October 1949 in Broadgate, being a gift from a Mr W. H. Bassett-Green a man of Coventry at the cost of £20,000. This would have been a small part in the rebuilding of the centre of the city after the blitz of Coventry during the Second World War where one moon lit night it was a target causing much destruction and loss of life.

Lady Godiva or Godgifu in old English was an 11th century Anglo-Saxon/English  noblewoman (1010-1067?), according to a legend going back to the 13th century, she rode naked, allowing her long hair to cover her whilst riding her horse through the streets of Coventry, as a protest against her husbands oppressive taxation imposed upon his tenants, all people were obliged to close their shutters whilst she rode bye, but apparently one man peeped and would be known as `Peeping Tom`, who was struck blind by his action.

Lady Godiva was the wife of the Earl of Mercia named Leofric, they having one known son called, AElfgar. her name occurs in charters and even in the Doomsday Book, the name Godgifu or Godgyfu is an old English name meaning “gift of God”, Godiva was a popular one at the time and is the Latin version of the name.

If we have the same Godiva/Godgifu she appears in the `Liber Eliensis` which was written in the 12th century at Ely Abbey, then she was a widow when she met and married Leofric, both would become generous benefactors to religious houses, Earl Leofric endowed a Benedictine monastery in Coventry which he founded in 1043 being on the site of a nunnery which was destroyed by the Danes in 1010, Lady Godiva is credited by this in the writing of Roger of Wendover in the 12th century, and again in the 1050s they were involved in the granting of land for a monastery at Worcester called St. Mary and further a field at Stow St. Mary in Lincolnshire the endowment of the minster. They were both commemorated as benefactors of monasteries at Leominster, Chester, Much Wenlock and Evesham. She giving to Coventry a number of works made of precious metal made by Manning a famous goldsmith at that time, also bequeathing a necklace valued at a 100 marks of silver. Evesham had another one which was to be hung round the figure of the Virgin along with a life-sized gold and silver hood which the couple gave, they also gave a gold-fringed chasuble to St. Paul`s Cathedral in London and were amongst several large Anglo-Saxon/English donors who were most munificent in their giving in the last decades before the Conquest, the early Norman bishops in their grasping for treasure made short work of these gifts as they carried them back to Normandy to be reduced as bullion for themselves being no more than robbing barbarians.

The cathedral at Hereford was given the manor of Woolhope and four others from Herefordshire, this being done before the Conquest by two benefactresses named Wulviva and Godiva which is believed to be Godiva and her sister, the church at Woolhope has a 20th century stained glass window representing these two ladies.

On Earl Leofric`s death in 1057, Lady Godiva lived on until after the conquest but dying before the Domesday survey 1066-1086, being one of the few Anglo-Saxons but the only woman to be a mayor landholder after the Conquest, her lands were listed but by then others held them.

It would appear her signature appears in a charter apparently given by Thorold of Bucknall to the Benedictine monastery at Spalding, However, many historians refute this but it is possible that Thorold who appears as sheriff of Lincolnshire in the Doomsday Book was her brother.

There is a dispute on the place of her burial she was either laid to rest with her husband at Coventry or at the Blessed Trinity at Evesham who ascertain she was laid to rest there.



This event is not mentioned for two centuries afterwards, in the Flores Historiarum adapted by Roger of Wendover, many historians doubt its plausibility. So according to the legend she took pity on the people of Coventry who were under the oppressive taxation of her husband, she repeatedly appealed to her husband about this but he refused to entertain appeasement until no doubt weary of the tongue lashing, he would grant her request if she was willing to ride naked down the streets of Coventry, no doubt thinking she would baulk at the idea but not Lady Godiva if ding this meant remission of the taxes the she was willing to do this and so at a given time and date, after a proclamation that all people were to be indoors and shut their windows, she rode naked were actual, covered with her hair, or in a white shift or with no jewellery we do not know, like the Arthur legend and Robin Hood there are plenty of versions, but there was an  added piece to this in the form of “Peeping Tom” who being a tailor in the town and on knowing bores a hole in a shutter to spy on the lady who is said was struck blind on doing this act, but this was an added piece which was not part of the legend until it was recorded in the 18th century and he is now commemorated in the clock tower as peeping out on the hour every hour so whether true or not it is another piece of the tapestry that creates England.




The Offa`s Dyke path is a log-distance footpath close to the England-Wales border. Although large sections are close to the Dyke itself, the path is longer, and in some places passes at some distance from the earthworks. opened in 1971, the path is one of Britain`s longest National Trails, stretching for 176 miles/283km from the Severn estuary at Sedbury, near Chepstow, to Prestatyn on the north Wales coast. there is a visitor centre at Prestatyn and at the half way mark at Knighton Bridge.


The Dyke is a large linear earthwork that roughly follows the current border between England and Wales. The structure is named after Offa the 8th century King of Mercia, who is traditionally believed to have ordered its construction. Although its precise original purpose is debated, it delineated the border between Anglian Mercia and the Welsh Kingdom of Powys.

The Dyke, which was up to 65 feet/20m wide (including its flanking ditch) and 8 feet/2.4m high, traversed low ground, hills and rivers. Today the earthwork is protected as a Scheduled Monument. Some of its route is followed by the Offa`s Dyke Path 176 miles/283km.

Although the Dyke is conventionally dated to the Early Middle Ages of Anglo-Saxon England, research in recent decades-using techniques such as radioactive carbon dating-has challenged the conventional histriogarphy and theories about the earthwork.


The generally accepted theory about much of the  earthwork attributes its construction to Offa King of Mercia from 757 to 795. The structure did not represent a mutually agreed boundary between the Mercians and the Kingdom of Powys. It had a ditch on the Welsh (western) side, with the displaced soil pited into a bank on the Mercian (eastern) side. This suggests that Mercians constructed it as a defensive earthwork, or to demonstrate the power and intent of their kingdom.

Throughout its entire length, the Dyke constantly provides an uninterrupted view from Mercia into Wales, where the earthwork encounters hills or high ground, it passes to the west of them.

Augh historians often overlook Offa`s reign due to limitations in source material he ranks as one of the greatest Anglo-Saxons rulers – as evidenced in his ability to raise the work force and resources required to construct Offa`s Dyke. The construction probably involved a Convee system requiring vassals to build certain lengths of the earthwork for Offa in addition to the normal services that they provided to their king. The Tribal Hidage, a primary document shows the distribution of land within 8th- century Britain, it shows that peoples were located within specified territories for administration.


The first historians and archaeologists to examine the Dyke seriously compared their conclusions with the early 10th- century writer Asser, (a welsh bishop who was in the court of Alfred the Great) who wrote “there was in Mercia, in fairly recent time a certain vigorous king called Offa, who terrified all the neighbouring kings and provinces around him, and who had a great dyke built between Wales and Mercia from sea to sea”. In 1955 Sir Cyril Fox published the first major survey of the dyke. He concurred with Asser that the earthwork ran “from sea to sea” theorising that the Dyke ran from the River Dee estuary in the north to the River Wye in the south approximately 150 miles/240km. Although Fox observed that Offa`s Dyke was not a continuous linear structure, he concluded that earthworks were raised only in those areas where natural barriers did not already exist.

Sir Frank Stenton, the UKs most eminent 20th century scholar on Anglo-Saxon England, accepted fox`s conclusions. He wrote the introduction to fox`s account of the Dyke. Although fox`s work has now been revised to some extent, it still remains a vital record of some stretches of Offa`s Dyke that still existed between 1926 and 1928, when his three field surveys took place, but have since been destroyed.


In 1978, Dr. Frank Noble challenged some of Fox`s conclusions, stirring up new academic interest in Offa`s Dyke. Hid MPhil thesis entitled “Offa`s Dyke Reviewed” (1978) raised several questions concerning the accepted historiography of Offa`s Dyke. Noble postulated that the gaps in the Dyke were not due to the incorporation of natural features as defensive barriers, but instead the gaps were a “ridden boundary”, perhaps incorporating palisades that left no archaeological trace; Noble also helped establish the Offa`s Dyke Association which maintains the Offa`s Dyke Path.

There is on going research with various ideas and conclusions, one is the use of carbon dating which ahs thrown up some interesting results, one was by Shropshire County Council who in December 1999 uncovered the remains of a hearth or fire on the original ground surface beneath Wat`s Dyke near Oswestry, carbon dating analysis of the burnt charcoal and burnt clay in situ showed it was covered by earth on or around 446 A.D. Archaeologists concluded that this part of Wat`s Dyke, so long thought of as Anglo-Saxon and a mid – 8th century contemporary of Offa`s Dyke, must have been built 300 years earlier in the Post Roman Period.

In 2014, excavations by the Clywd-Powys Archaeologist Trust focused on nine samples of the Dyke near Chirk. Radio carbon dating of re deposited turf placed the construction between the years 541 and 651 and lower levels of construction are dated as early as 430. This evidence suggests that the Dyke may have been a long-term project by several Mercian kings.


There is information on several web-sites about this whether joining a planned journey or doing it yourself, nine days seems the general time on this very interesting path with its varied scenery, going from coast to coast/estuary to estuary.




St. Peter`s Collegiate Church, Lich Gates, Wolverhampton, West Midlands, WV1-1TY.

Tel 01902 422642.

The statue of Lady Wilfrun C935-1005, founder of the city of Wolverhampton, the statue was created by the sculptor Charles Wheeler, and stands in front of the steps leading up to the West door of St. Peter`s.

Lady Wulfruna or Wulfrun which is the correct Anglo-Saxon spelling of her name, believed to be daughter of Ethelred Earldorman of Mercia and Lady Aethelflaed (eldest daughter of King Alfred the Great and Queen Ealswith)

The earliest reference to Wulfrun is in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles of 943 A.D., here it is stated that she was taken prisoner during a Viking raid at Tamworth, Staffordshire, there is no mention of her being released, but no doubt she was held hostage to be released later at a price which was the common thing to do and still happens today.

The next reference to her is in 985, in a land charter, being granted land by King Ethelred II the Unready, Wulfrun was granted 10 hides of land at Heatune. It is believed that Heantune (or high tower / high or principle enclosure or farm) later became known as Wilfun Heantune, hence the name Wolverhampton. In 994 Wulfrun gave land for the endowment of a church at a place called Heantune.

There is uncertainty about the date of her death. A reference, however, can be found in a charter to Eynsham Monastery dated 1005 which states that Wulfrun bequested land at Ramsey, being at her last breath.

In 1894 Wolverhampton Borough Council adopted the name Wulfruna, it being the Latin variation of her name.

She is believed buried at the convent in Tamworth which she founded.

having two sons, one called Elfham (Ealdorman of Northumbria) and Wilfric Spot, founder of Burton Abbey.

The Anglo-Saxon Cross

The Anglo-Saxon Cross attributed to the 9th Century, now located on the south side of the church. Although often said to belong to an early Mercian monastery on the site, there is no evidence of such a building. The cross is as likely to have been a preaching cross from the period before a church was built there.




The Staffordshire hoard is the largest hoard of Anglo-Saxon gold and silver metalwork yet found. Being discovered in a field near the village of Hammerwich, near Lichfield, in Staffordshire, on 5th July 2009, it consists of over 3,500 items that are nearly all martial in character and contains no objects specific to female usage.
The artefacts have tentatively been dated to the 7th or 8th Centuries, placing the origin of the items in the time of the Anglo-Saxon Kingdom of Mercia.
The hoard has been described by Leslie Webster, former keeper of the department of prehistory at the British Museum, as “absolutely the metalwork equivalent of finding a new Lindisfarne Gospels or Book of Kells.” She stated further that “This is going to alter our perceptions of Anglo-Saxon England as radically, if not more so as the Sutton Hoo discoveries.”
Dr Roger Bland, Head of the Portable Antiquities Scheme, said, “It is a fantastically important discovery. It is assumed that the items were buried by their owners at a time of danger with the intention of later coming back and recovering them.”
Experts have produced a range of theories as to where the hoard came from and how it came to be deposited and whether the objects were made for Christians or pagans. The average quality of the workmanship is extremely high and especially remarkable in view of the large number of individual objects, such as swords or helmets, from which the elements in the hoard came.
The hoard was valued at £3,285 million and has now been purchased by the Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery and the Potteries Museum & Art Gallery.


Gold artefacts were discovered by Tom Herbert on 5th July 2009, when he was metal detecting a recently ploughed field on farmland near the village of Hammerwich, over the next five days, he retrieved enough gold objects to fill 244 bags. At this point he contacted Duncan Storke, who was at the time the Finds Liason Officer for the Staffordshire and West Midlands, Portable Antiquities Scheme. Fred Johnson the landowner granted permission to continue searching the area for other finds.


The excavation work was now funded by English Heritage who had contracted Birmingham Archaeology to do the fieldwork. Ploughing had scattered the artifacts, so an area 9 x 13 metres (30 x 43 ft) was excavated because of the importance of the find, the exact site of the hoard was initially kept secret. A geophysical survey of the field discovered what could be a ditch close to the find. Although excavations revealed no dating evidence for the feature, further investigations is planned in total over 3,500 pieces was recovered. The Home Office did provide specialist equipment so to conduct a find Geophysical Survey which found no further artefacts.
The discovery was publically announced on 24th September 2009, which attracted worldwide interest. Birmingham Archaeology continued to process the find and items from the hoard were displayed at the Birmingham Museum until 13th October 2009.
The Coroner of South Staffordshire, Andrew Haigh declared the hoard to be treasure and therefore property of the crown.
As at 24th September 2009, 1,381 objects had been recovered, early analysis established that the hoard was not associated with a burial.


In late March, a team of archaeologists carried out a follow-up excavation on the site, digging 100m / 110 yds of trenches and pits in the field. Stephen Dean the Staffordshire County Archaeologist, said there there was no more gold to be recovered from the site, and the aim of the new excavation is to look for dating and environmental evidence, they were hoping to find evidence so to assertain what the landscape was like at the time of the hoard`s burial.

2012 FINDS

In December it was announced that 91 additional items of gold and silver metalwork had been found in the field, the finds were found in November when the field was ploughed archaeologist and metal detectorists worked the field. These additional pieces are believed to be a part of the original hoard.
In January 2013, 81 of the 91 items were declared treasure at a Coroner`s inquest, and, after they have been valued by the Treasure Valuation Commitee. Staffordshire County Council will have an opportunity to purchase them so they can be reunited, with the rest of the hoard, like the hoard the money raised by the sale will be halved between Herbert and Johnson as they were responsible for the original discovery of the hoard.
Ten items not declared treasure were identified as “wastage.”
Kevin Leahy of the British Museum stated that the ten items not declared as part of the original hoard may represent part of a different Anglo-Saxon period. Two of these items are of high quality pieces of copper alloy, but there are different in style to the gold and silver items of the original hoard. He concludes that “Anglo-Saxons” clearly visited the site more than once to bury items.”


The hoard consists of approximately 3,500 pieces comprising up to 5kg / 11lb of gold and 1.3kg / 2.9lb of silver and is the largest treasure of Anglo-Saxon gold and silver objects discovered to date, eclipsing, at least in quantity, the 1.5kg / 3.3lb hoard found in the Sutton Hoo burial in 1939.
Most of the items in the hoard appear to be military and there are no domestic objects, such as vessels or eating utensils, or feminine jewellery, which are the more common Anglo-Saxon gold finds. Reportedly the contents “show every sign of being carefully selected.” There is broad agreement that the typical object in the hoard was made in the 7th Century, but the date when the hoard was actually buried in some point after that of the latest object found. Debate is going on about the of some objects and this no doubt will carry on for years if not decades.
The items have been put into three categories, weaponary, crosses and gold strip.


Michael Lewis, the deputy head of the Portable Antiquities Scheme at the British Museum, notes that there are two possible reasons behind the burial of the hoard: either it was a votive deposit (an offering to the gods) or “a treasure chest that got lost, or they couldn`t come back for it.”
Lewis comments that “from my 21st Century perspective, I find it bewildering that someone could shove so much metalwork into the ground as an offering . That seemslike overkill.”
Kevin Leahy. National Finds Advisor of the Portable Antiquities Scheme, says that the quanitiy of gold is extremely impressive and that, “more importantly, the craftsmanship is consummate, this was the very best that the Anglo-Saxon metalworkers could do, and they were very good.” Leahy says that the finds must originate from the highest possible levels of the Saxon elite. He comments also that the find does not consist simply of loot, pointing out that swords were, specifically singled out, that most of the gold and silver items appear to have been intentionally removed from the objects they were previously attached to, and that, if the depositer was just after the gold, fittings from sword belts would have been discovered. Leahy also theorizes that the intention behind the removal of the gold fittings may have been to depersonalize the objects: removing the indentity of the previous owners. The blades may have been reused, Leahy observes that the hoard appears to be a collection of trophies, yet that it is impossible to say whether the hoard consists of the spoils of a single battle or is the result of a long series of successful military engagements. He says that the reason for the burial is unknown, and theorizes that the deposit “may have been tribute to heathen gods or concealed in the face of a perceived, but all too real threat, which led to it not being recovered. He also notes that further work will result in a better understanding of how the hoard came to be buried. Leahy points out that the find includes dozens of pommel caps – decorative attachments to sword handles – and that Beowulf contains a reference to warriors stripping the pommels of their enemies swords.
Nicholas Brooks has suggested that the hoard may have belonged to the Mercian court armourer. He theorizes that under the system of heriot (death duty), the Mercian king would have received weapons and gold bullion from Anglo-Saxon nobles at their death, and that the Mercian court would have distributed these weapons to men who came into its service. Brooks takes the absence of strap-ends, strap attachments and buckles in the hoard to indicate that the weapons were broken down into their constituent parts , and that the different parts of the weapons were the responsibility of different offices: the court leather-worker would have been responsible for providing those entering Mercian service with adorned belts and harnesses, whereas the court armourer would only have been responsible for metal objects such as the hilts collars, hilt plates and pommel caps that make up the majority of pieces in the hoard.


The area of Staffordshire where the hoard was found was part of the Kingdom of Mercia in the 7th and 8th Centuries, an era for which contemporary written texts are scant, aside from the writings of Bede, whose Ecclesiasitical History, finished in 731, was written from the Christian perspective of a monk in Northumbria; Bede, moreover, appears to have had no contacts in Mercia. Archaeology is called into to play to supplement the terse written sources regarding the missing cultural history.
The site of the discovery, at Johnson`s farm near Brownhills, is immediately south of Watling Street, and only 2.5miles / 4km west of the important Roman staging post of Letocetum. Watling Street was a major Roman road that would have been seen continued use in the Anglo-Saxon period, and it acted as the demarcation line between the Anglo-Saxon and Danish – ruled parts of England during the 9th Century. The hoard has been specutatively connected with King Edwin of Northumbria.
Michael Lewis`s view is that attempting to link the hoard to a particular individual is not realistic. He notes that, during the period from which the hoard dates, some rulers from Mercia are well known including Penda and Offa. Penda ruled slightly before the period of the hoard, and “Offa” is right at the end, so it has to be someone in the middle. Moreover, the historical record of the period shows a dependency on Bede, who wrote from a Christian perspective, yet the Mercians at the time were likely pagans, and therefore “could have been overlooked by Bede even though they might have been important, because he wasn`t interested in them for whatever reason.” Lewis comments that the hoard will assist in looking back at literary sources and historical figures with more scrutiny.


On 25th September 2009, the hoard was valued by the Treasure Valuation Commitee at £3.285 million, which, under the provisions of the 1996 Treasure Act, is the sum that must be paid as a reward to the finder and landowner, to be shared equally, by any museum that wishes to acquire the hoard.
After the hoard was valued, it was announced that the Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery and the Potteries Museum & Art Gallery intended to jointly acquire the entire hoard and a public appeal was launched to raise the £3.285 million needed to purchase the hoard. The Act Fund co-ordinated the appeal, if the sum had not been raised by 17th April 2010, the hoard might have been sold on the open market and the unique collection permanently broken up.
However, on 23rd March 2010 it was announced that the sum had been raised three weeks before the deadline, after a grant of £1.285 million from the National Heritage Memorial Fund (NHMF) was added to the money already collected from individuals, councils, and other groups and associations. Although the purchase price has been achieved, the Art Fund appeal is still continueing, in order to raise a further £1.7 million to help fund the conservation, stdy and display of the hoard.
Terry Herbert, the finder of the hoard, and Fred Johnson, the farmer on whose land the hoard was found, each received a half share of the £3.285 million raised by Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery and the Potteries Museum & Art Gallery. A feud later ensued between the two men.


There are four places where parts of the hoard are exhibited, they are Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery, Potteries Museum & Art Gallery. Lichfield Cathedral and finally Tamworth Castle.



Chamberlain Squire, Birmingham, B3-3DH.


Telephone: +44 (0) 121 348 8007


Birmingham lies on the borderland of the territory of the Angles and the Saxons, Anglican had settled the Midlands from the east following the valleys of the Rivers Trent and Tame. Pagan burials in Anglian style excavated at Baginton near Coventry have been dated as early as 500 A.D. The Kingdom of Mercia was founded by Anglians c585, and by the 7th Century stretched south of the River Humber and west of the River Trent to the west Midlands with its capital was at Tamworth. Mercia expanded under King Penda and by the 8th Century Offa rules all of England south of the Humber between Wales and East Anglia. His coins proclaimed him ‘Rex Anglorum’ Latin  for king of the English: in 873 Mercia fell to the Danes.

Anglians may have settled first along the Birmingham sandstone ridge which runs from Bromsgrove to Lichfield, or on the pebble lands to the west of it. There may have been then thin woodland of birch and hazel here or the land may have been cleared by earlier peoples and reverted to light cover of gorse, broom and heather. Although not especially fertile and poor at retaining water, the land would have been fairly easy to clear and plough. Anglian settlements in the area may have been {north to south) Sutton, Erdington, Witton, Aston, Nechells, Birmingham, Edgebaston, Harbourne and Weoley: Towards the end of the Anglo-Saxon/Englisc period Anglian territory in Birmingham became parts of Staffordshire and Warwickshire.

The Celts of modern Gloucester, Hereford and Worcester held out the longest against the Saxons but Suffered final defeat at the hands of the West Saxons at the Battle of Dytham in Gloucetershire in 577. This allowed the West Saxon people known  as the Hwicce (pronounced Whichee) to more northwards up the River Severn and Avon and to establish the Hwiccan Kingdom with its capital at Worcester. Archaeological evidence suggests sparse Saxon settlement and it is likely that the population here was predominantly Celtic. The Hwicce were conquered by c628 A.D., probably by the Mercian King Penda and the kingdom subsequently administered as a separate unit under the aegis Mercia.

Covering much of the clay lands of the south and east of the Birmingham area was the Forest of Arden which stretched down towards Strafford-upon-Avon. The extent of clearance and agricultural use by the Celts at the end of the Roman period is not known. However, the earliest Hwiccan Saxons would have farmed first on sites where glacial gravel drifts on top of the sticky clay made clearing and ploughing easier. Early Saxon settlements on clay lands are on patches of drift: Acocks Green, Greet, King Norton, Lea Village, Mosely, Northfield, Selly, Tyseley, Yardley for example. Slowly would they have begun to expand into the more difficult clay lands to make new settlement. Saxons territory in Birmingham was later to become part of Worcestershire.

By the time of the French/Norman Conquest of 1066 there were many hamlets, tiny villages scattered round the Birmingham area. Birmingham was one of the poorer manors with probably less than fifty inhabitants. There were few plough teams and few mills in the area. As the population grew during the 10th and 11th Centuries new settlements were founded as offshoots of the original village. Newer settlements were on heavier clay soil and had woodland to be cleared.

The name Birmingham derives from Beorma-ing-ham translates from the Old English as ‘Beorma’s people’s village’. These people may have been followers of a man called Beorma (pronounced Berma) but were more likely, a tribe or clan called the Beormings. ‘Beormas people’. They were an Anglian people moving southwards following the River Trent and then the Tame to settle the lighter soils of the Birmingham ridge. It is possible that a leader called Beorma founded a settlement here, but equally likely that it was founded by a people named after him. The city’s name is probably best interpreted as ‘the village of the Beormings’.

The name developed in two different ways which are reflected in early spellings. Until the wide spread use of the printing press. Spelling was very inconsistent. But it did represent the way peoples’ pronounciation, the biggest one on this was it Birm or Brum at the beginning of the word Birmingham. Thre is a list of the changing names of Birmingham from the 11th – 17th Century.

It has sometimes been suggested that the village grew up at the crossing of the River Rea between Digbeth and Dentend. The crossing of the river might make a good place for trade. However, this was a low-lying site that was always prone to flooding until the river was culverted at the beginning of the last century (20th), it is not a likely spot for a settlement. It has also been long assumed that the Anglo-Saxon settlement was around the Bull Ring. From Medieval times roads from the west converged on the Bull Ring bringing traders from Lichfield, Stafford, Wolverhampton, Dudley, Halesowen and Worcester, and from the east travellers from Coleshill, Coventry, Warwick, Stafford and Alcester.

Excavations in advance of the new Bull Ring shopping centre found evidence of a Roman farm and plenty of Medieval traces of boundary banks, ditches and houses, cattle and a variety of industries.

However, there is no evidence of Anglo-Saxon settlement, but this does not mean there was no Anglo-Saxon village here evidence would be scarce over a such a wide area especially as buildings etc were built of wood or the settlement could be elsewhere.

THE VIKINGS 800-1066

The climate gradually warmed up to c1000 A.D., and the early Medieval  Warm Period lasted for two centuries. It was partly responsible for the expansion of the Vikings in that area once under the ice such as Greenland and Iceland were now open to settlement . Even North America was accessible.

From the 790s A.D., small Vikings armies began to make  annual raids on Britain. After 870 the Viking Great Army was resident in England and during the summer month moved around the country at will. By the 870 England was divided along Watling Street (A5) north and east of which was the Danelaw, south and west of which was English Wessex and Mercia.

There is no known evidence in Birmingham. However, on two occasions the Viking Great Army is known to have passed nearby, travelling from Shoeburyness in Essex to Buttington in Shropshire in 893, and from the River Lea north of London to Bridgenorth in Shropshire in 895. Their route very likely took them along Watling Street the modern A5 which passes through Fazeley near Tamworth.


The museum has a dedicated gallery to house part of the hoard.


open all the week (7) from 1000hrs to 1700hrs,
except Friday when it is opened at 1030hrs.
closed Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Boxing Day, open New Years Day 1100 – 1600hrs.


This is free, but donations are very welcome.


Call +44 (0) 121 348 8997
To book guided, group and school tours.


This is catered for, plus there are wheelchairs available.


There is a cafe`and a shop within the museum.


Short walking distance from Moor Street, New Street, and Snow Hill stations.

Accessible by almost every `bus route.

no parking at the museum, but can park nearby & blue badge.

Tel Birmingham tourist info centre on 0844 888 3883.



Bethesda Street, Cultural Quarter, Stoke-On-Trent, Staffordshire, ST1-3DW.


Telephone: +44 (0) 1782 232 323

The museum has a dedicated area of a raised wooden-floored mead hall, with columns and banners adorned with Anglo-Saxon artwork, representing ancient designs on the Hoard artefects, along with a replica fire pit and king`s chair, the museum exhibited set pieces from the world famous Hoard.
The thought provoking artworks inspired by the mystery of the Hoard are also on display, including a specially commissioned animated film. `The Last Dragon-Hunter.`

Open all week (7) from 1000 – 1700hrs, Sunday 1100 – 1600hrs,
closed Christmas Day, Boxing Day, New Years Day 1100 – 1600hrs.

This is free, but donations are very welcome.

Call +44 (0) 1782 232323 to book guided, group and school tours.

This is catered for and wheelchairs are available.


There is a cafe` and shop within the museum.


Stoke-on -Trent station, on the West coast mainline.

no information at the moment.

There are car-parks not far from the museum.

Tourist info centre +44 (0) 1782 126000.



19a The Close, Lichfield, Staffordshire, WS13-7LD.

website :

Telephone : +44 (0) 1543 306 100

There is a permanent display of items from the Hoard.

The origins of Lichfield Cathedral are rooted in the in time scholars believe the Hoard was buried. Discover the Lichfield Cathedral story – learn about the `Christianisation`of Mercia and the heroic figure of St. Chad. Marvel at the Anglo-Saxon treasures, the St. Chad Gospel`s and the Lichfield Angel. The exhibition also explores the significance of the Staffordshire Hoard`s folded cross, the pectural cross and the biblical inscription and features a small number of Hoard items alongside stunning replicas.

open all week (7) from 1000 – 1600hrs
Saturday from 0900 – 1600hrs
Sunday from 1200 – 1500hrs

This is free, but donations are very welcome.
But please note in the exceptionally rare circumstance that the exhibition cannot be open and may have to close the Chapter House at short notice.
Important please call before coming to visit.

A number of tours are available that highlight the Cathedral`s Anglo-Saxon heritage and treasures. To find out more about the tours, call 01543 306100.

This is catered for.

Chapters coffee shop & restaurant in the close, which is in front of the cathedral.
Open Monday – Saturday 0900 – 1700hrs
open Sunday 1000 – 1600hrs.

There is a gift shop within the cathedral and a bookshop in the close in the Chapter House.


Regular service every twenty minutes from Birmingham New Street station.
The station is the otherside of the town centre.


There is a small amount of parking around the cathedral, otherwise there is plenty in the town centre.



The Holloway, Tamworth, Staffordshire, B79-7NA.



Telephone: 01827 709 626 or 01827 709 629

There is a permanent display of items from the Staffordshire Hoard at Tamworth Castle.
As the ancient capital at Mercia and once home to the King of Mercia`s palace.
Tamworth`s history is crammed with stories of intrique and warfare.
Explore our exihibition on Saxon Tamworth, which features information on the life of a Saxon soldier, the power struggles and warfare, town life and the ancient watermill, and Aethelflaed, lady of the Mercians.
Artefacts are brought to life with stunning replica weapons, armour and lots of hands-on activities and period costumes for young and old to try.


Summer opening: April – October
Tuesday – Sunday 1130 – 1645hrs last admin 1600hrs.

Winter opening: October – April
Saturday & Sunday 1130 – 1545hrs last admin 1500hrs.

Open on extra days for Staffordshire school holidays and bank holidays, please phone before coming.

Adult £9-95
Child 2-15 £7.50p  /  Home schooled child Mon – Fri £5-50p
OAP / Concession £8-95                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Family up to 5 £37-50p                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Ground floor only  £6-00p                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Carer  Free

Fee for special events and bank holiday may vary.

There is provision but please phone 01827 709626 to make sure what is accessable.

Small cafe` selling refreshments.

There is a gift shop.


Tamworth station 10 minutes walk approx.


There are plenty of parking in Tamworth town centre, sat-nav B79 7NA



Beaumont Street, Oxford, Oxfordshire, OX1 2PH.

Tel – 01865 278000, for general enquiries.


Anglo- Saxon Artifacts are at – Level 2, `West Meets East`, 400 – 1100A.D.

The Ashmolean has one of the best collections of Anglo-Saxon material in the country outside of the British Museum and one of its treasures the `Alfred Jewel`, dating from the 9th century. it was found in 1693 at Newton Park, Somerset and was bequethed to the museum by Nathaniel Palmer in 1718. its purpose is believed to be a pointer, an implement used to follow text.
Inthe fourth century, Pictish, Scottish, Frankish and Scandinvian raiders from outside the Roman Empire, became a threat to the authorities of Britain and Gaul during the fourth century. Britain was invaded regularly by Picts from what is now Scotland, Caledonia in Roman times and Scots from Ireland, as well as Germanic people from across the channel. A British monk called Gildas wrote `The Ruin of Britain` around 540, in which he describes the evils happening to Britain in the most violent languages. A second monk, The Venerable Bede, from the Northumbrian monastery of Jarrow, completed his `Ecclesiastical History of the English People`in 731. These two works describe the terrors the invasion by these Angles, Saxons and Jutes caused, and were very probably biased in their opinions and can only by glimpsed through the eyes of the hostile native British.
The fifth and sixth centuries have sometimes been referred to as the `Dark Ages`. It was always believed that the Anglo-Saxon invaded the eastern shores of Britain, slaying the native people. We now know that these people were probably invited to settle on the estates set up by the Romans, West Stow in Suffolk is probably such a site, this settlement was constructed on an already established Roman estate.
The dating evidence for the Anglo-Saxon period is mostly archaeological and comes mainly from excavated pagan cemeteries, when the bodies were dressed in their best clothes and buried wearing the jewellery, such as `Faversham` in Kent. Cremations also took place, the cremated bones and sometimes melted objects such as tweezers and beads were then placed in urns, sometimes plain, but often beautifully decorated and burnished, such as at `Santon` in Yorkshire.
England achieved a great deal in the last years of the Anglo-axon period. English coinage was the major trading currency in Northern Europe, stone churches replaced wooden structures, cathedrals were starting to be constructed, the economy thrived. The beginnings of the settlements and parish system began and is still with us today. The Anglo-Saxon period ended in A.D. 1066 with the defeat of King Harold the last crowned king of the English at the Battle of Hastings by the Normans.
The Ashmolean holds a rich collection of Anglo-Saxon objects, including the following examples.

Cuddesdon Bowl

Early seventh century blue glass bowl, fond at Cuddesdon in Oxfordshire.

Holderness Cross

Gold and garnet cross pendant from Holderness in East Yorkshire.

Range of Artefacts

A range of artefacts including beads, pin, knives, brooches and spearheads from the early Anglo-Saxon cemetery at Fairford in Gloucestershire.

Gilt garnet brooch

Jewelled brooches and other artefacts from an Anglo-Saxon inhumation cemetery found at King`s Field in Faversham, Kent.

Decorated Bowl

The Crondall Bowl contained over a 100 pieces and was buried sometime before A.D. 650. It is the most important evidence for the start of English coinage.

Decorated Bowl

This decorated bowl is part of a large collection of urns and other artefacts from the large early Anglo-Saxon cremation cemetery at Sancton in Yorkshire.

Abingdon Sword

A gold bracteate found at St. Giles Field, Oxford sometime before 1677.

Abingdon Sword

Very fine example of a late Anglo-Saxon sword found at Abingdon in Oxfordshire.


Tuesday – Sunday + Bank holiday Monday 10.00 – 17.00hrs
Closed on Monday.


Admission is free. but, exhibitions have a charge.

The disabled have been catered for in the Museum.


Ashmolean Cafe
Open Tuesday – Sunday 10.00 – 16.30hrs
and is open on Bank Holiday Monday.

Ashmolean dining room
Open Tues, Wed, Thurs & Sunday 10.00 – 16.30hrs
Friday – Saturday 10.00 – 20.00hrs

For more information at.


Tuesday – Sunday 10.00 – 17.00hrs
open Bank Holiday Monday.




The bus station is approximately 5 minutes walk from the Museum.

Tel 01865 785400 for bus information.
open 08.00 – 20.00hrs Mon – Fri.
09.00 – 18.00hrs Sat – Sun.


Oxford station is about 10 minutes walk from the Museum.

Tel 08547 000 125 First Great Western for information on the train service.


Parking is limited in the city, there is a park and ride service, which has a frequent link with 5 car-parks adjacent to the ring road.

Gloucester Green car-park OX1 2BN pay & display underground.

Worcester Street car-park OX1 2BN pay & display.

Disabled parking.
There are 9 designated disabled parking spaces within easy reach of the Museum, 3 directly outside the Museum, 3 more opposite the Museum close to the Randolph hotel, 2 spaces on St. Giles and 1 space on St. John`s Street.



Watlington, Oxfordshire.


The Watlington area is likely to have been settled at an early age encouraged by the proximity of the Icknield Way. The toponym means “settlement of the Waecel`s people” and indicates occupation from around the 6th century. A 9th century charter by Aethelred of Mercia records eight “manses” or major dwellings in Watlington. The Doomsday Book of 1086 identified the area as an agricultural community valued at £610-. Medieval documents indicate that the modern street plan was in existence in the 14th century, if not earlier.

Watlington Hoard

A hoard of ninth century coins which shed light on the rule of Alfred the Great has been acquired  by the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford for £1,35 million.                                                                 The Watlington hoard was discovered in Oxfordshire in October 2015 on private land by a metal detectorist James Mather just as he was on the verge of giving up after a frustrating day of turning up ring-pulls and shotgun cartridges. After finding an item he recognised to be a Viking-era bar of silver, followed by a cache of silver pennies he reported the find to the British Museums portable antiquities scheme, and the hoard was removed in a block to be excavated in a laboratory. The hoard which may have been buried by a Viking after their defeat by the Anglo-Saxon/Englisc King Alfred the Great at the decisive battle of Eddington in 878, is made up of around 200 coins seven items  of jewellery and 15 ingots, or bars of silver. It is significant because it contains many coins of Alfred, who was king of Wessex from 874 to 899 and his well- known contemporary Ceolwulf II of Mercia who reigned from 874 to around 879 A.D. There are 13 of the “vanishing rare” two emperors penny, of which only two previous examples were known shows the two kings seated side by side under a winged figure of Victory or an angel. The coins suggest an alliance between the kingdoms of Wessex and Mercia, contradicting accounts from Alfred’s side which suggest  Ceolwulf was not a puppet of the Vikings. Experts said the find offers new insights into a tumultuous period in English history, when Anglo-Saxon/Englisc kingdoms were attacked and in many instances ruled by the Vikings, who Alfred managed to defend his kingdom.    The hoard also prompts speculation on Ceolwulf’s disappearance and what role Alfred may have played in his rivals demise, they said. The Ashmolean Museum raised the £1.35 m needed to buy the hoard, with the help of £1.05m from the National Lottery through a Heritage Lottery fund grant. More than 700 members of the public and friends and patrons of the Ashmolean also contributed, while the Art Fund donated £150.000. Dr Xa Sturgis director of the Ashmolean, says “The Watlington Hoard is one of the most exciting and important acquisitions we have ever made, particularly significant because it was found in Oxfordshire.”  “To be able to keep the hoard in the county and put it or display with the Anglo-Saxon/Englisc collections, which include the world famous Alfred Jewel, was an opportunity we could not miss.” The hoard will be studied by Ashmolean experts, the hoard will go on permanent display in the museum’s England Gallery.


For information on train and bus services :-