Tamworth’s Heritage Weekend
I don’t even know where to start with this one! It has been an epic weekend! I decided to go visit Tamworth, a little town in Staffordshire as there was a Heritage Weekend happening. Basically, it was a weekend of celebrating the unique history of Tamworth going back 1400 years. The activities were centred around Tamworth Castle and the Castle grounds with a living history Saxon encampment, exhibitions, workshops and community stalls. I need to say a big thank you to Æd for telling me about the event! Without him this post wouldn’t even exist!
Tamworth Castle itself is the site of the ancient captial of Mercia and was once home to the King of Mercia’s palace…so, lots of Anglo-Saxon history to celebrate! I bought a book from the gift shop entitled ‘Tamworth: The Ancient Capital of Mercia’ written by Stephen Pollington and I also managed to meet the author that day too!! He was a great guy, very knowledgeable and was attending the Heritage event with his group the Wulfheodenas (a living history society). They had authentic Saxon clothes, and weaponry and were also making foils. Foils were used by the Saxons to decorate their helmets. I took a photograph of one of their helmets (see below).
And here are my favourite people again…The Thegns of Mercia!
I managed to see even more of their items than last time (such as musical instruments, weaponry and runes), and I chatted to other members of the group too. It was so busy, and their stall was attracting crowds of people. I noticed that as soon as they started to talk to people about their role and what they have on show, more people began to cluster and listen in. It was great seeing the public take such a great interest in history.
I have a little slideshow here showing all the various stalls and some of the events- one of the events involved getting children to take on the Saxons. It was great seeing the children chasing them!
So, why is Tamworth so important for Anglo-Saxon history? Well, the Anglo-Saxons came to Staffordshire in the late 6th century as a group of settlers. Three main powerful kingdoms in Britain were later formed- Mercia, Northumbria and Wessex. Tamworth was at the heartland of the Mercian Kingdom and it is believed that the Mercian Kings spent more time at Tamworth than anywhere else. There is also believed to have been a royal palace at Tamworth by the end of the 7th century. Evidence from signed charters shows that the Mercian Royal families stayed at Tamworth far more than their other palaces.
I also managed to have a look around Tamworth Castle and I took lots of photographs inside (which are also in the slideshow). They also had a little exhibition in the Castle of some of the items of the Stafforshire Hoard and a brief telling of the Anglo-Saxon heritage of Tamworth. There were some replica items such as this Anglo-Saxon helmet and shield (see below).
Every stall that I visited in the Tamworth Castle grounds each had their own skills and I really enjoyed chatting to everyone. I even found out more information needed for a bit of research I am currently doing on the Anglo-Saxon burial site Benty Grange- so thank you to the Wulfheodenas group for all their help!
Another group I met was the Bloxwich Research and Metal Detector Club who had some fascinating finds on display at their stall. My hands were shaking I was that excited! Especially when I got handed an Anglo-Saxon coin! A member of their group is Terry Herbert who famously found the Staffordshire Hoard that I look after. I even saw him at the event :). Here is a snippet from their website detailing their collection so far:
“As well as finding coinage going back to Roman times and beyond, we unearth a vast range of artefacts. There will be Victorian pipe tampers, Roman brooches, Saxon stirrup mounts, medieval lead tokens, Georgian silver spoons, Tudor clothes fasteners, Bronze Age bucket mounts, and thousands of other items from every period of history.
You would be surprised at the sheer volume and diversity of the objects that make their way into our fields; sometimes by casual loss or accident, sometimes by deliberate concealment, sometimes by workers on the land and sometimes by our forebears engaged in battle or internecine warfare. Whatever the method, our land is replete with signs of its past.”
The members of this group that I met were amazing to talk to and so passionate about what they do, and they really put forth the importance of sharing finds and making artefacts accessible to the public. Great work guys!
So, phew, what a day! I’m glad I have finally managed to post about it all, and I will definitely be visiting the Heritage Weekend next year. A big thank you to everyone involved and everyone who I spoke to, everything that you do is so important for our heritage.