Tamworth, The Ancient Capital of Mercia
In the 6th century the Anglo-Saxons came to Staffordshire and it is believed there was a royal palace, close to St. Editha’s Church. Charters show Mercian Royal families stayed there far more than other palaces and were regularly here for Christmas and Easter.
Anglo-Saxon Tamworth (401 – 1066)
In Anglo Saxon times, Tamworth was a vitally important centre at the heart of the kingdom of Mercia. As far back as the 7th to the 9th century, Tamworth was the principle royal and administrative centre of the Mercian kings. Charters show Mercian Royal families celebrated both Easter and Christmas at Tamworth regularly between 751 and 857, staying here far more than other palaces. It is also believed Tamworth had a major royal residence or palace.
However, in 874 Tamworth was attacked and destroyed by the Vikings and by 911 Tamworth had become a border town between the Danelaw and the English.
Six wealthy influential families have owned Tamworth castle and had royal visits from King Henry II, Edward III, James I and his son Prince Charles.
Mercia continues to herald its importance with the discovery of the Staffordshire Hoard, which appears to date from around 590 A.D. to 750 A.D.
It is thought a buhr – which is a fortified settlement (usually surrounded by a ditch and earthen ramparts) was built in King Offa’s time. This helped protect trade and culture from attacks, and as bases for launching assaults against Viking raiders. It is believed this was the site of royal palace.
In 913, Aethelflaed, Lady of the Mercians, is known to have re-fortified Tamworth. The daughter of King Alfred the Great, she became known as the Lady of the Mercians. Her death in 918 in Tamworth resulted in Mercia being merged into Wessex. The Aethelflaeda Monument stands today at the foot of Tamworth Castle just through the Gatehouse.