Athelstan 1100

athelstan 1100

20 - 28 July 2024

2024 marks the 1,100th anniversary of the accession of Athelstan, King of Mercia, who is considered by many historians as the first King of England. Athelstan was also the nephew and ward of Our Lady of the Mercians, Aethelflaed. Tamworth, during the Anglo-Saxon times, was the capital of the Kingdom of Mercia, and one of the most powerful kingdoms of Anglo-Saxon England. 

Join us for a week-long festival delivered by Tamworth Castle, St Editha’s Church and The Tamworth and District Civic Society. The week will include Anglo-Saxon living history, community archaeology, talks and lectures, demonstrations, a dance circus performance and live music. Download the festival brochure here (pdf) or check out the timetable below.

Saturday 20 July

Forging the king

Motionhouse Performance in the Castle Grounds, 11am & 2pm (weather dependent)
'Forging The King' - Created by internationally renowned dance-circus company Motionhouse and featuring a cast of young people from the local community, this open-air dance-circus spectacle will take place against the powerful backdrop of Tamworth Castle. Forging the King tells the story of Æthelstan’s arrival in Tamworth and how the guidance from Mercian warrior Queen Æthelflæda shaped him into a great King. Suitable for all ages.
Admission: Free. To get advance access to the digital programme for Forging the King and to let us know that you’re coming, please sign up here.

This event, and the Athelstan 1100 week, will be opened by the hereditary Royal Champion of England, Henry Dymoke of Scrivelsby, direct descendant of the Marmion lords of Tamworth Castle.

Sunday 21 July

mead hall


Beowulf Storytelling - Tamworth Castle. 
Included in general admission. Castle open 10am - 4pm, last admission 2pm.

Festival Evensong - St Editha's Church, 6pm. 
Evensong from the Book of Common Prayer (1662) sung by the magnificent Lichfield Cathedral Chamber Choir, accompanied on the historic Harrison Organ. Free entry. More information.

Monday 22 July

Annie Whitehead

Annie Whitehead: Anglo-Saxon Lecture - St Editha's Church, 7.30pm - 9pm

Join renowned author Annie Whitehead as she delivers an evening talk on the women of Anglo-Saxon Mercia. £10, includes refreshments. Pay on the door. More information.

Tuesday 23 July

Dr Charles Insley

The Annual Tamworth Lecture of The Tamworth and District Civic Society - St Editha's Church - 7pm. 

Dr Charles Insley, FRHistS:  'Æthelstan and the Empire of Britain'
Hear the Senior Lecturer in Medieval History, University of Manchester, and author of a new book about Athelstan to be published by Routledge this year. 
£10 for TDCS members and £12 for non-members. Pay on the door.

Wednesday 24 July


Aethelfead and Athelstan statue

Puppet Craft  - Tamworth Library 
4 sessions, each with 10 children max. For ages 5+ and must be accompanied by an adult: 10-11am, 11.30am-12.30pm, 1.30-2.30pm and 3-4pm. Takes pleace in the library meeting room. Free.
Please contact Tamworth Library to book your place.

Guided Tour of Tamworth's Anglo-Saxon Historical Sites, 11.00am.
To celebrate Athelstan 1100, enjoy a walking tour of Tamworth's Anglo-Saxon historical sites with Dr. David Biggs, a qualified Blue Badge and Green Badge Tourist Guide, and an expert Tamworth historian. Tickets £10, must be pre-booked. More information and booking.

Thursday 25 July


murderous saxon warrior

saxons playing instruments

Murder Mystery event - 'A Mercian Murder' by Murder by Appointment. Town centre, 6pm - 7.30pm
It’s 927 AD and there is unrest in the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Mercia. King Athelstan wants to take the Northern lands for himself and has married his sister, Editha, to the Viking lord Sihtric -  but all has not gone to plan! Sihtric has been murdered and we need you to help solve the mystery! Explore Tamworth and meet Athelstan, Editha and a host of Saxon characters from princesses to peasants who can help you with your investigation. Question the suspects to find out who committed this historic crime and discover the best of Tamworth’s shops and cafes along the way.

Start at the Town Hall and collect your answer sheet. Have a smashing Saxon time and remember…. Don’t trust anyone!
Free event, no booking required. 

Late night opening
Local businesses are offering late night opening on the 25th, so grab refreshments as you investigate. 

  • Tudor House Cafe, Lichfield Street is open until late, with an Anglo-Saxon inspired menu and ghost stories told by an Anglo-Saxon figure from 8pm.
  • The Cottage Healing Centre and "Hidden Gems" Shop, Lichfield Street are open until 8pm with ghost stories and a close-up magician.
  • Christophers and The Peel Hotel, Aldergate - 20% discount available for the full week, on all accommodation booked. Enter code ‘1100’ at check out on their website to receive this offer: Thursday is Pie Night at Christopher’s - Pie and a pint for £16. (Other drinks are included in the offer) On the 25th an ‘Athelstan’ game pie will be available. 
  • The Tamworth Tap, Market Street, is open 4pm-11pm with a specially-brewed Cherry Mead for the 25th, and Athelstan Ale on the 26th.
  • Age UK charity shop, Colehill is open until 7pm
  • The Sheriff of Tamworth, Colehill, opens until 10pm. 'Return of the King' ale at special price of £2 per pint, and over the weekend if stocks last. Plus a special ale called 'Special Offa'.
  • Sue Ryder charity shop, Church Street is open until 7pm.
  • Sticky Fingers Cafe, King Street is open until 9pm offering hot pork and beef rolls with mini roast potatoes; oatcakes with different fillings; home-made cherry ice cream. The cherry ice cream will also be on sale outside the church on Friday 26th for the Cherry Fair.

A concert of Anglo-Saxon music and tales - St Editha's Church, 7.30pm. 
Discover authentic Anglo-Saxon music from the heart of Mercia in this unique performance showcasing the instruments, songs and poetry of England before the Norman Conquest. Featuring lyre, harp, bone flute, frestel, horn and much more. Adults £7, Children free. Pay on door. Refreshments available. More information.

25 - 28 July


To continue the ongoing exploration of Tamworth’s multi layered heritage, an archaeological team will be investigating an area located at St Editha’s Church. The team will concentrate on the external, exposed section of the Old Deanery Wall. This is very exciting opportunity to reveal historical evidence of the history of the wall and surrounding topography, and whether any sections date back to the Saxon period or earlier. This also coincides with The 2024 Festival of Archaeology.

Friday 26 July

Cherry Fair procession

Aethelfead and Athelstan statue

Cherry Fair & Procession from 10.45am
Reviving a centuries-old tradition, join a procession from the Aethelflaed/Athelstan monument up to St. Editha’s Church, where there will be a celebration and thanksgiving, including re-enactors and cherry refreshments! Gathering at the Aethelflaed/Athelstan monument at 10.45am. FREE. Wear something red!

Guided Tour of Tamworth's Anglo-Saxon Historical Sites, 6pm.
To celebrate Athelstan 1100, enjoy a walking tour of Tamworth's Anglo-Saxon historical sites with Dr. David Biggs, a qualified Blue Badge and Green Badge Tourist Guide, and an expert Tamworth historian. Tickets £10, must be pre-booked. More information and booking.

Saturday 27 July


t rex

Community Teddy Bear's Picnic - lunchtime entertainment in the Dell, Castle Grounds. 12noon until 2pm. Grab a furry friend, bring your lunch and join in the fun at a special family picnic. Complete with entertainment, games and a free gift for children! Children must be accompanied by an adult at all times. FREE.

Dinosaurs! Come face to face with some of the UK’s biggest walking Dinosaurs as they roam around Tamworth town centre, appearing live at the following times (Free):

  • 10am – Cute baby dinosaurs
  • 10.45am – Echo the cheeky Velociraptor
  • 11.30am – Betsy the gorgeous and enormous Triceratops
  • 12.15pm – Roxy the amazing T-Rex
  • 1.30pm – Echo the Velociraptor
  • 2.15pm – Betsy the Triceratops
  • 3pm – Roxy the T-Rex
  • 3.45pm – More cute baby dinosaurs

Dragon Tails event starts at Tamworth Castle. (Included in general admission to the castle)

27 & 28 July

saxon longboat

Saxon Longboat

The Saxons are coming! To celebrate the ascension of King Aethelstan, a tribe of marauding Saxons will be making their way by longboat to the Castle Grounds for the weekend of 27 & 28 July. Visitors will be welcome to board the longboat, learn how it was used for trade, coastal navigation, raiding expeditions and learn a host of other information about Saxon life.

Castle Grounds Arena. Saturday: 10.00am to 5.00pm & Sunday: 10.00am to 4.00pm. Free.

Sunday 28 July

dragon puppet

brass band

The Dragon Wagon Outdoor Theatre - Castle Grounds, Lower Lawn. 12noon and 2pm.
Jellyfish Theatre roll up with their playful, inventive family show about friendship, food and DRAGONS. Come and meet the dragon whisperer and fantastical dragons who live in the wonderful "Wagon of Dreams". Bring a blanket to sit on.
All performances are relaxed with integrated Sign Supported English. Best suited for ages 4 - 8. 
Pre-booking required. Tickets: Adult - £12.00, Child - £10.00, Family Ticket £35.00. More information and booking.

Celebration Service - St Editha's Church, 6pm.
A special service to conclude Tamworth's Athelstan 1100 commemorations, accompanied by a brass band and singing from local choirs. FREE. More information.

A huge thank you to the following local businesses for supporting and sponsoring this year’s Athelstan1100 event:

Retrographix -
Info-Biz -
The Tamworth Tap pub-
St. Chad's Church, Hopwas -
The Tamworth Co-Operative Society -
The Peel Hotel, Aldergate:
The Friends of St. Editha's Church
The Beardsley Blood Trust
The Cottage Healing Centre -
The Old Bank House Pub
Sticky Fingers Cafe -


Who was Athelstan - A Beginner's Guide. Illustrations by Leah Riley.